(JTA) — India paid $1.1 million to purchase an archive of Mahatma Gandhi’s papers and photos that belonged to a German Jewish bodybuilder.
The archive belonged to Hermann Kallenbach, who went on to become an architect. It was scheduled to be auctioned on Tuesday at Sotheby’s in London, but the Indian government stepped in and purchased the entire archive, which reportedly will be part of the National Archive in India.
Most of the letters, written between 1905 and 1945, were written by family and friends of Gandhi. A handful of the thousands of documents were written by Gandhi.
“These letters belong in the public domain, not in private hands, and I hope the government will make their contents accessible to everyone,” Gandhi’s great-grandson Tushar Gandhi told the French news agency AFP.
Kallenbach is called a very close friend of Gandhi’s, but a book on Gandhi published last year by former New York Times executive editor Joseph Lelyveld said that Gandhi was in love with him. A native of Germany who moved to South Africa, Kallenbach reportedly lived with Gandhi for two years in a house he built in South Africa, according to the Daily Mail. The men remained in touch by letters after Gandhi returned to India in 1914 and Kallenbach was denied entry. Kallenbach died in 1945; Gandhi was assassinated in 1948 in Delhi.