There is no evidence to date that my great-uncle, who allied with the Axis powers in his fight for India’s freedom, said anything, publicly or privately, while he was based in Berlin from 1941 to early 1943, or later between 1943 and 1945 when he was in Southeast Asia, even after the horrors of concentration camps became publicly known in the spring of 1945.
Bose, on arrival in Europe, helped recruit about 5000 Indian students, POWs and others into the Waffen SS. There are reports that these troops committed atrocities against civilian populations which is why the French Resistance killed any of them who fell into their hands. Nambiar, Bose's lieutenant, became more and more attached to the Axis cause and tried to get some Indians- whom the Germans judged to have zero military capacity- to fight in Italy. Most promptly deserted. Nehru intervened to save Nambiar's skin after the war. He was appointed India's second Ambassador to West Germany in the Fifties. By then the Soviets and the Americans were using Nazi scientists to steal a march on each other in the Space Race. Anti-Semitism was still cool. What changed attitudes in Europe was Israel's victory in the 1967 war. The Jews, it turned out, were a 'martial race'. Bengalis, however, were still considered- by the Pakistani Army- to be subhuman cowards against whom genocide was permissible. Niradh Chaudhuri did much to popularize this view. Still, Niradh had been loyal to the UK, where he later settled, during the War. Sarmila, who is based in this country, has nothing to apologize for on on his account.
For this unconscionable failing on his part, I am ashamed.
Bose had become infatuated with Mussolini. He dressed up as a Ruritanian Field Marshal and wanted to be the Il Duce or Fuhrer of India. Only the Axis powers could help him achieve his ambition. Otherwise the toothless Mahatma would rule the roost. The Brits wanted to hand over power to those who won elections. Since Bengali Hindus were a minority, Bose could not compete with Nehru- a UP Brahmin- at the Center, or Shurawardy- a Muslim- in a united Bengal.
The plain fact is that the Bose brothers were ambitious but, being Kayasthas, they could only be a junior partner in a Fazl ul Haq type Ministry. But Faraizi Islam was strong enough to push Haq toward endorsing the Pakistan demand. Thus, after Netaji literally crashed and burned, his elder brother became a stooge for Suhrawardy's cunning plan to keep the whole of Bengal- and Assam!- for the Muslims. In other words, the Bose brothers were bound to fail one way or another.
Like the Grand Mufti, embracing Hitler was Bose's way of acknowledging that he had no political future. Still, he died bravely and that redeemed his political failures.
My great-uncle died in an aircrash in August 1945, so it is not possible to know what he might have said or done had he lived longer.
But Sharat, his elder brother, lived till 1950. He spoke for his brother. What he had to say was stupid shit.
I do not want to be unfair to him – it is easy to criticise with hindsight and there is a chance that he condemned the Holocaust verbally in private and those with whom he spoke have not reported it. However, given the lack of such evidence to date and his failure to say anything in public, I feel it necessary to express my sorrow and remorse for this indefensible failing on his part.
Why not apologize for Bose having recruited goons for the Waffen SS? He had command responsibility for their war crimes in Europe. Like Nambiar he could have been arrested and sent to jail. In practical terms, like Nambiar or the Grand Mufti, he'd have been allowed to escape.
...why am I apologising?
Because this silly bint thinks a failure to condemn stuff is a worse crime than recruiting for the fucking SS!
That might take a bit of explaining, even to some of those to whom this apology is addressed, as well as members of my family and the people of the Indian subcontinent, the vast majority of whom revere my great-uncle. So though my apology is simple and unreserved, please bear with the lengthier account of why I believe it is needed.
What follows is surreal
Subhas Chandra Bose and Europe
As a young man my great-uncle studied in Cambridge and excelled in the Indian Civil Service examinations,
He was placed fourth in the prelims but never took the final exam. He got a third class degree from Cambridge. Aurobindo or Hardayal were more intellectually distinguished.
Still, I suppose, Bose could have joined the ICS in 1921. In 1922, two Keralites- KPS Menon & Raghavan Pillai- shared between them all the glittering prizes at Oxbridge and joined the ICS. Both served the India with great distinction. Bose could have taken the same path.
but resigned from the service after his selection, choosing to fight British imperialism rather than serve it.
