FASHION ALERT: In U.S., SS Guard uniforms “aus;” in Israel, KKK “glory suits” “in”

You may have seen the controversial photos released this past week: patrons of a German restaurant in Minnesota decked out in SS Guard uniforms; Harel High School students in Mevasseret Tzion parading in Klansmen “glorysuits” before an Ethiopian absorption center.

"Nazi Party" at Gasthof zur Gemütlichkeit (photo credit: City Pages)

Whereas the local city council did nothing official to condemn the high school students who on Purim masqueraded as members of the KKK for such an egregious display of racism, a group of local Minnesotans banded together to express their disappointment and hurt at the Minneapolis restaurant’s shocking display of insensitivity in hosting the now-notorious annual “Nazi Party.”

Some background: For the past six years, a group from the WWII Historical Re-Enactment Society has gathered annually at Gasthof Zur Gemütlichkeit, a popular German restaurant in Minneapolis’ Northeast neighborhood, to host a Nazi-themed party.  Recently, when a (now-fired) staffer from the restaurant leaked photos from this year’s Third Reich extravaganza, held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the annual event attracted national attention.

In response to the now-notorious annual “Nazi Party,” Susan Schwaidelson Siegfried threw down the gauntlet on her personal blog, calling upon anyone else interested in protesting the event to contact her.  One of the people who teamed up with Siegfied was my friend Margie Newman, a Jewish writer based in St. Paul, who helped her organize a silent “deportation flash mob” in front of the restaurant.

Deportation Flash Mob (photo credit: Tom Coffee)

“As the daughter of a survivor, I knew I had to respond in some way,” Newman explained.  Indeed, the organizers of the deportation flash mob felt strongly about remembering and honoring the victims of the Holocaust to counter the shocking “Nazi party” images.

Deportation Flash Mob (photo credit: Tom Coffee)

The silent protestors encountered resistance from the Gasthof zur Gemütlichkeit’s security staff.  Within minutes of the flash mob, tow trucks pulled up to remove vehicles of the  assembled crowd and the journalists on the scene.

The folks in Mevasseret Tzion should take a cue from the courageous group in Minnesota, which included both Jews and non-Jews, who took an active stance against such insensitivity for the plight of victims of bigotry and senseless hatred.

Despite reports last week indicating that the city council of Mevasseret Tzion was expected  to condemn the students who dressed up as the KKK, the city council ultimately voted against condemning the high school students’ actions. The sole dissenting voice was that of American-born Absorption Committee member Jeremy Saltan.

In discussion with friends about both situations, the question of post-irony repeatedly surfaced. In both cases, it remains unclear to me what

Deportation Flash Mob (Photo Credit: Tom Coffee)

exactly motivated the Minnesotan WWII “reenactment” group who hosted the Nazi fete or the Mevasseret Tzion children cloaked in Klansman garb (and/or their parents, for that matter), but I cannot accept the post-irony argument as a valid “out” in these cases.  When we live in a time when the hateful principles for which white supremacy stands are still painfully real and dangerous, the post-irony trump card rings hollow.

Perhaps the most pressing question truly is: do you ever want to be caught looking like Great Britain’s Prince Harry?

2 Responses to “FASHION ALERT: In U.S., SS Guard uniforms “aus;” in Israel, KKK “glory suits” “in””

  1. Thank you for posting this, and sharing the link to the blog. The response from readers in Germany who saw the article on Der Spiegel ONLINE has been incredible. Many are posted on the Wifely Person Facebook page.

    The whole experience of a silent demonstration was amazing. It was powerful in ways I never expected. I am so glad we did it.


    Susan Schwaidelson Siegfried · April 2nd, 2014 at 8:35 am
  2. This is horrific, that a German restaurant (or anyone) would have a Nazi-themed party. And in our neighboring state (I live in Wisconsin). And the staffer who leaked the photos was fired? They should sue the restaurant. The deportation flash mob was a wonderful way to respond. Thanks for that. I wish news of this were more widespread.The high school action should be condemmed as well.


    Genie Ogden · April 5th, 2014 at 1:32 am

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"I may attack a certain point of view which I consider false, but I will never attack a person who preaches it. I have always a high regard for the individual who is honest and moral, even when I am not in agreement with him. Such a relation is in accord with the concept of kavod habriyot, for beloved is man for he is created in the image of God." —Rav Joseph Soloveitchik