Hitler's Cross but I'm Crosser

A new restaurant has opened in Navi Mumbai bearing Hitler's name.

Hitler's Cross, which opened last week, serves up a wide range of continental fare and a big helping of controversy, thanks to a name the owners say they chose to stand out among hundreds of Mumbai eateries.

"We wanted to be different. This is one name that will stay in people's minds," owner Punit Shablok told Reuters.

"We are not promoting Hitler. But we want to tell people we are different in the way he was different" (MSNBC).

Anyone who knows enough about Hitler to recognize his face knows about the Holocaust and his role in it. Is it really possible to maintain an ambivalent position on the murders of millions of people? If this Shablok guy is for real, then apparently it is, and that disgusts me.

Different news sources give different explanations as to what "Hitler's Cross" is:

The cross in the restaurant's name refers to the swastika that symbolised the Nazi regime (The Scotsman).

During the Nazi regime, a Christian cross used to be given to German mothers. Hitler reportedly encouraged several programs for the growth of a strong German Nazi Volk.

These programs encouraged the virtues of German motherhood for the purpose of increasing the size of their families and the abolition of abortions (except for the mentally ill).

In 1938, Hitler instituted a new award to honor German Nazi motherhood, especially for large families. He awarded such mothers the cross of Honor of the German Mother (Ehrenkreuz der deutschen Mutter) (Times of India).

Another possibility is that the name of the restaurant is meant to indicate that Hitler really is angry... whatever the reason, the place is lame and distasteful.

"This signifies a severe lack of awareness of the agony of millions of Jews caused by one man," Jonathan Solomon, the chairman of the Indian Jewish Federation, said.

"We are going to stop this deification of Hitler" (The Scotsman).

It shouldn't be left up to the Indian Jewish community to fight Hitler's Cross because this is just an example of the Hitler love which exists in India. Hitler's Final Solution fits the Hindutva model quite nicely for the establishment of a Hindu Rashtra (or Hindu nation). M.S. Golwalker, an early leader of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), in his 1938 book We or Our Nationhood Defined, looked to Germany's example as to how to deal with minorities:

German national pride has now become the topic of the day. To keep up the purity of the nation and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the semitic races - the Jews. National pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by (quoted in Khaki Shorts and Saffron Flags, p. 26).

You may think I'm overreacting but there is a seemingly innocent fascination with Hitler and the Holocaust which is quite visible here in India, and it's not just in well-known RSS strongholds like Maharashtra. Last time I went to the Landmark bookstore in Nungumbakkam, Chennai, I saw an entire shelf dedicated to copies of Hitler's Mein Kampf. I've seen three different Tamil translations of the book sitting next to each other at a bookstore in Madurai.

I've spoken with college students whose views of Hitler are congruous to Gowalker's: admiration for his leadership and righteous exclusion of an "alien" population. I'm not claiming that this view is representative, but I don't know that it isn't representative either. This, to me, is extremely dangerous because it makes one easily susceptible to the exclusionary, fascist rhetoric which has [once again] come into fashion around the world.

Hitler's ideology and message live today in various forms, and a society which casts Hitler in a neutral light could be in serious trouble; Hitler and the Holocaust have to be taught the world over as something terrible which must never happen again.

--
Siddhartha's written up a bit on Hitler's Cross over at Sepia Mutiny. Lots of interesting comments there.

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[...] In “Hitler’s Cross But

[...] In “Hitler’s Cross But I’m Crosser,” roti-passer Vivek (as bloggers here refer to themselves) discusses yesterday’s report on a newly opened Mumbai restaurant, Hitler’s Cross, which has outraged the Indian Jewish community with its use of fascist iconography. The space is decorated with swastikas and propagandistic posters featuring Hitler himself. “We wanted to be different. This is one name that will stay in people’s minds,” owner Punit Shablok told Reuters. “We are not promoting Hitler. But we want to tell people we are different in the way he was different” Hitler’s cross was the award given to honor Nazi motherhood. [...]

