Romain Hayes is a historian who has specialized, for a decade, on German foreign policy during the Second World War. He is presently working on political and military interactions between Indian nationalists and the Japanese during the Second World War.
By the late 1930s, Subhas Chandra Bose had become disillusioned with Gandhi’s leadership of the Indian National Congress and the nationalist struggle. With the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, he resolved that India could only achieve freedom through a violent uprising.
Two years later, in 1941, Bose went on to make a daring escape, via Afghanistan and Russia, to Berlin in search of an anti-British alliance. The Nazis seized Bose’s offer and the possibilities of an anti-British revolt in India, even envisaging German troops marching into the country as ‘liberators’. Meanwhile, thousands of British Indian troops captured in North Africa enlisted in the Wehrmacht hoping to join the Nazi march into India as they swore oaths to Hitler and Bose ‘in the fight for the freedom of India’. Yet for all their accord, the Bose-Nazi relationship remained complicated, full of ambivalences on both sides.
This book for the first time, tells the story of Bose’s war years in Germany and examines his relationship with the Nazis. This period remains a deeply controversial moment in Indian history and has thus far been suffused with hagiography. Using rare German and Indian war records, Romain Hayes has written a nuanced, thoughtful, and vital account of these years, shedding light on an aspect of Bose that has till now remained in shadow.