On the 65th anniversary of Gandhi's assassination, New Delhi showcased some rare letters between the father of the nation and his close friend Hermann Kallenbach, a German-born South African architect and a Jew, which raised a lot of questions in the international press. Referring to the way Mahatma Gandhi addressed Kallenbach in the letters with 'My dear lower house' and his signing off remark as 'Sinly yours, upper House' have piqued curiosity of many people.
Questions regarding Gandhi's sexuality and his bond with the man in question have also been raised. When questioned about the letters and if Gandhiji had any other relationship with Kallenbach, Raj Bala Jain, who is from the Private Archives department (national Archives of India) said, “Western people have these types of fascinations but in these letters we have not found any controversial language, any controversial relationship and these are simply the letters, which reflects their close association.”
The letters first came into limelight when Kallenbach's son Eli Sarid and niece Isa Sarid decided to give Sotheby’s for auction. The letters were authenticated by an expert panel that visited London in June last year. They said that these letters were extremely important and a deal of 7 crores was struck. The Indian government had been trying to get these letters for the last five years but it has only been six months that they have been legally obtained.
Mushirul Hasan, Director of National Archives of India, talking about the importance of the exhibition said in this NNIS video: “It is a fairly important exhibition as it displays the correspondence between Gandhiji and Kallenbach, who was a friend of Gandhi in South Africa and supported him through a very difficult phase of his early public life. Gandhi owed a great deal to many of his friends in South Africa, and Kallenbach was one of them. A very close friend and a close ally. They had a marvelous relationship.”