Yes that was what the papers said ”Hitler’s guest from Pune dies at 103”
That sounded interesting and I read through. It said that Mahadeo Kashinath Gokhale who took part in the 1936 Berlin Olympics was a special guest of Hitler for four months as Hitler was impressed by his barefoot running. Mahadeo was sponsored by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad of Baroda.
I remember reading about the Maharaja and his generous nature. When Dr B R Ambedkar did not have the money to study further, it was this Maharaja who sponsored his education in Britain for this brilliant student from the backward classes of the society which was unthinkable back then.
So I read a little more about the Maharaja and came up with this:
Maharaja Gaekwad signed a secret pact with Hitler to get his support for India's freedom.
It was known as the Baroda-Berlin Pact. Gaekwad's personal assistant Vishnu Nene was sent to Germany to arrange the meeting. "Gaekwad believed an enemy's enemy is a friend. So, he decided to join hands with Hitler," says Dr Damodar Nene, who has written a new biography of Gaekwad.
To ensure that the British don't suspect anything, Gaekwad took their permission to attend the Berlin Olympics. "His box was placed right under Hitler's during the opening ceremony," Nene says.
Gaekwad is believed to have promised Hitler the support of all Hindu princes in case of a war in Europe. "It was agreed that Hindu princes would back Hitler during the World War II and Hitler would support India in its freedom struggle. The pact was kept a well-guarded secret as the British would have considered it an act of treason," adds Nene.
So all this explained Hitler’s hospitality towards the (non Aryan) athlets !!
Coming back to our sportsman Mahadeo, he had many records to his credit.
He has cycled from Pune to Delhi and Mansarovar.
He has cast his vote for elections 35 times (from the age of 21 till 103)
He is one of the few people who was alive to have seen the freedom fighters Lokmanya Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi.
For teaching Marathi, Hindi and cross-country sport to the British governor between 1938 and 1941, he used to get 1 kg pedha and burfi as fees.
At 98, he used to consume 1.25 kg of shrikhand (yogurt cream dessert) and 90 jalebis (Indian sweet) if challenged at any wedding ceremony.
He visited Karachi to teach Balgandharva's songs to Jaddanbai (mother of late Bollywood actress Nargis), Begum Para and Husna Bano
He could play the Tabla and compose music.
As I read along I realized that I had met and photographed this multitalented man about 4 years ago, but I was not aware of his achievements then.
Here is one of the pictures that I clicked of Mahadeo after having a small talk with him. (he was a man of few words)
Click on the above picture for more information.
So I met a man who met Adolf Hitler.