Subhash Chandra Bose: British Intelligence papers declassified: An assessment

By: Shreepal Singh

The history relating to Subhash Chandra Bose, his ‘Azad Hind Fauz’ and the heroic battle of this army with the army of the British rulers of India has been distorted by the acts of obliteration, omission and commission. It is still happening in India, which is free now.

You just have a look at the material available on the internet that is related to the battle of INA (Indian National Army or ‘Azad Hind Fauz’) with the British forces at Kohima in Nagaland and you will find out how the history has been distorted. This battle has been narrated as the Japanese aggression against mainland India, where the British forces fought their “Stalingrad of the East” war against the enemy-aggressors. There is no whisper of the word INA and the sacrifices made by Indian soldiers under the command of Netaji.

Was it indeed the Japanese aggression? Or, was it an assault on the British rulers of India under the leadership of Netaji with the assistance of Japanese? Historian Giles Mac Donough wrote a book ‘A Good German’ about the real happenings in Germany under the rule of Adolph Hitler and how some people were resisting the Furer under the Nazi rule. Before writing this book, Giles made an extensive research into the subject. He met individuals who had first-hand information of the events and poured himself into the available records to put the history straight. How many of the Indian historians took the pains to go to Kohima in Nagaland and to Japan to get a first-hand information about this battle; looked into the Japanese military / archives records to count the heads of Indians of INA or of Japanese who had fought that battle; and call the bluff of this battle as a Japanese aggression?

By this distorted history of INA and its battle with the British forces in India, we are being ashamed of Bose and his INA.

You go to this website and see that on the “Kohima War Cemetary” reads an epithet in honor of British soldiers who laid down their lives in this battle. A fitting prelude to British soldiers who died here reads: “When you go home, tell them of us and say, ‘For your tomorrow, we gave our today”. Did no Indian soldier of INA under the command of Bose lay down his life for the cause of India in this battle? There is no place in free India for Indians for a War Memorial of those who fought and laid down their lives in this battle.

Indeed, the history of India written in the last 60 years does not commemorate the sons and daughters of this country who laid down their lives for the cause of their mother land.

Subhash Chandra Bose – An assessment

Hindsight is a great advantage. We have the events before us; we have the circumstances then prevailing; and we have the personalities to judge how they conducted them in those circumstance. It requires an acute sense of objectivity and sympathy with the persons so judged to do complete justice to them in the matter. This privilege of hindsight is never available to a person embroiled in the thick and thin of the turmoil.

It is really very difficult to judge Bose. It involves judging his intentions and the wisdom of his actions in a very complex political situation then prevailing in India and world. It was the trying time of World War II.

In a free country, there is great paraphernalia of the governmental officialdom. A large army of officers, whose interests are wedded to the government, are there devoted to spend their lifetime in taking care of the government’s interests. If a police officer tires, another is there to take his place; if an army-man dies fighting the cause of the government, another soldier is available, without a wink, to replace the dead. It was so with the British Government of India. And, before that, in 1600 AD it was so with the Indian government of the Mughal Emperor. If there was no justification on the part of the British to maneuver their acts so as to ensure that the Indian government of the Mughal Emperor is crushed and replaced by the British, there was no justification on the part of Bose to think and act so as to ensure that the British government is crushed and replaced by the government of free India. If it was justified on the part of the British to act and ensure that the Indian government of the then Emperor was defeated and replaced by their own government, then it was also justified on the part of Bose, and justified in more measure than of the British, to take all acts within his reach and ensure that the British government was defeated and replaced by a government of his own people. Therefore, Bose did commit no crime in doing what he did. This is the first caveat one has to take care of when judging Bose. This very urge on the part of Bose, puts him on the pedestal which is beyond the pale of questioning him for the acts he did.

