What is Netaji Subhash Chandra


Dr. Jochen Reinert

To person

Jochen Reinert (* 1941 - † 2009) studied journalism at the University of Leipzig, where he was awarded a Dr. rer. pole. PhD. Among other things, he was a foreign correspondent in Scandinavia and South Asia and has published numerous articles on India in newspapers and magazines.

Subhas Chandra Bose's controversial commitment to independence

Subhas Chandra Bose's commitment to the liberation of India from British colonial rule is controversial. Although Nehru was a close comrade on the left wing of the Indian National Congress, his legacy is still difficult today. One reason for this is Bose's attempt to win Nazi Germany as an ally against the British.

Subhas Chandra Bose, undated recording.
Who would have expected to meet Subhas Chandra Bose in Khajuraho of all places, the legendary place of pilgrimage for lovers of erotic art? When the owner of a small shop of fine Indian handicrafts allows us a look into her parlor, we suddenly find ourselves in front of three large posters: the Hindu goddess Lakshmi, the cautiously smiling power woman Indira Gandhi and a determined uniformed man - Bose. In Bengal, his homeland, that would not have been a miracle; but here in central India? The hostess met our amazement with the words: "Netaji brought us freedom."

This encounter was all the more astonishing given that Bose was still leading a downright shadowy existence in official India at the end of the 1980s. In the Delhier National Museum for India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Bose was banished to a corner, although he was a fellow Nehru on the left wing of the Indian National Congress (INC).

In general, India struggled with the legacy of the freedom hero for a long time - until the government accepted him on his 100th birthday on January 23, 1997 in a ceremony in Delhi into the pantheon of the most important leaders of the Indian struggle for freedom. [1]

Bose was born in Cuttak, Orissa, the son of a lawyer. During his studies at the University of Calcutta (now Kolkata), influenced by the Hindu reformers Vivekananda and Aurobindo, he undertook a pilgrimage through India, where he experienced the colonial oppression and the great poverty of the population up close. In 1919 his parents sent him to Cambridge, where he took the exam for the Indian Civil Service duration. But he turned down a career in the service of the colonial power and joined the INC after meeting Mahatma Gandhi for the first time in 1921. There he quickly made a political career. In 1927 he was elected chairman of the Bengali INC provincial committee and in 1930 the mayor of Calcutta.

In the 1930s, Bose traveled to Europe several times to convalesce after prolonged incarceration in British prisons. In 1934 he met the Austrian Emilie Schenkl in Vienna, who assisted him as a secretary in writing his work "The Indian Struggle". In the following years both maintained an intensive correspondence. No fewer than 162 letters have survived from Bose to the woman he married on December 26, 1937 in Bad Gastein.

In those years, Bose and Nehru rose to the ranks of the INC as spokesmen for the young radicals. On January 18, 1938, Bose - he was still in Europe at the time, where he met Lord Halifax and Clement Attlee in London, President Benes in Prague and Mussolini's confidants in Rome - was elected INC President on Gandhi's suggestion. On February 11th, Bose gave the most important speech of his political career to the delegates in Haripura, Gujarat, in which he outlined his concept for a free India. The most important national problems, the abolition of poverty and illiteracy, could only be solved according to socialist principles, he proclaimed. This would require a strong central government and radical land reform. He called the industrial development of the country under state control, headed by a state planning commission, indispensable. This was formed in December 1938 on his initiative with Nehru as chairman.

In the election for President of the National Congress in 1939, there was a trial of strength between Gandhi and Bose. Contrary to the ideas of the INC superfather, Bose prevailed with a majority of over 200 votes. But personal triumph turned into political defeat, as the INC governing bodies refused to snub Gandhi. On April 29, 1939, he had to resign from his office. Bose now tried to establish a Forward Bloc to establish progressive forces. [2]

After the start of World War II, Bose organized mass protests against the participation of Indian soldiers. The British threw him into prison for the twelfth time and then placed him under house arrest. But the thirsty Bengal did not want to accept it. On January 17, 1941, he escaped from Calcutta and came to Kabul on adventurous routes through northern India.

Search for alliance partners: Bose in Berlin

Memorial to Subhas Chandra Bose and the Indian National Army in Moirang in the northeast Indian state of Manipur. (& copy Stefan Mentschel)
In the new global political situation, Bose was intensely looking for allies for the rapid liberation of India from the colonial yoke. At first he thought of the Soviet Union. But Moscow feared a British provocation and rejected the advances made by the Indian left-wing nationalist. Thereupon he sought contacts with the Kabul embassies of Italy and Hitler's Germany.

In his Haripura speech, Bose had already pleaded for support in the liberation struggle against the British in all countries, regardless of their internal development; even the communist Soviet Union concludes alliances with non-socialist states. Bose was well aware of the human rights violations in Germany and Italy, but wanted to ignore them "if Hitler and Mussolini would help him defeat British rule," says Bose biographer Leonard A. Gordon. [3]

Finally, after long negotiations with the German embassy in Kabul, Bose reached Berlin with an Italian passport via Moscow on April 3, 1941 - the British had planned in vain to prevent this trip and liquidate the inconvenient Indian. [4] As soon as he arrived in Berlin, Bose submitted memoranda to the Foreign Office on cooperation between the Axis powers and the Indian nationalists to drive the colonial power out of India.

Why the left-wing nationalist politician chose Nazi Germany as an ally is still not fully understood. The Indian director Shyam Benegal, who, after making impressive films about Gandhi and Nehru in 2003/04, shot a great epic about Bose ("Netaji: The Forgotten Hero" / "Netaji: The Forgotten Hero"), said in a conversation while filming in Berlin That Bose went to Hitler Germany because he believed he could form a government in exile with his enemy's enemy so that he could negotiate with him on an equal footing.

But that was probably not the only motive. Bose was obviously impressed by the economic and technical potential of Nazi Germany and the "effectiveness" of its authoritarian leadership. Of course, that did not mean that Bose - he was insulted as a "negro" during a visit to Munich in 1933 - rejected the racist ideology of the Nazis. In addition to such motives for Bose's move to Berlin, his liaison with Emilie Schenkl was often only mentioned in passing in the past. But in the opinion of the publicist Sarmila Bose, the possible "reunion" with the beloved woman was a very strong motive. [5]

Bose advertised his plans in Berlin with great skill, but ultimately only achieved partial success. The Nazi leadership had great reservations about the Indian freedom fighters, based among other things on the derogatory India passages from Hitler's "Mein Kampf". Instead of a Provisional Government, they were only allowed to set up a "Central Free India". Bose's vice became A.C.N. Nambiar, later the first Indian ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany. Contrary to Bose's request, the Nazi government refused to make an official declaration on India's independence. Only the establishment of the radio station Azad Hind (Sender Free India) and the formation of an Indian Legion came close to his ideas.

The Indian Legion was from Bose - he was now respectful of his followers Netaji (Führer) called - intended as the nucleus of the future Indian liberation forces. Their cradle was in Annaburg in Saxony-Anhalt, where Indian prisoners of war were concentrated from the summer of 1941 to make it easier for Bose to advertise the Legion. Eventually 3,500 of the 15,000 Indian prisoners of war of the Axis powers joined the Legion. From then on they were trained in Königsbrück near Dresden.