These few lines, that show the courtesy and tact of a sensible man trying to tackle a very poisonous snake, got me thinking.
I checked out a few historical timelines.
I was wondering what had happened in those days, to finally convince Gandhi to try and talk some sense into Hitler.
At the start of July, on the 6th, the last Jewish-owned shop in Germany had been closed.
On the same day, in a radio broadcast, Herbert Hoover urged the Americans to remain neutral.
As Gandhi was writing his letter, Russians and Japanese were fighting on the Manchurian border.
There is a distinct sense of incoming doom, in those days of summer of 1939, and yet the events in the historical timelines do not seem to carry any particular momentum.
It’s a summer like any other, on the surface.
It short of short-circuit the simplistic idea of a direct, clear, simple cause and effect for history.
Nothing happened in that summer, apparently, to cause Gandhi to put pen to paper.
It was not because of this, then that.
It was the distilled result of years of events.
History is complicated.
Did Hitler actually read that letter?
What was his reaction?
Or did some faceless secretary drop the letter in the trash bin, to preserve the Fuhrer’s peace of mind?
Was this one of those moments in which different timelines intersect, and alternate realities bloom?
But here in Karavansara, we think in terms of pulp history, and so one thing, in those timelines, struck my imagination.
You see, almost exactly one month before Gandhi’s letter…
Jun 28, Richard Meinertzhagen (1877-1967, a British army colonel, met with Adolf Hitler to plead on behalf of the Jews in Germany. He later claimed to have smuggled a pistol into the chancellery but lost his nerve and failed to shoot Hitler.
Weapons and murderous spirit having failed one month before, it was like peaceful thinking and rationality were trying to make a last stand against the incoming darkness. Hence, Gandhi’s letter.
And I start thinking in plots, scenes, chapters…
But that’s just me – I am a writer of fantasy.
Now, I want to learn more about Richard Meinertzhagen “British soldier, intelligence officer and ornithologist”… because there’s a story in there, and I want to know it.
I’ll keep you posted.