A new brand of ice cream being sold across India is labeled with the name and images of infamous Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.  

Rocky-Road, Cherry-Garcia, Vanilla and…Hitler?! Ice cream lovers will be dismayed to learn that a new flavor of ice cream, named after the infamous Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, is all the rage in India. It is being sold across the country, and the packaging carries the mass murderer’s name and various images of him.

Published photos enraged the German public, and German internet sites have called for the product to be taken off the market. “The Indian people need to be more aware of Hitler’s horrific actions,” one site said.

German newspaper Bild-Zeitung called the poorly chosen marketing method a “macabre publicity stunt.”

Hitler Fame vs. Absence of Anti-Semitism

Speaking to Tazpit News Agency, Dr. Navras Jaat Aafreedi, an assistant professor at the Department of History & Civilization at Gautam Buddha University in India and a scholar of the history of the Jewish communities in India, said the phenomenon of Hitler’s growing popularity in India is a paradox because of the absence of Anti-Semitism in India. The country has hardly known Jew hatred, yet sales of Hitler’s Mein Kampf have risen over 15% in the last decade. The name “Aryan” is becoming a popular first name in India, and “Hitler” is the name of the protagonist in many a Bollywood production.

Aafreedi offered a few explanations. Unlike modern-day neo-Nazis who idealize Hitler for the racist ideology he espoused and for his persecution of the Jews, Indians who respect Hitler do so as a result of misinformation. “It can be ascribed to the absence of Jewish Studies in India, where Islamic Studies are available at almost all major Indian universities,” he opined.

The level of ignorance among Indians about Jews is outrageous, he continued, “and the state has been unwilling to introduce Jewish Studies in India, whereas in the neighboring country, China, Jewish Studies are available at 10 of its universities.” he says.

Indians are largely ignorant of the Holocaust, and therefore “tend to see it as a justified collateral damage for the greater good of Germany, influenced as they are by the way Hitler is often projected as a hero by the Hindu right wing,” Aafreedi says. “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.”

As a result of this misinformation, many Indians believe that the Axis powers of World War II were partially responsible for the establishment of India’s independence from the British in 1947. It is believed that Hitler’s battle with the Allies forced Britain to focus their resources in Europe and Britain was unable to maintain control over a territory as large as India, which left room for an Indian independence movement. Subhas Chandra Rose, a key figure of the Indian independence movement, collaborated with Axis powers to raise an army to fight the British.

Another reason, says Aafreedi, is the younger generation’s great desire for strong leadership and the lack of good role models.

Hitler’s Mein Kampf is available in almost all Indian dialects, but the only book on the Holocaust in India’s national language, Hindi, is a FAQ collection about the Holocaust published by Yad Vashem – World Center for Holocaust Research.

Aafreedi believes that the key to combating this situation is education. He has “made a serious effort to eliminate misconceptions and to bring into sharp focus the Jewish contributions to the world.”