A crop of neo-Nazis is gaining ground in Mongolia, The Guardian recently reported. They might be the exact opposite of the Third Reich's Aryan ideal, but the ultra-nationalists there want to fight the influence of Chinese in their homeland, and they want Adolf Hitler to show them how.
In India, Hitler's Mein Kampf has been a bestseller for more than a decade, giving steady business to roadside hawkers, bookshops big and small, and online stores. His fans are found in the most unlikely of places – the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, for example, whose management students say they "admire his leadership qualities".
But we need not go so far to meet the crazies. A book fair in Kathmandu carried a Nepali translation of Mein Kampf last week with a translator's note that read: "Hitler had a bad and a good side. This translation focuses on his good side with the hope it will be instructive to young people in Nepal today to learn about nationalism."
In a discussion titled "Nepal is in need of a leader like Hitler!!" on Facebook, someone has commented: "It's Nepal's misfortune that a Hitler has not been born in Nepal."
Fringe thinking is not and should not be a cause for alarm but idol worship guided by sheer ignorance should be worrying. In the process of turning Narayanhiti Palace into a museum, a senior bureaucrat spoke proudly of a Mercedes Benz apparently presented to the then king of Nepal by the Nazi leader. "The car will be a major attraction there," he said. When it turned out that the vintage car was actually in India with one of the descendants of Juddha Shamsher, the Indian media sounded almost jubilant: "Hitler's car in India, not in Nepal's palace".
In Nepal, idol worship is a standard political affair with Maoist leaders posing next to Joseph Stalin in official portraits. But don't blame their version of communism and somewhat easier relationship with violence for the worship of a man responsible for the 'liquidation' of 15 million people; the centrist CPN-UML had to hide a picture of Stalin hanging in their offices when former US ambassador James Moriarty dropped in for a visit a year ago.
What seems to be lost in attempts to channel these strong leaders, and among young people donning t-shirts with Nazi swastikas in Jawalakhel, is the understanding of basic historic facts. Over six million Jews, homosexuals, and disabled people were gassed in Germany under the strong leadership and efficient management of Hitler. Nearly 700,000 were executed during Stalin's Great Purge, that too by conservative accounts. His policy of forced collectivisation was responsible for the death of 15 million peasants. We can argue they were strong leaders but what of their brutality?
Without a doubt, there is a yearning for a great leader here in Nepal, just as in Germany following the crushing humiliation of the First World War and its aftermath. We want a leader to show us the way forward, and to deliver unto us the rewards of freedom that we were promised. It's also clear the Maoists and others, in seeking to align themselves with the 'great' leaders of the past, mean to present themselves as great leaders whose time has come.
The question for Nepal is whether nationalism is even a workable idea if the goal is prosperity for the country and security for its people. Already four million Nepalis work outside Nepal. Remittances are the biggest and fastest growing source of national income. Individuals are pursuing their own goals. Never mind international boundaries, Nepal isn't really one nation. Just ask the minorities.
Great nations need great leaders. The best leaders aren't those who emulate past figures, they are those who take inspiration from their surroundings and the people they seek to serve, and those who understand the context of the changes taking place around them. Hitler may have run a tight ship back in the day, but if we follow him blindly, we will end up looking like the Mongolian neo-Nazis – just plain stupid.
just before third people's movement, a person wearing nazi symbol t-shirt was walking down the street where there were maoist supporters being rallied..... that was quite a scene...
by the way, what really is in the mind of those wearing nazi symbol: they want to genocide- politicians, personal enemy, maoist, corrupts, crooks, some ethnic or its just a fashion (we occasionally hear news like british prince wearing the symbol)
20 AUG 2010 | 12:41 PM NST
Is it a Mein Kampf or Nein Kampf ?
20 AUG 2010 | 2:57 PM NST
3. Dr B
The swastika symbol in this format has a specific meaning for many people around the world and I would make two points:
1. People openly wearing it in tourist areas such as Thamel with many visitors from Europe should beware of the potential consequences to their "personage".
2. Lawmakers and the community should consider carefully the image they are projecting of their country that bans symbols of a free Tibet and allows symbols of naziism to be openly worn.