This is crazy shit. India was on the path to self-government. Thirty years previously, Aurobindo quit the ICS because he was a Nationalist and British Imperialism did not, at that time, envisage self-determination for non-White colonies. But, by 1917, British policy had changed. In 1918, the Labor Party put Indian independence into its Manifesto. It would come to power in 1924. By then, India could have got what Ireland and Afghanistan and Egypt got in 1922. This was obvious to all. Why did Bose quit the ICS? It was for the same reason that Nehru didn't bother sitting the exam. Prosperous lawyers- or their younger brothers or sons- could rise more rapidly in politics. By 1924 Bose was the CEO of the Calcutta Corporation. Sadly, he was shit at that type of work. Still, he was making good money with his newspapers and forays into Trade Unionism and so forth. His elder brother was making lots more money as a lawyer. This was a family which expressed extreme anti-British sentiment not because the Brits were horrible but so as to gain political power. Similarly, there were anti-Semitic politicians who expressed great horror at the terrible atrocities carried out by Jews not because any such atrocities had actually occurred but because they gained power- even total power- by repeating these hateful lies.
In the 1930s he spent a good deal of time in Europe,
he was infatuated with Mussolini though he was also close to Da Valera. The bigger problem the Bose bros. faced was that Tegart- the Police Chief who crushed Jugantar- had come to believe that the two were trying to kill him. G.D Birla was close to Tegart- he appointed him a Director of his London holding Company after the war- and was backing the Gandhi-Patel conservative faction. However, Nehru, as Congress President, alienated by the Bengalis by refusing to let Congress join a coalition headed by Haq. Thus, Gandhi brought in Bose as President in the hope that a taste of responsibility would help moderate his views. This didn't work. Netaji wanted to displace Gandhi as the 'Il Duce and Fuhrer' of the Party. The lad was forced out of the Congress Presidency and was left to sulk as the head of his own little retarded 'Forward Block'.
The fact is, it wasn't just Nehru who didn't want to play second fiddle to Fazl ul Haq. The conservative Hindus, too, were unenthused by an alliance with Fazlul Haq who thus had to embrace the Muslim League. The Bose's 'Forward Bloc' was going nowhere (though a junior partner to the League in the Calcutta Corporation) and so Netaji had no option but to escape from house arrest rather than spend the War as a caged and ineffectual lion while Muslims ran Bengal and, in consequence, Hindus turned to Patel and Birla. I should explain, the Boses had risen under C.R. Das who, opportunistically, had used Muslim appeasement to rise. But, now the Muslims had well and truly risen, the Bose brothers could only be Quislings to the Hindu cause.
Meanwhile, those pre-War Jugantar revolutionaries who had gone to Moscow or otherwise turned Communist could, like M.R Roy join the struggle against Fascism- at least after Hitler invaded the Soviet Union. But Bose had already left for Moscow where Stalin, knowing full well that Bengalis were useless, passed him on to Berlin. Thus Bose was reviving the 'Indo-German conspiracy' of the Great War. But Hitler, unlike the Crown Prince, had zero enthusiasm for the program . Bose was less valuable than the Grand Mufti. Still, he was Mussolini's protege and there was some loose talk about Japan and Germany splitting India down the middle between them. Since Bengal would fall into the Japanese sphere, the Nazis sent him by submarine to Tojo.
centred in Vienna but travelling widely, after being exiled from India by the British.
Bose wasn't exiled. He was jailed from time to time.
He met the love of his life, my great-aunt Emilie Schenkl, in Vienna in 1934.
But he pretended to be a celibate 'brahmacharee' back in India.
During the Second World War, he sought the assistance of the Axis powers to raise an Indian national army to fight for India’s freedom from British colonial rule.
Provincial autonomy had already been achieved. The Indians could have created a Federal Government but couldn't agree on terms. Essentially, the Muslims wanted to dominate the whole of Bengal and Punjab. Hindus and Sikhs were not enthused. There was also the problem of the Princes.
With hindsight, the Boses should have- like Fazlul Haq- stuck to a constructive program. But the Boses were shit at administration. Also, they couldn't create an economic constituency for themselves among the tenant farmers, Namasudras, Faraizis etc. Thus it was inevitable that they would do stupid shit. Netaji showed courage and died young. That is why he is remembered as a glorious martyr to the National cause. We don't care what he believed or what stupid shit he got up to. What is important is that he gave his life for India.
