The European tours of M.A. Rahman Chughtai in 1936-1937 were phenomenal in many ways. We wrote a book on it that is entitled EAST MET WEST and it is available as a download on our blog. We researched from our documents and tried to give a true picture of the two European tours for the first time. A Swiss friend of mine resented the mention about Adolf Hitler in it. This is not a political statement from us, it is history, and history we do not hide or confuse with narratives of our own. What happened we know and as a historical truth, we recalled it in the best way possible. It was an extra ordinary event and there is every reason to give the correct version of same.
The Paris show of 1937 was an international event and all countries had their stall and show cases. Germany too had a very big presence there. The artist was visiting the Paris show, where he met a German lady, who was most interested in knowing more about him. She invited him to Berlin, and that was the artists next stop. The artist was stating at Hotel Tempo in Berlin and we have old visuals of same. Adolf Hitler had his residence in those days at the famous Hotel Adlon, and granted audience to visitors. A special five minute meeting was authorized for M.A. Rahman Chughtai with Adolf Hitler.
M.A. Rahman Chughtai records his first impressions of Adolf Hitler. He said that there was some mesmerizing effect in the eyes of Hitler, that one could not accost him with the radiance of his eyes. The eyes were like balls of fire. Luminous and full of strength. The German lady was there with them. The artist recalled that Hitler talked about their national poet Goethe with great fervour. Chughtai talked about Dr Allama Iqbal with equal fervour. The talk centered about India and Indian art, and Chughtai talked about the Muslim renaissance in the Indian region. Of course Dr Allama Iqbal represented all that, and Hitler understood the Muslim content of same. It is a fact that Muslims of Indian region always had a soft corner for the German leader.
Not much is known about the detailed contents of the talk but it talked of cultural matters. Hitler was fascinated with Goethe, and Chughtai was equally radiant about his close relationship with Dr Allama Iqbal. In fact in the 1932 meeting in London of Dr Iqbal with others, the talk centered on Muslim state in India, and Chughtai had witnessed all that in the hotel room. The resultant World war obliterated all records but on 14th August, 1947 Pakistan came into being as an Islamic State, heading towards Iqballian concept of a Progressive Islamic country made in the name of Allah. People tried to persuade Chughtai to permanently stay in England as he was included and accepted in the artist’s group there. A memorable sentence uttered then and is written in his memoirs too. My country is awaiting me and calling me back. It is to be understood we are not talking of India here, but Pakistan, and Pakistan had not come into being at that time. It was to be the first step towards introducing Islamic way of life to the world. And the dream of Dr Allama Iqbal and M.A. Rahman Chughtai is still throbbing with newer life.