Chempakaraman Pillai-(September 15, 1891–May 26, 1934)-Kerala born Indian revolutionary-FIRST INDIAN FOREIGN MINISTER 1915,[provisional government in Afganistan]

Champakraman Pillai.jpg

Alternate name(s):ChampakaRAMAN PILLAI

Place of birth:Thiruvananthapuram,India.

Place of death:Nazi Germany

Movement:Indian Independence movementIndo-German Conspiracy

Major organizations:Berlin Committee,Provisional Government of India


Chempakaraman Pillai was born of Tamil descent inThiruvananthapuram(Trivandrum), capital of the erstwhile "native" State of Travancore in southernmost India. His father, Chinnaswami Pillai, who was a police head constable in Travancore State Government Service, and mother, Nagammal,lived in Thiruvananthapuram. Chempakaraman had his primary and high school education in the Model School, Thycaud, Thiruvananthapuram city. As a school boy he happened to meet Sir Walter Strickland, a British biologist, who visited Thiruvananthapuram in search of botanical specimens; Chempakaraman and another boy, a cousin of Chempakaraman by the name of Padmanabha Pillai, became close friends of Strickland, who on his return voyage, took the two boys with him. But Padmanabha Pillai ran away at Colombo and came back to Thiruvananthapuram. Chempakaraman, then fifteen years old, continued the journey with Strickland and landed in Europe. Strickland got him admitted to a school in Austria from where he completed his high school education.


Pillai later joined a Technical Institute and took a Diploma in Engineering. On the outbreak of the First World War, Pillai formed theInternational Pro-India Committee with Zurich as its headquarters in September 1914 and himself as its President. Around this time the Indian Independence Committee was formed in Berlin by a group of Indian expatriates in Germany with Virendranath Chattopadhyaya, eldest brother of Sarojini Naidu, Indian National Congress leader under Mahatma Gandhi and a well-known poet in English,as its President and including Bhupendranath Dutta (brother of Swami Vivekananda, [(Punnackal A. Raman Pillai)]. a student in the University Göttingen, Taraknath Das, Barkatullah, Chandrakant Chakravarty, M. Prabhakar, Birendra Sarkar, and Herambalal Gupta. Chempakaraman Pillai moved to Berlin in October 1914 and joined the Committee. The International Pro-India Committee formed by Chempakaraman Pillai in Zurich was merged in the Berlin Committee, which continued as the guiding and controlling institution for all the Pro-Indian revolutionary activities in Europe.Lala Har Dayal was also persuaded to join the movement. Soon the Committee's branches sprang up in Amsterdam, Stockholm, Washington, and in many other parts of Europeand America.
War activities
The Indian Independence Committee ultimately became involved in the so called Hindu-German Conspiracy along with the Ghadar Party in the United States of America. The German Foreign Office under Kaiser paid for the anti-British activities of the Committee. Chempakaraman Pillai and A. Raman Pillai, both belonging to Travancore, and both students in German Universities used to carry on correspondence with each other on the Committee's activities. Quite a few of Chempakaraman's letters to A. Raman Pillai. then a student in the University of Goettingen, are in the safe custody of Raman Pillai's son, Rosscote Krishna Pillai, an author, science writer, media person and social activist in Thiruvananthapuram. The letters reveal some aspects of Chempakaraman's life in Germany during 1914-1920. In July 1914, Chempakaraman Pillai from Berlin called upon Indian soldiers in the British Indian Army to rise in revolt and fight against the British. After the end of World war and Germany's defeat, Chempakaraman stayed back in Germany; he was working as a technician in a factory in Berlin; when Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose visited Vienna, Chempakaraman met him and explained his plan of action to him.
When the First World War began in 1914, Chempakaraman Pillai, [ formed the Indian Independence Committee in Germany along with some revolutionaries from India];. He joined Emden as an officer.and master..minded the attack on Madras mainly aimed at the British navy. It is said that he even went ashore and interacted with the locals before returning to the ship

The most famous ship during and since the first world war. This German raider terrorized the Indian and Pacific Oceans for 3 months during WW1.
Under the command of Kapitan Karl von Muller the Emden destroyed 16 British ships totalling 70,825 G.R.T. She seized a Russian auxilary cruiser, a Greek and a British ship were used as colliers. Four British ships were released after capture.
She brazenly sailed into Madras harbour and shelled the oil tanks of the Anglo Persian Oil Co, followed by a daring dash into Penang harbour to sink the Russian cruiser Zhemchug. The adventures of the Emden were avidly followed in the Kaiser's Germany and also in the British Empire

