Pho­to: Verze­ich­nis der vom Europäis­chen Zen­tralkomi­tee der Indis­chen Nation­al­is­ten bish­er veröf­fentlicht­en Schriften.

This is a trans­lat­ed ver­sion of the 2019 MIDA Archival Reflex­i­con entry “‘Unternehmungen und Aufwiegelun­gen’: Das Berlin­er Indis­che Unab­hängigkeit­skomi­tee in den Akten des Poli­tis­chen Archivs des Auswär­ti­gen Amts  (1914–1920)”. The text was trans­lat­ed by Rekha Rajan.

Table of Con­tents
Gen­e­sis of an Archival Hold­ing  |  India in Ger­man For­eign Pol­i­cy dur­ing the World War  |  The Indi­an Inde­pen­dence Com­mit­tee: Goals and Net­works  |  “Unternehmungen und Aufwiegelun­gen in den Gebi­eten unser­er Feinde. Indi­en” and oth­er rel­e­vant file col­lec­tions in the PA AA  |   End­notes  |   Sec­ondary Literature

Genesis of an Archival Holding

Sup­port­ing anti-colo­nial forces glob­al­ly was an impor­tant ele­ment of the Ger­man for­eign pol­i­cy strat­e­gy dur­ing the First World War. It con­sist­ed not only of pro­pa­gan­da at var­i­ous lev­els but also of finan­cial and mil­i­tary- logis­ti­cal aid. The pol­i­cy aimed at pick­ing up on and strength­en­ing anti-colo­nial sen­ti­ments, and thus ulti­mate­ly sup­port­ing unrest and upheavals against the wartime adver­saries Eng­land, France and Rus­sia. In short, the pol­i­cy aimed to “insti­gate” and “rev­o­lu­tion­ize” ene­my territories.

In the Infor­ma­tion Ser­vice for the Ori­ent (Nachricht­en­stelle für den Ori­ent, NfO) spe­cial­ly cre­at­ed at the For­eign Office, the ori­en­tal­ist, archae­ol­o­gist and diplo­mat Max Frei­herr von Oppen­heim (1860–1946) ini­tial­ly devel­oped a spe­cial strat­e­gy for “insti­ga­tion” in Mus­lim areas, but this was soon extend­ed to oth­er colonies and ter­ri­to­ries under British, French or Russ­ian rule. The his­to­ri­an Fritz Fis­ch­er lat­er called this for­eign pol­i­cy pro­pa­gan­da strat­e­gy a “rev­o­lu­tion­iza­tion pro­gramme” and showed how “rev­o­lu­tion­iza­tion” was used by the Ger­man side as a means of warfare.

The aim of the war, to break up the British and the Russ­ian empire, was com­bined with “rev­o­lu­tion­iza­tion” as a means of war­fare. France and Eng­land appeared to be most vul­ner­a­ble in their coloured colo­nial peo­ples while the dif­fer­ent for­eign nation­al­i­ties in Rus­sia offered a start­ing point for insti­gat­ing insurgencies.

(Fis­ch­er 1984: 109)

The Polit­i­cal Archive of the Fed­er­al For­eign Office, Berlin (PA AA), con­tains exten­sive files on World War I, arranged by coun­try or region and enti­tled “Unternehmungen und Aufwiegelun­gen gegen unsere Feinde”. These con­tain a detailed doc­u­men­ta­tion of Ger­man efforts to sup­port rev­o­lu­tion­ary and nation­al­ist forces with an anti-colo­nial or anti-impe­r­i­al thrust. The aims of such efforts direct­ed against the British, French or Russ­ian impe­r­i­al pow­ers were eas­i­ly com­pat­i­ble with the mil­i­tary and polit­i­cal goals of Ger­man for­eign pol­i­cy. It was a glob­al strat­e­gy which also includ­ed neu­tral coun­tries as the doc­u­ments in the For­eign Office archives show. Under the title “Under­tak­ings and Insti­ga­tions against our Ene­mies” the hold­ings Weltkrieg 11 (WK 11) [World War 11] con­tain files on sup­port for anti-Russ­ian activ­i­ties in the Ukraine (WK 11a); in Poland (WK 11b); in Rus­sia, espe­cial­ly in Fin­land (WK 11c) or in the Cau­ca­sus (WK 11d); sup­port for anti-colo­nial move­ments in Afghanistan and Per­sia (WK 11e); in “Egypt, Syr­ia and Ara­bia” (WK 11g); Cana­da (WK 11i); among the Boers (WK 11j); among the Irish (WK 11k); “in the African ter­ri­to­ries of France” (WK 11l); “in Siberia” (WK 11m); in Roma­nia (WK 11n); in Bul­gar­ia (WK 11o); in Italy (WK 11p); in Spain (WK 11q); “in Abyssinia” (WK 11r); in Por­tu­gal (WK 11v) and in India (WK11f).

