Portrait of Subhas Chandra Bose, c 1940s.
Subhas Chandra Bose, c 1940s.

Subhas Chandra Bose (1897 –1945)

Chandra Bose was one of India’s most prominent nationalist leaders who advocated armed struggle as the only way to free India. Born in Bengal, Bose was educated at the universities of Calcutta and Cambridge. He gave up a civil service career in the early 1920s to join the nationalist movement. A popular leader who was imprisoned several times by the British, Bose became President of the INC in 1938. However, political differences with Gandhi led him to resign the following year.

Escape to Germany


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The Syonan Sinbun, 26 January 1943

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In 1940, Bose was imprisoned by the British for his anti-colonial activities. While in prison, Bose went on a hunger strike. The British put him under house arrest. He subsequently escaped to Germany through Afghanistan by pretending to be a deaf-mute Pathan. Bose reached Berlin on 2 April 1941, where he began advocating India’s Independence through radio broadcasts.

Arrival in Tokyo

By early 1943, Bose had turned his attention to Southeast Asia. With its large overseas Indian population, Bose recognised that the region was fertile ground for establishing an anti-colonial force to fight the British. In January 1943, the Japanese invited Bose to lead the Indian nationalist movement in East Asia. He accepted and left Germany on 8 February. After a three-month journey by submarine, and a short stop in Singapore, he reached Tokyo on 11 May 1943. In Tokyo, he made a number of radio broadcasts to the Indian communities and exhorted them to join in the fight for India’s Independence.

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