Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Gandhi's July 1939 Letter to Adolf Hitler

On 23 July 1939, the Indian nationalist wrote the following remarkable letter to Hitler. In it, he tells Hitler that friends have urged on him to write Hitler, and impresses on Hitler the hope that Europe's current crisis and its descent into war could be halted.

The time is relevant to the context. From late 1938 through the summer of 1939, Germany was trying to convince Poland to return Danzig. A British war guarantee to Poland on 31 March 1939 convinced the Polish government that it did not have to negotiate with Berlin. Now, Britain was pledged to fight a war to prevent Poland from returning a German city to Germany. The war guarantee was, of course, hollow, as Britain lacked the capacity to come to Poland's aid. From 31 March, when the war guarantee was given, through August 1939, Britain and Germany were on a collision course toward a second World War.

Gandhi's letter was sent to Hitler less than two months before the British declaration of war. It was intercepted and prevented from reaching him by British agents.