The For­eign Office and the Infor­ma­tion Ser­vice for the Ori­ent did not organ­ise these pro­pa­gan­dis­tic, mil­i­tary, logis­ti­cal or finan­cial “actions” alone, but car­ried them out with inter­na­tion­al­ly oper­at­ing net­works, which had an anti-colo­nial or anti-impe­r­i­al ori­en­ta­tion. Cor­re­spond­ing groups in Berlin played an impor­tant role, which, for their part, were inter­est­ed in weak­en­ing colo­nial pow­ers from exile and in a pur­pose­ful coop­er­a­tion with Ger­many. To this end, the For­eign Office, the NfO, and Depart­ment IIIb of the Polit­i­cal Sec­tion of the Deputy General’s Staff of the Army under Rudolf Nadol­ny (1873–1953) observed and mon­i­tored poten­tial coop­er­a­tion part­ners and made use of already exist­ing organ­i­sa­tion­al struc­tures and net­works of anti-colo­nial groups in Europe and North Amer­i­ca. They sup­port­ed the for­ma­tion of inde­pen­dence com­mit­tees that were mon­i­tored and con­trolled by the Ger­mans, but which in turn tried to evade this mon­i­tor­ing and con­trol and pur­sued their own polit­i­cal strategies. 

The files in the PA AA with the title “Under­tak­ings and Insti­ga­tions against our Ene­mies. India” pro­vide infor­ma­tion about the ori­gins, com­po­si­tion and the activ­i­ties of the Indi­an Inde­pen­dence Com­mit­tee in Berlin (IIC), estab­lished in Sep­tem­ber 1914, about its col­lab­o­ra­tion with the For­eign Office and with its asso­ci­at­ed inter­na­tion­al net­works. Com­pared to oth­er coun­tries, India is the coun­try with the most exten­sive col­lec­tion of doc­u­ments on the theme “Insti­ga­tions” in the PA AA. The files on India with­in the WK 11 hold­ings begin with vol­ume 1 in August 1914, with the shelf-mark R 21070; the last file in vol­ume 48 with the shelf-mark R 21118 ends in April 1920. In addi­tion, there are four sub-files with details about peo­ple for the same peri­od (R 21119 to R 21122).

India in German Foreign Policy during the World War

As the largest colony of the British empire, India played a spe­cial role in the strate­gic plans of the Ger­man For­eign Office. The guid­ing thought for the Ger­man side was that unrest in India would con­sid­er­ably weak­en the British empire. Rel­e­vant assess­ments of the sit­u­a­tion were gath­ered from var­i­ous sources. In analy­ses, which the For­eign Office com­mis­sioned at the out­break of the war, Ger­man and Indi­an experts described the sit­u­a­tion in India and gave their opin­ion on the ques­tion that was most deci­sive for the Ger­mans, name­ly whether upris­ings and revolts against the Eng­lish were to be expect­ed there in the near future and which forces should be sup­port­ed in this con­text. The Ger­man Ara­bist and Islam-schol­ar Josef Horovitz (1874–1931), who had pre­vi­ous­ly taught for sev­er­al years in the Muhammedan Anglo-Ori­en­tal Col­lege in Ali­garh, elab­o­rat­ed on the spe­cial role of Indi­an Mus­lims in a mem­o­ran­dum. He was of the view:

[…] that the Mohammedans in North India rep­re­sent the more mas­cu­line ele­ment and if one want­ed to cre­ate prob­lems in the north­ern part of India it was essen­tial to influ­ence this com­po­nent of the pop­u­la­tion, name­ly with ref­er­ence to the pan-Islam­ic move­ment and the affil­i­a­tion to the Ottoman Caliphate.[1]

