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Bose in Nazi Germany – The Misinterpreted Saga

Updated: Aug 19, 2022

The day 29th May 1942, gave birth to a new controversy not only in India, but worldwide. The only contemporary equal to Gandhi in Indian politics, Subhas babu, fearlessly joined hand with the Deadliest power on Earth. Well! Today let me try to eradicate some common misconceptions about the most questioned day in Subhas Bose’s life.

1. Why Nazi Germany?

By 1940, Bose was clear on his plan to bring freedom with the help of the global powers. “In spite of being in a precarious position, the British would not hand over power to Indian people and the latter would have to fight for their freedom…. India would win her independence if she played her part in the fight against Britain and collaborated with the powers that were fighting Britain.” He wanted His country to be Free above anything else. All he did was in National Interest, but too bad for Him that it turned out to be in Nazi Germany. It could have been Russia, but the Soviets were only sympathetic. He came to despise the United States because it sided British Colonialism every now and then.

2. Can Bose’s reaching out to Hitler be justified?

‘No country places her interests after those of the rest of mankind. In pursuit of national interest, nations and their leaders would even shake hands with the devil. It is for the reason of larger national interests that the United States, the Land of Free, is friends not only with regressive Saudi Arabia, but also Pakistan, which harboured their enemy No 1, Osama bin Laden. It was this very reason Subhas Chandra Bose shook hands with Adolf Hitler and, if you please, Indira Gandhi with Saddam Hussein’.

3. Was Hitler in favour of India’s Independence?

NO. In his autobiography ‘Mein Kampf’ Hitler wrote that he, “as a German, would far rather see India under British domination than under that of any other nation.” It is true that the Free India Legion was born and brought up in Nazi Germany. It wouldn’t have been possible for Bose alone to set up a “Free India Government” in just 7 months, and that too in Hitler’s regime, without German aid. Bose installed a deep sense of patriotism among the British Indian Prisoners Of War and converted them into legionaries. It was the Indian Legionaries who first bestowed Subhas babu the iconic title of “Netaji”. But behind all these, Bose’s two year stay in Berlin was frustrating. Hitler did not receive Him for a whole year. Further He was confirmed, when Hitler’s tanks rolled across Soviet Borders, that Hitler was more interested in using the Indian Legion to win propaganda victories than military ones. Basically in front of Bose, Hitler was pretending to be an innocent flower, but he was actually the serpent underneath.

4. Was the Azad Hind Radio set up with Hitler’s aid?

NO. The Azad Hind Radio and the voice “Ami Subhas Bolchi” were one of the landmark achievements in Netaji’s military life. This was Subhas’s chief organ to reach out to the Indian masses. The idea had conceived in His mind before His Great Escape. He was just waiting for a platform to implement his ideas; and it was Germany. The first radio broadcast occurred on 1st May 1942 i.e. before His meeting Hitler.

5. Was Hitler interested in Netaji?

Interestingly YES. On 29th May Hitler gave indications to Bose about his inability to assist Him in India’s struggle for independence. On that day itself Bose’s future plans were decided, i.e to seek Japanese aid. I don’t know why, but perhaps Bose’s sacred motive had instilled some feelings in the Fuhrer’s devilish heart. Maybe I am wrong; but a normal Hitler would have never thought of Bose’s safety in His journey to Japan. When the destination was fixed as Japan, Bose suggested to travel airway. But interestingly Hitler refused, saying that the aircraft would fly over British occupied lands and can be forcefully landed and then anything can happen. So underwater would be a better option. It was the Fuhrer himself who had made all the talks to Japan and get a cargo submarine ready for Bose. Perhaps we can be grateful to him for this contribution to India’s freedom struggle.

6. Was Bose fascinated by Nazism?

Of course, NO. Bose’s link to Hitler has been wrongly interpreted by those who vociferously claim that He was a pro-Fascist leader. In 1936 He said: “When I first visited Germany in 1933, I had hopes that the newly formed German nation which had risen to consciousness of its national strength and self-respect would instinctively feel a deep sympathy for other nations struggling in the same direction. Today I regret that I have to return to India with a conviction that the new nationalism in Germany is not only narrow and selfish, but also arrogant.” If he thereafter went back to Germany, not being a fan of Nazism, it was on pragmatic grounds. The reality is that he was there seeking help, not as an armchair critic. His purpose was to obtain as much help as possible without compromising on self-respect or India’s interest. ‘He wanted to keep his own liberty of action and he did not want to be branded as pro-Nazi’

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