Nazi Cafe to Close as Owner Claims Art, Not Ideology

The exterior of the Soldatenkaffee, in Bandung, on Friday. The Nazi-themed cafe has been closed since Thursday as media gathered outside following a profile by the Jakarta Globe. (JG Photo/Yuli Krisna

Bandung. Henry Mulyana says that he has been fielding hate calls and e-mails this week from people around the world.

“A lot of people have called me expressing their anger. It’s like the whole world is pressing down on me,” Henry, the owner of the Nazi-themed Soldatenkaffee on Jalan Pasir Kaliki in Bandung, West Java, told a press conference on Saturday.

Ever since the Jakarta Globe published an article about the controversial cafe last week, the story has garnered international media attention, conferring notoriety on the owner of the small cafe.

“What I’m most worried about is I won’t be able to leave the country because my name would have been blacklisted because of the article. I may have a hard time applying for a visa,” he said. “That’s what I’m worried about. I’m not too concerned about what the implications will be here in Indonesia.

Henry, an avid war re-enactor, argued that he was not promoting Nazi ideology, adding that his cafe had simply a “World War II, German military theme.” He therefore decorated his establishment with army uniforms, propaganda and paraphernalia “used by the World War II German military.”

“I must stress that this is art. This is not about ideology, extremism and racism. On our website, we have explained what this cafe is all about. We are not pro-Nazi, we are not politically affiliated with Nazi ideology,” he said.

“I also want to stress that I have never said, denounced or claimed that there was no evidence that the Nazis committed crimes against humanity toward the Jewish community. I want to say that I do believe the Holocaust happened.”

Henry’s lawyer Rohman Hidayat said the Jakarta Globe article had led people around the world to believe his client was a supporter of National Socialism and promoted its ideology.

“The article has created worldwide attention and caused international media to write about Soldatenkaffee, creating the perception that here in Indonesia we have [Nazi ideology], something that [Westerners] consider wrong,” he said. “There is a perception that Henry is somehow a Nazi follower.”

Henry Mulyana, foreground, operates the Soldatenkaffee in Bandung, which is decorated with Nazi paraphanelia and has staff dressed in costumes reminiscent of the SS. (JG Photo/Yuli Krisna)

Henry Mulyana, foreground, operates the Soldatenkaffee in Bandung, which is decorated with Nazi paraphanelia and has staff dressed in costumes reminiscent of the SS. (JG Photo/Yuli Krisna)

Soldatenkaffee has also attracted the attention of the Bandung government and security officials, although neither has decided whether to take action against the cafe.

“We’re checking it out, but for now there’s no specific prohibition on displaying Nazi symbols,” Ayi Vivananda, the Bandung deputy mayor, said on Wednesday.

Ayi added that the swastika, Nazi propaganda materials and posters of Adolf Hitler adorning the cafe’s walls were “internationally acknowledged” symbols that “represent violence and racism.”

Ayi said the government is probing whether Henry was deliberately inciting racism and violence, which is a criminal offense in Indonesia.

Bandung Police said on Friday that the decor did not violate any local laws, but recommended Henry take down the Nazi insignia in the public interest.

Henry said that, since the report and subsequent public condemnation, he has decided to close down Soldatenkaffee and remove all of the Nazi-related memorabilia from its walls.

“I have to close this cafe because of the article,” he said, adding that he had not begun counting his losses. By Yuli Krisna


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