1. Hitler, Friend of Bose
Before Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army, came his Free India Legion. If the former was developed with the assistance of the Japanese, the Legion came into being because of a deal Bose signed with a surging Hitler in 1941.
Curiously, the troops were made up of war prisoners captured by the Germans and they ended up serving with the Germany army against their old paymasters, the British.
Bose was attracted to Hitler because Germany was an industrial powerhouse without imperial designs unlike the British, but all that changed later.
2. Hitler the Aryan
Let’s face it. Hitler’s obsession with the Aryan race has echoes in India, where the Aryan Invasion Theory is often used to argue that a good portion of India is descended from the same stock as the German blond-haired and blue-eyed race.
That theory might have been discredited now, but try telling your neighbour that he is not after all an Aryan.
3. Hitler the Disciplinarian
Scholars have argued that since India never faced the horrors of the gas chamber, Hitler is seen by some Indians as a bad guy with more than a few good qualities.
Add to that, the feeling that many Indians, whenever they are fed up with ‘corruption’ and ‘red tape’ in government, go through a phase of believing that a strong, authoritarian figure is the ‘need of the hour’.
Then the fascination with the German dictator becomes understandable – How many times has one heard the sentiment, “We need someone like a Hitler to sort this country out”?
4. Hitler the Bestseller
We have absolutely no facts to back this up, but Adolf Hitler’s famous rant Mein Kampf has probably sold more copies in India than all of Chetan Bhagat’s books combined. Bookshops usually have more than one copy of the book. And there have been reported cases of Mein Kampf and Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl being found next to each other on the same shelf.
5. Hitler of the Moustache
The famous Hitler Moustache is lodged in the Indian consciousness. The moustache may have been referenced in the Cherry Blossom advertisement which referenced Charlie Chaplin. It may have been the afore-mentioned comedians most famous look. It may have been used by Raj Kapoor. It may have been used by Asrani the ‘Jailor’ in Sholay. Yet, most Indians familiar with Hitler would know the moustache originated with him.
6. Hitler the Swastika Subverter
And then there’s the famous Swastika, found in countless Indian homes. And at our temples. But this Hindu symbol of auspiciousness was famously inverted (and subverted) to form the symbol of Nazi Germany. Many Indians know of this fact and are vicariously proud of the fact that Hitler ‘borrowed’ the Swastika from ‘us’.
7. Hitler the Admirer of Dhyan Chand
Adolf Hitler was so enthralled by the Indian hockey genius in the 1936 Olympics that legend has it that he offered Dhyan Chand German citizenship. As this 2003 piece on rediff.com tells it, Dhyan Chand “politely turned down” the offer of German citizenship and a higher army post. Of course, India beat Germany 8-1 in the Hockey Final at the Berlin Games.
This story has been republished from The Quint’s archives on Adolf Hitler‘s 228th birthday anniversary. It was originally published on 18 July 2016 to mark the first publication of Adolf Hitler‘s Mein Kampf.