Insight into India's view of Hitler
"In India, it's a bit more than in other countries," he added. "India was far away from the Second World War. I don't think that many refugees from Europe came to India during the war. So the knowledge that people suffered is less here than in other countries. I definitely see it as part of my job to try to do something about that."
"Mein Kampf" is a hot seller at many Indian streetside book stalls. When a German writer, Georg Martin Oswald, came to India recently on an exchange program, he wrote in an online diary of being stunned at the book's popularity.
Newspaper surveys have found that significant numbers of Indian college students rate Hitler as an ideal model for an Indian leader. A 2002 survey by the Times of India, an English-language daily, noted that Hitler signified discipline, efficiency and nationalism to the students. Hitler also holds appeal for some Hindu nationalists who dream of a more assertive, conquering India cleansed of its Muslim population.
Last year, the government of Gujarat state, controlled by Hindu nationalists, introduced a new textbook for high- school history students that raised alarms around the world. "Hitler lent dignity and prestige to the German government within a short time by establishing a strong administrative set up," the textbook wrote, according to press accounts at the time. "He created the vast state of Greater Germany. He adopted the policy of opposition towards the Jewish people."
Prem Shankar Jha, one of the country's most influential political columnists, said the "romanticizing of Hitler" by a small group of Indians derived from a lack of indigenous examples of swashbuckling leaders who can make change happen.
Jha said he did not believe it had to do with the Holocaust. "It has to do with power, might, the man for whom the ordinary rules of mortality don't apply."
Then there is the swastika. Before it was Hitler's symbol, it belonged to ancient Hindu tradition. Many Indians believe that Hitler was endorsing their culture when he co-opted the symbol. So common is the perception that it prompted Deutsche Welle, Germany's international media outlet, to publish an essay last year entitled "The Indian View on Hitler - A Deep Misunderstanding."
"The fact that he used the term Aryan or the symbol of the Swastika does not mean that Hitler liked India," it wrote.
Ordinarily, India is prickly about allowing any sensibility to be offended. This is a nation that is likely to ban a movie or book because someone, somewhere, is hurt. So it is more likely to be a reflection of how absent knowledge of the Holocaust is from the Indian consciousness that this café came to be.
Sabhlok and a friend, Ajeesh Nambiar, said they had never learned much about Hitler's Germany. "We are not very strong in history," Nambiar said. "Hitler has never come to India, so we don't know about him."
"They say he killed Jewish people in gas chambers," Nambiar went on. "So many people are talking about it, so it must be true."
When asked how many Jews he thought were killed in the Holocaust, he said 600. Sabhlok revised it upward: 100,000.
For now, however, the restaurateur's focus is on the future, not the past. He must rename the café. From the blogosphere, which has pounced upon the restaurant, many suggestions have been forthcoming. Among them: Stalin Samosa Shop, Ayatollah Khomeini's Falafels, and Kim Jong's Juicy Juice.
But Sabhlok, apparently flummoxed by media attention he never wanted, has set a new rule for restaurant names.
Hitler was never unpopular in India because he was considered the ‘Enemy’s Enemy’, i.e. Britain’s enemy. School principals or strict teachers in India are nick named Hitler all the time. All we knew during our school years was that he was a dictator.We were ignorant. Unlike now, Indian schools did not teach European History we never learnt much about exactly what Hitler did. Hitler’s Cross Restaurant in Mumbai is an example of our ignorance, not malice.
CBSE syllabus has changed recently and WW I and WW II have been included. Thank God! Why do I care whether we study Hitler or not? Because the biggest benefit of studying history is to learn from the mistakes our ancestors made.
Here’s a video that shows what the allied soldiers found when they reached one of the concentration camps. Holocast crimes were taken very seriously and even today you will not find any statues of Hitler anywhere there. India could learn this lesson from the West, human life and human rights are taken seriously over there.
(Graphic images. User discretion is advised.)
