Thursday, 28 April 2016

Free Indian Legionnaires ordered to surrender to the Russians

Telegram sent by Bose to Nambiar
Telegram sent by Bose to Nambiar

I am sharing the 'Extract from Camp 020 Interim Report on the case of Harald Willibald KIRFEL, minuted to I.P.I. via the War Room on 7.11.45' which refers to an important telegram sent by Bose to Nambiar in April 1945 and Nambiar's order to the Free Indian Legionnaires on its basis.

Kirfel had numerous discussions with Nambiar and his associates on the future of India. He gave their views as that the days of British rule in India was numbered. England had to give the Indian people their promised freedom. Japanese tutelage would be resisted, even though free India would be grateful to the Japanese for any help given them in their fight for freedom. The only question that remained was whether India would become a sphere of interest, or even, perhaps, a sovereign state, of the Soviet Union. The influence of the Bolshevist ideology in India was already very strong indeed, and in the event of a Soviet victory would gain considerably in strength. Many millions of Indians were Bolshevists who would welcome an advance of the Red Army through the Khaibur pass.

Nambiar's order to Free Indian Legionnaires
Nambiar's order to Free Indian Legionnaires

In April 1945, Kirfel came to know from Nambiar, the context of a telegram from Bose to Nambiar which read as follows -

"Indian Legionaries must in no circumstance fall into Anglo-American hands without a struggle. If possible, the Legion is to play into Soviet-Russian hands as there is the possibility that the Legion can be further employed, from Moscow, in India's fight for freedom."

Nambiar had further stated that in case of a German collapse he would try to reach the Russian lines.

The document describes Nambiar as an Indian who held the position of Minister of State (Staatsminister) as Bose's representative in Germany. He believed in accepting assistance from Japan and Russia in order to throw off British rule in India. On Bose's instructions, he ordered the Free Indian Legionnaires to surrender to the Russians rather than to the Western Allies. He was a friend of Germany and Soviet Union. He strongly opposed Gestapo methods. He always tried to be objective in his political opinions. He was likable, friendly, quiet, modest and an idealist.

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose had instructed Arathil Candeth Narayan Nambiar, his Minister Plenipotentiary in Berlin, in December 1944, to ask the Russians about their willingness to accept Indian political refugees from Europe in view of the deterioration in the German Military situation after due consultation with the German Foreign Office and the Japanese Embassy. Although the Japanese were not in favour, the Germans agreed to Nambiar's proposal to send one Mr. Keni to contact the Russians in Stockholm, provided that the move was confined to finding out the Russian policy towards India and whether they intended to extend any special treatment to Indians. However Mr. Keni failed to obtain a visa from the Swedish Consul-General and the whole plan was dropped. The last message that Nambiar received from Bose through the Japanese in this matter was the above-mentioned telegram that was handed over to him by Col. Higuti in April 1945.

This is an indicator of Bose's mindset and efforts to secure Soviet support to continue the Indian freedom struggle even after the fall of the Axis powers. If Bose ordered his men in Europe to play into Soviet-Russian hands towards the end of WWII, then as their leader the logical destination for him too would be Soviet Union from where he could reorganize his movement. There are indications that he may have reached Soviet Union. If so, then what happened to him thereafter? Its time that the Russians start talking.

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