Christmas Day Plot - World War I

World War I

Main article: Hindu-German Conspiracy See also: Annie Larsen affair, Ghadar Conspiracy, and Berlin Committee

In response to Britain's entry to the war on the side of France, Germany had begun actively considering efforts to weaken the British war efforts by targeting her colonial empire. Germany nurtured links with India nationalists before the war, seeing India as a potential weakness for Britain. In the immediate period preceding the war, Indian nationalist groups had used Germany as a base and a potential support. As early as 1913, revolutionary literature referred to the approaching war between Germany and England and the possibility of obtaining German help for the Indian movement. In the early months of the war, German newspapers also devoted considerable coverage to Indian distress, social problems, and colonial exploitation by Britain. The Indian situation featured in the German war strategy. The German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg finally authorised German activity against India in the early weeks of the war, and decision taken to offer active support to the Indian Nationalists. Through the newly formed Intelligence Bureau for the east, headed by prominent archaeologist and historian Max von Oppenheim, Germany contemplated plans for nationalist unrest in India. Oppenheim helped the formation of the Berlin committee formed by C.R. Pillai. Among the members of this group was V.N. Chatterjee of London India House. Har Dayal himself had fled United States for Switzerland after he was arrested on charge of being an Anarchist. He left the Ghadar party in charge of Ram Chandra Bharadwaj, and from Switzerland he agreed to support the Berlin Committee. Through Indian emissaries and through staff of the German consulate at San Francisco, contacts were established with the Ghadar Party. Germany offered aid in finances, arms, and military advisors to plans considered between the German foreign office, Berlin Committee, and the Indian Ghadar Party in North America to clandestinely ship arms and men to India from United States and the Orient with which they hoped to trigger a nationalist mutiny in India in 1914-15, on the lines of the 1857 uprising .

At the time the war broke out, Jugantar, in a convened meeting, elected Jatin Mukherjee the supreme commander. The German consulate in Calcutta was at this time able to establish contacts with Jatin who, encouraged by Sir Ashutosh, had met D. Thibault, the Registrar of Calcutta University. The Consul General reported back to Berlin that the Bengal revolutionary cell was significant enough to be considered for active support in undermining the British war effort. Jugantar began a campaign of politically motivated armed robberies to obtain funds and arms in August. On 26 August, the Calcutta store of Rodda & co, one of the biggest arms stores in Calcutta, was looted. The raiders made off with ten cases of arms and ammunition, including 50 Mauser Pistols and 46,000 rounds of ammunition.

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