India and World War II - Forgotten Allied soldiers and the strange fascination with Hitler.
Latest hand-picked WWII news.
How Japan carpet bombed India with posters against Britain during World War II
“During the Second World War, the British and Japanese governments fought a fierce propaganda war in South Asia to influence mass opinion in their favour,” said Parthasarathi Bhaumik, assistant professor of comparative literature at Jadavpur University and a British Library Chevening Fellow. “They exploited all available media—wireless, film, print and live performances… The aim was to discredit the opponent and to project their own side as the true friend of South Asian people.”
Britain did not fight the Second World War, the British Empire did
The largest volunteer army in the world, 2.5 million men from undivided India, served the British during World War II.
India's War: The making of modern south asia 1939-1945
"History will be kind to me", famously declared Winston Churchill, "for I intend to write it myself." Churchill, it turns out, meant what he said. An entire post-WW-II generation in the Anglophone world grew up with the wartime narrative of a heroic, embattled Britain thwarting a rapacious Germany, until a reluctant US entered the conflict and delivered the coup de grace. This entirely fictional account was first revised by the realisation that Russia, not the western allies, suffered the heaviest casualties by far, fought the most horrific battles and won the most crucial victories. Without Stalin, historians realised, Hitler would have handily prevailed in Europe. A more contemporary wave of revisionism has centred on India's role.
NFAI acquires rare footage of WW-II Indian soldiers
A glimpse of the role played by Indian soldiers in the World War II is now available at the National Film Archives Of India (NFAI) which has acquired some rare footage of the war. The footage, running into 30 hours and dealing with the Allies campaign against Germany and Italy, has been procured from the Armed Forces Film and Photo Division of the Ministry of Defence, NFAI director Prakash Magdum said. "The material was in U-matic and 35mm print format, which NFAI has recently digitised. This is an important acquisition for NFAI, as this rare footage would be safely preserved in NFAI vaults in ideal temperature and humidity conditions," Magdum said.
Rare photographs of the women who joined the Indian army in World War II
In May 1942, the British formed the Women`s Auxiliary Corps (India) for female volunteers to contribute to the war cause. This was the first time Indian women entered the army, and until 1992, it also was the only time they were allowed to serve in non-medical roles. As with their counterparts in the United States and Europe, women were not allowed to serve in combat roles. Instead, they worked behind the front lines as typists, switchboard operators and drivers, and could be posted anywhere the Indian Army went. The corps was disbanded in 1947 with Independence.
India's contribution to World War II
Excerpts from "India And The War", official history of the Indian Armed Forces in WWII, brought out by the History Division, Ministry of Defence. Re-published recently by Pentagon Press. --- The strength of the Indian Army before WWII (1939-45) was disproportionate to its size. With the declaration of India's belligerency, expansion of the Indian Army commenced. In the first two years, it did not reach great heights. In the last 6 months of 1940, no less than 35 new infantry battalions were raised. By the end of 1941, 10 infantry divisions and one armoured division had been raised, bringing the Indian Army to a total strength of 900,000. By the end of 1942, it had reached 1,546,468 men serving in India and overseas.
Bose in Nazi Germany by Romain Hayes (book review)
Subhas Chandra Bose has been the victim of far too many hagiographies and the biggest taboo has been his dealings with the Third Reich. In this path-breaking book, World War II German foreign policy historian Romain Hayes provides a detailed study of this aspect of the Indian nationalist's political life. Throughout the 1930s, Bose had reached out to the Fascist and Nazi regimes in Italy and Germany. Hayes explores Bose's "enemy of an enemy is an ally" strategy and his admiration of Nazi victories against imperialist Britain, thereby making him perceive Germany, Italy and Japan as India's natural allies.
Indian soldiers in the German Wehrmacht, the Waffen-SS and in the Italian Army
A new book - "For Free India" - tells the story of the Indian soldiers who served in various Axis units, including the Legion Freies Indien, the Indische Freiwilligen Legion der Waffen-SS, and Battaglione Azad Hindoustan of the Italian Regio Esercito.
Indian WWII ace, RAF Squadron Leader Mahinder Singh Pujji passes away
An Indian pilot who flew Hawker Hurricanes for the RAF during the Second World War has passed away at the age of 92. Squadron Leader Mahinder Singh Pujji, was thought to be the last surviving fighter pilot from a group of 24 Indians who arrived in Britain in 1940. Sqn Ldr Pujji flew combat missions in Britain, Europe, North Africa, Burma and the Middle East. In 2010 he published a memoir about his wartimes experiences entitled, "For King and Another Country". After the war Pujji became a champion air race pilot in India setting endurance records in gliders.