20 AUG 2010 | 3:42 PM NST
I really wanna punch 'em in the face, when i see these idiots with the swastika shirts. maybe they want that. How nice it will be for VNY 2011. Stick with punks not dead or avril shirts!
20 AUG 2010 | 5:01 PM NST
5. I Care
If it is the gnocide of neapli politicians .....the neo-nazis in Mongolia or anywere lese have my vote!
20 AUG 2010 | 5:29 PM NST
Â Â Â Â Â Sieg HeilÂ ! It is all due to the failure of the democratic front, the parties, the civil society and the educationalists all together. We have failed in inculcating democratic temper, scientific temper and teaching the young generatin right from first standard about Teaching Democracy Globally,Internationally,and Comparatively:,in our Civic Mission of Schools for thec 21st Century. The last century was a century of conflict between democracy and its rivals; it is the issue right now we are facing. We want democracy but we are facing the one party Communist challengesof the Maoist, its subsequent authoritarian regime. The youths have to be made fan miliar with what happened in the so called socialist republics of the Soviet Unions and its followers in China or North Korea . or e with rthe religious fundamentalist in Iran after the rise of Khomeni. We had had Hitlers and Mussolinies. Â Persons like Goverdhan Rana, have written books in simple Nepali explaining what Communism is, the book called SAMYABAD If we simply care to read them we can have good comparative understanding of politicsand the parties. The INGOS have spent billions of rupees teaching about constitution making , but have not cared about teaching about Democratic thingking and living, and about its dangerous rival system. Let them distribute this book in plenty in the coming days instead i of wasting their money to misguiding the tribals and spreading tribalism and tire burning.Â DFIDS listen; your pets canÂ ... Â Â ... Â Â Â Â you too.
21 AUG 2010 | 8:07 AM NST
Swastikas, Khomeni, Bin Laden or Che GueveraÂ T-shirts are no novelties in these days of Ttatto or Shirts. you can find tattos in every part of theÂ body in our youths,.Sorry we don't have nice bathing beaches in our river banks. Saya karau Chengeza Nadir hai nazar ke samane ,ehh game dil kyakaru ehhÂ bahasate dil kya karu?
21 AUG 2010 | 8:16 AM NST
Hitler would surely have considered Nepalis & Indians as racially inferior, as he did Romanies and Jews - so the T-shirt wearers are incredibly ignorant, stupid and masochistic. The small western Nazi groups who attack Asians,Â (and others) in Europe would be bewildered.
22 AUG 2010 | 5:28 AM NST
What a pompous article with zero knowledge of local culture! chi chi...fyi, Swastika is a cultural symbol in south asia, it's a sign of good luck.shuva laav . I have seen houses of millionaires in Kathmandu with swastika engraved at the gates. The reporter makes no attempt to differentiate the affinity for the swastika, one arising from hitler's politics (reverse swastika) and the other from cultural heritage (swastika proper), or even on the two variants. With tunnel vision like this, why even bother reading this newspaper? Eurcentrism, orientalism at one of its pitch bottom, and there are many other examples. Â
22 AUG 2010 | 5:33 AM NST
Gangalal #9, I was wondering why the article does not mention Hindu (and Jain) use of swastika too.
But the photo of a T shirt is certainly of the Nazi swastika style.
Also, as mentioned in examples given in the article, some of the politics of the far right in Nepal, yearning for military rule and a bloodbath against Maoists seems quite compatible with Nazism.
Their stupidity in openly identifying themselves that way also seems quite consistent with the stupidity they exhibit generally.
The references to Stalin and Maoists in the article just seem to be the usual "compulsory" Nepali Times style rather than a serious point from the author.
22 AUG 2010 | 2:02 PM NST
11. Another LAL
If only those ignorant brown-skinned youths of Nepal knew that Hitler would have loved to send them to Auswitz because according to him, we belong to an inferior race. There is so much to learn from WWII. There's so much to learn from Stalin to Hitler, from Normandy to Nanking. The guy in the picture looks like a college student who probably passed SLC in first division like so many others. And like them, he is so uneducated. BTW, I especially liked the last paragraph.Â
22 AUG 2010 | 4:17 PM NST
Hitler's Nazi Swastika is one facing right at 45 degre axis as in the shirt worn by the youth. Whereas the Hindu Swastika is left facing one at vertical axis.