On November 9, Muller anchored the Emden off Keeling Island, west of Australia. 50 men were sent ashore to blow up a British radio and cable station. This was a grave mistake. The radio operator had spotted Emden and a message was sent out "Emden here". The landing party destroyed the station but it was to late. As the men of the landing party made there way back to the ship they were met with a horrifying site: the Emden had set sail without them and an enemy warship was in full chase.
Alerted by the radio message, the Australian heavy cruiser Sydney had at once been sent to Keeling Island. The Sydney had the advantage of superior firepower. With its 6-inch guns, Sydney was able to attack from outside the Emden's range. The order was given and the heavier guns of the Sydney rained shells like hail stones down on the Emden. After 90 minutes the superior firepower of the Sydney showed; the exploits of the Emden were over.
Of the 325 men onboard, 141 were dead; the rest including Muller became prisoners for the duration of the war. The only men to escape were the landing party on shore. Seeing Emdens fate they commandeered an old sailing schooner and quietly slipped away. Eight months and 4,300 miles later, they arrived in Arabia. From there they traveled by foot, stole rides on trains and finely reached their allies in Constantinople in June of 1915. Greeted by a German admiral their leader gave a salute and announced, "I report the landing squad of the Emden, 5 officers, 7 petty officers and 30 men strong". 

Emden beached and done for, 9 November 1914,The German light cruiser SMS Emden, aground and on fire after battle with the RAN light cruiser HMASSydney off Cocos-Keeling Islands, HMAS Sydney is visible in the far distance.


Pillai had the privilege of being the Foreign Minister of the Provisional Government of India set up in Afghanistan in December 1915, . The government had Raja Mahendra Pratap as President, Barkatullah as Prime Minister and Ubaid al Sindhi as the Minister for India, Maulavi Bashir as War Minister and Champakaran Pillai as Foreign Minister. It attempted to obtain support fromTsarist Russia, Republican China, Japan. Support was also obtained from Galib Pasha, proclaiming WAR against Britain.
File:Mahendra Pratap and the German Mission.gif
Mahedra Pratap, centre, at the head of the Mission in Kabul, 1915 with the German and Turkish delegates. Seated to his right is Werner Otto von Hentig.

with Raja Mahendra Pratap of Kabul as President of INDIA 
Maulana Barkatulla as Prime Minister.of INDIA However, the defeat of the Germans in the war shattered the hopes of the revolutionaries.
The Germans were all along helping the Indian revolutionaries with a selfish motive. Though the Indian patriots made it clear to the Germans that they were equal partners in their fight against the common enemy – British imperialism – and what was expected of them was help by way of funds, arms, and ammunition, to the revolutionaries who were abroad and at home fighting the British, the Germans wanted to exploit the revolutionaries for their propaganda work and gathering military intelligence. When they started losing the battle, the Germans lost their interest in the revolutionaries and even started looking upon many with suspicion. This strained the relationship between the Indian revolutionaries and the Germans.
It has been suggested by a number of historians that the threat posed by the Indo-German Conspiracy itself was the key spurring political progression in India. Especially, the presence of Pratap's enterprise in Afghanistan, next to India, and the perceived threats of Bolshevik Russia together with the overtures of Pratap's provisional government seeking Bolshevik help were judged significant threats to stability in British India
While the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms in 1917 initiated the first rounds of political reform in the Indian subcontinent, a "Sedition Committee" called the Rowlatt committee (chaired by Sydney Rowlatt, an English judge) was instituted in 1918 which evaluated the links between Germany, the Berlin Committee, Pratap's enterprise (termed German agents in Afghanistan) and the militant movement in India, especially in Punjab and Bengal. The committee did not find any evidence of Bolshevik involvement, but concluded that the German link was definite. On the recommendations of the committee, the Rowlatt act, an extension of the Defence of India act of 1915, was enforced in response to the threat in Punjab and Bengal.
In Afghanistan itself, the mission was the catalyst to a rapid radical and progressive political process and reform movement that is culminated in the assassinations of the Emir Habibullah Khan in 1919 and his succession by Amanullah Khan that subsequently precipitated the Third Afghan War.
During the First World War, he is said to have printed &; dropped pamphlets from airplanes among the Indian soldiers in France, exhorting them to turn against the English

Responding to “Fourteen Points” of the then President of the United States Woodrow Wilson, Click to show "Woodrow Wilson" result 5Chempakaraman came up with an Eight Point proposal for Indian independence. His proposal demanded the French and the Portuguese also to leave the country.

