|Gandhi (1869 - 1948)
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in 1869 in India and was murded in 1948 by the fanatic Hindu Nathuram Godsey. In the time Gandhi was born India was a colony of the British Empire. Many people lived in great poverty because the British took all the wealth. After school Gandhi went to London and studied Law in an university. He became a lawyer. Shortly after he was back in India an Indian firm wanted him to go to South Africa where he worked for them. In South Africa the Indians were not welcome by the white settlers. One day Gandhi got pushed out of the train when he refused to leave his seat for a white person. He started to lead the Indian workers in South Africa and fought for their rights. He made a very important rule for himself which he used his whole life: never to use violence in his fights, even if others would use violence against him. He started a project (ashram) where people from different religions lived together in peace and freedom. When he came back to India crowds were already waiting and cheering for him at the harbour and people celebrated his arrival. He started travelling through the country by train in the third class wagons. There he saw a lot of India and a lot of the ways how people lived and worked there.
One day - as a symbolic event - he asked his followers on a big meeting to throw all their British clothes on a big fire. He encouraged them not to buy any more British clothes but to produce and buy their own Indian clothes. After that many people started to boycott British goods. People in the British factories got unemployed but more people in India had something to do. That was only one step to India's independence from the British. Gandhi asked the whole nation to strike for one day. And they did. There was virtually no traffic, mail was not delivered, factories were not working and - for the British a very important thing - the telegraph lines did not work and the British in India were cut off their mother country. It was then that they first realized Gandhi's power in India. There was another very important event on India's way to independence. The British had control of the salt that was taken out of the sea. He started a march over 140 miles (about 200 kilometers) to the ocean. When he started, Gandhi had only a few hundred followers but when they reached the sea they were a group of many thousands of people. When they arrived at the sea Gandhi took a handful of salt. That was a symbolic action and he asked everybody to do the same. Most of Gandhi's actions were a great success. The reason was that the British did not know how to act against an enemy who does not use violence. More and more people everywhere in the world agreed with Gandhi when they saw the British violence against the non-violent people. And they loved him because he was so close to the people in his country. During the Second World War Britain did not have much power to keep India as a colony anymore and they started to talk about independence. After the war, in 1947 India got finally independent and the British left the country. But India was divided into India and Pakistan. Pakistan was the part where most people were Muslims and India was the part with mainly Hindus. Gandhi did not want to divide the country but he could not help it. Shortly after his last fast with which he stopped the religious violence a fanatic Hindu shot him at his daily prayer.