This picture is from a bookstore in our local mall here in Pune. Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf, a big stack of them in the highest-traffic part of the store. Just out of frame is a similar stack of The Devil Wears Prada.
I’m not sure what to write in this post. Mein Kampf is sold in the USA, and probably more copies are bought there every year than in India; WikiPedia says 15,000 copies per year, vs. 100,000 copies sold in 7 years, as described in this article from the Daily Beast. India is 3-4x more populous than the US, but the people with income enough to consider buying something like this are far, far fewer than in the US. I think relative to number of people able to buy such a book, it is far more popular in India than in the US.
Back in 2002 the Times of India reported on a survey where Indian college students were given a list of famous leaders and asked to select which would be best for India. Mahatma Gandhi was the the choice of 23% – Adolph Hitler was chosen by 17%, more than chose Abraham Lincoln or Nelson Mandela. How could that be? Even more dismaying is this quote in as article from Telegraph UK discussing the popularity of Mein Kampf with Indian business students:
"Students are increasingly coming in asking for it and we’re happy to sell it to them," said Sohin Lakhani, owner of Mumbai-based Embassy books who reprints Mein Kampf every quarter and shrugs off any moral issues in publishing the book.
"They see it as a kind of success story where one man can have a vision, work out a plan on how to implement it and then successfully complete it".
The best thing I can say on this, we need Mel Brooks in India. From an interview with Der Spiegel:
SPIEGEL: Can you also get your revenge on him by using comedy?
Brooks: Yes, absolutely. Of course it is impossible to take revenge for 6 million murdered Jews. But by using the medium of comedy, we can try to rob Hitler of his posthumous power and myths. In doing so, we should remember that Hitler did have some talents. He was able to fool an entire population into letting him be their leader. However, this role was basically a few numbers too great for him –- but he simply covered over this deficiency.
So, watch this and rob the mustachioed wall-painter of his posthumous power: