‘Perception that Hitler was friend of India flawed’
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
Right from his days as a struggling politician giving speeches in the beer halls of Munich to the day he killed himself in a bunker in Berlin, Adolf Hitler made no secret of his views about India and Indians. “In 1936, while addressing a political rally in Munich, Hitler said that Indians could not even walk and that it was the British who taught them how to walk,” said Vaibhav Purandare, author of ‘Hitler and India: The Untold Story of his Hatred for the Country and its People’, in a Times Litfest conversation with Kishwar Desai that served as a quick refresher course in the forgotten chapters and missing nuances of India’s history from the time Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose shook hands with the German dictator during the Second World War.
“For Hitler, race was everything. The brown and black races did not count as human beings,” said Purandare, whose decade-long investigation of Hitler’s attitude towards India was prompted by a passage he stumbled upon in ‘Mein Kampf ’, Hitler’s biography . “I was completely taken aback because in that passage, Hitler was abusive about India and dismissive of its demand for freedom,” said Purandare.
Besides complexities such as why India had sought Germany’s help in the freedom struggle despite being aware of Hitler’s anti-India stance, the session also offered insights into the contradictions of one of 20th century’s most controversial figures who–unlike what his military uniform suggested–was prone to waking up late, having lazy lunches and watching movies at his Bavarian mansion. When the author attributed post-Independence India’s flawed perception of Hitler as “a friend of the Indian people” not only to the iconic blackand-white image of Bose’s meeting with Hitler in 1942 but also to Hitler having fought the British during the Second World War, the sub-text was clear: the enemy’s enemy isn’t necessarily a friend.