'Hitler' Clothing Store in India Draws Criticism; Owner Claims Ignorance

A menswear clothing store named "Hitler" opened up earlier this month in Ahmedabad, Gujarat in India, but its owner is defending the name choice amid criticism from the Jewish community.

"None of the other people are complaining, only a few Jewish families. I have not hurt any sentiments of the majority Hindu community. If he did something in Germany, is that our concern?" Rajesh Shah, one of the co-owners of the store, asked in an interview.

The Jewish community in Ahmedabad has approached the store's owners asking for it to be renamed, but their requests have been refused so far. The "Hitler" store owners have even said that if members of the Jewish community wants the store to have a new name, they should "pay for it."

The owners have said that when they originally chose the store name, they were not fully aware of the history surrounding Adolf Hitler, the infamous German dictator who killed millions of Jews in his concentration camps. They claimed to only know of Hitler as a "stern man" for whome their grandfather received his nickname.

"The customers who come in tell me they came in seeing the name," Shah admitted. However, photos of the store in India also reveal that a swastika sign is used instead of the dot in the letter "I" in the store's name, making an obvious connection with the Nazi leader.

"I didn't know how much the name would disturb people," he added to AFP. "It was only when the store opened I learn(ed) Hitler had killed six million people."

Israel's Mumbai Consul General Orna Sagiv said, however, that he would raise the matter to officials "in the strongest possible way."

"People use such names mostly out of ignorance," Sagiv said.

The New York Times revealed that a number of stores in India have actually chosen to include Hitler's name in their title – although more for shock value rather than in honor of the German dictator.

"If I name my son 'Hitler' and I wanted to start a business in his name, would they have a problem with that?" said Baljit Singh Osan, the owner of a pool parlor called "Hitler's Den" in Nagpur, Maharashtra. "There are no laws like that in our country."

Osan noted that while he did not agree with Hitler's beliefs, he had no intentions of changing the name of his establishment, despite protests from the Jewish community over his name choice as well.

David Goldfarb, the spokesman for the Israeli Embassy, had said of Osan's store: "We can only assume that the owners of this new establishment are unaware of the horrendous meaning of the usage of Nazi themes and insignia for commercial gain."