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Hitler, NOT Gandhi, Should Be Given Credit for the Independence of India in 1947

Hitler, NOT Gandhi, Should Be Given Credit for the Independence of India in 1947

Hitler, NOT Gandhi, Should Be Given Credit for the Independence of India in 1947

World War II had a profound effect on the colonial powers because it completely destroyed their economies. Although Hitler committed crimes against humanity, I give him credit—and not Gandhi—for India’s independence immediately after World War II. Hitler destroyed the economies of Britain and France to such an extent that they were no longer able to financially maintain their military forces, and were hence incapable of containing the burgeoning freedom movements in their colonies. It is worth noting that Britain was in such bad shape that it received about one-fourth of the total aid given under the Marshall Plan. Regardless of Gandhi or any other charismatic leader, Britain would have left India in 1947 purely for financial reasons, due to its wholly collapsed economy. After WWII, Britain left not only India but nearly all its other holdings, including Jordan in 1946, Palestine in 1947, Sri Lanka in 1948, Myanmar in 1948, Egypt in 1952 and Malaysia in 1957. For the same reason, France also had to grant independence to Laos in 1949 and Cambodia in 1953, and had to leave Vietnam in 1954; Netherlands also left most of its colonies called Dutch East Indies, mainly Indonesia in 1949. Had there been no Hitler and no World War II, it most probably would have taken another 30 or more years for India and some of the other colonies to achieve independence.

Another major consequence of World War II was that it greatly hastened Indian political independence. The highly publicized Cripps Mission that took place in India in 1942 was essentially a political ploy approved by Churchill to buy time for Britain and to try to assuage anti-colonialist feelings in the U.S.

British historians P.J. Cain and A.G. Hopkins described the hopeless situation of the British in India as follows:

“By the end of war, there was a loss of purpose at the very center of the imperial system. The gentlemanly administrators who managed the Raj no longer had the heart to devise new moves against increasing odds, not least because after 1939 the majority of the Indian Civil Service were themselves Indian. In 1945 the new Viceroy, Wavell, commented on the “weakness and weariness of the importance of the instrument still our disposal in the shape of the British element in the Indian Civil Service. The town had been lost to opponents of the Raj; the countryside had slipped beyond control. Widespread discontent in the army was followed in 1946 by a mutiny in the navy. It was then Wavell, the unfortunate messenger, reported to London that India had become ungovernable [which finally led to the independence of India].”

There is a saying that history is written by the victors of war. One of the greatest myths, first propagated by the Indian Congress Party in 1947 upon receiving the transfer of power from the British, and then by court historians, is that India received its independence as a result of Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violence movement. This is one of the supreme inaccuracies of Indian history because had there been no Hitler and no World War II, Gandhi’s movement would have slowly fizzled out because gaining full independence would have taken several more decades. By that time, Gandhi would have long been dead, and he would have gone down in history as simply one of several great Indian freedom fighters of the times, such as Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, Motilal Nehru, Dada Bhai Naoroji, and C.R. Das. He would never have received the vast publicity that he did for his nonviolence movement. Political independence for India was achieved not by Mahatma Gandhi, but rather by Hitler rendering the British Empire a bankrupt entity./

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