Operation Bajadere

dancing girl

This was a German sabotage mission in India by elements of the Legion Freies Indien under the auspices of the Abwehr intelligence service (late 1942).

The Legion Freies Indien (otherwise the 950th Indische Freiwilligen-Legion Regiment, Tiger Legion, Azad Hind Legion, 950th Indisches Regiment and, to the British, Free India Legion) was a military unit of ethnic Indians created at the instigation of the Abwehr in 1941 and attached to the German armed forces. The unit was raised by Subhas Chandra Bose, ostensibly as part of his Indian liberation force, and its first recruits were Indian student volunteers resident in Germany at the time, supplemented by Indian prisoners of war taken during the North African and in campaigns.

The unit was created as an assault force which would provide pathfinder services for a hypothetical German and Indian invasion through the Middle East toward the western frontier of British India, but only a small contingent was ever used in anything like this purpose.

The Abwehr had actively sought out Hindu and Moslem recruits for a planned offensive through the Caucasus into Iran, Afghanistan and India, but Germany’s defeat at Stalingrad early in 1943 meant that no major offensive toward India was then possible. Before this, however, the 100 men of the ‘Bajadere’ operation were parachuted into eastern Iran to infiltrate into India through Baluchistan and start a programme to engage in sabotage operations, seek to foment dissent with British rule, and endeavour to pave the way for a popular rising against British rule.

Oberleutnant Witzel, the Abwehr attaché at Kabul in Afghanistan, reported several months later that the operations had been successful, but there is little evidence that this was in fact the case.