The organizer of a World War II-themed party at a northeast Minneapolis restaurant issued a public apology on Wednesday, days after a leaked photo showing Nazi flags and uniforms sparked an Internet backlash against the restaurant that hosted the invitation-only event.

Minneapolis resident Scott Steben, who has had small roles as a German soldier in at least three movies, said the dinner was a Christmas party for period actors like himself who dress 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 e-mails and phone calls to the owner of Gasthof’s, 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.

“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,” Steben said. “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.”

Matt McKinney