Germany’s ‘Gauchogate’: The Hitler debate in India and elsewhere


Esmé @DimeOfTheNile is incensed when I tweet a Washington Post article on the World Cup-winning German soccer team’s so-called ‘gaucho dance’. It wasn’t racist at all, Esmé insisted, and it’s a crying shame to harry modern Germany for its history.

I had to agree though I reminded Esmé it was the past that caused the world to be so watchful of any indicators of Germany’s likely future. We discussed racism generally – “a global threat”, said Esmé – and the difficulties inherent in new, young Germany conveying its idea of itself, today. Ie, fiercely against what went before.

Esmé offered an interesting take on the relevance of Nazi exclusivism today. Sections of the UK and US and many Arabs believe in the philosophy, said Esmé.

That’s when I suggested a look at my blog on the subject, from December 2012 on Hitler’s following in India. For those who don’t want to click through to the blog, read on, below. It remains relevant.

 India’s Hitler Diary

Dec 9, 2012

Hitler has a following in India, reports Bloomberg Businessweek. I’m not sure why they sound surprised. I remember a January afternoon in Delhi’s Connaught Place in 2009, walking by the pavement booksellers and finding multiple copies of Mein Kampf proudly displayed. I remember going back to work (that was when I was editor of The Sunday Times of India) and asking Saira, my colleague, if she would research the phenomenon and write a story on it for next week’s issue. I remember saying, “someone publishes Mein Kampf because a lot of people must buy it .” Spot on, admitted almost every publisher she spoke to. Apparently, Mein Kampf is so popular in India that it is reprinted every quarter! It’s something of a record and probably owes a lot to the fact that many young Indians regard it as the ultimate textbook on “strategy management”. Westerners, especially Europeans, may look askance on Indians’, ahem, more nuanced appreciation of Hitler. But the truth is that Holocaust denial is illegal only in some countries and Nazi symbols per se are banned only in Germany, Austria, Hungary and Romania. Here, in the US, the Constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech would allow any one to own or read Mein Kampf. In any case, it’s worth noting that Mein Kampf’s copyright, which is held by the German state of Bavaria, runs out in 2015. What then? The mind boggles.