German envoy's visit to RSS HQ triggers row on Twitter

German Ambassador to India Walter J Lindner with RSS chief Mohan Bhagawat. (Image: Twitter/@AmbLindnerIndia)

The visit of the German ambassador to India Walter J Lindner to the headquarters of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has triggered a row, with Twitterati seeking his resignation for associating with an organisation that had partially drawn its inspiration from the Nazis.

A Twitter user also started an online petition demanding that Lindner to resign as Germany's ambassador to India. 

Lindner, who took over as Berlin's envoy to New Delhi in April, visited the RSS headquarters at Nagpur in Maharashtra on July 17. He had a meeting with RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat too. 

“Visit of Headquarters of RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) in Nagpur and long meeting with its Sarsanghchalak (Chief) Dr Mohan Bhagwat. Founded 1925, it is world’s largest voluntary organization – though not uncontroversially perceived throughout its history,” Lindner posted on Twitter. He also posted several pictures of his visit to the headquarters of the RSS – the ideological mentor of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.  

He also visited the ancestral home of the first Sarsangchalak of the RSS, K B Hedgewar. 

“The German ambassador to Bharat, Sri Walter J Lindner met Sarsanghchalak Dr. Mohan ji Bhagwat today at Nagpur. He also visited the ancestral home of Dr. Hedgewar ji, the founder of RSS & (and) paid his respects at Smriti Mandir,” tweeted the RSS.

His visit however triggered a debate on Twitter. 

“There is something especially disturbing about the German ambassador, of all people, helping to cover-up the RSS's extreme bigotry (which was partly inspired by the Nazis),” Audrey Truschke, an Assistant Professor of South Asian History at Rutgers University, tweeted. She also posted that the RSS ideologue M S Golwalkar had in 1939 written that the policy of Germany's Nazi government led by Adolf Hitler to purge the Jews was “a good lesson” for Hindustan “to learn and profit by".  

“I'm really blown away by the depth of immorality and ethical irresponsibility of @AmbLindnerIndia here. Giving a template of hate to the RSS in the first half of the 20th century is one of Germany's darkest legacies in India. Couldn't you at least stay away from the RSS now?” tweeted Truschke.

Pieter Friedrich, who introduces himself as a South Asian affairs analyst, started an online petition demanding Lindner's resignation. The petition demanded “immediate intervention” by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. 

Several other Twitter users, however, lauded the visit of the German ambassador to India to the headquarters of the RSS. “History is the story if the winner. @INCIndia created a narrative against the @RSSorg. A must visit to understand the discipline,” posted Ramakrishna Udupa. “The concept of nationalist ethos pursued by @RSSorg are immaculately distinct from that of mainland Europe which led to mind-boggling blood baths ascending to a global conflict. The Indic worldview is quite distinctive and differentiated from the European one,” tweeted Raghav.

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