About 20 people staged a silent protest Wednesday evening outside a German restaurant that had hosted a World War II re-enactment party, which included Nazi flags and participants dressed in Nazi uniforms, the Star Tribune reports.
The dinner was held in January at Gasthof zur Gemutlichkeit, a popular restaurant in northeast Minneapolis, but came to light just a week ago when some photos taken at the event were made public.
The protest was organized to pay tribute to victims of the Nazi Holocaust, according to organizer Susan Schwaidelson Siegfried. The participants wore clothing from the era, complete with badges that concentration camp prisoners would have worn, according to the Star Tribune. They stayed on the public sidewalk outside the restaurant, and handed out leaflets to passersby explaining their actions.
THIS IS A REENACTMENT OF A DEPORTATION
In response to the WWII Nazi reenactment dinner party, we are silently speaking on behalf of those who no longer have a voice. We are individuals who believe that no WWII event is complete without acknowledging the victims.
Another protest organizer, Margie Newman, told City Pages she feels strongly about the dinner party reenactment because her father was a Holocaust survivor who lost almost all his family during WWII.
"We're there to just speak to the other part of the reenactment," she said. "There's no Nazi World War II story without the victims, so we just want to add that piece to it."
One of the organizers of the original dinner, Scott Steben, said the event was an exercise for actors who often take on the part of soldiers at fairs and in movies.
“By no means do we glorify the edicts of the Third Reich,” Steben said.
The group has screening measures in place to prevent people with a criminal history or neo-Nazis from joining, he adds. That’s similar to sentiments noted by two other members of the group after the pictures came out.
Mario Pierzchalski, the owner of Gasthof, offered support for the group. He’s hosted the party – held in January, and always on a Monday when the restaurant is closed – for six years now. While the photos don’t show it, he says there were men dressed as Italian soldiers, and one American soldier too.
“Those people are very peaceful people,” he said. “They are not any politicians or any against politics or against the parties here. They are just actors.”