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04 April 2010

South-Asians Admire Hitler

Nothing is quite so effective in undermining an irrational attitude as showing that it is by no means universal.

From the Daily Telegraph:

Indian business students snap up copies of Mein Kampf
Sales of Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler's autobiography and apologia for his anti-semitism, are soaring in India where business students regard the dictator as a management guru.

By Monty Munford in New Delhi
Published: 7:00AM BST 20 Apr 2009


Booksellers told The Daily Telegraph that while it is regarded in most countries as a 'Nazi Bible', in India it is considered a management guide in the mould of Spencer Johnson's "Who Moved My Cheese". Sales of the book over the last six months topped 10,000 in New Delhi alone, according to leading stores, who said it appeared to be becoming more popular with every year.

Several said the surge in sales was due to demand from students who see it as a self-improvement and management strategy guide for aspiring business leaders, and who were happy to cite it as an inspiration. "Students are increasingly coming in asking for it and we're happy to sell it to them," said Sohin Lakhani, owner of Mumbai-based Embassy books who reprints Mein Kampf every quarter and shrugs off any moral issues in publishing the book.
"They see it as a kind of success story where one man can have a vision, work out a plan on how to implement it and then successfully complete it".

Jaico Publishing House, one of the publishers in India, said it reprints a new edition of the book at least twice a year to meet growing demand. "We were the first company to publish the book in India and there are now six other Indian publishers of the book, although we were first to take a chance on it," said Jaico's chief editor, R H Sharma, who dismissed any moral issues in publishing Mein Kampf.

"The initial print run of 2,000 copies in 2003 sold out immediately and we knew we had a best-seller on our hands. Since then the numbers have increased every year to around 15,000 copies until last year when we sold 10,000 copies over a six-month period in our Delhi shops," he added.

Senior academics cite the mutual influence of India and Hitler's Nazis on one another. Mahatma Gandhi corresponded with the Führer, pro-Independence leader Subhas Chandra Bose's Indian National Army allied with Hitler's Germany and Japan during the Second World War, and the Nazis drew on Hindu symbolism for their Swastika motif and ideas of Aryan supremacy.

Dr J Kuruvachira, Professor of Philosophy of Salesian College in Nagaland and who has cited Mein Kampf as a source of inspiration to the Hindu nationalist BJP, said he believed the book's popularity was due to political reasons. "While it could be the case that management students are buying the book, my feeling is that it has more likely influenced some of the fascist organisations operating in India and nearby," he said.

Indian leader Subhas Chandra Bose (right) in Germany during World War II
India is not the only country where Mein Kampf is popular. It has been a best-seller in Croatia since it was first published [there] while in Turkey it sold 100,000 in just two months in 2005. In Russia it has been reprinted three times since the de facto ban on the book was overturned in 1992.

In Germany the book's copyright is held by the state of Bavaria where its publication is banned until 2015, 70 years after Hitler's death.

In India, any book more than 25 years old is free of copyright, which has paved the way for six separate publishers to print the book.



From der Spiegel:
03/17/2010

The Führer Cult

Germans Cringe at Hitler's Popularity in Pakistan

[Why would they cringe?]

By Hasnain Kazim in Islamabad, Pakistan
The swastika is a religious symbol of good luck.
Zoom
REUTERS
The swastika is a religious symbol of good luck.
Germans are popular in India and Pakistan, but not always for the right reasons. Many in South Asia have nothing but admiration for Adolf Hitler and still associate Germany with the Third Reich. Everyday encounters with the love of all things Nazi makes German visitors cringe.
Pakistan is the opposite of Germany. The mountains are in the north, the sea is in the south, the economic problems are in the west and the east is doing well. It's not hard for a German living in Pakistan to get used to these differences, but one contrast is hard to stomach: Most people like Hitler.
-->
--> I was recently at the hairdresser, an elderly man who doesn't resort to electric clippers. All he has is creaky pair of scissors, a comb, an aerosol with water. He did a neat job but I wasn't entirely happy.
I said: "I look like Hitler."
He looked at me in the mirror, gave a satisfied smile and said: "Yes, yes, very nice."
I decided not to challenge him, went home and tried to get rid of the strict parting he'd given me.

Embarrassing Moments
I was glad I avoided the usual Hitler conversation. Pakistanis always hone in on that topic whenever they talk to Germans. "We're Aryans too," they say, because there was an Indo-Germanic race, the Aryas. Besides, Hitler was a military genius, they add.
Sometimes it's better to keep quiet about one's German origins. It's embarrassing because people here think they're doing you a favor by expressing their admiration for the Nazi leader. I suspect most Indians and Pakistanis have no idea what this man did. They see him as the bold Führer who took on the British and Americans.
In the Islamic world, not just in Pakistan but right across from Iran to northern Africa, anti-Semitic sentiment of course plays a role. Conversations with German visitors rapidly turn to the injustice being suffered by the Palestinians who were robbed of their land.
The Desire to be Swallowed up by the Ground
One can try to cut such conversations short, like a German acquaintance of mine did recently. He told a taxi driver in Iran he should stop talking nonsense because he as a dark-skinned person wouldn't have survived long in Nazi Germany. The taxi driver looked at him surprised and said: "But I'm Aryan!"
The alternative is just to wish the ground would swallow you up, like when German friends visited us while we were staying with our Pakistani relatives in London. Out of the blue, one uncle started talking admiringly about Hitler, his supposed military feats and how he led Germany out of economic misery. Our friends just sat there stony-faced and didn't know what to say. Later on my parents apologized to them.
I don't know where this fascination comes from, not just for the Nazis but for all things German. Most people don't realize that today's Germany is very different from the Third Reich. It's not surprising. Many have never even been to the next big city in their own country, so how should they know what things are like in Germany these days?
"I Like Nazi"
As a result, many Pakistanis easily switch from Hitler to Mercedes ("Very excellent car, but a little too expensive"). A few days ago a white Mercedes built in the 1970s was driving ahead of me in the center of Islamabad carrying a family of seven. On the back was a sticker bearing a black swastika in a white circle. Underneath it read: "I like Nazi."
-->
--> It's not just Muslims who maintain this Nazi cult. A few years ago, a Hindu businessman in India opened a restaurant called "Hitler's Cross," complete with a portrait of the Führer at the entrance. Another Hindu sold bed linen emblazoned with swastikas that had little to do with the Hindu swastika symbol for good luck. The sheets, pillow cases and bed spreads were advertised as being part of "The Nazi Collection." English editions of Hitler's "Mein Kampf" can be found in bookshops even in the most remote parts of India. And Indian schoolbooks have been known to celebrate Hitler as a great leader.
Once my wife and I visited the cafe in the beautiful Hotel Imperial in New Delhi. It has a garden lined with palms, excellent tea and friendly waiters in uniforms that recall the colonial era. A young man served us. The name tag on his uniform attracted my interest so I asked him why he had this rather unusual name for an Indian man. "Oh, my parents named me after a great historic person," he explained.
The name, in black letters on a golden plate, read: Adolf.

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