On the Great and the Grotesque and the Weird Way They Intersect


I started Mein Kamf ("My Struggle" in German) in June, but War and Peace, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The History of England, The Longest Day, and Gandhi got in the way. Anything was better than Hitler, especially Gandhi.

I could only stomach Hitler for so long before I was utterly disgusted! I have a hard cover of his THICK book. I carted it along with me places, but other books were always more appealing. I broke down and downloaded it onto my Kindle for $4.99 after I finished Gandhi. Now, it is easier to cart around, and I can listen to it with TEXT TO SPEECH when I am in the middle of things. I stop the voice every once in a while to underline his grotesque tirades about the Jews and about the need for land for the German race. Such foreshadowing of the horrors that would occur fifteen years later. According to Wikipedia, "In The Second World War, Winston Churchill felt that after Hitler's ascension to power, no other book deserved more intensive scrutiny." Too bad people didn't scrutinize.

Hitler was a persuasive speaker. While his writing was not as good, he still wooed a Germany devastated economically due the the reparation put upon it after World War I. 

It is hard to have Hitler bookend Gandhi's greatness, Gandhi's autobiography was the next on my list. It was a good choice. Oh my goodness, my respect for  Gandhi is enormous. His autobiography was amazing. It wasn't flashy or even persuasive, but it showed a man of deep character and conviction who gave up so much for the betterment of India. He fasted and lived a simple life (to the extreme). He cared for the individual as well as the people who were oppressed by England.  Germany was oppressed by England too. Well, England and her allies, who oppressed Germany because of the excessive reparations put on them after World War I (See this ARTICLE). Gandhi's solution to oppression was non-violent resistance (Satyagraha and Ahimsa). Gandhi did not seek glory or fame. Hitler's solution was all about violence and hatred and seeking glory for himself. 

The contrast of two men who overlapped in time is amazing. Gandhi was born in 1869. Hitler was born in 1889. They wrote their disparate autobiographies within four years of one another. Their ends on this earth were very different. Hitler committed suicide in 1945 at age 56 as allied troop closed in on Berlin. Gandhi was assassinated by an angry Indian protester exactly three years and nine months later at the age of 78.  The former lived a grotesque life. The latter lived a great one. 

So here is the weird way they intersect. Apparently, Gandhi corresponded with Hitler. Here is an article about how Mein Kampf is received in India today:

Indian business students snap up copies of Mein Kampf
Sales of Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler's autobiography and apologia for his anti-semitism, are soaring in India where business students regard the dictator as a management guru.

Booksellers told The Daily Telegraph that while it is regarded in most countries as a 'Nazi Bible', in India it is considered a management guide in the mould of Spencer Johnson's "Who Moved My Cheese".
Sales of the book over the last six months topped 10,000 in New Delhi alone, according to leading stores, who said it appeared to be becoming more popular with every year.
Several said the surge in sales was due to demand from students who see it as a self-improvement and management strategy guide for aspiring business leaders, and who were happy to cite it as an inspiration.
"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".
Jaico Publishing House, one of the publishers in India, said it reprints a new edition of the book at least twice a year to meet growing demand.
"We were the first company to publish the book in India and there are now six other Indian publishers of the book, although we were first to take a chance on it," said Jaico's chief editor, R H Sharma, who dismissed any moral issues in publishing Mein Kampf.
"The initial print run of 2,000 copies in 2003 sold out immediately and we knew we had a best-seller on our hands. Since then the numbers have increased every year to around 15,000 copies until last year when we sold 10,000 copies over a six-month period in our Delhi shops," he added.
Senior academics cite the mutual influence of India and Hitler's Nazis on one another. Mahatma Gandhi corresponded with the Fuhrer, pro-Independence leader Subhas Chandra Bose's Indian National Army allied with Hitler's Germany and Japan during the Second World War, and the Nazis drew on Hindu symbolism for their Swastika motif and ideas of Aryan supremacy.
Dr J Kuruvachira, Professor of Philosophy of Salesian College in Nagaland and who has cited Mein Kampf as a source of inspiration to the Hindu nationalist BJP, said he believed the book's popularity was due to political reasons.
"While it could be the case that management students are buying the book, my feeling is that it has more likely influenced some of the fascist organisations operating in India and nearby," he said.
India is not the only country where Mein Kampf is popular. It has been a best-seller in Croatia since it was first published in while in turkey it sold 100,000 in just two months in 2005. In Russia it has been reprinted three times since the de facto ban on the book was overturned in 1992.
In Germany the book's copyright is held by the state of Bavaria where its publication is banned until 2015, 70 years after Hitler's death.
In India, any book more than 25 years old is free of copyright, which has paved the way for six separate publishers to print the book. (Article from HERE)
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