The organizer of a Nazi-themed party at a northeast Minneapolis restaurant issued a public apology on Wednesday, days after a leaked photo of the event sparked an Internet backlash against him and the restaurant that hosted the invitation-only event.
Minneapolis resident Scott Steben, who has played small parts as a German soldier in at least three movies, said the dinner was a Christmas party and an exercise for period actors like himself who make a hobby of dressing in World War II uniforms.
The dinner featured men dressed in SS and German Army uniforms, as well as Nazi banners hung on the walls of a dining room at the German restaurant Gasthof zur Gemutlichkeit. Photos taken by a concerned Gasthof's staff member appear to show about two dozen people at the event.
News of the party brought hostile emails and phone calls to the owner of Gasthof's [shown in video thumbnail above], as well as a letter from two local Jewish groups that expressed concern while offering to help the restaurant find another way to honor World War II veterans and Holocaust survivors.
The dinner was held Jan. 20, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but Steben said the timing of the party was based only on when the restaurant was closed.
Steben said his group is now reviewing its practices. His full statement is below:
Statement CONCERNING WWII Reenactment Dinner
On behalf of everyone who participated in a World War II reenactment dinner last January, I apologize. We understand that some of the items we displayed at the dinner have made people feel uncomfortable. That was not our intent.
We are a historical reenactment and professional actor society dedicated to promoting understanding of World War II. In no way are we or any of our members affiliated with groups that promote the subjugation of anyone. All our members value education, equal rights and the complex relationship between good versus evil. These values shine through during our frequent public, Re-enactment Society-sanctioned reenactments of historic WWII battles and events and nationally released movie, Memorial Day. Sadly, these values were not captured in the photographs taken of us during the private dinner.
We are currently reviewing our practices so that in the future our members will be more mindful of the unintended effects of the materials we display.