From April 1941 to February 1943 he was based in Berlin, after a daring escape from India where he had been imprisoned for the eleventh time.
House arrest. Bengal was ruled by Bengalis. The Premier, Huq, saw Bose's Forward Bloc as a potential ally- as indeed it became after the Muslim League withdrew support.
His daughter, my aunt Anita, was born in Vienna in 1942.
Hitler was killing blonde, blue-eyed, German or Yiddish speaking Jews. He was also killing Christian 'Romani' who are of Indian origin. But he was recruiting dusky Hindus and Muslims into the SS. Bose, as an Aryan, could marry an Austrian Christian. This would have been problematic if the lady had been Jewish. Nazi Racism had its bizarre aspects.
In other words, my great-uncle was no stranger to Europe and Europeans.
Which is why he was anti-Semitic. One of his biographers suggests that the fellow wrote an Jew baiting article for Goebbel's rag. There is no evidence of this. The Japanese got along well with Jewish industrialists in Shanghai and Singapore so it suited them that Bose wasn't spewing bile at 'Sassoons' (as Jews were known in the Far East)
Alliance with Nazi Germany
Subhas Chandra Bose’s decision to ally with the Axis powers during the Second World War, in particular his decision to escape to Berlin in 1941 and seek assistance from Nazi Germany, has always been controversial.
He would have been happier with a Soviet alliance. They palmed the useless fellow off on their Nazi allies.
It left us, his family, permanently on the defensive, despite the adulation of much of the general public. The alliance with Japan and his move to Southeast Asia in 1943 – another daring journey halfway around the world in the middle of the war in German and Japanese submarines – did not cause similar discomfort or attract the kind of criticism that his voyage to Nazi Germany did. In Southeast Asia he raised the Indian National Army (INA),
this sent an important signal that Pathans and Punjabis were willing to follow a bespectacled Bengali Babu. An Indianized Army would not be loyal to some Tory old fogey.
composed of Indian POWs from the British army and civilian volunteers, who fought on the Burma front and briefly entered Indian territory near Imphal in 1944.
The Japs were utterly horrible to those they conquered. Indians in South East Asia would pay a high price for their enthusiasm for the Bengali blathershite.
The bid to gain assistance from Nazi Germany was particularly odd as Bose belonged to the Leftist wing of the Indian National Congress and moreover was known to be a particularly inclusive leader.
Stalin was Hitler's pal back then. Plenty of Commies were explaining why the Finns were very evil for invading the Soviet Union.
Arguably his greatest achievement was to unite all Indians regardless of religion, caste, region or gender, in the Indian National Army. Under his leadership everyone in the INA lived, ate and fought together. He insisted on forming a women’s regiment in the INA, over Japanese objections.
Arguably, it is only possible to unite Indians regardless of gender and creed and class on the basis of crazy shite. The INA had zero fighting ability. But then, the British led Indian Army did not perform very well in the Eastern theater, at least initially.
There is a single photo of my great-uncle with Hitler, which tends to pop up every time his wartime alliance with the Axis powers is mentioned. They are shaking hands at their one and only meeting (which by all accounts did not go particularly well).
Bose couldn't do much for Hitler just as he could do nothing for Stalin. Still, just as Stalin could gain face by sending him as a gift to his ally, so too could Hitler gain face by sending the fellow to Tojo. The Axis leaders needed the pretense of having international allies though, in truth, they were jumped up bar-room brawlers.
In my family, this unwelcome reminder of what was surely a ghastly error of judgment was countered by how he famously remonstrated with Hitler during that meeting against racist comments about Indians in Mein Kampf, demanding amendments in future editions. To give credit where credit is due, to protest against Hitler’s racism to Hitler’s face, in Nazi Germany, while seeking his help for the cause of India’s freedom, took more guts than those criticising from afar.
Very true. It took matchless courage for Bose to not just criticize Hitler to his face but to hold down his head and make the Fuhrer smell his farts.
The truth is Bose sucked up to the Nazis and became more and more anxious to be of use to them.
But why go there in the first place? And what about what Hitler was doing to others – Jewish people, other minorities and political opponents? In our family and among his admirers and many historians, the decision to ally with the Axis powers has always been described as a pragmatic exercise of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend”. Bose pretty much said so at the time, describing the Second World War as a conflict between two sets of imperialist forces, which India should take advantage of, in order to win freedom.
