"Your sincere friend, M.K.Gandhi": Letters to Adolf Hitler, 1939 & 1940

owedtojoy

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Gandhi wrote two letters to Hitler, of which the second in December 1940 was never posted. This one was, but never reached its intended recipient.


The British saw to it that the letter was never delivered. It seems they did not realise its propaganda value, considering how much Gandhi is revered today. But it did show that the Indian leader was a shrewd reader of international affairs - even a month before the Nazi-Soviet Pact made World War II inevitable, Gandhi had fully realised that the only way to avert war was for the German leader to adopt peaceful means to achieve his goals.

Gandhi later wrote a second letter, in December 1940, when Hitler was at the height of his power.

Mahatma Gandhi : Selected Letters - I

While stating his belief that Hitler was "not a monster", Gandhi had no doubts about the monstrosity of Hitler's acts - "... your own writings and pronouncements and those of your friends and admirers leave no room for doubt that many of your acts are monstrous and unbecoming of human dignity, especially in the estimation of men like me who believe in universal friendliness."

Gandhi made an impassioned plea for non-violence, and pledged never to accept German aid in the effort to make India independent. He possibly realised he was wasting his time, as Hitler had made his contempt for India and its struggle very clear in the pages of Mein Kampf.

Still, the letters are a fascinating historical footnote, and throw a certain light on the reputations of two of the twentieth century's most influential leaders. One was famous for his use of non-violence to advance political goals, the other for the war and genocide he brought in his wake. The contrast is remarkable, as is the connection, however slight.
 


off with their heads

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The Brits sent the assassin to stab ghandi:mad: The ira got revenge for Ghandi by taking out the repulsive paedophile mountbatten
 

eoghanacht

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I hear he was an awful racist.
 

eoghanacht

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GDPR

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Gandhi was calculating beautifully in that letter, which is why he denies it in the first paragraph. He was a very, very astute politician as well as a genuine pacifist.

He knew (a) there were forces in the independence movement which might ally with Hitler in the spirit of "my enemy's enemy is my friend" and that would be a cul de sac, as indeed it turned out and (b) that the British would make fools of themselves yet again by suppressing the letter.

He kept a copy, Im sure. His personal secretary was an Englishwoman who had become devoted to the cause of Quit India.
 

owedtojoy

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Gandhi was calculating beautifully in that letter, which is why he denies it in the first paragraph. He was a very, very astute politician as well as a genuine pacifist.

He knew (a) there were forces in the independence movement which might ally with Hitler in the spirit of "my enemy's enemy is my friend" and that would be a cul de sac, as indeed it turned out and (b) that the British would make fools of themselves yet again by suppressing the letter.

He kept a copy, Im sure. His personal secretary was an Englishwoman who had become devoted to the cause of Quit India.
Yes, in many ways this was like de Valera's visit to the German embassy in 1945.

It was a gesture to his own radicals that his heart was in the right place.

Gandhi's gesture was more complex - he approached as a "friend", but tried to dispense helpful advice he must have known would be ignored. Maybe he was hoping the British would publish it.
 

LISTOWEL MAN

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“The Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher's knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs"

-Mahatma Gandhi
 

Dame_Enda

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He was convinced he could find peaceful solutions to everything and that obstinate people could be reasoned with. Hitler was an exception to that rule. And this was before the gas chambers were used on Jews.
 

Catalpast

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Yes, in many ways this was like de Valera's visit to the German embassy in 1945.

It was a gesture to his own radicals that his heart was in the right place.

Gandhi's gesture was more complex - he approached as a "friend", but tried to dispense helpful advice he must have known would be ignored. Maybe he was hoping the British would publish it.
Mr de Valera's visit to the German Delegation was to show that the Irish Free State was neutral in the War

- he visited the US Embassy weeks before to pay his respects on the death of President Roosevelt

- he could hardly do other on the death of Chancellor Hitler

As for the OP this had no chance of reaching Hitler anyway

- It is so amateur that it could hardly have been taken seriously

- so presumably it was aimed at the Raj

- possibly to show them that he was not an ally of Herr Hitler
 

freewillie

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Great bunch of lads the Gandhis, Dougal
 

roc_

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“Hitler killed five million Jews. It is the greatest crime of our time. But the Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher's knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs...It would have aroused the world and the people of Germany... As it is, they succumbed anyway in their millions. "
-Mahatma Gandhi
Ftfy.

He also recommended the following to the British:


