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Friday, 31 January 2014

HITLER WITHOUT THE HOLOCAUST?










I found this book about Hitler, which was published in 2007 (ISBN: 9788131002520) and is part of a series called “Biographies of Great Personalities” aimed at younger Indian readers, in Gangaram’s Bookshop in Bangalore (India). The garishly covered book caught my eye in that large bookshop in Bangalore. When I flicked through it, I noticed that it was illustrated with line drawings, many of which showed Adolf Hitler in Indian settings with palm trees. At 40 Rupees (less than half a Pound Sterling), I could not resist buying the 93 page book.



Young Adolf with his mother


The author, Igen B, is a prolific writer. He has published well over 70 short books including biographies of personalities as diverse as Jesus Christ, Bhagat Singh, Mother Teresa, Ashoka the Great, Chhatrapati Shivaji, Shakuntala, and Netaji Chandra Bose. As well as these he has written versions of great Indian classics such as the Vedas, the incarnations of Lord Vishnu, and the Mahabharata. That these books are probably aimed at children is evident from the format and appearance of the books and also the fact that one of his titles is “Illustrated Model Book of School Essay etc.” Therefore, his potential audience is the innocent and impressionable younger mind. This should be remembered whilst paging through his children’s biography of Adolf Hitler.




Hitler at his mother's death-bed


More than half of the text is dedicated to Hitler’s childhood, about which not much is known in detail, his career as an artist, and his rise to power. The author of this book, Igen B, blames a disturbed childhood in a dysfunctional family for much of what Hitler was to become.  The future dictator’s disillusionment with the lack of German national pride and his disappointment with the country’s leadership during WW1 were according to this book, also important formative factors. As, are also the Jews: unquestioningly, Igen B repeats the kind of dangerous nonsense about the Jews that Hitler and many Germans believed. 





Hitler discusses world problems and anti-Semitism at a café in Vienna



Having gained power, we learn of Hitler’s campaign to relieve the Jews of any role in public life, and his hatred of the communists. We also learn of his desire to tear up the Treaty of Versailles, and how he went about doing so. So far, the reader is presented with something that faintly resembles what is now common knowledge about the history of Germany just before and during the brief, but long enough, era of Nazi rule. The penultimate 4 pages of the book describe some aspects of WW2. The last page of text is dedicated the last days of Hitler and his new bride Eva Braun.



Hitler, the artist, at work on a painting




Nowhere in the book are the mass murders perpetrated by the Nazis even hinted at, let alone mentioned. This worries me greatly considering that the book is sold in bookshops in India, and most of these also sell often more than one edition of Hitler’s pernicious ‘autobiography’ “Mein Kampf”.



Adolf Hitler meets the common people  (of Germany).



Igen B’s book is aimed at an Indian audience. It is appropriate in a way that the illustrations are drawn with an Indian flavour, as many readers are unlikely to have visited Europe or are ever likely to do so. The spelling of many German words and names is peculiar. For example we read of ‘Hebzburg’ (Habsburg), ‘Strum Abtiling’ (Sturmabteilung), ‘fonn’ (von), ‘Versai’ (Versailles), and ‘Hoffbraha’ (Hofbrauhaus). Whilst these original spellings are used more than once and are thus unlikely to be typographic errors, they may also be purposeful. It is possible that the author, realising that most of his readers are likely to be unfamiliar with German pronunciation, has transliterated them so as to make them pronounceable by readers of English.



Eva Braun comforts Hiler after he has learnt of the defeat 
of his armies by the Soviet Russians.



I picked up this book as a curio, and read it. The author appears to have done some research, but his or her interpretation and presentation of the facts is somewhat unusual. His lack of emphasis of Hitler’s evil influences and deeds in a book aimed at impressionable youngsters is worrying to say the least.  The impression I had after reading it was that Hitler was portrayed as an unfortunate child, who grew up with the aim of making Germany a great nation. I was not given the impression that he was even a fraction of the monster that he was in reality. I had rather the same impression after watching the end of the film Downfall made in 2004. Hitler’s final moments during that film were almost heart-rending; the power of film and literature cannot be underrated. This is why Igen B’s book on Hitler might well be considered malevolent, even if the author’s intention was otherwise, to be purely informative.




Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun on their wedding day.
(Note the somewhat oriental background)





Read about the books written by the author of this blog by clicking on: http://www.adamyamey.com