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Archives for : Treaty of Versailles

Hitler’s Strange Afterlife in India #sundayreading

Nov 30, 2012 , http://www.thedailybeast.com

Hated and mocked in much of the world, the Nazi leader has developed a strange following among schoolchildren and readers of Mein Kampf in India. Dilip D’Souza on how political leader Bal Thackeray influenced Indians to admire Hitler and despise Gandhi.

  • My wife teaches French to tenth-grade students at a private school here in Mumbai. During one recent class, she asked these mostly upper-middle-class kids to complete the sentence “J’admire …” with the name of the historical figure they most admired.

Hitler
Adolf Hitler speaks in 1936. (AP Photo)

To say she was disturbed by the results would be to understate her reaction. Of 25 students in the class, 9 picked Adolf Hitler, making him easily the highest vote-getter in this particular exercise; a certain Mohandas Gandhi was the choice of precisely one student. Discussing the idea of courage with other students once, my wife was startled by the contempt they had for Gandhi. “He was a coward!” they said. And as far back as 2002, the Times of India reported a survey that found that 17 percent of students in elite Indian colleges “favored Adolf Hitler as the kind of leader India ought to have.”

In a place where Gandhi becomes a coward, perhaps Hitler becomes a hero.

Still, why Hitler? “He was a fantastic orator,” said the 10th-grade kids. “He loved his country; he was a great patriot. He gave back to Germany a sense of pride they had lost after the Treaty of Versailles,” they said.

“And what about the millions he murdered?” asked my wife. “Oh, yes, that was bad,” said the kids. “But you know what, some of them were traitors.”

Admiring Hitler for his oratorical skills? Surreal enough. Add to that the easy condemnation of his millions of victims as traitors. Add to that the characterization of this man as a patriot. I mean, in a short dozen years, Hitler led Germany through a scarcely believable orgy of blood to utter shame and wholesale destruction. Even the mere thought of calling such a man a patriot profoundly corrupts—is violently antithetical to—the idea of patriotism.

But these are kids, you think, and kids say the darndest things. Except this is no easily written-off experience. The evidence is that Hitler has plenty of admirers in India, plenty of whom are by no means kids.

Consider Mein Kampf, Hitler’s autobiography. Reviled it might be in the much of the world, but Indians buy thousands of copies of it every month. As a recent paper in the journal EPW tells us (PDF), there are over a dozen Indian publishers who have editions of the book on the market. Jaico, for example, printed its 55th edition in 2010, claiming to have sold 100,000 copies in the previous seven years. (Contrast this to the 3,000 copies my own 2009 book,Roadrunner, has sold). In a country where 10,000 copies sold makes a book a bestseller, these are significant numbers.

And the approval goes beyond just sales. Mein Kampf is available for sale on flipkart.com, India’s Amazon. As I write this, 51 customers have rated the book; 35 of those gave it a five-star rating. What’s more, there’s a steady trickle of reports that say it has become a must-read for business-school students; a management guide much like Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese or Edward de Bono’s Lateral Thinking. If this undistinguished artist could take an entire country with him, I imagine the reasoning goes, surely his book has some lessons for future captains of industry?

Much of Hitler’s Indian afterlife is the legacy of Bal Thackeray, chief of the Shiv Sena party who died on Nov. 17.

Thackeray freely, openly, and often admitted his admiration for Hitler, his book, the Nazis, and their methods. In 1993, for example, he gave an interview toTime magazine. “There is nothing wrong,” he said then, “if [Indian] Muslims are treated as Jews were in Nazi Germany.”

It’s no wonder they cling to almost comically superficial ideas of courage and patriotism, in which a megalomaniac’s every ghastly crime is forgotten so long as we can pretend that he ‘loved’ his country.

This interview came only months after the December 1992 and January 1993 riots in Mumbai, which left about a thousand Indians slaughtered, the majority of them Muslim. Thackeray was active right through those weeks, writing editorial after editorial in his party mouthpiece, “Saamna” (“Confrontation”) about how to “treat” Muslims.

On Dec. 9, 1992, for example, his editorial contained these lines: “Pakistan need not cross the borders and attack India. 250 million Muslims in India will stage an armed insurrection. They form one of Pakistan’s seven atomic bombs.”

A month later, on Jan. 8, 1993, there was this: “Muslims of Bhendi Bazar, Null Bazar, Dongri and Pydhonie, the areas [of Mumbai] we call Mini Pakistan … must be shot on the spot.”

There was plenty more too: much of it inspired by the failed artist who became Germany’s führer. After all, only weeks before the riots erupted, Thackeray said this about the führer’s famous autobiography: “If you take Mein Kampf and if you remove the word Jew and put in the word Muslim, that is what I believe in.”