He was a fire in himself; but the fire is not enough to fight an Empire. He needed also the good-luck of circumstances, which have always been playing a decisive role in the lives of great man throughout the human history. In his mission, Bose – an inspiring national leader along with a group of few more patriots – was not the only actor playing a role on the stage of history in opposing the enemy of his countrymen – the British Empire lording over a slave population of India; there were also the Axis powers – Germany under the Nazi leader Hitler, Imperial Japan and Italy under the Fascist leader Mussolini – arrayed against the British. To make the world theater more complex, most of the powers of the world – U.S.A., France, Soviet Union and a host of other countries – had jumped into the fray by ganging together as Allies. Bose was an insignificant entity in this grand world affair and his wisdom lay only in his taking the advantage of this volatile situation. His destiny was tied to the fate of the side he chose; also, in serving the cause of his country he was bound to serve the dominant cause of the side he had chosen. Let us see what prompted Bose to opt for Hitler’s Germany/ Imperial Japan in seeking to serve the interests of his mission rather than other democratic countries.

Let us rewind ourselves back in times to the late 1930s. We have collected materials (verbatim) from the classified intelligence records of British Government, which have been recently declassified and are available on the net (British Archives). Read this material and decide yourself where Subhash Chandra Bose stands in comparison to those who have ruled India after its independence.



27th July,1945


Attached is a copy of an interesting letter from NAMBIAR to S. C. BOSE, the original of which was found in U-boat 234 when it surrendered to the Allies. I am having enquiries made about the identities of the various people mentioned in the latter, but some of the names are very familiar to us already. The asthmatic patient is, I believe, G. K. MUKHERJI, No. 56 in the July 1944 handbook. DUTT is Eric Chand DUTT, No. 24 in the July 1944 handbook , of whose recent whereabout we know nothing.

2. The passport and manuscript mentioned towards the end of the letter were not recovered with the letter itself but we are endeavoring to obtain them. …..”

This letter to Mr. Silver refers to, and attaches a copy of, a letter written by A. C. N. Nambiar (Arathil Candeth Narayan NAMBIAR, who had gone to Berlin in 1924 as a journalist) to S. C. BosVe on 12th July, 1945. This letter to S. C. Bose was one of the three letters which were recovered from U-boat 234 and sent by Brigadier O’Brien, British Joint Staff Mission, Washington by his letter dated 14th July, 1945. A. C. N. Nambiar was heading a group of Indians who were working in Berlin (Germany) as officials of the Provisional Government of India. It was a group of 12 persons. They were also responsible for radio broadcasting as “Azad Hind Radio, Azad Hind Muslim Radio and Azad Hind Congress Radio.” Nambiar was later on appointed by Subhash Chandra Bose a Minister without Portfolio in the Provisional Government of India.

And, who was this Mr. Silver, to whom the British communicated with an attached copy of Nambiar’s letter and asked him to help identify the persons mentioned in the letter? Mr. Silver is none other than an Indian traitor named Bhagat Ram Talwar, with whom Bose had stayed in Kabul after his (Bose’s) escape from his Calcutta house. This Talwar had helped Bose to enter into the Soviet Union territory secretly with the assistance of the Soviet ambassador in Kabul and had thus earned the complete confidence of Bose in him but he in fact was a triple espionage-agent of the British, the Soviets and the German government of Adolph Hitler.

Excerpts from the statement made by Nambiar to his British interrogators (after he and other members of the group (F.I.C.) were arrested in Berlin on its occupation by the Allied forces)



Whilst BOSE was still in Europe I suspected that there was a secret transmitting station being used by him and located somewhere in tribal territory on the frontier. BOSE, however, never informed me of its existence and the first definite knowledge I had of it was in June 1943, when VON TROTT told me that the existence of the secret station and the key to the code used, had been discovered by the Russians. The Russians had apparently given an assurance that this knowledge would not be passed on to the British, but the Foreign Office was undecided whether to risk using the station any longer. TROTT was in favour, but KEPPLER wished to have BOSE’S opinion. A few days later TROTT told me that it was now necessary to inform the Japanese of all the details connected with the transmitting station in Kabul. The information was passed by TROTT to KAWAHARA, the technical details being supplied by WAGNER of the Abwehr to col. HIGUTI. It was thus decided to use the station for sending messages of a non-secret nature merely in order to maintain contact and message was received from BOSE advising us to give up using it entirely.”

Bose sent this message to Nambiar and the group working under him in Berlin through the Japanese channel:


We have embarked on an active military campaign, but it is not intended to continue our advance beyond the Brahmputra. Do not, therefore, allow our broadcasters to call for any widespread uprising or to exaggerate the possibilities of the advance.”


