Letter to Adolf Hitler by Mahatma Gandhi
In Letter to Adolf Hitler by Mahatma Gandhi we have the theme of imperialism, aspirations, violence and independence. Taken from his Selected Letters collection the reader realises after reading the letter that Gandhi may be exploring the theme of imperialism. As he writes to Hitler, Gandhi reminds Hitler that the British have ruled over one-fifth of the world’s population. It is as though Gandhi is attempting to highlight to Hitler that just as the British will inevitably fail should they progress under the guise of Imperialism. So too will Hitler. For his aspirations for world domination are no different to Britain’s aspirations. Neither country nor man (Churchill and Hitler) will succeed when it comes to the taking of power from the Indian people themselves. Through Gandhi the Indian people have chosen a non-violent approach when it comes to seeking independence. Something that many critics at the time might have thought of as being laughable. However the determination of Gandhi and the Indian people in general was underestimated by those same critics.
Though some readers might find at the beginning of Gandhi’s letter to Hitler that Gandhi is being supportive of Germany and Hitler’s actions. The truth is that Gandhi is merely comparing two imperial powers and drawing on similarities which may or may not be pleasing to Hitler. No world leader would wish to be informed that they are only in power till somebody more destructive arrives. This is the truth. Russia under Stalin would have numerous purges which resulted in the loss of millions of lives. In reality Stalin killed more people than Hitler ever did. Not that this should lessen the damage that Hitler caused during WWII. If anything Gandhi is accurate in everything that he says about Hitler. He praises him when he needs to but also warns him when necessary. Though again some critics might frown upon Gandhi praising Hitler considering the devastation and havoc he caused. However it might help that Gandhi most likely needed to get the maximum impact from his letter. So he would have been foolish to have written an open diatribe to Hitler.
It is also possible that part of the objective of the letter to Hitler was to warn Hitler not to think about attacking India. Again through peaceful means Gandhi had organised people so that any attempt at stopping India from being an independent nation would be undone. For Gandhi it was British rule that he fought non-violently against. It could easily have been German rule too should circumstances have turned out differently. Something that Gandhi was fully aware of and as such wrote such a balanced letter to Hitler. Arguing for Britain and Germany to go to tribunal rather than continue fighting. Unfortunately for Gandhi (and the world) Hitler would not be described as being a reasonable man. He was driven to such a point that all his actions became defective. He may have been a leader of a country however he was also a tyrant and bent on revenge against Jewish people for some perceived slight against Hitler himself. It is also interesting that Hitler made no response to Gandhi. He may very well and incorrectly viewed him as a weak-minded man. Who did not know how the world operated. Time would dismiss this misconception and Gandhi would get freedom for India and Germany would be defeated by a power greater than itself (Allied Forces). A once proud nation would be brought to its knees.
The end of the letter is also interesting as Gandhi changes the narrative and addresses Mussolini. Who he hopes will learn something that Hitler himself may refuse to learn. It is also doubtful that Mussolini ever got to read the letter as Hitler simply would not have taken the letter seriously. It would be alien to him to go to a tribunal or to fight an enemy using no violence. Both Hitler and Gandhi were two very different men. One believed in the use of force to achieve their goals. The other preferred to do so by peaceful means. History will record both men as being at very different ends of the spectrum. Something that Gandhi himself must have thought when he composed the letter. He knew that he was dealing with a tyrant and the only way to deal with a tyrant is to be bigger than them. Gandhi was this and so much more. He had the ability to walk with the poor and at the same time beat those who might chose a different path to him and who thought of themselves to be of a more elevated position to Gandhi.