A German restaurant in Minneapolis in facing a firestorm of criticism for hosting a private party for diners dressed up in Nazi uniforms.
The Jan. 20, which happened to be on Martin Luther King Day, party drew concern from an unnamed staff member at the Gasthof zur Gemutlichkeit restaurant, who decided to snap several photos of the event.
The cellphone images, which show men dressed up in Nazi SS uniforms under four Nazi banners hanging in one of the restaurant’s dining rooms, were anonymously published online this week in the Twin Cities publication City Pages.
The staffer was fired Friday after admitting to the restaurant’s owner that he had taken photos of the Nazi-themed dinner.
Gasthof’s owner Mario Pierzchalski, who is a native of Poland, said he’s hosted the party--usually held around Christmas--for six years and defended the event. He said those who attended were “very peaceful people” and “just actors,” some of whom were not dressed like Nazis, but as Italian soldiers and one as an American soldier.
“We live in a free country,” Pierzchalski told the Star Tribune. “From the comments I see, a lot of people they don’t see what freedom is. If I break the law, punish me. But we did this for so many years and everything was fine.”
After receiving a hostile public reaction, Pierzchalski says he will not host the party again.
Jon Boorom, a member of WWII Historical Re-enactment Society Inc., says he was at the event depicted in the photos, which he described as "a Star Trek convention but for WWII enthusiasts."
"If you wear a German uniform or a Nazi uniform, it's not like you're saying, 'I think Hitler was super cool' or 'I hate Jews' or 'I hate gays' or 'I hate democrats,'" Boorom told City Pages. "You're not there because you believe in what Hitler stood for -- you're there to educate people about history, and a lot of that is so people don't forget. It's the same as wanting to be the bad guy when you're playing cowboys and Indians. There's an attraction to the bad side."
FoxNews.com contacted Boorom who said he had no further comment.
In an effort to distance themselves from the event, the WWII Historical Re-enactment Society Inc., who were affiliated with the event, posted a message to Facebook on Monday.
There was a particularly harsh response from the area's Jewish community.
After hearing about the party, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas Steve Hunegs sent a letter to Gasthof's owner.
“Glorification and/or celebration of Nazi Germany and its military would appear to be incongruous with the nature of a family restaurant and its surrounding neighborhood,” it read. "Having been to your restaurant, I know that it celebrates German food, spirits and culture. I would hope that your restaurant would sever any connection to those who believe it is appropriate to dress up like German WWII soldiers and have a party."