Files speak of Bose deputy’s espionage acts

A. C. N. Nambiar in a 1954 file photo.   | Photo Credit: HINDU PHOTO ARCHIVES

In the cache of files released recently by the United Kingdom’s National Archives are 218 files relating to the activities of Arathil Candeth Narayan Nambiar, a rather shadowy figure who lived in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s, first as a journalist but later as a deputy of Subhash Chandra Bose.

Visit to Moscow

A.C.N. Nambiar came under the radar of the British intelligence services after he visited Moscow as a guest of the Soviet Union in 1929. He was linked to early Left figures — his wife Suhasini was the sister of the Indian revolutionary poet Harindranath Chattopadhyaya and Virendranath Chattopadhyay.

The documents speak of him as a communist, who “later became a tool in the hands of the Nazis”. Though he was expelled from Germany at the outbreak of the Second World War, he was allowed to return as a result of the alliance that Subhash Chandra Bose forged with the Nazi government.

Nambiar was given the responsibility for conducting the Azad Hindu radio broadcasts, and, according to one British dispatch, “drew a high salary” from the Nazis.

He later became Bose’s appointed head of the Free India Movement for Europe, when the latter moved to Southeast Asia and negotiated a controversial alliance with the Japanese.

Met Nehru?

Nambiar was arrested in Austria in June 1945 and interrogated in September 1945 as a Nazi collaborator. Under questioning, he claimed to have met Jawaharlal Nehru (who later became India’s first Prime Minister) in Berne, and only to have been “slightly acquainted” with Bose. The file has copies of the correspondence between him and Bose, as well as a detailed report on the military groups set up by Bose for training in Germany.

Mr. Nambiar’s companion for many years was Eva Geissler, who became Eva Walter after marriage. The British believed that she was a spy for the Germans.

The files however contain a letter from Walter to the British authorities after the war, asking about the whereabouts of Nambiar who she said worked for no other country but only for the love of his own.

The files erroneously state that Nambiar’s brother-in-law Harindranath Chattopadyaya was married to the American communist Agnes Smedley (it was in fact the latter’s brother Virendranatha Chattopadhyaya, or “Chatto” as he was known, who was the partner of Smedley).

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Printable version | Mar 8, 2021 2:28:29 PM |

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