ELIZABETH, N.J. (Dec. 15)
Dieter Homburg, who celebrated Hitler’s birthday with a party at his tavern, Loni’s Pub, every year for the past 10 years, has sold out and returned to his native Germany. His departure was apparently prompted by a sharp decline in business after his Hitler bash on April 21 triggered an angry protest demonstration last May 31 by local Jewish and veterans organizations. Elizabeth has one of the largest Jewish populations in New Jersey.
The protest brought Homburg and his activities unwanted publicity in the media though it did not result in closing the bar. Law enforcement authorities said the parties, though repugnant, violated no local ordinances and were in accordance with the legal exercise of freedom of speech.
The parties, held on the second floor of the tavern, usually drew about 30 guests “from all walks of life,” Homburg was quoted as telling the media. They were open to anyone willing to pay $15 for four hours of food and drink. According to witnesses, at least one guest turned up in a storm trooper uniform last April. The party featured a birthday cake with a swastika.
REACTION TO HOMBURG’S DEPARTURE
Alan Shelton, president of the Zionist Association of Kean College in nearby Union, N.J., one of the groups that demonstrated, said he was “overjoyed that Homburg found conditions so difficult that he chose to return to Germany, but the fact that he was able to attract area residents on a yearly basis to pay homage to Hitler is clear evidence Homburg was not alone in his pro-Nazi sentiments.”
Homburg always insisted he was not affiliated with any Nazi group. He said he was puzzled by the outrage over what he considered just “a joke” to have “a good time.” But the fuehrer’s admirer, who was born after the collapse of the Third Reich, said he was “tired” of hearing about the Holocaust.
He gave reporters handouts commending President Reagan for honoring his commitment to place a wreath at the German war cemetery at Bitburg last May where about 50 members of the Waffen SS are buried along with other war dead.
The worldwide protests aroused by Reagan’s visit to Bitburg “resulted in the biggest hate campaign against Germans,” according to the material handed out by Homburg.
AN EFFECTIVE DEMONSTRATION
The May 31 demonstration was a small one. It drew no more than 30 people, according to the Newark Star Ledger. But is was apparently effective. Elizabeth police who began to monitor the pub reported a sharp fall-off in business.
The sponsors of the May 31 demonstration were, in addition to Shelton’s group, the New Jersey Coalition Against Nazis; the Elmora Hebrew Center of Elizabeth; the Second Generation of Metro, N.J. — an organization of children of Holocaust survivors; the Jewish War Veterans of America; and the New Jewish Agenda of South Orange.
The new owner of the tavern, now known as Rodz’s Pub, is Rick Rodriguez whose father Joseph was its manager and a partner of Homburg until three years ago. The German flags have been removed. The pub will continue to serve German food prepared by the same cook. But Hitler’s birthday celebrations apparently are a thing of the past.