India’s Hitler-themed restaurant draws fire
Name will ‘stay in people’s minds,’ says Mumbai restaurateur
Updated: 8:34 a.m. ET Aug 21, 2006
MUMBAI, India - A new restaurant in India’s financial hub, named after Adolf Hitler and promoted with posters showing the German leader and Nazi swastikas, has infuriated the country’s small Jewish community.
Hitler’s Cross, which opened last week, serves up a wide range of continental fare and a big helping of controversy, thanks to a name the owners say they chose to stand out among hundreds of Mumbai eateries.
“We wanted to be different. This is one name that will stay in people’s minds,” owner Punit Shablok told Reuters.
“We are not promoting Hitler. But we want to tell people we are different in the way he was different.”
But India’s remaining Jews — most migrated to Israel and the West over the years — say they are outraged by the gimmick.
“This signifies a severe lack of awareness of the agony of millions of Jews caused by one man,” said Jonathan Solomon, chairman of the Indian Jewish Federation, the community’s umbrella organization.
“We are going to stop this deification of Hitler,” he said without elaborating.
The small restaurant, its interior done out in the Nazi colors of red, white and black, also has a lounge for smoking the Indian water pipe or “hookah.”
Posters line the road leading up to it, featuring a red swastika carved in the name of the eatery. One slogan reads: “From Small Bites to Mega Joys.”
A huge portrait of a stern-looking Füehrer greets visitors at the door. The cross in the restaurant’s name refers to the swastika that symbolized the Nazi regime.
“This place is not about wars or crimes, but where people come to relax and enjoy a meal,” said restaurant manager Fatima Kabani, adding that they were planning to turn the eatery’s name into a brand with more branches in Mumbai.
The swastika has its roots in ancient Indian Hindu tradition and remains a sacred symbol for Hindus. Nazi theorists appropriated it to bolster their central hypothesis of the Aryan origins of the German people.