Explained: Hitler's relationship with India

Written By: WION
Delhi Updated: Jan 28, 2020, 06:06 PM(IST)

No Hitler lovers in Germany! Photograph:( Reuters )

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Both India and Hitler had a common enemy - Britain.

In popular culture, Hitler is synonymous with rigidity, people often refer to their boss or a strict teacher as Hitler.

The Nazi dictator was someone India's leaders engaged with - blame it on India's physical disconnect from the Holocaust or the missing emotional string.

For India, the stories of the Holocaust were like tales from a land far away. The early 1940s were India's final years under the British rule.

India was a country looking to break free, what appealed to the Indian masses back then was the image of Hitler - a supposed no-nonsense man.

Someone who was apparently fighting to make Germany a strong country. Furthermore, both India and Hitler had a common enemy - Britain.


It was an instant connect. Hitler acknowledged India's might, but in his own unique way. For him, India was one of the most resourceful lands on earth and Britain's rule over India was a textbook example of governance. That's how he wanted to govern Russia.

Hitler often asked his men to draw lessons from India. 

Here's an excerpt from October 17, 1941 - earlier that year, Hitler had said that Britain knows very well that its empire depends on the existence of India.

For Hitler, India was Britain's Achilles Heels.

In 1942, Hitler met the Indian freedom fighter and leader of the Indian National Army - Subhas Chandra Bose. Bose wanted Hitler's help in staging a revolution in India.

His plan of action included distracting the colonial power with an uprising at home - this would weaken British forces in its war against Germany.

According to Bose's calculation, Germany because of its military superiority would defeat Britain and the domino effect would liberate India too. Hitler, however, refused to help bose.

Historians point out that one of the reasons was because bose had asked the Nazi leader to cut out a couple of passages from Mein Kamph.

In his biography, Hitler has written how it would be better for India to remain under British domination. Bose's plan did not fall into place.

The Germans, however, did help Bose in escaping to Japan. 

Meanwhile, Mahatma Gandhi once wrote to Hitler. This was back in 1939 - post Germany's occupation of Czechoslovakia. Gandhi wrote he was appealing for the sake of humanity, for whatever it may be worth.

History has it that Hitler was a fan of Indian hockey legend - Dhyanchand. Germany's loss to India in the 1936 Olympics made Hitler reach out to Dhyanchand.

He even offered Dhyanchand a position in the German army, which the latter refused. During the years of the Auschwitz, Hitler's relation with India was mostly defined by the country's point of contact with the Nazi leader - Subhas Chandra Bose.

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