In July 1944 when German military situation deteriorated, it was decided to sound the Russians as to their willingness to accept Indian political refugees from Europe. Message was sent through HIGUTI to Bose in December 1944 and received reply from Bose agreeing to the proposal (about Russians’ willingness etc.), but stipulating that first Nambiar should consult German Foreign Office and Japanese Embassy about the proposal. OSHIMA was not in favor. Again in Feb. 1945 German Foreign Office was approached about the proposal to Russians. RIBBENTROP had no objection provided the move was confined to ‘finding out the Russian policy towards India and whether they intended to extend any special treatment to Indians’. But plan was dropped (when KENI could not get visa from Swedish Consul-General).

German U-boat (submarine) left with Bose (with Hassan) on board at 9 O’clock in the morning on 8th Feb. 1943, which was to meet Japanese submarine in Madagascar.


173. During the Christmas in December 1942 Bose went to Vienna with Frl. SCHENKL and his daughter (child born in September 1942) after a period of acute indecision for Bose. He rejected any other course and decided to keep the matter a very close secret, although he had considered marrying Frl. SCHENKL and accepting what he considered to be the inevitable consequence of retirement from his political career, when the story should become known to his followers in Europe and in India. FALTES had advised against marriage and Frl. SCHENKL had accepted Bose’s decision but hopping that with the success of his mission he would be able to regularize their relationship.


Bose sent message from Tokyo to Berlin through German channels in December 1944 to use the following points in the Radio broadcast propaganda: 1. The Japanese war would continue even if Germany was defeated; 2. German defeat would not ease the problem for British in Europe.


188. The last message I received from Bose through the Japanese was handed to me by col. HIGUTI in April 1945. It was to the effect that the Legion should either be committed to action or moved to the zone likely to be occupied by the Russians.”


Indian Legion in Germany was closed down in Germany in August 1944 on the approach of Allied forces.


On 7th October 1942, Bose told Nambiar:

After his arrest he started a ‘hunger strike’ which resulted in his being released for health reasons, although watch was still kept over his house. He then made arrangements to leave India; only two or three of his intimate friends being taken into his confidence. He grew a beard and when the plans were mature, escaped from the house and travelled by train to N.W.F.P., dressed as Pathan. Although he had some anxious moments when a group of three Indian Officers entered his compartment and travelled part of the way with him, he reached Kabul without any great difficulty. In Kabul things were very difficult for him; he often had to change his place of residence and on one occasion was jailed by the Afghan Police and only released on bail being produced by a friend. He contacted the Italian and German Legations with a view to obtaining a passport but for a long time they refused to help. Eventually the Italian Consul-General issued him a passport under the name of Carlando MAZOTTA and arranged his departure through Russian territory via Warsaw to Germany”.


Earlier attempt to travel to Far East:

168. Early in October 1942, Bose was informed by Dr. WERTH that arrangements for his flight to the Far East had been completed and he was to leave within a week. Two days later KEPPLER, VON TROTT, BOSE and NAMBIAR flew to RIBBNTROP’s field H. Q. then in a forest in the Ukraine. RIBBNTROP received Bose in the presence of VON TROTT, KEPPLER and MEGERLE.


157. On 25-5-42, BOSE at last secured his long sought-after meeting with HITLER. He was accompanied by KEPPLER to the Furer’s Headquarters on the Eastern front and had an interview there. Bose told me later that Hitler had rejected the idea of making a proclamation assuring independence for India until his armies were nearer the Indian frontiers. Bose had suggested that the statement made in ‘Mein Kampf’ regarding India should be publicly retracted, but Hitler made no reply. Hitler had agreed to the Bose’s decision to leave Germany for the Far East.


158. After this interview a photograph was published in German Press showing Bose with Hitler with RIBBENTROP. This put an end to Bose’s incognito and accordingly he decided to hold his first press conference in Germany. This was arranged for him by KEPPLER and was held at the Auslands Presses Club.”

India needs to judge Bose sympathetically. He needs to be put in his circumstances. He needs to be put at the highest rank of those who fought for their country and sacrificed everything for its sake.

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