German Envoy’s Visit to RSS HQ Condemned for Insensitivity Towards Victims of Nazism

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German envoy to India Walter Lindner.

Online petition calls for German envoy to India to be sent home after visiting RSS Headquarters

Caravan News

NEW DELHI — While German envoy Walter Lindner may not be first foreign envoy to visit RSS headquarters in Nagpur, but he tweeted a photograph with a beaming Bhagwat standing with him with a portrait of RSS Guru Golwalkar looking down at them has caused considerable outrage.

People are questioning the indiscreet conduct of the German Ambassador. German diplomat nonchalantly posing at the RSS headquarters raised eyebrows because of Germany’s conscious and sustained effort to live down its Nazi past.

An expert in Indian affairs, Pieter Friedrich wondered as what Ambassador Lindner was doing at the RSS headquarters. It was like the German Ambassador to the United States calling on the infamous Ku Klux Klan, he tweeted.

“The RSS is the KKK of India. #WalterLindner (@AmbLindnerIndia), Germany’s ambassador to India, meeting the RSS is very much like if @GermanAmbUSA met w/KKK. The main difference? Germany endured Nazi phase & RSS founders were directly inspired by European fascists like Nazis.”

A large number of Indians on Twitter also reacted to the tweet by supporting or denouncing him.

Author and commentator Salil Tripathi tweeted: “May we know what’s a German diplomat doing visiting an organisation whose founders admired Hitler, and which imitates the party once known as National Socialist German Workers’ Party, which I believe is considered bad form in Germany.”

Writer and commentator Sujata Anandan tweeted: “ I have German friends who refuse to be held responsible for what Hitler did before they were even born. They will not pay for his sins. They are good people and do not harbour any fascist thoughts. This action by Ambassador Lindner now jeopardises their entire standing.”

“I am not supporter of RSS but let me remind you that Pranab Mukherjee, Ratan Tata, George Fernandes and many renowned personalities have visited RSS headquarters. Were they foolish to visit ?” asked a Twitter user while defending German envoy.

An unfazed Friedrich started an online petition seeking the recall of the Ambassador. He had secured over 750 signatures by Friday evening and was targeting to reach 1000.

“Germany must in no way demonstrate any tolerance for fascism, especially for fascist movements like the RSS which have a demonstrated record of admiring and seeking to model themselves after Nazi Germany and other affiliated fascist movements,” it stated.

The petition also sought the intervention of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in the matter.

“We, the undersigned, demand that Ambassador Walter Lindner resign or, failing that, be recalled. We demand immediate intervention by Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to achieve this goal,” it said.

Explaining why he believed the visit was inappropriate, Friedrich in a series of tweets pointed out how similar Golwalkar’s views were to the Nazis.

“Golwalkar believed that being Indian meant being Hindu. So, he wrote, “Only the Hindu has been living here as the child of this soil.” Just in case his reader misunderstood his intentions, he also phrased it another way… “We repeat: in Hindustan, the land of the Hindus, lives & should live the Hindu Nation.” Golwalkar thought the only true Indian “patriots” were people who aspired to “glorify the Hindu race and Nation,” claiming, “All others are… traitors & enemies to the National cause.”

Golwalkar proclaimed the Nazi policy towards the Jews as “a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.”

Stepping to the beat of a marching band, columns of 100s or even 1000s of RSS members regularly parade through the streets of India’s cities, towns, & villages. Neatly uniformed & armed with lathis, they often perform intricate maneuvers. Gathering for special rallies at massive parade grounds, 10s of 1000s at a time turn out to drill with militaristic rigor. They salute a saffron flag, do yoga… chant slogans, and perform weapons exercises beneath the glare of the blazing hot Indian sun. RSS leaders watching from the high stages invariably stand in front of large — often garlanded — pictures of Golwalkar and Hedgewar.

Have you signed the petition demanding that Ambassador Walter Lindner (@AmbLindnerIndia) resign or be recalled for meeting with RSS & being pictured with Nazi supporter MS Golwalkar?”

(With inputs from National Herald)

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