The views of Indi­an polit­i­cal activists out­side the sub-con­ti­nent were also obtained. One of them was Chempakara­man Pil­lai (1891–1934), who had estab­lished and head­ed the inter­na­tion­al com­mit­tee Pro India in Zurich and who had moved from Switzer­land to Berlin in Sep­tem­ber 1914. He stat­ed that an upris­ing was immi­nent in India.[2] Even Har Day­al (1884–1957), co-founder of the Ghadar Move­ment (Eng­lish: Rev­o­lu­tion) in North Amer­i­ca and who was already in Europe by then, was con­vinced that a rev­o­lu­tion was to be expect­ed in India very soon.[3] Both Har Day­al and Pil­lai became active mem­bers of the IIC. It was the first of sev­er­al inde­pen­dence com­mit­tees of for­eign groups in exile in Berlin and was fol­lowed, among oth­ers, by com­mit­tees of Per­sian, Egypt­ian, Geor­gian or Irish nation­al­ists (Bihl, 1975). These com­mit­tees were formed with the help of the For­eign Office, espe­cial­ly the NfO. As far as the prac­ti­cal coop­er­a­tion with Ger­man author­i­ties was con­cerned, how­ev­er, these com­mit­tees increas­ing­ly elud­ed Ger­man con­trol in the course of the war and pur­sued dif­fer­ent, nation­al­ist goals.

The picture is a photo portrait of Max Freiherr von Oppenheim, who was wearing a white headdress akin to a turban and a dark beard with a bushy moustache.
Fig. 1 Max Frei­herr von Oppen­heim. Source:

Dur­ing the First World War, Berlin became an impor­tant cen­tre for the polit­i­cal activ­i­ties of Indi­an nation­al­ists and rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies. When the war broke out Indi­ans, who were in Ger­many or in Europe in the sum­mer of 1914, expect­ed that they would get active sup­port from Ger­many for their anti-colo­nial strug­gle. The Ger­man gov­ern­ment author­i­ties, for their part, asso­ci­at­ed this coop­er­a­tion with the hope of strength­en­ing anti-British forces and expand­ing their own posi­tions dur­ing the war and beyond. This was in line with the dom­i­nant Ger­man mil­i­tary and for­eign pol­i­cy strat­e­gy, which Fritz Fis­ch­er char­ac­terised as the “pro­gramme for rev­o­lu­tion”. In Fischer’s view, rev­o­lu­tion was indeed a goal of the war that was direct­ed at a sup­port of anti-colo­nial forces and thus a weak­en­ing of the Euro­pean colo­nial pow­ers, i.e. Germany’s wartime ene­mies (Fis­ch­er, 1984; Jenk­ins, 2013). One way to imple­ment this goal was by “insti­gat­ing” anti-colo­nial groups glob­al­ly. It includ­ed sup­port for Flem­ish, Irish or Per­sian nation­al­ists as also coop­er­a­tion with Geor­gian, Egypt­ian and Indi­an anti-colo­nial polit­i­cal forces. The Ger­man “Jihad-strat­e­gy”, ini­tial­ly devel­oped by Max von Oppen­heim and intense­ly dis­cussed in the inter­na­tion­al aca­d­e­m­ic world (Loth, 2014; Lüd­ke, 2015; Zürcher, 2016), was mere­ly one, albeit cen­tral, com­po­nent of a more com­pre­hen­sive impe­r­i­al for­eign policy.

The Indian Independence Committee: Goals and Networks

A photo portrait of Virendranath Chattopadyaya in a three-piece suit with a chequered tie.
Fig. 2 Viren­dranath Chat­topadyaya. Source:

