Thursday, December 21, 2006
From The Chicago Tribune…
Hitler the trendy tyrant
German dictator no pariah to some in India, the Tribune’s Kim Barker reports
By Kim Barker
Tribune’s South Asia correspondent
KHARGHAR, India -- When an Adolf Hitler-themed restaurant opened its doors in a suburb of cosmopolitan Mumbai in August, many were horrified. The restaurant, Hitlers’ Cross, changed its name a week later to Cross Cafe, but it is hardly the only example of how some Indians view Hitler and his legacy.
Hindu fundamentalist groups praise Hitler’s leadership skills. A college poll a few years ago showed he was perceived as an ideal leader. Books and videos of him are top sellers. Most patrons prefer to call Cross Cafe by its previous name. Plates and cups still bear the Hitlers’ Cross logo, with a Nazi swastika in place of the “O.”
“We call it ‘Hitler’ only,” said Ashish Anant, 18, an aeronautics college student who likes to come to the cafe with friends. “We say, ‘Let’s go to Hitler.’ It’s a trendy name. It’s different.”
It’s not clear why Hitler is popular in some circles. Some experts say it’s because of a belief that Indians were the original Aryan race. Others say it’s because Hitler used the traditional Hindu good-luck symbol of the swastika, rotating it slightly. Those who believe strongly in the caste system of India also may like Hitler’s eugenics and race beliefs.
Any praise for Hitler is not reflected in national policy. India has strong ties with Israel and views it as an ally in the war on terror. And Jewish and non-Jewish Indians were horrified by Hitlers’ Cross. Daniel Zohar Zonshine, the Israel consul general in Mumbai, looked visibly upset when talking about the portrayal of Hitler in India, especially Hitlers’ Cross. He said he thinks the owners wanted the free publicity that comes with such controversy.
[Click on the essay title above to read the full story.]