I appeal to every Briton, wherever he may be now, to accept the method of non-violence instead of that of war, for the adjustment of relations between nations and other matters. Your statesmen have declared that this is a war on behalf of democracy. There are many other reasons given in justification. You know them all by heart. I suggest that, at the end of the war, whichever way it ends, there will be no democracy left to represent democracy. This war has descended upon mankind as a curse and a warning. It is a curse inasmuch as it is brutalizing man on a scale hitherto unknown. All distinctions between comba­tants and non-combatants have been abolished. No one and nothing is to be spared. Lying has been reduced to an art. Britain was to defend small nationalities. One by one they have vanished, at least for the time being. It is also a warning. It is a warning that, if nobody reads the writing on the wall, man will be reduced to the state of the beast, whom he is shaming by his manners. I read the writing when the hostilities broke out. But I had not the courage to say the word. God has given me the courage to say it before it is too late.
I appeal for cessation of hostilities, not because you are too exhausted to fight, but because war is bad in essence. You want to kill Nazism. You will never kill it by its indifferent adoption. Your soldiers are doing the same work of destruction as the Germans. The only difference is that perhaps yours arc not as thorough as the Germans. If that be so, yours will soon acquire the same thoroughness as theirs, if not much greater. On no other condition can you win the war. In other 'words, you will have to be more ruthless than the Nazis. No cause, however just, can warrant the indiscriminate slaughter that is going on minute by minute. I suggest that a cause that demands the inhumani­ties that are being perpetrated today cannot be called just.
I do not want Britain to be defeated, nor do I want her to be victorious in a trial of brute strength, whether expressed through the muscle or the brain. Your muscular bravery is an established fact. Need you demonstrate that your brain is also as unrivalled in destructive power as your muscle? I hope you do not wish to enter into such an undignified competition with the Nazis. I venture to present you with a nobler and a braver way, worthy of the bravest soldier. I want you to fight Nazism without arms, or, if I am to retain the military terminology, with non­violent arms. I would like you to lay down the arms you have as being useless for saving you or humanity. You will invite Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini to take what they want of the countries you call your possessions. Let them take possession of your beautiful island, with your many beautiful buildings. You will give all these but neither your souls, nor your minds. If these gentlemen choose to occupy your homes, you will vacate them. If they do not give you free passage out, you will allow yourself man, woman and child, to be slaughtered, but you will refuse to owe allegiance to them.
This is no appeal made by a man who does not know his business. I have been practising with scientific precision non-violence and its possibilities for an unbroken period of over fifty years. I have applied it in every walk of life, domestic, institutional, economic and political. I know of no single case in which it has failed. Where it has seemed sometimes to have failed, I have ascribed it to my imperfec­tions. I claim no perfection for myself. But I do claim to be a passionate seeker after Truth, which is but another name for God. In the course of that search the discovery of non-violence came to me. Its spread is my life mission. I have no interest in living except for the prosecution of that mission.
I claim to have been a lifelong and wholly disinterested friend of the British people. At one time I used to be also a lover of your empire. I thought that it was doing good to India. When I saw that in the nature of things it could do no good, I used, and am still using, the non-violent method to fight imperialism. Whatever the ultimate fate of my country, my love for you remains, and will remain, undiminished. My non-violence demands universal love, and you are not a small part of it. It is that love which has prompted my appeal to you.
May God give power to every word of mine. In His name I began to write this, and in His name I close it. May your statesmen have the wisdom and courage to respond to my appeal. I am telling His Excellency the Viceroy that my services are at the disposal of His Majesty's Govern­ment, should they consider them of any practical use in advancing the object of my appeal.
New Delhi, 2-7-'40
Harijan, 6-7-1940​
 

owedtojoy

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“The Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher's knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs"

-Mahatma Gandhi
Fat lot of good that would have done.

Gandhi never realised that there was a difference between struggling against the (relatively) liberal British, whose public opinion still had a conscience, and the implacable Nazis, who forbade the Germans from having a conscience.

The Labour MP, Aneurin Bevan, said in the House of Commons during the war, addressing the Tory benches: "We are not fighting so you can get get back your Malayan rubber plantations"

So it proved. India was independent 3 years after the war, 3 years after Labour gained power in the 1945 elections.
 

owedtojoy

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Mr de Valera's visit to the German Delegation was to show that the Irish Free State was neutral in the War

- he visited the US Embassy weeks before to pay his respects on the death of President Roosevelt

- he could hardly do other on the death of Chancellor Hitler

As for the OP this had no chance of reaching Hitler anyway

- It is so amateur that it could hardly have been taken seriously

- so presumably it was aimed at the Raj

- possibly to show them that he was not an ally of Herr Hitler
Gandhi had the knack of lulling people into thinking he was an amateur. Churchill called him a "naked fakir" when he turned up at a conference in native Hindu garb.

Actually, the letter was quite a shrewd move, a no-lose gesture. And there is no reason to think its sentiments were not sincere. They did in fact summarise what Gandhi believed and proved he believed in his life and death.
 

rainmaker

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- he visited the US Embassy weeks before to pay his respects on the death of President Roosevelt

- he could hardly do other on the death of Chancellor Hitler
Why, who would have complained, would it have been frowned upon & if so by whom - do you think the German people were really mourning him after 6 years of barbaric total war and destruction?

I don't believe for one minute he was either a Nazi or a Nazi sympathiser. I also completely understand his reasoning for keeping Ireland out of the war - but the act of condolence, that has always baffled me.
 

Strawberry

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Why, who would have complained, would it have been frowned upon & if so by whom - do you think the German people were really mourning him after 6 years of barbaric total war and destruction?

I don't believe for one minute he was either a Nazi or a Nazi sympathiser. I also completely understand his reasoning for keeping Ireland out of the war - but the act of condolence, that has always baffled me.
I think he felt sorry for the German ambassador, who by all accounts seems to have been a nice enough man. He may also have wanted to piss off the US ambassador, who was an obnoxious weirdo who held seances at the US Embassy in Dublin.
 


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