 A look at the found­ing process of the Indi­an Inde­pen­dence Com­mit­tee makes it clear that the organ­is­ers were able to draw on exist­ing resources. Pre-exist­ing translo­cal polit­i­cal net­works and struc­tures were part­ly relo­cat­ed to Berlin and reor­gan­ised. Oth­er places like Lon­don and Paris, which had ear­li­er played an impor­tant role in polit­i­cal work, became too dan­ger­ous for (not only Indi­an) anti-colo­nial activ­i­ties when the war began. With the help of the NfO, the Berlin Indi­an Com­mit­tee estab­lished con­tact with the Ghadar Move­ment, which had come into being in 1913 in Cal­i­for­nia, as well as with exist­ing Euro­pean net­works of Indi­an rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies in Lon­don, Bern, Gene­va and Zurich in order to recruit mem­bers for the new­ly-estab­lished com­mit­tee. Chempakara­man Pil­lai, who had estab­lished the Pro India Com­mit­tee in Switzer­land and had also pub­lished the news­pa­per Pro India there; Viren­dranath Chat­topad­hyaya, who had begun aca­d­e­m­ic stud­ies in Ger­many in 1914; as well as Har Day­al, who had co-found­ed the Ghadar Move­ment; and oth­ers pro­vid­ed fur­ther con­tacts. More than 50 names were asso­ci­at­ed with the IIC over time, includ­ing Abhi­nash Chan­dra Bhat­tacharya, Tarac­hand Roy, Mansur Ahmad, Maulavi Barkat­ul­lah, Tarak­nath Das, Biren­dranath Das­gup­ta, Bupen­dra Nath Dut­ta or the broth­ers Abdel Jab­bar Kheiri and Abdel Sat­tar Kheiri, who were main­ly active in Istan­bul (Man­japra, 2014; Fis­ch­er-Tiné, 2015; Liebau, 2011a, 2014a; Oester­held, 2004).

The IIC’s most impor­tant tasks, at least dur­ing the first half of the war, reflect­ed both the inter­ests of the anti-colo­nial activists as well as the expec­ta­tions and goals of the For­eign Office. One of the defined goals was to organ­ise a mis­sion to Afghanistan which would seek the Emir’s per­mis­sion to use Afghan ter­ri­to­ry for launch­ing an attack on India with an armed Indi­an bat­tal­ion. Mem­bers of the IIC were involved in the famous Afghanistan Mis­sion of 1915 led by Wern­er Otto von Hentig (1886–1984). Fur­ther­more, a mis­sion to the Per­sian Gulf was to be organ­ised to con­vince Indi­an sol­diers there to not fight against Turk­ish troops. There was also a plan to win over vol­un­teers for an Indi­an Legion by car­ry­ing out pro­pa­gan­da among the Indi­an pris­on­ers-of-war in Mesopotamia. Anti-British pro­pa­gan­da was also to be organ­ised among South Asian pris­on­ers-of-war in Ger­many in order to gath­er pris­on­ers to fight in the Turk­ish army. Mem­bers of the Berlin Inde­pen­dence Com­mit­tee took part in pro­duc­ing the pro­pa­gan­da camp-news­pa­per “Hin­dostan” in Hin­di and Urdu, which was dis­trib­uted in the Halb­mond­lager (“Half Moon Camp”) in Wüns­dorf, a camp set up spe­cial­ly for Mus­lims (Oester­held, 2004; Liebau 2011a/b; 2014 a/b; Jenkins/Liebau/Schmid, 2020).

A photo portrait of Lala Har Dayal in a suit with moustache and glasses.
Fig. 3 Lala Har Day­al. Source:;_an_interpretation_and_a_history_of_the_nationalist_movement_from_within%22_(1916)_(14781991012).jpg

The Turk­ish side and the group of Indi­an nation­al­ists oper­at­ing from Istan­bul played a deci­sive role in the func­tion­ing of the IIC. Short­ly after the com­mit­tee was formed in Berlin, a sim­i­lar com­mit­tee was also estab­lished in Istan­bul. Mem­bers some­times switched between the loca­tions. Dis­putes over posi­tions, hier­ar­chies and strate­gies of action, as well as reli­gious dif­fer­ences were the order of the day. Vary­ing assess­ments of the polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in Europe and in India and diverse alliances led to fur­ther ten­sions. In the back­ground, the Ger­man Fed­er­al For­eign Office and the Turk­ish intel­li­gence ser­vice, Tashkilat‑e Mah­susa, pulled the strings. Dur­ing the war, it became obvi­ous that the plans to rev­o­lu­tion­ize India and the Ger­man Jihad-pro­pa­gan­da were not yield­ing the expect­ed suc­cess. The efforts of Ger­man impe­ri­al­ism to instru­men­tal­ize anti-colo­nial free­dom move­ments had failed. The com­mit­tees real­ized that the expec­ta­tions they had from the Ger­man sup­port would not be ful­filled. The IIC react­ed by look­ing for new places to work in Switzer­land, the Nether­lands or Swe­den. In 1917, Viren­dranath Chat­topad­hyaya opened a new office in Stock­holm, which oper­at­ed under the name Indiska Nation­alkom­mit­téen. This new com­mit­tee engaged in a dis­pute with those left in the IIC in Berlin about who had the author­i­ty to rep­re­sent the Indi­an nation­al­ists in Europe (Barooah, 2004).[4]

