Rare kindness in times of war how Germans relate to Indians

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  • By: Meshach Masibo

    “Love and Compassion are necessities not luxuries, without them humanity cannot survive” – Dalai Lama XIV

    The 19th century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche famously predicted that the 20TH century would be the bloodiest century in history, by this he meant that it would be the century that exhibited the true extent of the cruelty humans can exercise against one another. The reality of this ‘prophecy’ by the atheist poet was brought to light when the infamous dictator Adolf Hitler began to rule in Germany. Historians have calculated that in between Adolf Hitler of Germany, Mao Ze Tung of China and Joseph Stalin of Russia 100 million people were killed and millions of families displaced. Some families were permanently separated as a result of this scourge of evil perpetrated by their fellow human beings.

    However, in the midst of this gloom a light ray of hope was beamed by the compassion showed by one Indian ruler called Jam Saheb to a group of women and children escaping the forces of Adolf Hitler. It is also a common thread that in the midst of the saddest horror stories is also concurrently birthed some of the most beautiful stories of valor and compassion ever recorded in history. It is almost as if when the worst of humanity is exhibited, divine grace allows it such that the most altruistic acts of human beings are also displayed.

    When Hitler invaded Poland in the wake of World War 2, 500 polish women and 200 young children were put on a ship in order to save them from the marauding Germans.  The group of women and children were left at the mercies of different nations as they sought to find a safe haven for themselves. The last message they received from their fellow countrymen as they departed to the unknown was ‘ if we are alive or survive, we will meet again.” The group was rejected at many European ports and moved further south to Seychelles where port officials also refused to let them in. It seemed like the end of the terrain when the group of refugees could not even gain entry into Iranian territory as refugees.

    In a last straw effort, the ship landed at the port of Bombay where British port officials also refused to let it in. However, when the influential Maharaja of Jamnagar, Jam Saheb Singh,  got to know about the ship of refugees that was being denied entry into India, he was greatly disturbed. He allowed the ship entry into his kingdom at the port of Jamnagar. He accepted to house the 500 women and gave an education to the 200 young children that accompanied them. The refugees stayed in Jamnagar for a period of 9 years till after the end of the Second World War.

    The refugees maintained a cordial relationship with the ruler who had a soft spot for them and even occasionally visited them. They even grew a habit of fondly referring to the governor as ‘Bapu’. After a while these refugees returned to their home country safe and sound. Today, the descendants of those refugees come to Jamnagar every year and remember their parents and grandparents. In Poland, the name of many roads in the capital of Warsaw is named after Maharaja Jam Saheb, the ruler who decided to show kindness to a group of fleeing refugees. The tolerance and love of the Indian people has through this incidence been well displayed throughout the world for humanity to see and imitate.


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