Adolf Hitler is enjoying a surge of popularity in India, where a movie is in production, his autobiography is doing brisk sales and the genocidal dictator is "idolized and admired, mostly by the young." Wait, what?
The BBC reports on India's hottest new trend: Hitler. Yes, that Hitler. Not only is he getting the Bollywood treatment in a movie about his fairytale romance with Eva Braun called, uh, Dear Friend Hitler, but Hitler-themed "t-shirts, bags, bandanas and key-rings" are "in demand," and his autobiography, Mein Kampf, is flying off the shelves:
Jaico, the largest publisher and distributor of Mein Kampf in India, has sold more than a 100,000 copies in the last 10 years.
Crossword, an India-wide chain of book stores, has sold more than 25,000 copies since 2000 and marketing head Sivaram Balakrishnan says: "It's been a consistent bestseller for us."
And demand seems to be growing. Jaico's chief editor RH Sharma says: "There has been a steady rise of 10% to 15% in the book's sale."
So who are these Indian Hitler fans? Mostly "young people" in "affluent" areas, apparently. And they totally have a balanced view of the "legend":
Prayag Thakkar, a 19-year-old student in Gujarat state, is one of them: "I have idolised Hitler ever since I have had a sense of history. I admire his leadership qualities and his discipline."
The Holocaust was bad, he says, but that is not his concern. "He mesmerised the whole nation with his leadership and iron discipline. India needs his discipline."
Dimple Kumari, a research associate in Pune, has not read Mein Kampf but she would wear the Hitler T-shirt out of admiration for him. She calls him "a legend" and tries to put her admiration for him in perspective: "The killing of Jews was not good, but everybody has a positive and negative side."
Okay, though, 100,000 copies of a book sold over a decade in a country of more than one billion people doesn't exactly create a Nazi party—Turkey saw that many sold over the course of a couple months in 2005. And how surprised should we be that a sworn enemy of Britain circa the 1940s doesn't generate quite as much ill will in India as he does in Europe, some six decades after his death? We're a long way off from an Indian Hitler. But, for Christ's sake. A positive side?!
[BBC; wax Hitler pic via AP]