One thing every indian wants to know is ” Did Subhash Chandra Bose ever meet Hitler?”. Was he planning an alliance with Germany during World War II?. Though there are many videos and fake pics on the internet that show Netaji Bose shaking hand with Hitler, no one can tell for sure whether it happened or not.
I have digged into this issue in detail for quite a long time and came with few facts that I would like to share below.
Why Netaji Bose wanted to meet Hitler?
Netaji believed that foreign assistance was a must to free India from British rule. In 1939, when the Second World War broke out, Subhas sought assistance from Germany, Italy, and Japan as they were enemies of Britain and thus would be natural allies. In 1941, he evaded a house-arrest in Calcutta by disguising himself as a Maulavi and going to Kabul, Afghanistan. Later, he procured an Italian passport and fled to Berlin, Germany.
There he met Hitler and discussed his plans and sought his assistance to free India. He also sought assistance from Mussolini. From time to time, he aired his speeches on the Azad Hind Radio from Berlin to communicate his intentions to fellow Indians and to prove that he was still alive. After the defeat of Germany, Netaji realized that he could not continue his struggle from Germany anymore.
Bose original plan was that the Germans could help India in the freedom struggle, which would put strain on the limited resources that Britain had. This would mean that Britain would be defeated or weakened, helping both Germany and Indian independence movement. This never materialized in terms of action.
What went wrong during Hitler – Netaji Bose’s Meeting ?
Netaji met hitler in May 1942. whole arrangement was organiser by Himmler ( hitler’s top general), there are sources that suggest that Bose had a 45 min long meeting with Hitler, where bose expressed his interest in getting help from Hitler, to help weaken british control in india.
However, Subhas had a rather uneasy relationship with Hitler. To answer the “uneasy relationship” part, there is something about Hitler that is relevant here.
Hitler was a racist and hated Jews, Indians, Africans, African Americans and pretty much everybody else in no particular order. While it was true that he was at war with Britain, what he really wanted was proclaim victory over Britain and install a statue of himself in Oxford. He was hoping that British Crown would give him a free hand in Europe. Britain fit into his “superior Aryan race” theory after all. He looked down upon aligning with India and Bose. He did consider the trouble Bose and the Indians could give to The Crown, but had no post war plans for India. Hitler did not recognize India as a free country either (which was one of the conditions laid down by Bose), so while Bose went to Germany with hopes, he was disappointed with Hitler. It was at this point that the Americans were forced to enter the war and Hitler made the decision to dedicate resources to attack Russia.
Bose had used Hitler as an example for radical change during the thirties.
If the Mahatma had spoken in the language of dictator Stalin, Duce Mussolini or Fuhrer Hitler, John Bull would have understood and bowed his head in respect
– Bose on Gandhi’s involvement in Round Table Conference, ’31
But after meeting him in person (late ’41), he was not convinced about the alignment plans and how it could serve the Indian cause. Also important is the fact that Himmler was the point of contact for Bose. Access to the Fuhrer was controlled by Himmler. While I do not have exact knowledge of how many times Bose met Hitler, Hitler was supposedly curious and impressed with Bose and his plans after Himmler gave the go ahead for the meeting. This was some time in ’41 – ’42. After this, the plan of Bose was to form a small group of elite trained POWs who would be air dropped over India and fight a war of attrition.
Goebbels (Nazi propaganda officer) was impressed by this plan. The Axis advances had been stalled (not yet on complete back foot). The Japanese had attacked Pearl harbor and conquered Singapore. There were many Indian POW in Singapore and Iqbal already had a few groups organized, so Iqbal and group was the logical choice for starting an Indian army, which seemed like a better plan than a smaller bunch of paratroopers. This is how the idea of forming the Indian National Army using POWs was born.
Hitler was essentially planning to use Bose as a pawn. Bose was aware of this, and complied to a certain extent for a while as he had no choice. But after the military plans and Hitler’s stall tactics became obvious, Bose made a rather hasty exit from Germany. He then traveled in a Nazi sub and transferred to a Japanese sub somewhere in Mozambique or Madagascar. The Japanese were more welcoming of Bose (legend has it that the Japanese cooked spicy food for Bose as he was fed up with German food served on the Nazi sub) and his plans after that is what led to the formation of INA. Bose had meetings with Toji and many Generals who supported the cause of Bose. The Japanese were, and still are, fans of Bose for the courage, inspiration and dedication that he displayed. They equipped the INA and provided arms, ammunition and aircraft – exactly what the Germans didn’t.
Summary of relationship between Bose – Hitler and Germany:
- 1931 – Bose writes letters indicating Hitler as a radical change model
- 1934 – Met and married his wife in Germany
- ‘January 1941 – Escapes from house arrest
- ‘March 1941 – Travels to Moscow with Italians, then flies to Berlin
- ‘May 1941 – Meets Himmler and convinces him about his plans
- ‘Sep ’41 – Meets Hitler for the first time, presents his deal (recognition of India as a free country in return for rebellion in India against The Crown)
- ‘Dec ’41 – Japan gets involved, Pearl Harbor attacked- war dynamics changed with the United States declaring war
- ‘Jan ’42 – Germans stall military action and assistance, instead provide radios for Bose to address Indians from Germany
- ‘Feb ’42 – Japan overruns Singapore, many Indian POWs captured
- ‘April ’42 – Germany sponsors Azad Hind Radio. Bose gets desperate, agrees to Hitler’s terms (Bose will report to Hitler, get arms and in return- Bose to be made leader of India and India to be recognized as independent state after the war)
- ‘May ’42 – Bose meets Hitler again to discuss how recruitment into Azad Legion can be handled. Hitler’s plans for invading Russia (Bose was a leftist and a socialist – he admired Russia) and other tactics scare Bose as impractical
- ‘July ’42 – Bose gets disillusioned with Hitler and German plans, initiates contact with the Japanese
- ‘Aug ’42 – Plans for INA drawn up, Bose decides to leave Germany
- ‘Dec 42 – Bose leaves Germany in a sub (U-180)
- ‘Jan 43 – Bose boards Japanese sub (I-29)
So while Bose did align with Germany, it was real politic and not an alignment of principles (Nazism). Hitler’s grandiose plans, impractical military stall tactics and using Bose for propaganda finally drove Bose to seek help else where – Japan.
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