The Indian Legion (German: Indische Legion), officially the Free India Legion (German: Legion Freies Indien) or Infantry Regiment 950 (Indian) (German: Infanterie-Regiment 950 (indisches), I.R. 950) and later the Indian Volunteer Legion of the Waffen-SS (German: Indische Freiwilligen Legion der Waffen-SS), was a military unit raised during World War II in Nazi Germany. Intended to serve as a liberation force for British-ruled India, it was made up of Indian prisoners of war andexpatriates in Europe. Because of its origins in the Indian independence movement, it was known also as the “Tiger Legion”, and the “Azad Hind Fauj”. Initially raised as part of the German Army, it was part of the Waffen-SS from August 1944. Indian independence leader Subhas Chandra Bose initiated the legion’s formation, as part of his efforts to win India’s independence by waging war against Britain, when he came to Berlin in 1941 seeking German aid. The initial recruits in 1941 were volunteers from the Indian students resident in Germany at the time, and a handful of the Indian prisoners of war who had been captured during the North Africa Campaign. It would later draw a larger number of Indian prisoners of war as volunteers.
Though it was initially raised as an assault group that would form a pathfinder to a German-Indian joint invasion of the western frontiers of British India, only a small contingent was ever put to its original intended purpose. A hundred legionnaires were parachuted into eastern Iran under Operation Bajadere and infiltrated into Baluchistan Province to undertake sabotageoperations, which they reportedly did successfully, but with insignificant effect. A small contingent, including much of the Indian officer corps and enlisted leadership, was transferred to the Indian National Army in south-east Asia. The majority of the troops of the Indian Legion were only ever stationed in Europe in non-combat duties, in the Netherlands, and in France until the Allied invasion. They saw action in the retreat from the Allied advance across France, fighting mostly against theFrench Resistance. One company was sent to Italy in 1944, where it saw action against British and Polish troops and undertook anti-partisan operations.
At the time of the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945, the remaining men of the Indian Legion made efforts to march to neutral Switzerland over the Alps, but these efforts proved futile as they were captured by American and French troops and eventually shipped back to India to face charges of treason. Because of the uproar the trials of Indians who served with the Axis caused among civilians and the military of British India, the legion members’ trials were not completed. The Legion was even less successful than Bose’s Indian National Army in Burma and eastern India in military terms; however, Bose’s volunteers and the uproar that their trials caused forced the British to reconsider whether the Indian military would remain loyal to their rulers, so many historians[who?] give the INA and Free India Legion some credit for India’s independence after World War II.