There is a fine line between being incendiary and thought-provoking, and being straight up offensive. The owners of a new boutique in India seem to have gone way, way, over that line. Rajesh Shah is the co-owner of the Hitler boutique in Ahmedabad, India, and says he had no idea that naming his store after the former despotic leader of Germany would be so controversial. Shah claims he and his business partner actually named the store after the uber-strict grandfather of his business partner — nicknamed Hitler.
“Hitler was a nickname given to my business partner Manish Chandani’s grandfather because of his strict nature,” claims Shaw. “Frankly, till the time we applied for the trademark permission, I had only heard that Hitler was a strict man. It was only recently that we read about Hitler on the Internet.”
Several Jewish leaders believe that Shaw and Chandani knew exactly what they were doing when they named the store. Shah told The Times of India that they’d be willing to change the name of the store, but only if they’re compensated for the money they spent on the sign.
It seems rather unlikely that the pair had no idea who Hitler was, considering they dotted the “i” in Hitler’s name with a swastika. And also the fact that India actually assisted the British in battling Germany during World War II.
But it’s not as simple as that. Leading educational researchers have noted an increased interest by Indians in Hitler in recent years — sales of Mein Kampf are up 15 percent there and, says Dr. Navras Jaat Aafreedi, an Assistant Professor at the Department of History & Civilization at Gautam Buddha University in India, that’s partially because Indians erroneously believe that World War II (and Hitler) is responsible for India’s push from independence from Britain. Notes Aafreedi:
“Most of the Indians do not even know about the Jews, let alone the Holocaust. Among the section of the Indian population that is aware of the Holocaust, there are many who have fallen into the trap of the Holocaust deniers and have started either doubting it as a whole or just its scale.”
But Aafredi is hopeful: “India is the only country in the world where Jews have lived with their non-Jewish neighbours in complete harmony for more than two millennia. Jews are India’s smallest religious minority and Muslims its biggest, and the two have produced beautiful examples of amity, unlike anywhere else in the world.”