History Calling


Engineering teacher Shrikrishna Joglekar and his student are set to take up a three-week trip to major WWI and WWII European sites.

In 1971, Shrikrishna Joglekar watched a film called Triumph des Willens (Triumph of the Will) made by the famous German director-actor, Leni Riefenstahl, at West End theatre in Camp. "I was a student then, and it was a mind-blowing experience for me," he recalls. "That film is a benchmark in propaganda films." That day, a "germ" of an idea entered Joglekar's head and has stayed with him for the decades that followed. The 61-year-old IIT-Bombay alumnus will embark on a special journey in May inspired by that idea. He and one of his students will visit close to eight major World War I and World War II sites across France, Belgium and Germany, in a span of three weeks.

For these unusual tourists, the biggest pull is the historical significance of the sites and the fascinating stories behind them. "I am a book addict. I have thousands of books, films and photographs about the two world wars, actually wars in general," says Joglekar. "The WWI and WWII sites fascinate me. I get a strange feeling that I've known about them all along."

Joglekar's confidence and knowledge about the sites and the happenings of the wars have been fortified by the six earlier visits he has made to Germany. He recalls one particular visit he undertook with his wife. "The travel agent messed up the itinerary completely, and told us one day before that nothing could be done. We couldn't cancel the trip, so ended up going and discovering things on our own," he says.

He relates the visit to a secret home of Hitler with particular interest, because the local guides too are unaware of the history behind it, even if they know of the location. "Hitler had built this house, the road to which cut into a mountain. A solid brass lift inside would then go 15 storeys up through the mountain to reach the house. On top was a small tea room that he had used. The lift, by the way, is still in working condition," says Joglekar.

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