INDIA IS FILLED with excellently stocked bookshops, many of which would put some highly acclaimed British bookshops to shame. Everywhere I have visited in India, with the exception of most parts of Gujarat, has shops selling a wide range of books in English, written both by Indian and non-Indian authors.
One of the foreign authors, famous for only having written one book, is that monster Adolf Hitler, who was born in the year that the Eiffel Tower was completed and during which my preparatory school in London’s Swiss Cottage was established – 1889. He not only brought most of Europe to its knees but was also responsible for murdering many millions of innocent civilians. Fortunately, he killed himself in 1945.
Adolf’s book “Mein Kampf” (my struggle), which I have neither read nor plan to even peruse, is available in its English translation in almost every bookshop I have visited in India. Several different Indian publishers have produced paperback (usually) editions of the published thoughts of Herr Hitler. This and the wide prevalence of the work in bookshops suggests to me that there is still a demand for the book. This is surprising because as Vaibhav Purandare points out in his book “Hitler and India”, Hitler held India and the Indians to be beneath contempt. I wonder how many bookshop browsers in India know this.
I am not sure why some Indians have some admiration for Hitler. Some might consider him to have been a tower of strength, rather like Hercules, without knowing what an evil person he was. There is even a Hitler lock company. Presumably, the name was chosen because it suggests that their locks are extremely strong. There might be other reasons for Indian interest in Hitler, but I am not yet sure what they are.
Maybe the book is available because there is a market for books by or about noteworthy persons. Whatever the reason for its frequent appearance on the shelves of bookstores, seeing the book might cause some European eyebrows to be raised in surprise.
My latest sighting of “Mein Kampf “ was in one of the two handsomely stocked bookshops in Terminal 1 of Kochi International Airport. If you desperately want to read about ‘his struggle’, it will not be much of a struggle to find a brand new copy anywhere in India.