Image: HU UA, Aus­län­der­kar­tei Indi­en, 1928–1938; Cour­te­sy: Archiv der Hum­boldt-Uni­ver­si­tät zu Ber­lin. Pho­to­graph by author.

Table of Con­tents
Intro­duc­tion: Insti­tu­ti­ons, Actors and Net­works Affec­ti­ve Archi­ve: Memo­ry and Bio­gra­phyCon­clu­si­onAppen­dix  |  Notes  |  Biblio­gra­phy

Introduction: Institutions, Actors and Networks

The Archiv der Hum­boldt-Uni­ver­si­tät zu Ber­lin loca­ted at Wag­ner-Rége­ny-Stra­ße 5, 12489 Ber­lin[1], pro­vi­des useful infor­ma­ti­on about intellec­tu­al ent­an­gle­ments spread across edu­ca­tio­nal con­nec­tions at the Uni­ver­si­ty. In this brief post, I exami­ne some archi­val sources per­tai­ning to South Asi­an stu­dents to make a case for ent­ang­ling archi­ves of edu­ca­tio­nal insti­tu­ti­ons with the per­so­nal bio­gra­phi­cal affec­ti­ve archi­ves to explo­re crea­ti­ve intellec­tu­al ent­an­gle­ments. My focus will be on South Asi­an Mus­lim stu­dents whom we encoun­ter both in insti­tu­tio­nal archi­ves as well as in rich affec­ti­ve bio­gra­phi­cal accounts left behind by them.

The Humboldt-Universität’s archi­val coll­ec­tion is under­go­ing digi­tiza­ti­on and is now searcha­ble through fin­ding aids and online archi­val data search.


Howe­ver, the gene­ric key­word search on India and Indi­ans is not very fruitful. It is bet­ter to use the Ger­man key­word Aus­län­der as well as Indien/Inder/indisch. A search con­duc­ted with the­se key­words leads to gene­ral results and not spe­ci­fic ones. Howe­ver, docu­ments on indi­vi­du­als can be acces­sed if ade­qua­te details like full name and year of stu­dy are pro­vi­ded to archi­vists. I was able to find infor­ma­ti­on about Indi­an stu­dents in an un-cata­logued sel­ec­tion of cards Aus­län­der­kar­tei Indi­en, 1928–1938, The Hum­boldt-Uni­ver­si­tät zu Ber­lin archi­ve. The archi­vist pro­vi­ded me with stu­dent cards that have been assem­bled pri­or to the digi­tiza­ti­on pro­ject. The­se enroll­ment cards are the most important source of infor­ma­ti­on, espe­ci­al­ly about Indi­an stu­dents who regis­tered with the Deut­sches Insti­tut für Aus­län­der (Ger­man Insti­tu­te for For­eig­ners) for stu­dy-rela­ted issues, par­ti­cu­lar­ly Ger­man lan­guage-lear­ning (See appen­dix for the full list). Fur­ther, docu­ments on doc­to­ral stu­dents can also be found through an index search of the facul­ty and depart­ments records if full names and the year(s) of stu­dy are known. The cards also reve­al the names of their local hosts and their resi­den­ti­al addres­ses, giving a sen­se of the lives of Indi­ans in Ber­lin. I found the cards very useful to recon­s­truct lived inter-cul­tu­ral aspects of this histo­ry of South Asi­an stu­dents as it pro­vi­des details under the fol­lo­wing categories:

Stu­di­en­fach oder Beruf  

An Indian student's registration sheet from the archives of the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
Figu­re 1: HU UA, Aus­län­der­kar­tei Indi­en, 1928–1938; Cour­te­sy: Archiv der Hum­boldt-Uni­ver­si­tät zu Ber­lin. Pho­to­graph by author.

I also con­sul­ted the copies of the Institute’s maga­zi­ne, which pro­vi­des fur­ther details about the social, cul­tu­ral and intellec­tu­al life of inter­na­tio­nal stu­dents in Ber­lin. Hin­du­stan Haus was spon­so­red by the Ger­man Insti­tu­te for For­eig­ners at Ber­lin Uni­ver­si­ty. The insti­tu­te also estab­lished the Hegel Haus for inter­na­tio­nal stu­dent housing; pro­vi­ded Ger­man lan­guage cour­ses and cul­tu­ral acti­vi­ties for for­eig­ners; and published a maga­zi­ne that reflec­ted stu­dent views and chro­nic­led their expe­ri­en­ces. The­se ins­tances of insti­tu­tio­nal inter­ac­tions for and of Indi­an stu­dents have been archi­ved and docu­men­ted at the Hum­boldt Uni­ver­si­ty archives.