I agree with you that some

I agree with you that some people admire hitler in India. But by the same token diff. people admire lot of other dictators like mao and his chinese autocratic rule model. This has nothing to do with modern day hindutva - although there are numerous lunatics on the right. And you will find books on Mein Kampf in all US bookstores. In fact it was a required reading in my history class in college (us). I think it is a book that should be read so future generations are cautioned against this evil man's action from ever being repeated again.

I wish a wider section of indian public had protested and protested hard against this idiotic idea of naming a a restaurant after one of the most despicable man in history.

Anonymous: This has nothing

Anonymous:

This has nothing to do with modern day hindutva - although there are numerous lunatics on the right. And you will find books on Mein Kampf in all US bookstores.

I don't think you'll find an entire bookshelf dedicated solely to Mein Kampf in any large US bookstore which caters to a mainstream readership as Landmark does. This, I think, is why the fascination with Hitler is so dangerous: the ideology and rhetoric of Hindutva as promoted by groups like the RSS and VHP are very similar to those of Hitler's Nazi Party. They both villify minorities and exclude them from their definition of nation, and draw support based on this exclusion. So if people are fascinated with Hitler, then this is an indicator that they could be drawn to other kinds of fascism as well.

I think it is a book that should be read so future generations are cautioned against this evil man’s action from ever being repeated again.

Agreed, and I think it should be taught this way too.

I wish a wider section of indian public had protested and protested hard against this idiotic idea of naming a a restaurant after one of the most despicable man in history.

Amen. Like I said, it should be up to the whole of society, not just Indian Jews. This isn't just a Jewish issue, though I think we should all stand in solidarity with the Indian Jewish community in condemning this restaurant.

I think it is a book that

I think it is a book that should be read so future generations are cautioned against this evil man’s action from ever being repeated again.

It's a terrible book. I don't think it's bad to read anything, really, but there are far more important things in the world to read, particularly if one wants to learn how f%#ked up Nazi Germany was. I mean, this wikipedia entry is much shorter (you only live so long, so choose your reading material carefully!) and probably more useful :)

I agree as well with Vivek's implication that pursuing Mein Kampf for scholarly reasons is much different than making it popular reading.

I think we should all stand in solidarity with the Indian Jewish community in condemning this restaurant.

Just start another restaurant called "Osama's Place" and have it serve Kashmiri food. I think that'll get the point across.

[...] Good news, but I do

[...] Good news, but I do wish the media had covered the story beyond the anti-semitic angle. See “Hitler’s Cross but I’m Crosser“ for reasons why. [...]

Why is it more distasteful to

Why is it more distasteful to have Hitler iconography than that of the Soviet Union? I went to a bar last night that uses Soviet propaganda posters as its artistic theme. A slide show overhead included lots of revolutionaries and reactionaries, from 60s rock and rollers to a charming shot of Osama bin Laden. I think the place was clever in that it rightly associated Osama, who has killed his share, with Stalin, who was probably the most prolific mass murderer in human history, and who was a great anti-Semite and otherwise racist. I noticed that for some reason, there were no Hitler pictures. I found it interesting that that's the only one that's taboo. I don't think it's so simple as saying that he was worse than Stalin. I think it has more to do with residual irrational hatred from the very effective anti-Hitler propaganda system that existed from 1942 onward in the U.S. I'm not saying the guy is admirable in any way, just that it seems irrational to hate him more than these other assholes.

I think it has more to do

I think it has more to do with residual irrational hatred from the very effective anti-Hitler propaganda system that existed from 1942 onward in the U.S. I’m not saying the guy is admirable in any way, just that it seems irrational to hate him more than these other assholes.

Yes, this is one of the few things I can legitimately contend that the Internet has taught me :) It seems like the construction of Hitler as the uberevil is sort of like using the Devil to distract from the actions of lesser evil deities, but I don't know for sure. All I know is that Hitler is symbolically verboten, whereas people like Stalin, Andrew Jackson, and others are not and it's presumably serving some purpose.

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