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Swastika and tiranga : Subhas Bose and Indian nationalism's connection with the Third Reich / Chandana Mozumdar

Publication | Library Call Number: DS481.B6 M698 1999

German relations with India reflect a continuity from the Weimar period to the Third Reich. In the immediate postwar period the enthusiasm to use India as a pawn against Britain, as Germany had done during World War I, was replaced by a determination to preserve German commercial interests in India. This formed the basis of diplomatic ties between the two countries. In 1933 a dualism developed in Berlin's attitude toward India and its quest for independence. The German diplomats had to now carry out the delicate balancing between Hitler's open contempt for the notion of an independent India and the economic and strategic value that India had for a Germany struggling to regain its position as a world power. The present study attempts to trace this dualism in Germany's diplomatic approach to Indian nationalism, and contends that it was the fundamental cause for the course of events involving Indian nationalists and the Third Reich during the Second World War. The early years of the Reich's relations between Indians and the National Socialists were marred by numerous incidents of racial discord, which caused considerable problems for German diplomats in India. They repeatedly cautioned against such outbreaks in order to prevent an economic backlash against Germany. The Indians, for their part, reveling in their position as consumers of German goods, never hesitated to use the threat of boycott as a leverage against Berlin. The epitome of the German dualistic attitude toward Indian nationalism is the case of Subhas Chandra Bose. Aggravated by Gandhi's inflexible attitude toward his methods, convinced that the British could only be ousted from India through military means, and convinced as were that, despite Hitler's opposition to the concept of Indians having the right of self-determination, he would not fail to recognize the value of Indian nationalists in his camp, Bose sought assistance from the Axis after the outbreak of the Second World War. Bose's cause was encouraged by German diplomats who posted in distant outposts like Kabul had an exaggerated idea of their own importance and that of their clients. In their defense one must point out that by the standards of international intrigue, they did recognize that Bose would be an excellent pawn in the game of ‘your enemy's enemy is your friend.’ Hitler himself, despite his unwillingness to accept the notion of an India free of British domination, saw Bose's propaganda value. Historians have often labeled Bose's German adventure as a complete failure. It is the contention of the present work that while Bose certainly failed in getting Hitler to publicly announce his sympathy for India's cause, the facts that he was maintained in Germany as a legitimate foreign leader, given permission to conduct propaganda, and allowed to create an Indian legion, served both Bose and Hitler. Bose's presence in Germany kept alive the fear in the Allied camp of the possibility of an Axis assisted attack on India with Bose's collaboration. Bose's mistake was in expecting more than it was possible for Hitler to provide and his misunderstanding of the depth prejudices. The entire episode reveals the Byzantine nature of the foreign policy of the Third Reich.

Variant Title
Subhas Bose and Indian nationalism's connection with the Third Reich
Mozumdar, Chandana, 1961-
Includes bibliographical references (p. 383-396)
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Record last modified: 2018-05-22 11:47:00
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