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Who is Emilie Schenkl?

Emilie Schenkl

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is among the few leaders of India whose life is quite intriguing to many (even today). Although there are many great stories to hear about him, one cannot help but wonder about his love story with an Austrian woman. Emilie Schenkl. So, who was this woman? How did he meet Emilie? Relax. We have your answers. Come, let’s find out together:

Read on further to know more about Subhas Chandra Bose’s wife, Emilie Schenkl.

Who was Emilie Schenkl?

Emilie Schenkl was an Austrian Catholic born in December 1910 in Vienna. At the age of 20, she became a nun and went to finish her schooling. However, she was unemployed for quite some time during the Great Depression in Europe. During her struggling period, Emily met Bose through a friend, Dr Mathur, an Indian physician in Vienna. After their brief meeting, Netaji hired her as private secretary. And hey, guess what? She even helped him with his book, ‘The Indian Struggle’.

While working together, they fell in love and got married as per Hindu rituals in 1937. Later that year, Bose came back to India without Emilie. But, after his return to Germany during the Nazi time, he started living with her. In the year 1942, the couple had a daughter, Anita Bose Pfaff.

They lived a marital bliss for nine years. Out of which, Emilie-Bose spent only three years together. However, Emilie Schenkl passed away in March 1996.

During their time apart, Bose kept his love alive for Emilie through secret letters. Below are a few letters exchanged between the couple:

Letters To Emily Schenkl

All of Bose’s letters had to pass through police censors and bear the stamp of approval of the superintendent of police in Darjeeling. Subhas and Emilie used formal modes of address — “Fraulein Schenkl” and “Mr. Bose” — when writing to each other.

The couple exchanged letters between April and December 1936 and conversed about a wide variety of topics like Austrian politics, books, music, the charms of Budapest and Prague, jokes in Viennese cafes, spirituality, and concern about each other’s health. Their long letters felt like a breath of fresh air in Netaji’s strenuous life.

In one of his letters to Emilie Schenkl, Bose asked her to find the German original of an English translation he sent her of Goethe’s poem inspired by Kalidasa’s drama Shakuntala:

Wouldst thou the young year’s blossoms and the fruits of its decline,

And all whereby the soul is an enraptured feasted fed:

Wouldst thou the heaven and earth in one sole name combine,

I name thee, oh Shakuntala! And all at once is said.

Subhas Chandra Bose and Emilie Schenkl secretly tied the knot on December 26, 1937. The reason behind their secrecy was Bose’s love for his own country and Emilie’s fear of disruption after a public announcement.

To get more insights into their love story, you can watch “Bose: Dead/Alive” on ALTBalaji. This Hindi web series is a tribute to the fascinating life of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose played by Rajkummar Rao. Purchase the affordable ALTBalaji subscription that starts from Rs. 100* (3 months) & Rs.180* (6 months). The ALTBalaji annual subscription fee is Rs. 300/-. So, choose a plan that suits your needs and get your subscription today. With a premium membership, you can enjoy all the benefits that the OTT platform offers.

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