Indonesian 'Nazi café' closes down, citing lack of interest

Controversial Nazi-themed café in the city of Bandung closes over lack of customers, but plans to open elsewhere.

Arutz Sheva Staff,

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A controversial Nazi-themed café with swastika-bearing walls in Indonesia has closed over a lack of customers, a lawyer said Thursday, according to AFP.

The SoldatenKaffee ("The Soldiers' Cafe"), which also sports a painting of Adolf Hitler, sparked global outrage when reports about the unusual venue in the city of Bandung surfaced several years ago.

The owner Henry Mulyana voluntarily shut the café in 2013 after receiving death threats, but it was reopened a year later, with the Hitler image still in place and three huge iron eagles with swastikas on display.

According to Mulyana's lawyer, Rohman Hidayat, the latest closure was not because of the controversy over the theme of the café, but rather a lack of interest.

Hidayat confirmed on Thursday that the SoldatenKaffee had shut as there were not enough customers to support it, but said he did not believe people had been put off by the theme.

"The public interest is low because the current location is not very strategic," Hidayat told AFP, adding the café was shut down six months ago and that the decision was taken purely for business reasons.

He further noted that Mulyana was looking for a better location in downtown Bandung --the previous site was in a quiet area outside the center -- and for new investors to build a bigger café, although he did not say when it would reopen.

Hidayat insisted the SoldatenKaffe, which takes its name from cafes where German troops used to hang out in occupied Paris during World War II, would still display the Nazi memorabilia when it opened again.

"Those objects are not illegal," he said, adding, "It's not because we love Hitler, we only love things related to World War II."

AFP noted that when Mulyana reopened the café in 2014, he sought to escape criticism by broadening its theme, adding images of other World War II figures like Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin alongside Nazi-related memorabilia.

The café first opened its doors in 2011, but only found itself at the center of controversy two years later when the English-language media began highlighting its Nazi theme.

The reports prompted fierce criticism from overseas, particularly from Jewish organizations, including the LA-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, which expressed its "outrage and disgust" and called for the café's closure.

Historians have blamed poor schooling for the lack of awareness and sensitivity about the Holocaust in Indonesia, which is home to the world's biggest Muslim population and only has a tiny number of Jews.

AFP contributed to this report.


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