Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Gandhi's Letter to Hitler

by Kathryn Hadley

The soaring sales of Mein Kampf in India are somewhat worrying. The claims in the article on the website of The Telegraph that India and Nazi Germany influenced one another and that Gandhi corresponded with Hitler himself are also disturbing and shatter the image of Gandhi in popular imagination as a representative and fervent defender of justice and equality.

Yesterday's article does not, however, provide any details as to what the exchange of letters between Gandhi and the Fuhrer was about, nor how often the two men were in contact with one another.

Over Christmas, I visited Mani Bhavan, Mahatma Gandhi's residence in Mumbai between 1917 and 1934, where one of his original letters to Hitler was displayed. This letter was hugely significant... Written on July 23rd 1939, as Hitler's designs for German expansion in Eastern Europe became increasingly apparent, Gandhi urged Hitler to prevent the advent of the Second World War. On March 15th 1939, the German Army had notably invaded Czechoslovakia and a week later Hitler demanded the return of the Free City of Danzig to Germany. In April, Hitler renounced the German-Polish Non-Aggression Pact and on May 22nd Germany and Italy signed the Pact of Steel, which reasserted cooperation between the two countries and encouraged a joint military and economic policy.

'It is quite clear to me that you are today the one person in the world who
can prevent a war which may reduce humanity to the savage state. Must you
pay that price for an object however worthy it may appear to you to
For more information on the period leading up to the Second World War see the 'Road to War' section of our focus page on the Second World War.

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