Late last week, a reader sent City Pages a photo showing men dressed in German SS uniforms seated in the main dining room of northeast Minneapolis restaurant Gasthof Zur Gemutlichkeit surrounded by Nazi flags.
The source, who wishes to remain anonymous, had received the photo from a friend, but gave no further context about who took the photo.
Jon Boorom, a member of WWII Historical Re-enactment Society Inc. and owner of the Lakeville Barbers, says he was at the December event depicted in the photo, which he likened to "a Star Trek convention but for WWII enthusiasts."
"All of the German [re-enactment] groups in Minnesota have a Christmas party because we don't typically have events going on in the winter," Boorom says. "It's just like any club that has a party. Because they dress up like Germans from World War II, it's cool to go to a German restaurant, eat German food, and drink German beer."
Gasthof's owner, Mario Pierzchalski, declined our invitations to speak about the incident.
According to Boorom, the Christmas party is an annual event that has been celebrated for 16 years, but only held at Gasthof's for the last six. Outside of that night, members are involved in educational activities, weekend re-enactment events, and films.
He also maintains that members of the German WWII re-enactment groups are given extensive background checks and no neo-Nazis or "political racists" are allowed to take part in the events.
"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 explains. "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."
For more photos from the event, click through to page two...[page]
Reddit user "trrpsl" commented on a thread about the dinner party and shared several more photos of the event.