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Indian Publisher Under Fire for Naming Hitler Among ‘Great Leaders’ in Children’s Book

The book.

An Indian publisher is facing heat for including Hitler in a children’s book called Leaders, the New York Times reported. The book puts spotlight on world’s leaders, who, according to the book’s description on the publisher’s website, “will inspire you.”

Published by the Pegasus imprint of India’s B. Jain Publishing Group, the book features Hitler, along with Barack Obama, Mahatma Gandhi, Aung San Suu Kyi, Nelson Mandela and Narendra Modi, on the cover. It talks about leaders who have “devoted their lives for the betterment of their country and people living in them — who have not just governed nations during peace times but also during times of crisis.”

Responding to the inclusion of Hitleri in the book, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish human rights organization, said in a statement: “Dedicated to the betterment of countries and people? Adolf Hitler? This description would bring tears of joy to the Nazis and their racist neo-Nazi heirs. Adolf Hitler was a visionary—his vision almost destroyed our planet; started WWII – which left tens of millions dead and mass murdered 6 million Jews during the Nazi Holocaust.”

He added: “Placing Hitler alongside truly great political and humanitarian leaders is an abomination that is made worse as it targets young people with little or no knowledge of world history and ethics.”

Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center has called for the removal of Great Leaders, the hard copy version of the e-book titled Leaders, which has been on sale since 2016, from circulation and its online store. The center said in a statement that Great Leaders had been sold this month at the Krithi International Book Fair in Kochi, a city with a long Jewish heritage.

Annshu Juneja, a publishing manager at the imprint, told the NYT by email that Hitler was featured because, like Obama, Mandela and Gandhi, “his leadership skills and speeches influenced masses.”

Juneja added: “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.”

The publishers also said that they had not received any complaints against the book.

The news about the book drew a spate of comments on social media:

This is not the first time Hitler’s regime has been glorified in India. In 2014, reports emerged that a high school textbook of Modi-led Gujarat had spoken highly of Nazism. The textbook said that Hitler “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,” the Times of India had reported at the time. The book made a passing mention about the extermination of millions of Jews and others in World War II.