March 26, 2018
An Indian publisher included Hitler in their “Great Leaders” children’s book, alongside Obama, Mandela, and Gandhi
by Alex Primiani
Voices around the world have urged an Indian publisher to cease distribution of a children’s book called Great Leaders, which includes Adolf Hitler among its examples, according to a Times of Israel staff report.
According to the report, the Simon Wiesenthal Center has asked B. Jain, which released the book through its kids’ imprint, Pegasus (no relation to the American publisher of the same name), to “pull the book Great Leaders off shelves and from its online catalog.” By Friday morning, it appeared the publisher had complied.
The book’s description from the Pegasus website, which the Times quoted, suggested the issue was more the publisher’s ignorance than any ulterior motive of glorifying fascism:
In the time that feels devoid of great leadership, we have found men and women who will inspire you. Some of them are famous, others little known, but all of them energize their followers and try to make the world better. The book talks about 11 leaders who have devoted their lives for the betterment of their country and people, and emerged with a great leadership at the time of crisis.
Kai Schultz at the New York Times provides a bit more perspective on the issue:
In parts of Asia, atrocities committed in Nazi Germany are poorly understood and Hitler is sometimes glorified as a strong, effective leader.
In 2004, reports surfaced of high-school textbooks in the state of Gujarat, which was then led by Mr. Modi, that spoke glowingly of Nazism and fascism.
According to The Times of India, in a section called “Ideology of Nazism,” the textbook said Hitler had “lent dignity and prestige to the German government,” “made untiring efforts to make Germany self-reliant” and “instilled the spirit of adventure in the common people.” Only briefly does the book mention the extermination of millions of Jews and others by the end of World War II.
Schultz also points out the incongruity of the book’s cover, which features images of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Barack Obama alongside Narendra Modi, India’s current far-right president; Burmese head of state Aung San Suu Kyi, currently wanted for crimes against humanity; and the ultra-pasty, angry-looking Hitler.
Alex Primiani is the associate director of publicity at Melville House.