Book: Churchill let 3 million Indians starve to death while full grain ships passed by
Up to 3 million people perished in the Bengal famine of 1943 after Japan captured Burma - a major source of rice imports - and British colonial rulers in India amassed food for soldiers. Rice price skyrocketed, and distribution channels were wrecked when officials seized most boats and bullock carts. As hunger spread through villages, Churchill dismissed desperate emergency food requests from British officials in India, while full grain ships from Australia were passing India. As a prove author Madhusree Mukerjee uses forgotten ministry records and personal archives in her book "Churchill's Secret War".
Book claims that Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad made a pact with the Fuhrer in 1936
Most Indians know that Subhash Chandra Bose met Adolf Hitler in 1941 for India's freedom, but he was not the first. Sayajirao Gaekwad, Ruler of Baroda state, met the Nazi dictator during the 1936 Berlin Olympics for the same reason. Gaekwad signed a secret pact - known as the Baroda-Berlin Pact - with Hitler to get support for India's freedom. Gaekwad's personal assistant Vishnu Nene travelled to the Third Reich to set up the meeting. "Gaekwad believed an enemy's enemy is a friend. So, he decided to join hands with Hitler," explains Vishnu Nene's son, Damodar Nene, author of a new biography of Gaekwad.
Hitler memorabilia emerging as a small-scale industry in India
Slowly but steadily, a business around the universally despised Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler is emerging as a small-scale industry in India. Books and Hitler memorabilia have found a market in some parts of Indian society where he is idolised - by the young who are drawn in by his "discipline and patriotism". The truth is that books, T-shirts, bandanas, bags and key-rings with his photo or name on sell in India. And the biggest seller is Mein Kampf. Jaico, the largest publisher and distributor of Mein Kampf in India, has sold over a 100,000 copies in 10 years - and there has been a steady increase of 10% to 15% in sales.
Germans confused in in South Asia, where locals admire Hitler and the Third Reich
Many in South Asia have only admiration for Adolf Hitler and associate Germany with the Third Reich. Daily encounters with the love of all things Nazi makes German visitors flinch. Pakistanis always talk about Hitler when they talk to Germans. "We're Aryans too." And, Hitler was a military genius, they add. People think they're doing you a favor by expressing their admiration for the Nazi leader. Most have no idea what Hitler did: They see him as the bold Führer who challenged the British and Americans. Some of the strange things include: a waiter in uniform named "Adolf Hitler" and a Mercedes with black swastika sticker with text "I like Nazi".
Sikh World War II ace was saved by his turban
A sikh fighter pilot was saved by the padding in his turban after he had to crash land his plane in a WWII dogfight. Squadron Leader Mohinder Singh Pujji, one of the Indian ace flyers in the RAF and a Distinguished Flying Cross winner, crashed into the English Channel after his Hurricane was downed in a dogfight. Rescuers boarded boats to help the ace and pulled him from the wreckage with bad head injuries. Singh Pujji's specially-adapted headgear, which had his wings sewn onto it, acted as a cushion for the crash-landing. His WWII memoirs - "For King and Another Country" - are to published in 2010.
India: Sales of Mein Kampf soar as students want to learn from the management guru
Sales of Mein Kampf and Adolf Hitler's autobiography are increasing in India where business students see the dictator as a management guru and Mein Kampf as a management guide. Sales over the last 6 months topped 10,000 in New Delhi alone - and it's becoming more popular with every year. Students see it as a success story where one man can have a vision, work out a plan on how to implement it and then complete it. It's not helping that Mahatma Gandhi corresponded with the Fuehrer, pro-Independence leader Subhas Chandra Bose's Indian National Army allied with Nazi Germany, and the Nazis drew on Hindu symbolism for their Swastika motif and ideas of Aryan supremacy.
World War II American observation post found in Arunachal Pradesh, India
Villagers in Arunachal Pradesh have discovered a WW2 camp post used by American forces. The post, covering over 500 square metres, is located near Wintong village. After locals reported sighting remnants of the war, Arunachal Pradesh assembly speaker Setong Sena, visited the site and discovered empty containers and vessels, tins and bottles and other items of daily use. The Arunachal Pradesh government has ordered the site to be preserved. Wintong is next to the historic 1,726-km Stilwell Road - a lifeline for the Allied Forces, which were struggling to liberate China from Japanese occupation.
Search for the forgotten soldiers - British Army was bolstered by 100,000 Sikhs in WWII
With 3 comrades Captain Fazal Dad Khan cut through the Burmese jungle towards a Japanese outpost. As a forward observation officer in the 20th Indian Division, it was Khan's task to scout ahead. But now they were surrounded, and Khan had to make a decision: hide, surrender or attack. Armed with his rifle and a few hand grenades, Khan led an attack on the Japanese forces. After a day of fighting, the regiment forced the Japanese retreat, and Khan was granted the Military Cross. In WWII the British Army was bolstered by 100,000 Sikhs. Many were awarded medals for valour but their feats are often unrecognised.