In 1919, he and American author Edwin Emerson established the League of the Oppressed People to fight for the right of every person to shape his own domestic institutions and determine their relations with others.

Chempakaraman launched Pro-India, a monthly published in German and English from Zurich, Switzerland, through which he highlighted the glorious past of India.

Another institution founded by him at Berlin was the “Orient Club.” Having met Kaiser Wilhelm and claming close friendship with two important Generals, Hindenbergand Ludendorf, he was considered something of a dandy with perfect drawing room manners. Pillai was then active in the German Fatherland Party. In later years in Berlin, where he died, he remained one of the very few Indians in Germany.
After the world war when Hitler came to power, Dr Champakaraman Pillai developed a working relationship with Hitler with a hope of getting military assistance to end the British rule in India. Though he had a friendly relation with Hitler, he could not tolerate a derogatory remark made by the latter against India

By 1930’s he had become upset with Hitlers attitude about Indians, comments about color and other principles, especially those expressed in speeches and his book. Hitler had stated that Indians deserved to be ruled by the British and stated that they were not Aryans due to the color
. Finally he chose to protest, in 1931, writing a complaint to him with a deadline for an answer. While many say the letter was addressed to the fuehrer, it was actually sent to the secretary. The reply of apology apparently came one day later than Pillai required. Pillai first wanted to send the letter dated 10/12/1931 to Hitler direct, after listening to his press conference words at otel Hotel Kaiserhof in Dec 1931, but then changed his mind and sent it to the Reich Chancellor
 Pillai raised his voice against the view of Adolf Hitler that Indians were still incapable of ruling themselves, and he even forced Hitler to apologise in writing. But he fell a victim to the wrath of the Nazis. In 1931 Pillai had married Lakshmibai of Manipur, whom he had met in Berlin. It is reported that the Nazis under orders from Hitler killed Chempakaraman by food poisoning on May 26, 1934


Pillai's last wish was that his ashes be carried to his homeland, and his wife fulfilled this thirty-three years after his death. She underwent indescribable sufferings and hardships during this period, and the Nazis made her life miserable. However, to fulfill her mission of preserving his ashes, his diary, and secret documents, she faced all hardships and lived in Berlin, Italy, and Spain and later reached Mumbai. The Indian Navy's warship, I.N.S. Delhi, flying the flag of Free India, brought Pillai's ashes to Cochin on September 16, 1966.

Jai Hind[indian patriotic salute made by Dr champakaraman pillai]

Jai Hind (Devanagari: जय िंहद) is a salutation most commonly used in India in speeches and communications pertaining to or referring to patriotism towards India (also known as Hind). It means roughly "Victory to India" or "Long live India". The Indian freedom fighter Dr. Champakaraman Pillai introduced the salutation. It has since captured the imagination of Indians and has been immortalised by Subhash Chandra Bose as the battle cry of theIndian National Army.
Famous Freedom Fighter Sri Ramchandra Moreshwar Karkare of Gwalior Madhya Bharat, from inspiration ofNetaji S. C. Bose, had written and published a Drama-(Natak)in Hindi, a very popular book, "Jai Hind".
Jawaharlal Nehru also used Jai Hind to conclude his speech "The Light Has Gone Out", after the assassination ofMahatma Gandhi.

His secret name
Many of the Indians were on the English secret service watch lists, they were all entrusted with special tasks and Pillai worked under the assumed German East African name Abdullah Bin Manzur.

Swadeshi movement
In 1924, Dr Champakaraman Pillai organized the first exhibition of Indian Swadeshi goods at the international fair held at Leipzig.