The his­to­ry of the Berlin Indi­an Inde­pen­dence Com­mit­tee not only offers insights into Indi­an anti-colo­nial move­ments out­side the South Asian sub-con­ti­nent and into Ger­man for­eign pol­i­cy strate­gies dur­ing the First World War. Mem­bers of the com­mit­tee lat­er found their pur­pose in var­i­ous ide­o­log­i­cal, reli­gious or polit­i­cal con­texts. Recent stud­ies that focus on the point of view of the dif­fer­ent Inde­pen­dence Com­mit­tees are now also exam­in­ing the links between these com­mit­tees beyond the strate­gic inten­tions of the Ger­mans (Jenk­ins, Liebau, Schmid, 2020). In order to be able to sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly trace these his­to­ries, it is nec­es­sary to ana­lyze fur­ther archival hold­ings of dif­fer­ent nation­al and polit­i­cal ori­gins in India, Eng­land, Turkey, Swe­den or Russia.

A portrait of Chempakaraman Pillai with chin beard.
Fig. 4 Chempakara­man Pil­lai. Source:

The con­cept for the Ger­man incite­ment strat­e­gy can be traced back to a mem­o­ran­dum pre­pared by Max von Oppen­heim, the “Denkschrift betr­e­f­fend die Rev­o­lu­tion­ierung der islamis­chen Gebi­ete unser­er Feinde” (1914) (von Oppen­heim, 2018) [Mem­o­ran­dum con­cern­ing the rev­o­lu­tion­iza­tion of the Islam­ic ter­ri­to­ries of our ene­mies]. Short­ly after the out­break of war, Oppen­heim had already point­ed out to the For­eign Office the neces­si­ty of insti­gat­ing anti-colo­nial forces through inten­sive pro­pa­gan­da cam­paigns, as well as finan­cial and mil­i­tary sup­port. He sug­gest­ed the foun­da­tion of an insti­tu­tion espe­cial­ly geared to this pur­pose, the Infor­ma­tion Ser­vice for the Ori­ent. While, at a first glance, this appeared to be a trans­la­tion and infor­ma­tion office, it was in fact an insti­tu­tion of far-reach­ing pro­pa­gan­dis­tic and intel­li­gence sig­nif­i­cance. Here, strate­gies for pro­pa­gan­da were devel­oped at var­i­ous lev­els: in the colonies and depen­dent ter­ri­to­ries, among colo­nial sol­diers at the front and in pris­on­er-of-war camps as well as in neu­tral coun­tries. Rel­e­vant mate­r­i­al was pre­pared, print­ed and dis­sem­i­nat­ed in var­i­ous lan­guages. The NfO was staffed both by Ger­mans (besides diplo­mats, also aca­d­e­mics, mis­sion­ar­ies, busi­ness­men) and by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the var­i­ous colonised and depen­dent regions. Along with the NfO, Depart­ment III b of the polit­i­cal Sec­tion of the Deputy Gen­er­al Staff under Rudolf Nadol­ny was respon­si­ble for deci­sions and strate­gies in the sphere of pro­pa­gan­da. All activ­i­ties thus took place with the approval and under the con­trol of the For­eign Office and the Supreme Army Command.

Unternehmungen und Aufwiegelungen in den Gebieten unserer Feinde. Indien” and other relevant file collections in the PA AA

The files of the 48-vol­ume sub-col­lec­tions WK 11f titled Unternehmungen und Aufwiegelun­gen in den Gebi­eten unser­er Feinde. Indi­en(Under­tak­ings and insti­ga­tions in the ter­ri­to­ries of our ene­mies. India) belong to the R‑holdings of the Polit­i­cal Archive of the Fed­er­al For­eign Office, which include doc­u­ments till 1945. These include papers for the peri­od of August 1914-April 1920, which reflect Ger­man for­eign pol­i­cy efforts to pro­mote anti-colo­nial devel­op­ments in and with ref­er­ence to India, the largest British colony. The doc­u­ments com­prise cor­re­spon­dence, reports and assess­ments, news­pa­per clip­pings, pro­pa­gan­da mate­r­i­al as well as doc­u­ments on admin­is­tra­tive pro­ce­dures. In their entire­ty, they give an overview of the work of the IIC and of the polit­i­cal activists asso­ci­at­ed with the com­mit­tee, their posi­tions, inten­tions and con­flicts – viewed and fil­tered through the con­trol and per­spec­tive of the Ger­man side.


