Baker of Nazi cake tries to make amends

AP News
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Posted: Apr 15, 2011 11:59 AM
Baker of Nazi cake tries to make amends

An Austrian pastry shop owner whose cakes adorned with Nazi designs caused a nationwide stir sought to make amends Friday by giving a traditional Easter bun decorated with Jewish and Christian symbols to a member of a Holocaust awareness group that publicized the case.

The group, the Mauthausen Committee, said baker Manfred Klaschka exchanged gifts with committee member Willi Mernyi, with Klaschka presenting the pastry and Mernyi giving Klaschka a book describing Nazi crimes in Austria's Mauthausen concentration camp.

Mernyi said he arranged the meeting because he is convinced Klaschka is "not a right-wing baker" and that he is sorry for making the cakes.

Klaschka, who had previously apologized, did so again Friday.

"I recognize that this was a mistake," a Mauthausen Committee statement quoted him as saying. "I am no Nazi."

The Mauthausen Committee first drew attention to the cakes early this month saying Klaschka's bakery, in the village of Maria Enzersdorf, near Vienna, displayed photos of tortes adorned with swastikas and other Nazi era symbols, including an arm raised in a Hitler salute. The pictures, it added, were contained in a binder showcasing previously produced baked goods that clients can flip through.

Klaschka subsequently told Austrian media the cakes were made about eight years ago and he never expected such a commotion.

The case is under investigation after Merny's group asked the regional public prosecutors' office to see if the display constituted grounds to lay charges under Austrian law banning the glorification of the Nazi era and any attempt to diminish, deny or justify the Holocaust. Police confiscated the binder after Mernyi's group sounded the alarm.

Merny on Friday suggested his group now was convinced the baker meant no harm, saying "Mr. Klaschka was obviously not aware of the significance of his actions."

The Nazis shot, gassed, beat or worked to death about half the 200,000 inmates in Mauthausen's main camp or its affiliates. The camp got its name from the nearby town of Mauthausen, about 155 kilometers (nearly 100 miles) west of Vienna.