Do you know, there are many in India today who quote Gandhi one moment and next talk about Hitler as a role model, Raj Thakre and Modi are two such people. It’s sad because the guy they worship would have sent them to holocaust too. Hitler was strongly racial, he was against Romanians, Blacks, Slovakians, Gypsies, (we come in this category, for Hitler, no matter how much ‘fair & lovely’ we apply), homosexuals, physically and mentally disabled and anyone who opposed him.
I also doubt the veracity of the sporting folklore that Hitler was so impressed by Dhyan Chand’s sorcery with the stick that he offered him an officer’s commission in the Wermacht.
Hitler and India – Enemy of the enemy?
Posted on December 28, 2009
Hitler, the evil dictator was responsible for the death of millions of innocent people, just because they did not fit his distorted and evil vision of so called ‘pure race’. We – the Indians – seem to have a bit different view of Hitler than rest of the world. However, it is not by choice. The fact is that Hitler, a globally hated figure, is not much discussed in Indian class-rooms, or outside the class for that matter. The world war history taught in our schools has focused on what India saw or what India gained/lost during that period of instability.
Indians, during 1940s, had bigger things to worry about. The partition of India was the main talk of politics and religion; we were too busy hating our own neighbors, who had no time for Hitler!
If anything, Hitler has always been a subject of curiosity amongst Indians. Most of the western world hates him with passion. We – the Indians – don’t see this hate or strong dislike of him until we leave India and go overseas.
Hate or no hate, Hitler has become a fascinating figure in India; may be a bit mysterious. The limited knowledge of his life amongst our cultures and the way he is portrayed in Indian school books leaves us wanting for more.
1940s – India and German
To understand the relation between India and Hitler, we need to remind ourselves about the world politics in the early 20th century.
In early 1930s Hitler was gaining popularity in Europe and rest of the world was starting to take notice of his fanatic views. Moreover, inside and outside of Europe, German was considered as one of the major world power with one of the most organized and most powerful army in the world. After an alliance with Italy, German practically ruled a large part of Europe.
Around the same time, in 1930s and 1940s, India’s struggle for freedom was starting to gain momentum. While Gandhi and his followers were taking a non-violence route to the ultimate goal of independence, there were others who were considering all means possibilities, – including violence – to push the British Empire out of the country. Subhash Chandra Bose was one of them.
Subhash Chandra Bose and Hitler
As they say, ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’!
In 1940s, around the same time when England (along with its allies) was fighting German in the World War II, Indian Freedom fighters were looking for ways to beat England on the Indian soil. For many Indian freedom fighters, German and Hitler – an enemy of the enemy – was hard to ignore from the possible list of friends.
In 1941, Subhash Chandra Bose, the Indian revolutionary leader, went to German seeking help for Indian freedom fight against British Empire. His main goal was to get Hitler’s help for organizing an Indian army to fight against England – the common enemy.
According to a BBC Documentary based on their investigation, Hitler’s regime had officially recognized Bose’s “Free India Government” in exile, and even agreed to help Bose raise an army to fight for his cause. The Indian volunteers, many of them recruited from the German prison camps, joined Bose’s army. Eventually, he was able gain support from an army of a few thousands of Indians in German.
However, Hitler did not deliver on his promise to help Bose.
When German invaded Russia, a country that Bose admired, and after he found out that Hitler’s promise to help was shallow with no substance, his ‘freedom movement’ in German was practically over. Hitler just wanted to use his Indian connection for propaganda. The in end, Bose’s efforts in German were fruitless.
In 1943, with no hope in sight from German side, Bose secretly slipped away in a Japanese submarine and went to Japan where he was much more successful in gathering a much larger army of volunteers. His German recruits were forced to join Hitler’s army, a sad end to their big dream.
So in the end, Hitler – an enemy of the enemy – was not really a friend of India. May be he was not the kind of person who could make many friends. In fact, according to his biography, August Kubizek was the only friend he had during his youth days. Once in power, Hitler did not bother to see this friend again, for 30 years.
Enough said? May be not, we always want to know more, even if it is evil and distasteful. That’s why Hitler’s autobiography is selling like hot cakes in India.
Edited by lexluthor, 30 August 2012 - 01:44 AM.