When Nazis started killing Jews, Gandhi was asked to give his views on Hitler and treatment given to Jews in Germany and countries conquered by Germany.
Like true Indian he did not hesitate to give advice to Jews and Hitler. In addition to being a Mahatma or saint, he was also a shrewd politician, for example to win Dalits, he claimed that upper castes died in Bihar earthquake because they practiced untouchability-statement which shocked many leaders.
“This earthquake (Bihar earthquake of 1934) was God’s punishment for the sin of untouchability.”
This background needs to be kept in mind to understand Gandhi response to Jewish question. He was not interested in displeasing British and Germans, plus there was issue of Jewish-Arab conflict over Palestine.
Gandhi himself admitted that he had little understanding of European politics. So when asked to give advice, he told with them what he was familiar with – passive resistance or nonviolence. He had used it successfully against British, so same should work against Nazis.
“If I were a Jew and were born in Germany and earned my livelihood there, I would claim Germany as my home even as the tallest gentile German may, and challenge him to shoot me or cast me in the dungeon; I would refuse to be expelled or to submit to discriminating treatment.”
Anyway, Jews did not take his advice seriously. Many argue situation of Indians under British was same as Jews under Hitler.
It is myth that British was more civilized than Nazis- If Nazis killed millions of Jews, British killed 3 million in Bengal alone by creating artificial famine. Here Churchill was no different from Hitler.
Finally he appealed to his “dear friend” Adolf Hitler to stop what was to become World War 2.
“It is quite clear that you are today the one person in the world who can prevent a war which may reduce humanity to a savage state. Must you pay that price for an object however worthy it may appear to you to be? Will you listen to the appeal of one who has deliberately shunned the method of war not without considerable success?”
-Gandhi in this letter to Hitler
Here Hitler made big mistake by not listening to Gandhi. If Jews, Gypsies and Slavs suffered under Nazi rule, then Germans too suffered post war. After initial success Germans had to face combined forces of British, French and Russians. The Red army of Slavs, soon captured parts of Germany; rest was captured by British and French.
War killed hundreds of German soldiers, but this was only the beginning of suffering of Germans. As allied troops started capturing Germany, they looted houses of Germans and raped German women. Many Germans feared revenged by Russians, so they committed suicide. In some cases there were mass suicides ex. in town of Demmin more than 1000 citizen committed mass suicide to escape revenge by Red Army.
“We were young, strong, and four years without women. So we tried to catch German women and … Ten men raped one girl. There were not enough women; the entire population run from the Soviet Army. So we had to take young, twelve or thirteen year-old. If she cried, we put something into her mouth. We thought it was fun. Now I cannot understand how I did it. A boy from a good family… But that was me.”
-An army officer, as told to Svetlana Alexievich
Things did not stop here, the Central and East European countries deported thousands of ethnic Germans, who were forced to go to Germany as refugees, many died during the journey ex. Czechoslovakia deported 8,00,000 Germans. In Poland thousands of Germans ended in forced labour camp, where conditions were similar to German concentration camps.
“Interment resulted in numerous deaths, which cannot be accurately determined because of lack of statistics or falsification. Periodically, they could be 10% of inmates. Those interned are estimated at 200–250,000 German nationals and the indigenous population and deaths might range from 15,000 to 60,000 persons.”
-Polish historians Witold Sienkiewicz and Grzegorz Hryciuk