For the first months of the World War, the doc­u­ments deal first­ly with enquiries about Indi­ans will­ing to work with the Ger­man side. The For­eign Office obtained infor­ma­tion about Indi­ans liv­ing in Ger­many as well as from diplo­mats in dif­fer­ent coun­tries, for exam­ple in Switzer­land. Indi­ans like Chempakara­man Pil­lai, who lived in Zurich, or Abhi­nash Bhat­tacharya, who was study­ing in Halle, also sought con­tact with Ger­man gov­ern­ment author­i­ties to explore chances for coop­er­a­tion. They gave fur­ther rec­om­men­da­tions for con­tacts and assessed polit­i­cal activists who could be con­sid­ered for mem­ber­ship of the com­mit­tee. These assess­ments could be in the form of rec­om­men­da­tions, but they could also con­tain warn­ings. Sec­ond­ly, in the first months there are some reports about the sit­u­a­tion in India. The cen­tral ques­tion was: How does the author assess the polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion, and does he see pos­si­bil­i­ties for car­ry­ing out anti-colo­nial upris­ings in the coun­try? The authors of these sta­tus reports were Ger­man busi­ness­men, mis­sion­ar­ies or aca­d­e­mics as well as Indi­ans who want­ed to coop­er­ate with the Ger­man side. In Sep­tem­ber 1914, Max von Oppen­heim report­ed that “his” India Com­mit­tee had been set up in Berlin.[5]


Fur­ther­more, the files con­tain exten­sive cor­re­spon­dence between the For­eign Office in Berlin and var­i­ous Ger­man diplo­mat­ic mis­sions abroad, espe­cial­ly in Turkey, but also the cor­re­spon­dence between the IIC and the For­eign Office, between indi­vid­ual Indi­ans and the For­eign Office. This cor­re­spon­dence con­cerned the organ­i­sa­tion­al and per­son­nel work, main­ly regard­ing the ques­tion of pro­pa­gan­da and in rela­tion to the var­i­ous polit­i­cal-mil­i­tary mis­sions in which rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the IIC were involved. The files also con­tain numer­ous doc­u­ments on lengthy admin­is­tra­tive and deci­sion-mak­ing process­es with ref­er­ence to the prepa­ra­tion and exe­cu­tion of these activ­i­ties. They deal with the logis­tics of the approach, includ­ing finan­cial and per­son­nel-relat­ed con­sid­er­a­tions that were dis­cussed between the For­eign Office, the Depart­ment III B of the Army Gen­er­al Staff and var­i­ous offices such as embassies, mis­sions and consulates.


A fur­ther cat­e­go­ry of doc­u­ments are the sta­tus reports, work­ing reports, reports on sur­veil­lance of indi­vid­u­als and mem­o­ran­da. The files con­tain, for exam­ple, sev­er­al detailed reports about the work of the Indi­an Com­mit­tee in Istan­bul or on the so-called Bagh­dad mis­sion and the futile attempts to estab­lish an Indi­an Legion in Mesopotamia. From 1917 onwards, there are also reports from the Stock­holm branch of the com­mit­tee head­ed by Viren­dranath Chat­topad­hyaya. These reports, writ­ten by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Indi­an Com­mit­tee, were com­ment­ed upon by the rel­e­vant Ger­man author­i­ties and pro­vid­ed with instruc­tions for action. Some Indi­ans were also placed under obser­va­tion on the orders of the For­eign Office. Thus, Hel­muth von Glase­napp, for exam­ple, inves­ti­gat­ed the schol­ar and rev­o­lu­tion­ary Shyamji Krish­navar­ma (1857–1930) liv­ing in Zurich, or sent reports about the lec­tures giv­en by Chempakara­man Pil­lai in dif­fer­ent Ger­man cities. The For­eign Office also gen­er­at­ed sep­a­rate files for some per­sons, for exam­ple for Chat­topad­hyaya. These are in the pre­vi­ous­ly men­tioned sub-files “Per­son­a­lia” (R 21119-R21122). 