U.S. team in India to hunt for who crews which went missing over the Himalayan "Hump"
A US defence department team has arrived in India to prepare a search for the remains of American personnel who went missing over the Himalayan "Hump". The team, from the Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC), will fly to the state of Arunachal Pradesh for a "site survey". US flight crews were forced to fly the route from April 1942 onwards when the Japanese army cut off the road between Burma and China. Allied pilots transported 650,000 tonnes of supplies over the mountains - but with a cost: The mountains were nicknamed the "Aluminium Trail" because of the number of crashes.
Controversy: Adolf Hitler's car was taken to India, and is not in palace in Nepal
A Mercedes gifted by Adolf Hitler to ousted King Gyanendra's grandfather is not in Narayanhiti place as claimed by Nepal officials but was moved to India in 1943, a former Rana PM's daughter has claimed. The Nazi dictator had donated olive-green Daimler-Benz not to King Tribhuvan, but to Rana dynasty PM Juddha Shumsher Rana in 1939 to win the Gorkha soldiers to his side during the the Second World War, says Juddha Shumsher's only surviving daughter Janak Rajya Laxmi Shah. Shah explained that her father left to settle in Dehradun, India in 1945 and took the Hitler's car with him.
India: World War II veterans feel unwanted in their own country
20 WW2 veterans are spending the evening of their life in a "Sainik Ashram" in Kochi as they have not been given pension by the Central government. Feeling 'unwanted by their own country.' "We do not have money even to buy medicines," one said. The war veterans, now in their 80s and 90s, said they were not qualified for pension as their service period fell short of the required 20 years. To provide a helping hand the Ex-servicemen Welfare Association has set up a 'Sainik Ashram' and the war veterans are staying there. Some have no records to show that they had served in the forces.
Over Himalayas and Internet, lost flights found - The Hump: WWII supply route
The Hump, American air crews called it. Or the Aluminum Trail, because the World War Two supply route from India into China was dotted with their wreckage. The route was vital, an aerial highway over some of the world's highest mountains, a path flown by hundreds of U.S. aircraft transporting supplies to the Chinese Army. The cost: Over 400 U.S. aircraft carrying almost 1,400 troops vanished. For decades, no one tried to recover their remains. But now 2 men (adventurer Clayton Kuhles and computer expert Gary Zaetz) are campaigning to make sure the U.S. government brings those missing fliers home.
Rare World War II footage screened at Mumbai fest
8 documentaries on World War II screened at the Mumbai Film Festival (MIFF) have disclosed many unknown details about the Indian armed forces' contribution to the Allied war against the Axis forces. The films included "Battle of Britain", "Battle of Russia", "Cameraman At War", "Delhi Viceroy Parade", "Divide and Conquer", "Invincible", "Prelude to War" and "Town Meeting of the World" - produced by the Films Division of the govt of India. "When all the warring forces got their manpower through conscription, only Indian Army comprised voluntary soldiers." Winston Churchill remarked: "Indian armed forces was the largest voluntary army in history".
Indian Gurkha soldiers show little interest for British compensation
Unlike former Gurkha soldiers living in Nepal, Gurkha soldiers in India have shown little interest in collecting compensation for being taken prisoner by the Japanese during the Second World War. In the 5 months since the British set up an office in Kathmandu to make payments of 10,000 pounds each to former Gurkha soldiers who were POW in the Far East, it has got 1, 400 requests. Of these 890 were interviewed by 3 teams from the British defence department headed by James Gondelle around Nepal and 101 Gurkhas were compensated.
Monte Cassino: Italy pays tributes to Indian World War II soldiers
In a rare gesture, tributes were paid to 5,782 Indian soldiers who laid down their lives fighting for Italy against fascist forces. The ceremony was held for the first time since 1945 at Monte Cassino (the scene of the most fierce battle of the Italian campaign on the Gothic Line of defence of the German army) to honour Indian soldiers. In all 50,000 Indian troops had fought for freedom in Italy. Almost 50% of them were injured in the war. Out of 20 Victoria Cross decorations given for bravery during the war in Italy, Indian soldiers won 6. The story of their bravery is still talked about in Italian cities and villages that they helped to liberate.
Shyam Benegal to produce film on Spy Princess Noor Inayat Khan
Shyam Benegal has announced a major international film on the life of Noor Inayat Khan, the Indian woman who was a secret agent in World War 2 and was awarded the George Cross for her bravery. Based on the book 'The Spy Princess' by Shrabani Basu, with a screenplay by Lord Meghnad Desai and Kishwar Desai, the film will bring a new dimension to Indian cinema. Noor was the first woman to be infiltrated into nazi occupied France as a radio operator and worked undercover in Paris helping the French Resistance. She was betrayed and captured and murdered by the Germans in Dachau.