That is all very well, but the fact remains that Bose and Nambiar recruited Indians to die in the cause of the Axis- a cause which their common-sense should have told them was doomed if not self-defeating. They should have insisted that the 'India Legion' should only be used East of Suez.
I suppose that just as Gandhi and Motilal and CR Das defeated British Imperialism by showing that Indian civilians were utterly shit and thus not worth keeping in the Empire, so too did Bose and Nambiar show that the Indian soldier was bound to switch sides if captured while even their women would flock to fight for whichever bunch of evil foreign bastards were raping them on an industrial scale.
However, perhaps there is a different potential explanation of why Bose chose to go to Berlin when he escaped from British detention
House arrest. He had been imprisoned for leading an agitation demanding the removal of a British era monument to the victims of the 'Black Hole' atrocity but went on hunger strike and so was let out. Meanwhile, Fazlul Haq moved the monument.
in January 1941. In an article I wrote in 2005, I argued that most likely what clinched my great-uncle’s decision, both to escape from India and to go to Europe at that time, was that if he did not do so, he risked losing the love of his life, Emilie. (Note 1)
This is foolish. The right thing to do was to get Emilie to Turkey or Egypt or on board a neutral ship- e.g. a Portuguese vessel.
His private correspondence with Emilie shows that he was planning to travel to Vienna to meet up with her again in 1939, after resigning from the Presidency of the Indian National Congress, to which he had won an unprecedented second consecutive term after defeating Gandhi’s favoured candidate.
Tamil speakers hated Gandhi's candidate who, they believed, wanted some Tamil speaking districts to be included in a greater Telugu State. However, P.M Thevar- the popular leader most feared by the Justice Party- mobilized support for Bose. He was later jailed in independent India for supposedly organising violence against Dalits.
The other problem with Gandhi's candidate, was that Dr. Sitarammaya (who was reluctant to run) was seen as a 'Capitalist' because he had founded a major Bank and an Insurance Company and so on. Bose appeared a firebrand Leftist. Fazl ul Haq too was popular because he was siding with the poor tenant against the rich landlord. To be fair, Gandhi's first choice had been Maulana Azad but Azad withdrew his name.
His resignation in the face of Gandhi’s implacable non-cooperation
What caused it? There were two reasons
1) Bose wanted to turn the Presidential election for Congress into a referendum on alternative programs. He was 'anti-Federation' and suggested that if he couldn't get the job then it should go to Acharya AN Deb- a Socialist. This was foolish. All Congress-wallahs were anti-Federation.
Gandhi believed that the Congress tradition was that the President was a ceremonial figure while the Working Committee hammered out a workable program. It soon became obvious to Bose that he couldn't do anything if the whole Working Committee, barring his brother, resigned. He'd be a lame duck. At Tripuri, the Congress Socialist Party abandoned Bose by abstaining. The jig was up. Bose had demonstrated that he was a blathershite with zero political acumen.
Azad, it must be said, was a good Congress President because he was very good at settling internecine disputes and pouring oil on troubled waters. That wasn't Bose's forte.
2) Bose had been utterly shit during his first term as President. He hadn't raised any fucking issues and yet was now poncing around pretending some Congress-wallahs were secretly 'Federationists' and hand in glove with the Imperialists. Nehru pointed this out to Bose. The latter had no counter-argument. Thus Nehru abandoned him to his fate. It was one thing to say Viceroy Sahib is raping Mother India and shitting on her tits. It is another thing to say anyone you don't like in your own Party is taking sloppy seconds after the Viceroy. Nehru and Bose's brother didn't resign from the Working Committee along with the others but Nehru had made it clear to Bose that he had no real program. Was he really going to issue an ultimatum to the British Government? Did he actually have any such thing written down somewhere? If not, why pretend that some occult force within Congress wasn't preventing him from freeing India? Bose had no answers to these questions. The upshot was Nehru resigned on his own. This left the Bose brothers as the only two members of the Committee. Maybe they could rope in an Aunty or a passing pussycat to achieve quorum, but they would look ridiculous. Congress passed a resolution that a Working Committee chosen by Gandhi should be appointed. Bose could remain as a figure head. The problem was he and his faction had been called a leaky boat which must not be allowed to tie up with the sturdy Gandhian craft. Bose could jump out of his boat and stay in the Congress boat. But that was all he could do. True, he would have the title of President but he would have to give speeches promoting the agenda of the Working Committee.
was a major crisis in his political career. However, in contrast with his public statements, his letters to Emilie show that he was delighted to be free to go to Vienna to be with her again, after a long period apart following his first election as Congress President in 1938. Not only were his plans to reunite with Emilie completely derailed by Hitler’s invasion of Poland in September 1939, all communication with Emilie was snapped.
