The Hindu–German Conspiracy(Note on the name) was a series of attempts between 1914 and 1917 by Indian nationalist groups to create a Pan-Indian rebellion against the British Empire during World War I. This rebellion was formulated between the Indian revolutionary underground and exiled or self-exiled nationalists in the United States. It also involved the Ghadar Party, and in Germany the Indian independence committee in the decade preceding the Great War. The conspiracy began at the start of the war, with extensive support from the German Foreign Office, the German consulate in San Francisco, and some support from Ottoman Turkey and the Irish republican movement. The most prominent plan attempted to foment unrest and trigger a Pan-Indian mutiny in the British Indian Army from Punjab to Singapore. It was to be executed in February 1915, and overthrow British rule in the Indian subcontinent. The February mutiny was ultimately thwarted when British intelligence infiltrated the Ghadarite movement and arrested key figures. Mutinies in smaller units and garrisons within India were also crushed.
The Indo-German alliance and conspiracy were the target of a worldwide British intelligence effort, which successfully prevented further attempts. American intelligence agencies arrested key figures in the aftermath of the Annie Larsen affair in 1917. The conspiracy resulted in the Lahore conspiracy case trials in India as well as the Hindu–German Conspiracy Trial — at the time the longest and most expensive trial ever held in the United States.
This series of events was pivotal for the Indian independence movement, and became a major factor in reforming the Raj’s Indian policy. Similar efforts were made during World War II in Germany and in Japanese-controlled Southeast Asia. Subhas Chandra Bose formed the Indische Legion and the Indian National Army, and in Italy Mohammad Iqbal Shedai formed the Battaglione Azad Hindoustan.
Nationalism had become more and more prominent in India throughout the last decades of the 19th century as a result of the social, economic and political changes instituted in the country through the greater part of the century. The Indian National Congress, founded in 1885, developed as a major platform for loyalists’ demands for political liberalization and for increased autonomy. The nationalist movement grew with the founding of underground groups in the 1890s. It became particularly strong, radical and violent in Bengal and in Punjab, along with smaller but nonetheless notable movements in Maharashtra, Madras and other places of South India. In Bengal the revolutionaries more often than not recruited the educated youth of the urban middle-classBhadralok community that epitomized the “classic” Indian revolutionary, while in Punjab the rural and military society sustained organized violence.
Other related events include:
- the 1915 Singapore Mutiny,
- the Annie Larsen arms plot,
- the Jugantar–German plot,
- the German mission to Kabul,
- the mutiny of the Connaught Rangers in India
- by some accounts, the Black Tom explosion in 1916.