The Hegel Haus was loca­ted in the cen­ter of Ber­lin Am Kup­fer­gra­ben 4a, clo­se to the uni­ver­si­ty cam­pus. Its urban loca­ti­on and cha­rac­ter allo­wed for­eign stu­dents to get acquain­ted with Ger­man lan­guage and cul­tu­re as quick­ly as pos­si­ble. It offe­red accom­mo­da­ti­on and food to the guests and pro­vi­ded ser­vices that faci­li­ta­ted ori­en­ta­ti­on in the city. Among the ten­ants were also Ger­man stu­dents, who vol­un­tee­red to host the for­eign stu­dents. The house had 50 rooms, a gar­den, and a dining room. Num­e­rous com­mu­nal and social rooms, such as lec­tu­re halls, games’ rooms, rea­ding rooms and a libra­ry were available on the pre­mi­ses. The sports hall and the baths were spa­cious. The rent for the rooms with full board, light and hea­ting ran­ged bet­ween 125 and 160 RM month­ly. Indi­an stu­dents like Bhai­ra­va Nath Roh­at­gi, Hem Raj Anand and Arjun K. Patel lived at the Hegel Haus Am Kup­fer­gra­ben. Bey­ond the Hegel Haus, mana­ged by the Fried­rich-Wil­helms-Uni­ver­si­tät zu Ber­lin, inter­na­tio­nal stu­dents also inha­bi­ted other parts of the city such as the midd­le class cos­mo­po­li­tan parts of Char­lot­ten­burg as well as more afforda­ble working class neigh­bor­hoods of Wed­ding and Moa­bit.[2] Details of indi­vi­du­al stu­dents and their social and pro­fes­sio­nal life can be glea­ned from this list as well as from the images of the Uni­ver­si­ty maga­zi­ne coll­ec­tion. Moving bey­ond insti­tu­tio­nal archi­val taxo­no­mies affords an enlar­ged view of per­so­nal and public his­to­ries that are cha­rac­te­ri­sed by felt expe­ri­ence and emo­ti­ons. I aim to strike a dia­lo­gue bet­ween insti­tu­tio­nal repo­si­to­ries and affec­ti­ve archi­ves that fore­grounds the ent­an­gled natu­re of offi­ci­al­ly chro­nic­led and indi­vi­du­al­ly expe­ri­en­ced histories.

A publication for foreign students in Berlin from the archives of the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
Figu­re 2: HU UA, Mit­tei­lun­gen des Deut­schen Insti­tuts für Aus­län­der an der Uni­ver­si­tät Ber­lin, 23. April 1930. Cour­te­sy: Archiv der Hum­boldt-Uni­ver­si­tät zu Ber­lin. Pho­to­graph by author.

Affective Archive: Memory and Biography

Auto­bio­gra­phies are inte­res­t­ing but dif­fi­cult archi­val sources – lying at the inter­sec­tion of histo­ry and memo­ry, remem­brance and for­get­ting. They are one exam­p­le of what one may call “affec­ti­ve archi­ves” of expe­ri­en­cing and nar­ra­ting histo­ry. Human lives and per­so­nal and pro­fes­sio­nal rela­ti­ons defi­ne the­se his­to­ries. Emo­ti­ons and fee­lings give tex­tu­re to the­se affec­ti­ve archi­ves. They pro­du­ce their own affec­ti­ve tem­po­ra­li­ties, geo­gra­phies and, thus, his­to­ries. Auto­bio­gra­phi­cal sources pro­vi­de a par­ti­cu­lar­ly rich archi­ve to under­stand the many ent­an­gle­ments, per­so­nal and pro­fes­sio­nal, knit­ted bet­ween South Asi­an Mus­lim stu­dents and Ger­man intellec­tu­als in the twen­tieth cen­tu­ry. I shall attempt to give a sen­se of the­se affec­ti­ve his­to­ries by con­nec­ting Uni­ver­si­ty archi­ves as well as per­so­nal affec­ti­ve archi­ves in the form of auto­bio­gra­phi­cal lite­ra­tu­re pro­du­ced by South Asi­an Mus­lim intellec­tu­als and through their rela­ti­onships and net­works in Germany.