The smart thing to do was to get the Turks or Portuguese or Iranians to establish communications and get her to neutral territory. The truth is, Bose didn't want Indians to know he was married. Like Hitler, he was supposed to have sublimated the sexual urge.
I faced quite a bit of criticism when I wrote that article from those who were incensed by the suggestion that Subhas Chandra Bose might have escaped to Europe for the sake of a real woman, rather than Mother India. However, very likely he persuaded himself that by going to Europe at that juncture he could resume his private life as well as serve the cause of India’s freedom.
Bose had a pal, the head of the Indian Nazi League, who was married to, the crazy French/Greek mathematician, Savitri Devi. MN Roy too had a White wife. Bose could have brought his spouse to India. Life in Calcutta was good for rich people like the Boses.
It was the perceived congruence of private and public interests that would have clinched the decision. By looking solely at his public life, historians have struggled to explain why a highly intelligent, well-educated, Leftist political leader from India who was familiar with Europe, chose to make a perilous journey to go to Nazi Germany in the middle of the Second World War when he knew about Hitler’s racist view of Indians.
Sadly, Indians had racist views about non-Indians. They firmly believed that Europeans didn't bathe or wipe their asses properly.
I find it difficult to believe that he would have gone to Europe at that point if Emilie did not exist.
Now, if only we could find a nice Japanese geisha Bose liked, we would also have an explanation for why he crossed two oceans by submarine.
I also believe that his last dangerous journey, in August 1945, from Southeast Asia towards the Soviet Union, another baffling choice of destination when other better options appeared to exist, was also probably chosen because it was the only one that offered the possibility of reuniting with Emilie and their daughter, whom he had left behind in Vienna.
So Bose abandons his comrades coz he wants to go kiss wifey and cuddle baby. Nothing wrong with that.
But that is another story. He did not make it to the end of that journey.
There is a legend that he returned to India as a holy man- Gumnami Baba.
A stain that cannot be removed or reduced
Apart from “enemy’s enemy is my friend”, I grew up hearing a number of other defensive reactions every time the uncomfortable fact of my great-uncle’s time in Nazi Germany reared its ugly head.
Bose needn't have been so gung ho about recruiting for the Waffen SS. He could have confined himself to Radio broadcasts and the make-believe international politics of emigres. Nobody would have objected if he had moved with his wife to Geneva where he could spend the War writing about World Government or Perpetual Peace or some such shite.
One of the important defences was to emphasize his relationship with Adam von Trott zu Solz, the German diplomat who was executed for his part in the failed 20 July 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler.
This isn't a defence. Germans who tried to end a doomed conflict are considered sensible. Bose did the opposite. The man was a vainglorious fool. Still, he showed courage and died for the Nation. That's all that matters.
Von Trott ran the Special Bureau for India at the German Foreign Office and was genuinely sympathetic to the cause of India’s struggle for freedom.
He had been sympathetic to Chiang Kai-shek. There is little evidence that he gave much thought to India. This raises the larger question- did he actually have a brain?
An example of the subtle attempt to have Subhas Chandra Bose gain by association from the justifiably heroic status of von Trott as an anti-Nazi martyr is found in Sugata Bose’s biography of Subhas Chandra Bose, His Majesty’s Opponent. (Note 2) After carefully taking the time to set out von Trott’s credentials as an anti-Nazi hero, and referencing his deputy Alexander Werth’s time in prison under the Nazis as well, Sugata writes,
“These diplomats shielded the Indians, many of whom had left-leaning political beliefs, from what might have been rougher encounters with the Nazi party hierarchy. Werth believed that without Trott and his devoted team of workers at the Foreign Office, Bose would ‘probably not have remained in Berlin.’”