Further Files

It is not only the India-relat­ed files in the hold­ings WK 11 “Unternehmungen und Aufwiegelun­gen” which pro­vide infor­ma­tion about the work of the Berlin-based IIC. There are ref­er­ences in the files on oth­er coun­tries, espe­cial­ly in those for Per­sia (WK 11e), Egypt (WK 11g) or Ire­land (WK 11k). The IIC col­lab­o­rat­ed with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of these inde­pen­dence com­mit­tees in var­i­ous areas. Infor­ma­tion about the pro­pa­gan­da work of the IIC among Indi­an pris­on­ers-of-war is avail­able under the file num­ber WK 11s “Unternehmungen und Aufwiegelun­gen gegen unsere Feinde – Tätigkeit in den Gefan­genen­lagern Deutsch­lands” (Under­tak­ings and insti­ga­tions against our ene­mies – work in the pris­on­er-of-war camps in Ger­many). These files begin with the shelf-mark R 21244 in Octo­ber 1914 and end with R 21262 in Decem­ber 1919. The spe­cial work by some mem­bers of the IIC for the Infor­ma­tion Ser­vice for the Ori­ent (NfO), includ­ing the col­lab­o­ra­tion in bring­ing out the camp news­pa­per Hin­dostan in Hin­di and Urdu, is reflect­ed in the files of the NfO. The 27 vol­umes under the file num­ber Deutsch­land 126 adh.1 begin with the shelf-mark R 1510 in Jan­u­ary 1915 and end with R 1536 in Decem­ber 1919.


[1]PA AA, R 21080, von Oppen­heim in a let­ter accom­pa­ny­ing a mem­o­ran­dum authored by Josef Horovitz dis­cussing the sit­u­a­tion of Indi­an Mus­lims, 11. March 1915.
[2]PA AA, R 21070, telegram from the impe­r­i­al envoy in Switzer­land, Frei­herr von Romberg, to the For­eign Office, 8. Sep­tem­ber 1914.
[3]PA AA, R 21071, telegram from Frei­herr von Wan­gen­heim to the For­eign Office, Kon­stan­tinopel, 13. Sep­tem­ber 1914.
[4]PA AA, R 21111, report of the Indiske Nation­alkom­mit­téen in Stock­holm addressed to the Indi­an Com­mit­tee Berlin-Char­lot­ten­burg, 17. Jan­u­ary 1918.
[5]PA AA, R 21071, note from Max von Oppen­heim to Otto Gün­ther von Wesendonk, 11. Sep­tem­ber 1914.

Secondary Literature

Barooah, Nirode K., Chat­to: The life and times of an Indi­an anti-impe­ri­al­ist in Europe. New Del­hi, Oxford: OUP, 2004.

Bihl, Wolfdi­eter, Die Kauka­sus-Poli­tik der Mit­telmächte. Teil 1: Ihre Basis in der Ori­ent-Poli­tik und ihre Aktio­nen 1914–1917. Wien: Böh­lau, 1975.

Bose, A. C., Indi­an rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies abroad: 1905–1927. New Del­hi: North­ern Book Cen­tre, 2002. 

Conze, Eckart, Das Auswär­tige Amt: Vom Kaiser­re­ich bis zur Gegen­wart. München: Ver­lag C.H. Beck, 2013.

Fis­ch­er, Fritz, Griff nach der Welt­macht: Die Kriegspoli­tik des kaiser­lichen Deutsch­land 1914–1918. Düs­sel­dorf: Droste Ver­lag, 1984.

Fis­ch­er-Tiné, Har­ald, “The oth­er side of inter­na­tion­al­ism: Switzer­land as a hub of mil­i­tant anti-colo­nial­ism c. 1910–1920”. In: Patri­cia Purtschert and Har­ald Fis­ch­er-Tiné (eds.), Colo­nial Switzer­land: rethink­ing colo­nial­ism from the mar­gins. Bas­ingstoke: Pal­grave Macmil­lan, 2015, pp. 221- 258.

Jenk­ins, Jen­nifer, “Fritz Fischer’s ‘Pro­gramme for Rev­o­lu­tion’: Impli­ca­tions for a Glob­al His­to­ry of Ger­many in the First World War”. Jour­nal of Con­tem­po­rary His­to­ry 2013, 48: pp. 397–417.

