MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A popular northeast Minneapolis restaurant is taking heat, after a picture surfaced showing Nazi flags at a holiday party.

The picture was taken inside Gasthof’s, and it appeared Monday in City Pages. More than 400 people commented on it, most were upset by what they saw.

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When the picture first surfaced, it turned heads for obvious reasons: the Nazi flags displayed in the background; people wearing German SS uniforms.

But those who were there say the picture does not tell the story, and that this was an event for about 50 Word War II historical re-enactors.

One re-enactor, who asked that his name not be used, released a statement saying he was distressed about the stories circulating and that the people who were there are “in no way connected to any Neo-Nazi or Nazi sympathizing organization.”

The re-enactor told us the Nazi symbols “were not meant to invoke or promote any racial hatred.”

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He said that the group’s goal is to educate people about history and that what isn’t shown in the picture is that the same re-enactors also dress up as soldiers from the United States and Great Britain.

He added that in order to recreate history, all sides must be represented — even those we don’t agree with.

Finally, he said, “in the future, more thought will be given to prevent others from misinterpreting the actions at any kind of function involving living history re-enactors.”

While many of the people at the party are members of the World War II Historical Re-enactment Society, the society said they had nothing to do with this event and it wasn’t sanctioned.

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Gasthof’s owner did not return our calls this afternoon. But a friend said that the restaurant would never let a party take place if they thought it was racist or malicious.

John Lauritsen