He should have crossed the border into Switzerland and spent his time on Nationalist propaganda. The fact is Bose was a recent President of the Indian Congress Party- one of the largest political parties in the world. If only for purposes of internal propaganda, Bose was valuable to the Axis. The way to deal with the 'party hierarchy' is to shout at them and tell them your pal, the Fuhrer, will fuck them to death if they aren't sufficiently obsequious.
Bose wasn't a Professor or a Diplomat. He was angling to be India's Dictator. It was his will-to-power which gave him charisma. He may not have been the Mamta of his age, but he did his best.
But where else would the self-exiled Bose have gone and how would he have gone anywhere without German support?
Switzerland. It was the obvious choice. Some Indian Prince would have paid his expenses. Wifey would have cooked nice dishes while hubby wrote his magnum opus in between playing with the baby. If it was absolutely necessary to organize an 'India Legion' then it could have been on condition that it kept non-combatant status in Europe. Nothing wrong with doing Red Cross or other such duty.
After he decided it would be better for him to fight for India’s freedom in Asia, where Japan had made significant gains,
enslaving fellow Asians. This was extraordinarily stupid.
it took many months to early 1943 before the German government made arrangements for Bose to travel by submarine to Southeast Asia.
Like Germany, Japan was already doomed. Still they remained on the offensive against India. Millions were beginning to die in Bengal. Bose was setting off to contribute to the starvation of his own people
However the overall aim of these passages in Sugata’s book is familiar to me as I grew up with it in my family: it is to create the impression that Bose was dealing in the main with anti-Nazi Germans while in Berlin during the war and to attempt to reduce the discomfort of the alliance with Hitler by using the association with von Trott. In Sugata’s book von Trott is referred to as Bose’s “friend”: “His friends in the German Foreign Office, including Adam von Trott, supported his efforts…” (Note 4.)
This strengthens the view that Bose and Nambiar needn't have been so gung ho recruiting for the SS.
Unfortunately, in reality, Adam von Trott was not Subhas Chandra Bose’s “friend”. As the American historian and Bose’s biographer Leonard Gordon pointed out,
“One of the tragedies of Bose’s sojourn in Europe was that he and Trott never became close,
Bose had nothing to gain by befriending a thicko. The question which faced him was whether, by some miracle, he might suddenly turn into a great military commander. I mean, if it could happen to Trotsky....?
Another argument in defence of my great-uncle which I heard since childhood was, of course, that some of his best friends were Jewish.
But some of every Bengali's friends belonged to a different religion. That didn't stop massive- if somewhat one-sided, ethnic cleansing once the Brits left
Yet another line of defence is that Bose was not alone in either failing to grasp the true nature of Nazism in the early years or taking a “realpolitik” approach during the Second World War.
Why not the tell the truth? The guy was an ambitious politician- i.e. a sociopath. If he gains and keeps power, no defence is necessary. On the other hand, I hope my distant descendants will express a condign contrition for failing to patent my Time Travel machine because I was too busy giving Super-Models multiple orgasms with my ginormous dick. However, it must be said, I don't regret not marrying Price Charles and becoming the first Indian member of the British Royal Family even though my father predicted to my mother that if she went on mollycoddling me, I'd grown up to be a big fat Queen.
) The problem is that while ‘realpolitik’ might explain why Bose sought help for India’s freedom from Hitler and the Axis powers, just as the Allies were happy to have Stalin on their side, it does not explain why he did not express shock and condemnation, even in private communications, or in conversations with his colleagues such as the senior officers of the Indian National Army, even when the horrors of the concentration camps in Europe became public with the defeat of Germany in the spring of 1945.
Why not admit that politicians like Bose presided over the partition violence? The truth is, they'd have tried to collectivize the land and send their opponents off to Gulags if they had the military power to do so.
As far as I am aware, the only writer who asked this difficult question about Bose in the context of his alliance with Nazi Germany – while remaining sympathetic to Bose and his cause of India’s freedom from British colonialism – is Romain Hayes in his book Subhas Chandra Bose in Nazi Germany. (14) Hayes wrote:
“The most disturbing issue, all too often ignored, is that in the many articles, minutes, memorandums, telegrams, letters, plans and broadcasts Bose left behind in Germany, he did not express the slightest concern or sympathy for the millions who died in the concentration camps.
Also he failed to mention that Hitler farted incessantly.