22 AUG 2010 | 5:49 PM NST
13. Dev Batsya
Leaders like Hitler do not arise unless there is a pre-existing social environment; they do not arise out of a vacuum. Throughout Europe, the Jews and the Gypsies/Romany peopleÂ had been persecuted for more than a millennium before Hitler came up with the idea of the Ã¯Â¿Â½final solutionÃ¯Â¿Â½: Â to exterminate them once and for all. See the following link http://www.chgs.umn.edu/histories/victims/romaSinti/gypsies2.html for more information.
(It is ironic that recently there are reports of France again starting deportation of the Romany people despite their being EU citizens like other Europeans)
Given the history of tolerance and the multi-ethnic diversity of the country, the threat of a racist bigoted totalitarian leader like Hitler arising in Nepal is low. However, the potential for a strong authoritarian ruler coming into power does exist, resulting possibly from a backlash against the current anarchy by a people looking for a strong and capable leader to lead the country out of the current crisis.
The main problem for the people currently seems to be the disintegration of existing social and cultural norms and laws, being replaced by the rule of the jungle where Ã¯Â¿Â½Might is RightÃ¯Â¿Â½, and an almost complete absence of law and order.
The government slowly is becoming invisible and defunct for the common man because of its inability to protect individual rights and freedoms of its citizens. As a result businesses and people are forced to live under rules made by local criminal bosses in their districts, and even pay Ã¯Â¿Â½taxesÃ¯Â¿Â½ to them or face the consequences, with nobody to protect them.
DemocracyÂ and individual freedoms remain just slogans, and in reality do not and cannot exist for the people when theÂ government cannot enforce even the basic and simplest laws, and cannot protect its citizens from criminal elements.
In Nepal, at least for now, the threat of a dictator like Hitler arising is much less than the threat of anarchy and disintegration turning the country into another Afghanistan, with multiple ungovernable provinces run by local criminal-political syndicates.
What seems to be lacking and what the people want is a strong and visionary leadership, if the country is to avert either of the two fates.
23 AUG 2010 | 9:00 AM NST
Arthur is himselfÂ in "compulsory" denial about Stalin and Mao's massacre of their own citizens. Between them, these two gentlemen have slaughtered 30 million people in the name of the people.Â How convenient for latter-day comies to air brush history. How completely true to form. The tragedy is that people all over the world are still being killed in the name of Stalinism and Maoism.Â
23 AUG 2010 | 9:25 AM NST
What a brilliant article.
Counting myself as one of the westerners that came across this phenomenon in Nepal when I worked there, I must say that this article does capture my not inconsiderable distress.
Re: Gangalal: This article is obviously about the Nazi symbol and not the Hindu form (which I've seen in both left facing and right facing form). No-one is denying that the swastika appears across South Asia on walls, houses, shrines with no connotation to Nazism. However, when it appears in black, in a white circular background, with a red behind it, please don't pretend that this is anything but a reference to Hitler and Nazism. And a contemporary translation of Mein Kampf is also not some long lost Asian text about good luck, but the one in which Hitler's espouses his political ideology of nationalism. Its theoretical content at times nears being explicitly racist, and is implicitly so through and through. And its historical effect is well known in the West (though clearly not in Asia). I am not denying that eurocentrism and orientalism exists Gangadal, but let's not make the disasterous mistake to judge this article as that!
Re Arthur, and in agreement to KiranL. It is entirely valid to refer to the Nepali love-in with Communist figures here too. Fascism and Communism are theoretically poles apart, and this is under-appreciated by centrists. But historically, the massacres under Mao and Stalin certainly qualify them to be considered alongside Hitler as truly imbecilic and dangerous idols for new Nepali Nationalism, and reflects a devastating lack of historical understanding.
Certainly we westerners know too little about the history of Asia, but here clearly is a case of the reverse.