Jenk­ins, Jen­nifer, Heike Liebau and Laris­sa Schmid, “Transna­tion­al­ism and insur­rec­tion: inde­pen­dence com­mit­tees, anti-colo­nial net­works, and Germany’s glob­al war”. Jour­nal of Glob­al His­to­ry 12, no. 1 (2020): pp. 61–79.

Liebau, Heike, “The Ger­man For­eign Office, Indi­an emi­grants and pro­pa­gan­da efforts among the ‘Sepoys’”. In: Franziska Roy, Heike Liebau and Ravi Ahu­ja (eds.) ‘When the war began we heard of sev­er­al kings’: South Asian pris­on­ers of war in World War I Ger­many. New Del­hi: Social Sci­ence Press, 2011, pp. 96–129.

——–, “Das Deutsche Auswär­tige Amt, indis­che Emi­granten und pro­pa­gan­dis­tis­che Bestre­bun­gen unter den südasi­atis­chen Kriegs­ge­fan­genen im ‘Halb­mond­lager’”. In: Franziska Roy, Heike Liebau, Ravi Ahu­ja (eds.) Sol­dat Ram Singh und der Kaiser. Indis­che Kriegs­ge­fan­gene in deutschen Pro­pa­gan­dalagern 1914–1918. Hei­del­berg: Drau­pa­di Ver­lag, 2014, pp. 109–143.

——–, “Hin­dostan – a camp news­pa­per for South Asian pris­on­ers of World war One in Ger­many”. In: Franziska Roy, Heike Liebau and Ravi Ahu­ja (eds.) ‘When the war began we heard of sev­er­al kings’: South Asian pris­on­ers of war in World War I Ger­many. New Del­hi: Social Sci­ence Press, 2011, pp. 231–249.

——–, “Hin­dostan. Eine Lagerzeitung für südasi­atis­che Kriegs­ge­fan­gene in Deutsch­land 1915–1918”. In: Franziska Roy, Heike Liebau, Ravi Ahu­ja (eds.) Sol­dat Ram Singh und der Kaiser. Indis­che Kriegs­ge­fan­gene in deutschen Pro­pa­gan­dalagern 1914–1918. Hei­del­berg: Drau­pa­di Ver­lag 2014,  pp. 261–285.

Loth, Wil­fried, Erster Weltkrieg und Dschi­had. Die Deutschen und die Rev­o­lu­tion­ierung des Ori­ents. München: Old­en­bourg Ver­lag, 2014.

Lüd­ke, Tilman, Jihad made in Ger­many: Ottoman and Ger­man pro­pa­gan­da and intel­li­gence oper­a­tions in the First World War. Mün­ster: LIT, 2015.

Man­japra, Kris, Age of entan­gle­ment: Ger­man and Indi­an intel­lec­tu­als across empire. Cam­bridge, MA: Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2014.

Purtschert, Patri­cia, Fis­ch­er-Tiné, Har­ald (eds.), Colo­nial Switzer­land. Rethink­ing colo­nial­ism from the mar­gins. Cam­bridge Impe­r­i­al and Post-Colo­nial Stud­ies. Bas­ingstoke: Pal­grave Macmil­lan, 2015.

Oester­held, Frank, “‘Der Feind meines Fein­des ist mein Fre­und.’ Zur Tätigkeit des Indi­an Inde­pen­dence Com­mit­tee (IIC) während des Ersten Weltkrieges in Berlin”. MA The­sis, Hum­boldt Uni­ver­si­ty Berlin, 2004.

Oppen­heim, Max Frei­herr von, Denkschrift betr­e­f­fend die Rev­o­lu­tion­ierung der islamis­chen Gebi­ete unser­er Feinde, her­aus­gegeben von Stef­fen Kopet­zky. Berlin: Ver­lag Das kul­turelle Gedächt­nis, 2018.

Zürcher, Erik-Jan (ed.), Jihad and Islam in World War I: stud­ies on the Ottoman jihad on the cen­te­nary of Snouck Hurgronje’s “Holy War made in Ger­many”. Lei­den: Lei­den Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2016.

Heike Liebau, Leib­niz-Zen­trum Mod­ern­er Ori­ent, Berlin

MIDA Archival Reflex­i­con

Edi­tors: Anan­di­ta Baj­pai, Heike Liebau
Lay­out: Mon­ja Hof­mann, Nico Putz
Host: ZMO, Kirch­weg 33, 14129 Berlin
Con­tact: archival.reflexicon [at]

ISSN 2628–5029