Calcutta in World War II

  • 30Participants


The Second World War came to Calcutta slowly but surely in the winter of 1942. Japanese bombers were flying regular scouting missions to destroy Calcutta’s industrial sector in an effort to harm the Allied war effort in the China-Burma-India Theatre. Air-raid sirens were becoming an everyday reality, and finally bombs started to be hurled on the city. War also brought worker strikes, food shortages, heightened surveillance, oppression, and terrible famine. The “Inbound areas” in wartime Calcutta were designated as “Safe Zones” for the Commonwealth and US forces that started pouring into the city to deliver Singapore and Manchuria from Japanese occupation. However, being the heart of colonial administration and the war effort, inbound areas also became a symbol of colonialism and the ongoing wartime oppression also led to the space being used to show dissent. Gandhi’s Quit India movement and the “fantastic” news of the success of Netaji’s Indian National Army in Singapore and Burma brought hope of deliverance from the colonial rule to the local population. But expressing these in public would have had fatal consequences. The virtual experience will explore this contested “inbound” space through eyewitness accounts and forgotten tales from a city divided.

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Tathagata Neogi




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