With rhetoric like that, it’s no wonder the streets of my city saw the slaughter of 1992-93. It’s no wonder kids come to admire a mass-murderer, to rationalize away his massacres. It’s no wonder they cling to almost comically superficial ideas of courage and patriotism, in which a megalomaniac’s every ghastly crime is forgotten so long as we can pretend that he “loved” his country.

In his acclaimed 1997 book Hitler’s Willing Executioners, Daniel Goldhagen writes: “Hitler, in possession of great oratorical skills, was the [Nazi] Party’s most forceful public speaker. Like Hitler, the party from its earliest days was devoted to the destruction of … democracy [and to] most especially and relentlessly, anti-Semitism. … The Nazi Party became Hitler’s Party, obsessively anti-Semitic and apocalyptic in its rhetoric about its enemies.”

Do some substitutions in those sentences along the lines Thackeray wanted to do with Mein Kampf. Indeed, what you get is a more than adequate description of … no surprise, Thackeray himself.

Yes, it’s no wonder. Thackeray too was revered as an orator. Cremated, on Nov. 18, as a patriot.

 

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Censoring Hitler — and the past

Laws that destroy our civil liberties are dangerous, no matter who passes them

By Ezra Levant,QMI Agency

If every Jew in Europe had a firearm, do you think Hitler could have killed six million of them so easily?

He might still have been able to kill them. But not without a fight. Not like lambs to the slaughter.

Lucky for Hitler, the Jews in Germany had been disarmed by do-gooders long before he took power. It actually was part of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles that ended the First World War.

These same liberals brought in censorship laws, too — under which Hitler himself was prosecuted.

So when Hitler took power in 1933, much of his work was done for him — civil liberties had already been limited, by the “good guys.”

According to the great journalist and historian George Jonas, when Hitler started limiting personal freedom, a left-wing legislator stood up in the Reichstag to complain about it.

And here’s what Hitler said: “Late you come, but still you come. You should have recognized the value of criticism during the years we were in opposition (when) our press was forbidden, our meetings were forbidden, and we were forbidden to speak for years on end.”

It’s a terrifying reminder that laws that destroy our civil liberties are dangerous no matter who passes them, and no matter what good intentions accompanied them.

The lesson is, don’t let the government take away your rights.

In a crisis, the only way to protect your rights is with your own gun. That’s why gun control was so important to Hitler.

This month, the Conservative government is finally repealing the Canadian gun registry. It was a well-intentioned law, enacted by Liberals, for the most idealistic reasons. Just like Germany’s gun laws were.

Larry Miller, an MP from Ontario, noted the authoritarian streak in those who enacted Canadian gun control, and compared it to a gun control quote from Hitler. The opposition clucked.

They don’t have to agree with him. That’s the point of Parliament. But not according to Parliament’s would-be censor, an old Liberal hack named Irwin Cotler.

Cotler doesn’t spend a lot of time giving speeches in Parliament these days — at least not in Canada’s Parliament. He uses his government-funded office to carry on a public interest law practice for people in other countries.

He’s always issuing press releases about clients of his in places like Egypt or Bahrain or Russia. Which is great, but he’s supposed to represent his riding here in Canada.

Cotler took time out of his busy international law practice to come to Canada’s Parliament last week to condemn Larry Miller for noting Hitler’s views on gun control.

But Cotler didn’t just want to oppose Miller’s views, or debate them or disagree with them. Cotler wanted to censor them.

Seriously.

He stood up and whined to the Speaker of the House of Commons that Larry Miller shouldn’t be allowed to compare anything to Hitler — or at least anything the dear Liberal Party has done. He wanted that comparison banned.

Miller did not call Cotler a Nazi, or compare him to Hitler. Miller noted that Hitler relied on gun control.

Are we seriously not allowed to remember that part of Hitler’s plan? Because Irwin Cotler so loves gun control, we’re not allowed to mention that a brutal dictator did, too?

What other parts of the Holocaust does Irwin Cotler not want us to be able to talk about? What other words does Cotler want us to ban?

Irwin Cotler is a doddering old fool. He’s long past his best-before date. He clearly has lost interest in his parliamentary duties — he loves jet-setting around the world for photo ops, with him posing as a civil liberties hero in the Third World.

Funny, that. Because his love for gun control and censorship here in Canada is the stuff of authoritarian bullies, not civil liberties.

And, by trying to forbid Miller from talking about Hitler’s odious works, Cotler is interfering with the proper remembrance of the Holocaust and the promise to never let it happen again.

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