Free government of India 1915
He had the privilege of being the Prime Minister of the Provisional Government of India set up in Afghanistan in December 1915, with Raja Mahendra Pratap of Kabul as President. However, the defeat of the Germans in the war shattered the hopes of the revolutionaries. On the other hand, some documents list him actually as Foreign minister

Pillai and the INAPillai was the forerunner of Rash Behari Bose and Subhas Chandra Bose in organizing an Indian Army abroad to strike against the enemies at home. In 1933, Dr Champakaraman Pillai met Subhash Chandra Bose, and they jointly conceived the idea of Azad Hind

Marriage to Lakshmi
In 1933, Pillai met Lakshmi Bai, from Manipuri living in Berlin and they decided to get married. After a short married life, Pillai fell ill due to apparent poisoning and went to Italy for treatment. They came back to Germany but he died on May 28th, 1934. The body was cremated by Lakshmi Bai. Immediately before his death, he asked his wife to sprinkle his ashes in “Nanjilnadu” (Kanyakumari district) and the Karamana River in Thiruvananthapuram. His wish was fulfilled in September 1966. Let us now see what she has to say about her husband.

' My husband's ashes have been kept in the drawing room of my flat in Bombay, awaiting the honor commensurate with the bold, noble and self-sacrificing life led by Dr. Pillai for the sake of his motherland. When he was alive he had taken a vow that he would return to the land of his birth in a powerful warship flying the flag of the Indian Republic. But cruel fate willed otherwise and he died an untimely death on foreign soil of suspected slow poisoning. He died a crushed and wounded man in the service of his country though he was the only man in Germany who had the moral courage to challenge Adolf Hitler when the latter made disparaging remarks about India. It was because of this that both he and I suffered numerous troubles and difficulties in Germany including the loss of our flat and belongings.

'Now that India is free, independent and a republic, it is time that it carried out the cherished desire of Dr. Pillai as a mark of respect to the memory of a man who gave all his time, energy and thought for the liberation of his country. I feel it would be a most significant and noble gesture on the part of the Government if his ashes are taken from Bombay in a warship of the Indian Navy to Cochin, the biggest port in Kerala and the land of his birth and where he once landed during World War I from the German Naval Ship Emden.........

'For the past thirty years, I have preserved the ashes as the symbol of the partriot who gave his all and who gained nothing. I have lived a lone life.....I only want the dream of Dr. Pillai to be honored with me accompanying the ashes.'
'When the country becomes independent, it is not possible to forget those who achieved it. Dr. Pillai was the greatest of revolutionaries, who really carried the torch of freedom to other countries.'
After independence, she wanted to keep the memory of Dr. Pillai alive and to spread his views. She was also supported by a nephew of Dr Pillai to petition the Government of Tamil Nadu, in order to rename Fort St. George to Fort Chembakaraman but that did not seem to have gone well with the government. They erected a statue there as you can see in the picture.

Sethu Seshan, the grand-nephew of Dr. Chembakaraman Pillai adds a final note to the Chembakaraman Pillai saga by retailing the story of the doctor's `last journey.' She Lakshmi Bai, traveled with her husbands ashes from Bombay to Trivandrum aboard INS Delhi some years after Independence and immersed them in the River Karamana during a Government-sponsored function. The Dr in Emden was finally laid to rest — in Kerala.

Curiously LakshmiBai confirms the visit of Pillai to Cochin on the Emden. That Emden called on Cochin is clear and is well documented in the book Ruby Daniel of Cochin (a very interesting story of German sailors landing up for supper in a Jewish house in Cochin and the men folk of Cochin forcing the Germans to eat with their hands). Lakshmi Bai died in Bombay in 1972..

Rohini another relative of Pillai says - Chempaka Raman alias Venkat had a sister named " Papathi ammal" who married a sculptor named Chetrapatha Pillai. His "Koravan Korathi statue is still available in the Trivandrum Museum. Papathi ammal had four daughters and one daughter Sarojini is still alive in Trivandrum. I'm a great great grand niece of Chempakka raman.Famous ornithologist the late Salim Ali recalled “Pillai was an excellent cook and gave us delicious Indian meals prepared from ersatz masalas.”

Chennai memorial - In July 2008, a memorial in his honor was unveiled in Chennai

The statue of Chempakaraman, which was unveiled on the Gandhi Mandapam

CHENNAI: Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi on Thursday unveiled the statue of Chempakaraman (1891-1934), freedom fighter and revolutionary patriot, on the campus of Gandhi Mandapam.
He recalled the greatness of the patriot and said that Chempakaraman had established contacts with Russian and German leaders.