Birth of a National Anthem

The Indian national anthem is born in exile!

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose came to Germany in April 1941 and founded the Free India Center.
A group of Germans, namely Dr. Adam von Trott zu Solz, Dr. Alexander Werth, Dr. Lothar Frank and a few others, who were known to him and supported the Indian cause, came to his aid. Soon after, “The Indian Legion” – an army in exile – was formed under his leadership. The Legion consisted of more than 4000 POWs – Indian officers and soldiers of the British Indian Army that Rommel’s army had captured in North Africa.

The Free India Centre, which was the predecessor of the Azad Hind Government (Provisional Government of Free India), founded by Netaji in Singapore on October 21, 1943, was formally recognized by Germany, Italy and later Japan and maintained diplomatic relations with these countries. The Free India Centre also had a flag similar to the tricolor Indian flag of today, but with a leaping tiger in the middle.

Netaji also introduced “Jai Hind” as the Indian form of address. All that was missing was a “national anthem”. Netaji called a meeting, discussed several options and finally decided that “Jana Gana Mana” should be the national anthem of free India. Since no sheet music was available, Dr. Ambik Majumdar, who was well versed in musical notation, adapted the melody and played it on the piano while another Indian, Dr. Mukherjee, sang it for Netaji’s approval. The final version was then given to Dr. Eigel Kruettge, the conductor of the Hamburg Radio Symphony Orchestra, who made some minor changes to the notes for the orchestra. This is the version that is still valid today.

On September 11, 1942, the Indo-German Society was founded at the City Hall in Hamburg; the celebrations took place at the Hotel Atlantic in Hamburg in the presence of Netaji, the Lord Mayor of Hamburg, representatives of the German government, diplomats and prominent personalities. On this occasion, the Hamburg Radio Symphony Orchestra played the national anthems of Germany and the Free India Center. This was the birth of Jana Gana Mana as the national anthem of free India.

The original National Anthem of India, played at the Atlantic Hotel, in Hamburg, Germany.

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