Ann Cvet­ko­vich has writ­ten insightful­ly about what she calls the “archi­ve of fee­lings” that incor­po­ra­tes not just public facts but also per­so­nal memo­ries chro­nic­led through oral and video tes­ti­mo­nies, memoirs, let­ters and jour­nals. She ela­bo­ra­tes that the archi­ve of fee­lings is also “embedded not just in nar­ra­ti­ve but in mate­ri­al arti­facts which can ran­ge from pho­to­graphs to objects.”[3] Cvet­ko­vich has also reflec­ted on the lar­ger ques­ti­on of archi­ve and histo­ry wri­ting to call for ”[a] radi­cal archi­ve of emo­ti­on in order to docu­ment inti­ma­cy, sexua­li­ty, love and acti­vism – all are­as of expe­ri­ence that are dif­fi­cult to chro­nic­le through the mate­ri­als of tra­di­tio­nal archi­ve.”[4] Kris Man­ja­pra notes the pos­si­bi­li­ties of and pro­blems in wri­ting ent­an­gled his­to­ries of South Asi­an intellec­tu­als in Ger­ma­ny: “The archi­ves are less detail­ed, but the affec­ti­ve bonds of poli­ti­cal, social and intellec­tu­al ent­an­gle­ments bet­ween Ger­mans and Indi­ans in the war years is still obvious.”[5] Indo-Ger­man con­nec­tions were for­ged and sus­tained both in regu­la­ted insti­tu­tio­nal con­texts but also in affec­ti­ve per­so­nal ways. I explo­re the­se affec­ti­ve his­to­ries and archi­ves by loo­king at insti­tu­tio­nal con­nec­tions bet­ween Indi­an Mus­lim intellec­tu­als and their Ger­man coun­ter­parts in the uni­ver­si­ty con­text and by illu­mi­na­ting per­so­nal rela­ti­ons and fri­end­ships initia­ted through their inter­ac­tions as tea­chers and stu­dents that led to their evo­lu­ti­on as intellec­tu­al interlo­cu­tors and innovators.

The insti­tu­tio­na­li­zed docu­ments can be con­nec­ted with the affec­ti­ve archi­ves con­sti­tu­ted by auto­bio­gra­phi­cal wri­tin­gs of lived expe­ri­en­ces, felt emo­ti­ons and memo­ries as nar­ra­ted by South Asi­an stu­dents and visi­tors to Ber­lin. The stu­dent cards reve­al the diver­si­ty of reli­gi­on, scho­lar­ly inte­rests and social loca­ti­on of South Asi­an stu­dents. My focus here is on Mus­lim stu­dents due to the avai­la­bi­li­ty of archi­val sources in both insti­tu­tio­nal and per­so­nal archi­ves. Howe­ver, this post also shows that “South Asi­an Mus­lims” were not a homo­ge­nous cate­go­ry and were dis­tri­bu­ted across poli­ti­cal, cul­tu­ral and intellec­tu­al axes that con­nec­ted them with other Ger­man and trans­na­tio­nal actors and ideas.

