Herbert Reiner Jr.; Captured Gandhi’s Killer
Herbert Reiner Jr., 83, American diplomat who captured Mohandas K. Gandhi’s assassin. Reiner began a 35-year career as a diplomat when he entered the U.S. Foreign Service in 1947. His first posting was in New Delhi during a time of great political turbulence in India. Because of Gandhi’s nonviolent movement for Indian independence from British rule, the British quit the subcontinent in 1947 but partitioned the territory into largely Hindu India and largely Muslim Pakistan. After arriving in India, Reiner wrote to his mother of his hope to meet Gandhi and attend one of his prayer meetings. On Jan. 30, 1948, he went to a prayer meeting to catch a glimpse of Gandhi. It was to be Gandhi’s last meeting. Nathuram Godse, a Hindu nationalist enraged by Gandhi’s overtures to Muslims, brushed past his aide and fired three shots at the great moral leader. Reiner seized him and swung him into the hands of the Indian police, an action captured on the front pages of newspapers around the world. “People were standing as though paralyzed. I moved around them, grasped his shoulder and spun him around, then took a firmer grip on his shoulders,” Reiner said in news accounts of the assassination. During the Korean War, he served as a consul general in defense of the Pusan perimeter and later as a civil affairs officer for the armed services. Later he was consul general in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and in Johannesburg, South Africa. He ended his career in Canberra, Australia. In 1959 he was given the Superior Service Award of the U.S. State Department. A Navy veteran of World War II, he moved to Cape Cod 23 years ago. His death was reported in Boston area newspapers just this week; Reiner died on Dec. 28, 1999, at his home in Cotuit, Mass.