India acquires Gandhi's letters to Kallenbach

India acquires Gandhi's letters to Kallenbach

India has acquired an archive of letters and documents that throws fresh life into the personal life of Mahatma Gandhi including his much-talked-about friendship with German architect and body-builder Hermann Kallenbach. 

The archive was to be auctioned by Sotheby’s, a multinational auctioneer of fine and decorative art, jewelery, and collectibles, on June 10.

However, the government acquired the preserved letters and documents from Sotheby’s agreeing to pay $ 1.28 million to the multinational corporation against the purchase.

“Gandhi-Kallanbach Archives have been withdrawn from the proposed Sotheby’s auction and sold to government of India,” Culture Minister Kumari Seilja said here on Tuesday.

Popularly known as Gandhi-Kallenbach archives, the collection of the letter and documents relating to the icon of the non-violence, was in possession of Isa Sarid, the grandniece of Kallenbach.

The Sarid family had quoted $ 5 million for the archives. “This offer was considered unacceptable by the Government of India. Finally, it was settled at GBP 8,25,250, which is equal to $ 1.28 million only,” Selja said, adding that the payment has been made to Sotheby’s under an agreement with the auctioneer and Sarid family.

The archive will be housed in the National Archives of India here in the national capital, the Minister said.

The archive contains a large number of unreported letters of Gandhi, including references to his early political campaigns and the illness of his wife Kasturba. There are several letters which throws a fresh light on the much-talked-about friendship between Gandhi and Kallenbach, who was considered very close to him during his stay in South Africa.

According to Sotheby’s, the Gandhi-Kallenbach archive is a key biographical source for Gandhi and “richly informative of the important and occasionally misunderstood friendship between the two men.”

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