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Culture

Indian Publishers Yank Children’s Book That Claimed Hitler Was A Great Leader

The publishers of an Indian children’s book that included Adolf Hitler on a list of “amazing leaders” have yanked the title from sale, following an outcry sparked by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, The Guardian reports.

The book “Leaders,” which had been listed on its publisher’s website under the title “Great Leaders,” was published in 2016 by Pegasus, an imprint of B. Jain Publishing Group. In a March 15 statement, the Wiesenthal Center said a representative had found the book at the 2018 Krithi International Book Fair, held annually in Cochin; that representative also found, at the fair, a Pegasus edition of “Mein Kampf.”

“Leaders” featured, on its cover, an image of Hitler alongside pictures of Barack Obama, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Nardendra Modi and Aung San Suu Kyi. Those figures were among 11 profiled in the book.

Annshu Juneja, a publishing manager at Pegasus, told The New York Times’s Kai Schultz that the publisher had received no complaints about the book prior to the Wiesenthal Center’s statement. Schultz quoted Juneja as remarking, in an email, on the reason for Hitler’s inclusion: “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.”

On March 26, Pegasus confirmed to The Guardian’s Alison Flood that “Leaders” had been removed from sale.

As Schultz wrote, this is not the first time that India has faced controversy over the manner in which children’s books and textbooks have presented Hitler. Schultz cited a 2004 article by the Times of India that reported that in Gujarat, the Indian state then overseen by Modi — now India’s prime minister — a state-published social studies textbook included “frighteningly uncritical” “chapters on ‘Hitler, the Supremo’ and ‘Internal Achievements of Nazism.’” In those chapters, Harit Mehtal wrote, “pogroms against Jews and atrocities against trade unionists, migrant laborers, and any section of people who did not fit into Mussolini or Hitler’s definition of rightful citizen don’t find any mention.”

“Leaders” is also not the first children’s book, in recent years, to invite criticism over its depiction of Hitler. In 2017, as Politico reported, the Belgian coloring book “Kleuren op Code” came under fire for including a full-page image of Hitler delivering the Nazi salute. That book’s publishers, according to Politico, shared that the book had been “compiled and printed in India”; they removed the book from stores.

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