The Shmooze

Book Claims Gandhi Was in Love With a Jewish Bodybuilder

By Nathan Burstein

  • Print
  • Share Share
Wikimedia
Gandhi (Left), Sonia Schlesin, his secretary (Center), and Dr. Hermann Kallenbach. Kallenbach sewed this photo in the collar of his jacket before joining Gandhi in England during the First World War.

There are many things The Shmooze has yet to learn about Gandhi, but it’s hard to imagine anything more surprising than this: “the love of his life” was a German-Jewish bodybuilder named Hermann.

So says a new biography, “Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India,” which reports that the anti-colonial leader left his wife for the man, one Hermann Kallenbach, in 1914, keeping a portrait of him opposite his bed. A review in the Wall Street Journal quotes from a letter in which Gandhi wrote that he considered Vaseline to be, umm, “a constant reminder” of his beloved.

Largely focused on Gandhi’s political travails, the book also includes other details from his private life, including his habit, in his 70s, of sleeping nude with young naked women, including his great-niece.

It also notes Gandhi’s belief that “a single Jew standing up and refusing to bow to Hitler’s decrees” might “melt Hitler’s heart,” and his suggestion that Jews in pre-state Israel “rely on the goodwill of the Arabs” “till Arab opinion” was ready for a Jewish state.

The review doesn’t mention the ultimate fate of Kallenbach, with whom Gandhi stayed in touch at least until the year Hitler came to power.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Hermann Kallenbach, Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India, Gandhi

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.