What do Barack Obama, Mahatma Gandhi, and Adolf Hitler have in common? Well, according to a kids’ book, they are all great leaders.
The book, Great Leaders, was published by the Pegasus imprint of India’s B. Jain Publishing Group in 2016. The product description on the publisher’s website said the book highlights 11 leaders “who will inspire you.”
The Nazi leader appears on the on the 48-page book’s cover, alongside Obama, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi.
The book drew the ire of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish human rights organization. “Placing Hitler alongside truly great political and humanitarian leaders is an abomination that is made worse as it targets young people with little or no knowledge of world history and ethics,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the organization’s associate dean, said in a statement.
The center called for the book’s removal from shelves and online stores — and were apparently successful, as the title is no longer available on the company’s web site.
Still, it makes us wonder: How did this happen in the first place? Annshu Juneja, a publishing manager at the imprint, told the New York Times that Hitler was featured because “his leadership skills and speeches influenced masses.”
He went on to say: “We are not talking about his way of conduct or his views or whether he was a good leader or a bad leader but simply portraying how powerful he was as a leader.”
Unfortunately, the Holocaust and Nazism are poorly taught or misunderstood throughout much of Asia. For example: A teacher at a private school in Mumbai asked students in 2012 to name a historical figure admired most, and nine out of 25 chose Hitler. That’s scary stuff.
Hitler wasn’t the only controversial figure in the book: Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi was also on the cover. Kyi is drawing sharp criticism for refusing to acknowledge the Myanmar army’s “quiet genocide” of the Rohingya ethnic group.
Hitler on the cover of a children’s book about “Great Leaders” – WTF?!
It’s not a sick joke. Website for Indian publisher @bjain_publisher says it’s “men and women who will inspire you…who have devoted their lives for the betterment of their country…”https://t.co/rzuc8NW6Li pic.twitter.com/cligGZVXB3
— Gerald Posner (@geraldposner) March 16, 2018