New Delhi: A children’s book has ranked Adolf Hitler – the German fascist dictator – among world leader who have “devoted their lives for the betterment of their country and people.” The book, published by B. Jain Publishing Group’s Pegasus division, has sparked serious criticism in various quarters.
A stone-faced Hitler features on the cover of the book – titled Leader – alongside Barack Obama, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Narendra Modi and Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi. On the publisher’s website, the book is titled Great Leaders and includes 11 leaders “who will inspire you.”
The 48-page book was originally published in 2016. It is unclear who wrote it.
The kids’ book is being slammed by many, who demand that stores stop selling the book and website remove it.
On its part, the publisher has defended the move saying that like the others featured in the list, Hitler’s “leadership skills and speeches influenced masses.” According to a New York Times report, Annshu Juneja, a publishing manager at the imprint, also said: “We are not talking about his way of conduct or his views or whether he was a good leader or a bad leader but simply portraying how powerful he was as a leader.”
A blurb on the back of the 2016 book, as per the New York Post, states that the aim is to “focus on some of these powerful world leaders who have dedicated their lives to the betterment of their countries.”
But according to Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish human rights organisation, placing the German dictator – who “started WWII, which left tens of millions dead and mass-murdered six million Jews during the Nazi Holocaust” alongside “truly great political and humanitarian leaders” is an “abomination.”
Cooper further said in a statement that what is worse is that the book “targets young people with little or no knowledge of world history”.
This, however, is not the first time Hitler has been glorified by an Indian publisher.
High school textbooks published by the Gujarat State Board of School Textbooks in 2004, when the state was under Modi’s realm, glorified fascism and Nazism while finding faults with India’s freedom movement.
According to a Times of India report from September of that year, a section of the book for Class X students claimed:
“Hitler lent dignity and prestige to the German government within a short time by establishing a strong administrative set up. He created the vast state of Greater Germany. He adopted the policy of opposition towards the Jewish people and advocated the supremacy of the German race. He adopted a new economic policy and brought prosperity to Germany.”
The extermination of millions of Jews and others by the end of the Second World War finds but a brief mention.