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.