Gandhi smeared as Indian Hitler
The legacy of Mahatma Gandhi has been blackened in a controversial book that portrays him as the "Indian version of Hitler". Gandhi: A Stooge of the White South African Government is an updated version of Sergeant-Major MK Gandhi, compiled by US-based academic Velu Annamalai. The book describes Gandhi as a "regular Gunga Din, who volunteered to organise a brigade of Indians to put down a Zulu uprising (the 1906 Bambatha Rebellion)". A comparison is drawn between Gandhi and Adolf Hitler, saying the Germans respected him as they did the Nazi leader.
Adolf Hitler a cool hero to many Indians
When an Adolf Hitler-themed restaurant opened in Mumbai in August, many were horrified. The restaurant, Hitlers Cross, changed its name to the Cross Cafe, but it is not the only example of how favourably some Indians view Hitler and his legacy. Hindu fundamentalist groups praise Hitler's leadership skills. A poll some years ago showed he was seen as an ideal leader. Most patrons still call the Cross Cafe by its previous name. Plates and cups bear the Hitlers Cross logo, with a Nazi swastika in place of the "O". "We call it 'Hitler' only," said Ashish Anant, "We say, 'Let's go to Hitler'. It's a trendy name. It's different."
Netaji's death mystery could be solved by 2020
The mystery surrounding Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's death may be solved by 2020 when the British government will release classified documents. The Indian government rejected the Mukherjee Commission's conclusion that Netaji did not die in an air crash in Taiwan in August 1945 -- but the Taiwan had already rejected the official Indian theory saying no plane crash took place in the country during Aug 15-18 in 1945. Nephew Subrata Bose said the ashes that were kept preserved at the Renkoji temple belonged to a Japanese soldier named Ichiro Okura who died of a heart ailment Aug 19, 1945.
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose did not die in aircrash
One of India's longest-running political controversies, and one of history's 'mysteries', is about to return to centrestage. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is believed to have died in a plane crash in Taiwan on August 18, 1945. Incidentally Justice Mukherjee confirmed to the media that the Taiwan government had denied any such crash on that day in 1945. Netaji, one of India's greatest heroes, rebelled against Mahatma Gandhi's Indian National Congress, raised the Indian National Army with Japanese help to overthrow colonial British rule in India, and is believed to have died in a freak crash in Taihoku airfield when the Japanese were evacuating Rangoon.
Noor Anayat Khan: The princess who became a spy
This is the story of a young Indian Muslim woman who joined a secret organisation dedicated to acts of sabotage across Europe. She was the first female radio operator sent into Nazi-occupied France by the Special Operations Executive (SOE). Through the terrifying summer of 1943, the untried spy found herself virtually in charge of Resistance communications in the Paris area as the Gestapo arrested cell after cell around her. Captured, she proved impenitent and uncontrollable. She died a horrific death in custody, kicked into a "bloody mess" on the stone floors of Dachau concentration camp, and then shot.
Hitler hand in advance of Hindi cinema
Indian cinema has a little-known connection with the rise of Hitler in Germany. An exhibition of posters from the German film studio UFA tells the strange story. It reveals how a group of men from Germany and countries invaded by Hitler flocked to India in the 30s to play pivotal roles in Hindi cinema and the arts of that time. The exhibition is a tribute to the German studio, which had to its credit “classics” like Ernst Lubitsch’s Carmen and Fritz Lang’s epic Metropolis and was claimed to have surpassed even contemporary Hollywood in might. But soon after Hitler took over in 1933, the studio turned into a Nazi propaganda machine.
Churchill favored letting India's Mohandas Gandhi die
British World War II troops were told to show respect for the U.S. Army's racial segregation practices, according to government documents. Other documents released for the first time show that British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was determined to have Adolf Hitler executed if captured, and that he favored letting India's Mohandas Gandhi die if he went on a hunger strike while interned during the war.
Hitler's secret Indian army
In the closing stages of WWII, as Allied forces were driving Hitler's now demoralised forces from France, 3 senior German officers defected. The information they gave British intelligence was considered so sensitive that in 1945 it was locked away. It reveals how thousands of Indian soldiers who had joined Britain in the fight against fascism swapped their oaths to the British king for others to Adolf Hitler - an astonishing tale of betrayal that threatened to rock British rule in India. The story began in Berlin on 3 April 1941. This was the date that the left-wing Indian revolutionary leader, Subhas Chandra Bose, arrived in the German capital.