The ever­y­day stu­dent life in inter­war Ber­lin is vivid­ly descri­bed in the wri­tin­gs of Sayy­id Abid Husain, Muham­mad Mujeeb and Khwa­ja Abdul Hamied.[6] The­se attest to the fact that the­re was a noti­ceable and lively South Asi­an stu­dent com­mu­ni­ty in 1920s Ber­lin.[7] Even Mir­za Azeez, the Imam of the local mos­que in Laho­re, was stu­dy­ing che­mis­try in Ber­lin. He lived in the Ahma­di­y­ya Mos­que at Bri­en­ner Stra­ße 7/8, Wil­mers­dorf in 1932.[8] Not unli­ke our own times, the typi­cal stu­dent life was mark­ed by a strugg­le to find cheap accom­mo­da­ti­ons. The­re were also stu­dent gathe­rings and New Year par­ties.[9] Indi­an stu­dents also inter­ac­ted with other stu­dent net­works like the Asso­cia­ti­on of Stu­dents for Cen­tral Euro­pe in Ber­lin.[10] Abdul Sat­tar Khei­ri and Abdul Jab­bar Khei­ri were well known as “Pan-Isla­mists” within the Indi­an cir­cles. Habi­bur Rah­man was one of the main figu­res of the Indi­an Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty as part of the “Jam­i­at al-Mus­li­meen in Ber­lin” (Isla­mi­sche Gemein­de Ber­lin). The­re were also revo­lu­tio­na­ries among the stu­dents like Mau­la­na Bar­kat Ali.[11] Viren­dra­nath Chat­topad­hyay House was the cen­ter that brought tog­e­ther what scho­lars have clas­si­fied as “revo­lu­tio­na­ry Indi­ans,” “Indi­an Stu­dents” and “offi­ci­al cir­cles” at house gathe­rings. We get a vivid account from auto­bio­gra­phi­cal wri­tin­gs about the ever­y­day strug­gles of stu­dent life, inclu­ding the strugg­le to pick up Ger­man at the sta­te school of for­eign lan­guages or fin­ding part­ners for prac­ti­cing the lan­guage. Hamied also met Tara Chand Roy – the Hin­du­sta­ni tea­cher at the for­eign lan­guages school.[12] He enrol­led for a PhD in che­mis­try with Prof. Arthur Rosen­heim. With Prof. Edu­ard Spran­ger, the exami­ner of his Ver­stand exam, he found intellec­tu­al affi­lia­ti­ons through his work on the phi­lo­so­phy of under­stan­ding.[13] He also beca­me clo­se to the renow­ned che­mis­try pro­fes­sor Prof. Walt­her Nernst, Nobel Pri­ze win­ner Prof. Fritz Haber as well as Prof. Buden­stein and Prof. Freund­lich. Prof. Buden­stein took his stu­dents to manu­fac­tu­ring units while Prof. Rat­heim intro­du­ced Hamied to the indus­tri­al soap and per­fu­me fac­to­ry of Dr. Schleich, whe­re Hamied even­tual­ly inter­ned and acqui­red first-hand expe­ri­ence in che­mis­try. This had a foun­da­tio­nal influence on Hamied’s future care­er choice.[14] Apart from pro­fes­sio­nal work expe­ri­ence, Hamied also shared fond memo­ries of pic­nics and Christ­mas par­ties orga­ni­zed by Prof. Rosen­heim. The recep­ti­on par­ties on gra­dua­ti­on brought stu­dents and pro­fes­sors tog­e­ther at the Hotel Bris­tol at Unter den Lin­den.[15] The con­nec­tions for­ged with pro­fes­sors sur­vi­ved after the com­ple­ti­on of for­mal stu­dies. Hamied beca­me an assistant to his tea­cher Prof. Vol­mer and through him got pro­fes­sio­nal trai­ning in the school of phar­ma­cy and the labo­ra­to­ry of Pro­fes­sor. Thoms in Dah­lem. Hamied would go on to estab­lish India’s big­gest phar­maceu­ti­cal com­pa­ny i.e. The Che­mi­cal, Indus­tri­al & Phar­maceu­ti­cal Labo­ra­to­ries (CIPLA) in 1935.[16]

The stu­dent social and cul­tu­ral life was vibrant and mark­ed by gathe­rings and cele­bra­ti­ons – ano­ther important site for for­ging con­nec­tions and net­works. The­se included Eas­ter holi­day gathe­rings or sum­mer pic­nics at Span­dau lakes whe­re Hamied encoun­te­red his future love Lubow Der­chans­ka, a young Polish com­mu­nist Jew of Lithua­ni­an des­cent.[17] Through Lubow, he dis­co­ver­ed and also inter­ac­ted with the lar­ger net­works of Rus­si­an and Jewish Com­mu­nist lea­ders who fre­quen­ted Ber­lin at the Roter Klub (Red club).[18] The Mus­lim-Jewish romance blos­so­med and on June, 1928 Hamied mar­ried Lubow in the Ber­lin mos­que. In a remar­kab­le ges­tu­re of reli­gious harm­o­ny, the mar­ria­ge cerem­o­ny was per­for­med by Mr. Dur­ra­ni, Imam of the Qadia­ni Mos­que in Ber­lin.[19] Thus, the cul­tu­ral and social milieu of Ber­lin brought tog­e­ther other­wi­se sepa­ra­ted actors and networks.

A group of friends at a Muslim-Jewish wedding at the Berlin mosque
Figu­re 3: Group of fri­ends at Hamied and Luba´s mar­ria­ge in Ber­lin. Host Krü­ger Papers. Pho­to Cour­te­sy ZMO archives.


As Ger­dien Jonker´s work has shown the­se per­so­nal his­to­ries of inter-reli­gious dia­lo­gue, love and mar­ria­ge have been pre­ser­ved in the Ahma­di­y­ya mos­que and needs to be taken into account in wri­ting about Ger­man and South Asi­an ent­an­gled archi­ves and his­to­ries.[20] Hamied and Luba´s Ber­lin memo­ries are now also pre­ser­ved in the visu­al archi­ves and sound recor­dings and papers in the CIPLA archi­ves as well as in the Films Divi­si­on Archi­ves in Mum­bai. Thus, strands that run deep in per­so­nal lives have been drawn from insti­tu­tio­nal ent­an­gle­ments, which have been fondly nar­ra­ted in affec­ti­ve archi­ves needs to be brought in con­ver­sa­ti­on with the more con­ven­tio­nal insti­tu­tio­na­li­zed archi­ves in wri­ting affec­ti­ve ent­an­gled his­to­ries. 