Not one of his Berlin wartime associates or colleagues ever quotes him expressing any indignation. Not even when the horrors of Auschwitz and its satellite camps were exposed to the world upon being liberated by Soviet troops in early 1945, revealing publicly for the first time the genocidal nature of the Nazi regime, did Bose react….. before the war he had already prophetically written to a friend: ‘I have a feeling that both at present and in the near future the condition of the Jews of Central Europe will not be good at all.’…. The question that inevitably arises is what was his attitude to the greatest act of large scale industrial mass murder in history, one that was committed in his presence?”
The Indian reaction to tales of gas-chambers is laughter. If you want ten million people killed, get twenty million people to attack them with agricultural implements. Don't waste money on cattle trucks and chemicals.
The Gandhian alternative is to just let everybody starve to death. That is true meaning of Ahimsa. Mind it kindly.
personally I cannot stop at asking the question and pointing out the problem. I feel it imperative to go further. He is my great-uncle. He was an exceptional and admirable man in many ways.
No. He was a politician. Since he didn't make money but died in the National cause we admire him even if he was as stupid as shit or laughed heartily when listening to the story of the Black Hole of Calcutta.
It is entirely understandable that so many people across South Asia and beyond revere him as a freedom fighter. It is an honour to have such an illustrious historical figure in our family. But like all national heroes, he is not without his failings.
They are irrelevant because he died 'on active service'.
Going to Germany in 1941 and seeking assistance from Nazi Germany was a grievous error in my opinion; it has bothered me for decades.
Everybody was doing stupid shit back then. If they weren't, they were pushed out of politics.
However, I am aware that it is easy to criticise with hindsight. “Enemy’s enemy” is a well-known doctrine and the other side had Stalin. If I had been born in my parents’ generation, I would surely have tried to drive the British out of India any which way I could.
Fuck off! Most Indians were perfectly loyal. They understood that the Brits were on their way out coz the Brits kept saying so. Also they had held elections and devolved powers and so forth. Gandhi, Nehru, Bose etc. pretended to be fighting the Brits because they knew they could claim victory quite soon. The fact is, the Brits were itching to leave. The problem was that everybody wanted more power than their share of the vote entitled them to. So the Brits had to dictate the pace and scope of the transition to representative government.
I have sometimes wondered if there was a regime in my own lifetime with whom I would not ally even for the noblest of causes. Apartheid South Africa was the one that came to mind.
South Africa was a Western ally so long as Cubans were in Angola. Anybody who chose to settle in the West in the Seventies or Eighties was implicitly allying with South Africa.
In any event, my apology is not for my great-uncle’s choice to ally with the Axis powers in his quest to free India, even though I believe that his decision to go to Nazi Germany and seek Hitler’s assistance was a terrible mistake.
His decision to recruit for the Waffen SS was a crime. Apologize for that by all means.
My apology is for his silence, even in private it would seem, about what happened to Jewish people, as well as vulnerable people such as the disabled, other minorities and political opponents, at the hands of the Nazis.
The lady thinks that this was the sort of thing people read about in the newspapers or discussed at dinner parties. Such was not the case.
I know we are not responsible for what our relatives may or may not have done. But we need to acknowledge it and on this issue, I feel it is right to say how I feel about it.
And we feel it right to think you are a moral imbecile. Recruiting Indians to fight for Hitler was an actual crime. Failing to condemn an atrocity was not a crime. Apologize for wrongdoing not for failing to virtue signal.
That is why, to the victims of Nazi Germany
who are dead
and their loved ones,
who are dead or very very fucking old
I would like to say, my great-uncle’s silence was shameful, and for this inexcusable failing on his part, I am so sorry.
I would like to apologize to Netaji Bose and Mahatma Gandhi for failing to tell them that had shit for brains. British rule was good. It wanted to get better by becoming increasingly based on representative, responsible, government. Bose did get to be CEO of Calcutta Corporation at the young age of 27. But he and his didn't ilk didn't greatly improve governance. By failing to cooperate with the Brits, the Indian nationalists failed to learn how to work with each other on projects which would benefit all voters. They preferred to pose as Messiahs of various stripes. But they were shit. Thus, when the Brits left, India actually became less able to feed or defend itself. Democracy quickly degenerated into either Dynasticism or Military Dictatorship. That's what the descendants of Boses or other Barristocrats should apologize for. But they won't because they too are virtue signalling cretins.