“A party fit for a Fuhrer’s birthday!” was written in the event’s description. “Join October and this week’s cast of Nightshift as we celebrate one special regime leader’s birthday (technically April 20th). Bring your small mustaches and significant other you want to do cyanide with as we throw a party for a Fuhrer!!"
Now, the organizer of the event, a bartender at Brewer’s, is apologizing. Sarah at Brewer’s Bar, who withheld her last name because she is in the process of getting divorced, says she is “incredibly sorry.”
“I sincerely apologize,” she says. “I am heartbroken for hurting anyone, and for hurting friends of mine.”
Sarah says she was the organizer of the event and she posted the event to the Brewer’s Bar Facebook page. Soon after the event was posted, it received criticism from many people in the community, and it was taken down. Soon after the event was deleted, the Brewer’s Bar Facebook page was also deleted.
Sarah says the owners of Brewer’s had nothing to do with the event, as she is the regular organizer of the Nightshift dance nights and has access to the bar’s Facebook page. She says the party was meant to be anti-fascist themed and a criticism of the rise of white nationalism under President Donald Trump. She says the party was “meant to push boundaries,” and wasn’t meant to come off as pro-Hitler, but now she realizes the mistake she made.
She says the event goes against the history of what Brewer's Bar stands for as a welcoming LGBTQ establishment.
“Everything we do at Brewer’s is trying to inclusive,” says Sarah. “We want to have live artists, hip-hop shows, and movie nights outside. We are trying to make it all inclusive. The fact that I could have shattered that, it hurts me. [The party] wasn't meant with any malice.”
Josh Sayles of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh wrote in an email to City Paper that he is grateful for the bar's swift action in canceling the party. But he added that Hitler and the Holocaust should not be subjects of satire.
“If the party organizers were intending to be satirical, they demonstrated an incredibly poor lack of judgment,” wrote Sayles. “There is a short list of topics that should never be the subject of satire and the Holocaust is at the top of the list. How are Jewish members of the LGBTQ+ community supposed to feel upon receiving an invitation to such a party? Not to mention that in addition to the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, the LGBTQ+ community was also a target of the Nazis.”
An estimated 100,000 LGBTQ individuals were targeted by the Third Reich during the Holocaust.
Ehrrin Keenan caught wind of the “Furher Festival” event early on. She used to curate LGBTQ event listings in the Pittsburgh area, and when she discovered the Furher event, she was upset.
Keenan doesn’t believe the event was really meant to glorify Hitler, but says “the way it was marketed did not make any satire clear at all.” Regardless, Keenan says the event never should have been marketed in the first place. She says the event organizers and Brewer's should do a fundraiser for affected groups in the area and participate in some education campaigns about the Holocaust.
Sarah says she has reached out to some Jewish organizations and is open to suggestions from the public on how best to move forward from this event.
“I am offering my honest apology,” says Sarah. “I am trying to understand and I am trying to mend fences.”