A Nazi-themed cafe in Indonesia, decorated with swastikas and portraits of Adolf Hitler, has closed down – not because of any controversy, but due to a lack of interest. The SoldatenKaffee (The Soldiers' Cafe) sparked global outrage when news of the restaurant in the city of Bandung spread. The café first opened its doors in 2011, but found itself at the centre 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 organisations, including the LA-based Simon Wiesenthal Centre, which expressed its "outrage and disgust" and called for the café's closure. Owner Henry Mulyana voluntarily shut the café in 2013 after receiving death threats, but he reopened it a year later, with a few images of other Second World War figures like Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin alongside the Nazi memorabilia.
Mulyana's lawyer, Rohman Hidayat, has confirmed that the SoldatenKaffee has had to 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.
He said Mulyana was looking for both a more central location in Bandung and for new investors to build a bigger venue. Hidayat insisted the SoldatenKaffe, which takes its name from cafés where German troops used to relax in occupied Paris during the Second World War, would still display the Nazi memorabilia when it opened again. "Those objects are not illegal," he said. "It's not because we love Hitler, we only love things related to World War II."
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 a tiny number of Jews.