South Asi­an Stu­dents in Ber­lin during World War I and in the Inter­war Period.

The Cate­go­ries used in the list as well as the ent­ries cor­re­spond to tho­se at the ori­gi­nal  Uni­ver­si­ty Regis­tra­ti­on Cards.

Due to the amount of data and dis­play-rela­ted pro­blems, the list is sepa­ra­te­ly available here. 


[2]Joa­chim Oes­ter­held. „Aus Indi­en an die Alma mater ber­o­li­nen­sis – Stu­den­ten aus Indi­en in Ber­lin vor 1945“, In: Peri­plus 2004, Jahr­buch für Außer­eu­ro­päi­sche Geschich­te (14. Jahr­gang), Müns­ter 2004, pp. 191–200. Kris Man­ja­pra, Age of Ent­an­gle­ment: Ger­man and Indi­an Intellec­tu­als across Empire. Cam­bridge: Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2014, p.93.
[3]Ann Cvet­ko­vich. An Archi­ve of Fee­lings:  Trau­ma, Sexua­li­ty, and Les­bi­an Public Cul­tures. Duke Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2003.
[5]Kris Man­ja­pra, Age of Ent­an­gle­ment, p. 97.
[6]Muham­mad Mujeeb, D. Zakir Husain: A Bio­gra­phy. New Delhi: Natio­nal Book Trust, 1972.  Sayy­id Abid Husain, Sughra Mah­di,  Ḥayāt‑i ʻĀbid : k̲h̲ud navisht‑i Ḍākṭar ʻĀbid Ḥusain. Na’ī Dih­lī : Makt­abah-yi Jāmiʻah, 1984. K.A Hamied, A Life To Remem­ber: An Auto­bio­gra­phy. Bom­bay: Lal­va­ni Publi­shing House, 1972.
[7]K.A Hamied, A Life To Remem­ber,.pp. 36–37.
[8]Ger­dien Jon­ker, The Ahma­di­y­ya Quest for Reli­gious Pro­gress: Mis­sio­ni­zing Euro­pe 1900- 1965: Lei­den : EJ Brill, 2016.
[9]K.A Hamied , A Life To Remem­ber: An Auto­bio­gra­phy. Bom­bay: Lal­va­ni Publi­shing  House, 1972.
Ibid., 46–48.
[10]Ibid., 36.
[11]Ibid., 36.
[13]Ibid., 31.
[17]Ibid., 41
[18]Ibid., 42
[19]Ibid., 73–74
[20]Ger­dien Jon­ker, Ent­an­gled Archi­ves and Memo­ries: The Place of the Laho­re-Ahma­di­y­ya Mos­que in the Indi­an-Ger­man Ent­an­gle­ment in Inter­war Ber­lin. Com­pa­ra­ti­ve Stu­dies of South Asia, Afri­ca and the Midd­le East. Forth­co­ming.


Cvet­ko­vich, Ann, An Archi­ve of Fee­lings: Trau­ma, Sexua­li­ty, and Les­bi­an Public Cul­tures. Duke Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2003.

Hamied, K. A., A Life To Remem­ber: An Auto­bio­gra­phy. Bom­bay: Lal­va­ni Publi­shing House, 1972.

Husain, Sayy­id Abid, Sughra Mah­di. Ḥayāt‑i ʻĀbid : k̲h̲ud navisht‑i Ḍākṭar ʻĀbid Ḥusain. Na’ī Dih­lī: Makt­abah-yi Jāmiʻah, 1984.

Jon­ker, Ger­dien, The Ahma­di­y­ya Quest for Reli­gious Pro­gress: Mis­sio­ni­zing Euro­pe 1900- 1965. Lei­den: EJ Brill, 2016.

Man­ja­pra, Kris, Age of Ent­an­gle­ment: Ger­man and Indi­an Intellec­tu­als across Empire. Cam­bridge: Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2014.

Mujeeb, Muham­mad, D. Zakir Husain: A Bio­gra­phy. New Delhi: Natio­nal Book Trust, 1972.

Oes­ter­held, Joa­chim, „Aus Indi­en an die Alma mater ber­o­li­nen­sis – Stu­den­ten aus Indi­en in Ber­lin vor 1945“. Peri­plus 2004, Jahr­buch für Außer­eu­ro­päi­sche Geschich­te (14. Jahr­gang), Müns­ter 2004, S. 191–200.

Razak Khan, MIDA, CeMIS, Georg-August-Uni­ver­si­tät Göttingen

MIDA Archi­val Refle­xi­con

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

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