25 AUG 2010 | 7:23 PM NST
16. Nirmal Gangalal I think you denied what really the article is trying to tell and why. Let me have a chance to explain you:
First because we need to cling to these few positive columns to continue to trust in life. And secondly to keep some hope in humanity. One characteristic of our time is what Heidegger called de-divinisation. (By the way, I quote Heidegger because he is a character that disgusts me greatly because of his connection to Nazism, but, despite this horrible stigma, unforgivable, wrote very lucid pages on the limits of modernity and in particular about what he called "Forgetfulness of Being." The time--the same time which will never forgive his commitment to the regime of absolute evil-- has demonstrated that he was right when he spoke about the displacement(sidelinning) of a person on a world dominated by economics, utilitarianism and technocracy. Indeed, Nazism was, along with communism, the first attempt to build a new humanity based on the depersonalization, the subjugation of the mass to an idea. And if Heidegger was seduced by the Nazis is perhaps because, victim of fear to the technocratic drift of modernity, he was tempted by the idea to restore pure human bred activities: tribal).
This is very meaningful as our society is largely influenced by those ideas based on supremacy of certain status, race or ethnicity. AND NOW we have a party called UCPN Maoists whose PP claims that they belong to distinct race(jaat)of politicians.
26 AUG 2010 | 8:10 AM NST
The guardian article on mongolian neo-nazis is interesting, though it seems different from the less organized phenomenon in Nepal.
I won't take up the invitation to debate Stalin etc since I believe it was a side issue in the article. Suffice to mention that the communists under the leadership of Stalin were the main force that fought and defeated Nazism and other fascists, so naturally anti-communists need to obscure that and invent some similarity between communists and fascists.
Both the article and many comments emphasize the stupidity of those using Nazi symbols in view of the racial contempt actual Nazis would have for them. But this is not so unusual. Japanese militarists were closely united with "Aryan" Nazis. Despite Nazi anti-semitism both Arab and Jewish "semites" had fascist parties in the 1930s (eg Phalange in Lebanon and Jabotinsky's movement now represented by Likud governing Israel).
The support of Nepali elite for far right authoritarianism in form of feudal army and monarchy is quite compatible with Nazism. The caste system in Nepal is far more deeply entrenched with "25 layers of apartheid" (even dalits classifying other dalits as "untouchable") than the widespread racism even in Germany and Eastern Europe in the 1930s. Although the details of Nazi "aryan" mythology are quite different there is an obvious parallel with beliefs in the superiority of the khas bahun-chettri "aryan" elite in Nepal. Oddly Nazis paid a lot of attention to both Tibet and Nepal because there was something so appealing about the extreme and rigid hierarchies total oppression and exclusion.
What is more startling is the stupidity of OPENLY identifying with a movement that so notoriously failed, and united the whole world to crush it. That speaks to the desperate irrelevance of this section of Nepal's far right (still not so very different from the irrelevance of the rest of them).
26 AUG 2010 | 8:21 PM NST
18. Dev Batsya
Response to #17 Nazism was a purely European creation based on the the centuries of persecution of Jews/Gypsies long before Hitler came to power in Germany:Â http://www.chgs.umn.edu/histories/victims/romaSinti/gypsies2.htmlÂ Without the pre-existing prejudice and hatred against these, the only Non-Christian people to have survived historically in Europe, by large segments of theÂ European population not only in Eastern Europe but also Western Europe (eg the Vichy government in France), Nazism could never have flourished as it did. To claim that the Nazis who exterminated 6 million Jews, 1/2 million Gypsies by gassing them, were inspired by the social structure in Nepal and Tibet is not only plainly stupid, but many Nepalese and Tibetans would also find that very offensive.
27 AUG 2010 | 10:00 AM NST
#18 certainly Nazism was European and their fascination with Tibet and Nepal was, as I said, merely an interesting odd parallel rather than the origins of the movement.
But the reference in #13 (and implications elsewhere) to Nepal's "tolerance and multi-ethnic diversity" is quite misleading. The rigidity and oppression of Nepal's exclusiveÂ caste hierarchies greatly exceeds the levels of racism even in Germany and Eastern Europe.