Subhas Chandra Bose, born at Cuttack in an affluent family and whose death remains a mystery was one of the main Indians freedom fighters at the time of British colonization. Nicknamed Netaji, he allied in the name of anti-colonialism with the Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan against the British Empire during the World War II.
Bose was brilliant in studies, who seemed destined to occupy an eminent place in the heart of the Raj. But, he was reluctant to put himself at the service of the colonial power and embraced a political career. Bose was elected president of the Indian National Congress for two consecutive terms. However, he was forced to resign following a vote of no-confidence, motivated by Mahatma Gandhi due to an ideological conflict.
Bose felt that the tactics of nonviolence of Gandhi would be insufficient for the independence of India and advocated armed resistance. He created a party called the Forward Bloc for the full and immediate independence of India. His speech did not change with the declaration of war in 1939, which he saw as an opportunity to overthrow British power.
From then on, all his efforts found support that helped the struggle for the liberation of his country, applying the principle of the enemies of my enemies are my friends. On 5 January 1941, having managed to escape from his British jailers, Bose secretly left Calcutta to seek new support for the independence of India. He went first to Moscow but he faced Stalin's mistrust.
On the other hand, the failure of Hitler of the attempt to make Britain surrender caused the Stalinist hope of a partition of the British Empire with his Nazi ally to vanish. He then went to Berlin to offer them assistance against the British Empire. Hitler was not very receptive to this idea, but Bose was well received by Himmler, the SS leader, who was interested in the spirituality of India. Thus was born the Indian body of the Waffen SS, originally intended to fight against the British.
But the invasion of the USSR delayed the execution of this plan, because of Nazi racism and loathing of Hitler, obsessed by anti-Soviet, to attack the British Empire. He then turns to the Empire of Japan, a power which based its propaganda struggle against Western colonialism and played an important role in the starting of the postwar decolonization process in south-east Asia.
In 1943 he became head of the Azad Hind, based in Singapore and the Indian National Army, composed of Indian prisoners of war and workers of Singapore and Southeast Asia. He is considered as the founder of the Indian National Army. On December 30, 1943, Bose hoisted for the first time the tricolor Indian flag at Port Blair.
He participated in the battles against the Allies during the Burma campaign, contributing to the victory of the Japanese against the British colonial forces in that country, and urged the Japanese to conduct an attack on Indian soil, with the participation of his troops, which began in March 1944. The U-Go operation, however, ended in failure.
According to the official version, Subhas Chandra Bose died in a plane crash when his plane crashed in Taiwan, while trying to reach Japan or the USSR. His body was, however, never formally identified and alternative theories were issued, some postulating that he could have been captured by the Soviet Union and died in captivity in Siberia, while others believed that he may be hidden under a false identity. Investigations by India, on the basis of information provided by the Taiwan government failed to find tracks from the plane crash theory.
Although recognized as a figure in the Indian independence movement, Subhas Chandra Bose remains a controversial figure in the Anglo-Saxon world because of his alliance with the Axis, against British colonialism opponent. Bose belongs to the official pantheon of the heroes of the independence of India and was even honored in 1992 by the Indian government with the title of Bharat Ratna. His portrait is placed in the Indian parliament. His image adorns many Indian cities as well as that of Mahatma Gandhi.
In 1981, Bose sat on the chair during the creation of the provisional government of free India on April 5, 1944, which was installed at the Red Fort in Delhi, a symbolic place of the independence of India. Today, Subhas Chandra Bose is a charismatic figure, who enjoys immense popularity in India. Kolkata International Airport takes its name from him. His family home was converted into a museum and research center, called the Netaji Bhawan.
Bose married in 1937 his Austrian secretary Emilie Schenkl. The couple had a daughter Anita Bose Pfaff, who was born in 1942 and was professor of economics at the University of Augsburg.