In the early summers of 1941, Bose arrived in Germany, where he joined hands with ethnic communities who rejected and condemned the colonial rule. Accruing funds from German sources, Bose founded the Free India Center in Berlin in 1941, followed by Free India Radio transmission to connect with people. Establishing an Indian government in exile had already antagonized several leaders and people back home. Holding a strong belief in the concept that the ‘enemy’s enemy is your friend’; Bose had approached the German revolutionary power. However, time and again he realised that Germany’s agenda was redistribution of colonies around the world where they wanted to establish global German supremacy and that India’s independence did not concern their strategic considerations. As this conspiracy surfaced every now and then, clashes between Netaji and German hosts became imminent. Gradually, Netaji realised that the Germans were reluctant to discuss any military approaches towards liberating India. Bose has heard Hitler deliberating on Soviet’s threat to India, once she would be freed from the British clutches. The emerging racial hatred and national chauvinism projected in Hitler’s speech that boasted of Germany’s supreme power, triggered Netaji to advise Hitler to publicly declare his intents about India. Hitler expressed his expansionist objectives of India in a light to persuade Bose to understand that whenever German forces touched the Indian frontier, Netaji would be invited to lead in their company to elicit ‘the revolution’. Unaware of the vice intentions of Hitler, Netaji continued to motivate Indians living in Germany to join the Free India Center. With a rather slow mobilization, only 3500 from among a larger Indian war prisoner force were recruited. Owing to their pledge to serve both Netaji and Hitler, the force was engaged in various military duties, after Netaji left Germany. Netaji could not meet Hitler for a year, even after he exited Germany, and was detained by the German legion until the Germans surrendered in Stalingrad. This is when Hitler’s stealthy plan to overtake India fell apart.
Netaji joins the Japanese troops
In 1942, a series of political movements and a subsequent invasion of India by the German army propagated Bose to relocate to south-east Asia. It was during this time that Bose moved to Japan. In his final departure in 1943, he left his wife and daughter behind, bidding farewell to several other well-wishers. With Japanese support, Bose overhauled the Indian National Army, which was then composed of Indian soldiers captured in the Singapore Battle. His innate charisma and nationalist determination popularized Indian slogans like “Jai Hind” and “tum muje khoon do mein tume aazadi dunga” (give me your blood, I’ll give you freedom), that has been emboldened with time. The Japanese had already been involved in supporting several provisional governments such as Burma, Philippines and Manchukuo. The connection also dated back to times when the Provisional Government of Free India, was founded in the Japanese occupied Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where Bose presided the government. In 1944, terror struck, when the Japanese regiment and the participating INA contingent were attacked by the British Indian Army, slaying almost half the forces. The Japanese army unfortunately marginalized Bose’s military skills that rendered his effort as short-lived. The Indian National Army was deported to the Malay Peninsula, forced to surrender with the ‘recapture of Singapore.’ Bose had earlier chosen to escape rather than surrender. The changing face of Soviet, where they were rising as anti-British, gave Bose some hope of joining the Soviet Union against British rule. But, fortune had premeditated otherwise.
On August 18, 1945, it was recorded that Subhas Chandra Bose died from third degree burns that he suffered on his journey, when the airplane crashed in Taipei, Taiwan. Disclosure of his sudden death was never well received by his Indian followers, especially those in Bengal who trusted and awaited his return to lead in gaining India’s independence. For decades, Indians around the world have been grappling with the question of whether Netaji died in the plane crash. The Forward Block published a brief report in 1948, commemorating Bose’s demise. The report highlighting the end of the magnanimous leader is an archived document accessible on CIA’s online journals. Recently, Hindustan Times dug deep into the CIA documents to track important personalities and their contribution in India, starting from late 1940’s. The newspaper reported that, “Bose was vain, always sought the spotlight on the political scene and was characterized as an opportunist and opposition-ist.” Bose’s German based daughter Anita Pfaff expressed her annoyance to HT on people believing that Bose had survived the crash and was living recursively. She dismissed such rumors and mentioned that Bose’s ashes from his pyre were flown down from Tokyo to India, which holds good that he survived no longer than recorded.
Following demands from Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s family members and public, in 2016, the Indian Government began releasing several files related to Bose and his life. However, the uncertainty prevails as a section of his admirers and family continue to believe that Netaji survived the plane crash and lived in disguise in India for several years.
Article by Rochita