Books: Keeper of Hitler's Crystal Ball HITLER'S PRIESTESS: Savitri Devi, the Hindu-Aryan Myth and Neo- Nazism by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, New York University Press Pounds 15.95

By Mclynn, Frank | The Independent (London, England), August 9, 1998 | Go to article overview
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Books: Keeper of Hitler's Crystal Ball HITLER'S PRIESTESS: Savitri Devi, the Hindu-Aryan Myth and Neo- Nazism by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, New York University Press Pounds 15.95


Mclynn, Frank, The Independent (London, England)


IT IS NOW well known that the Nazis were deeply influenced by occultism and that Hitler dabbled in fortune-telling and palmistry. The man who wrote the seminal work on the subject now returns with a fascinating study in individual pathology and the mystical roots of neo-Nazism.

Few depths are murkier than the foetid swamp of end-of-century volkish ideology, with its emphasis on race, blood and death, its hatred of the Judaeo-Christian tradition, its nature worship, exaltation of paganism and reverence for barbarian virtues. According to the Jungian scholar Richard Noll, the astonishing bouillabaisse of ancient Teutonic mysteries, Gnosticism and western esotericism led Jung in his "schizophrenic" period of 1913-18 to identify himself with the Mithraic deity. Using similar "thought" processes, a French female intellectual named Maximiani Portas (1905-82) argued in all seriousness that Hitler was the avatar of the highest Hindu deity.

Goodrick-Clarke traces the career of Portas and her "rebirth", following marriage to an Indian Brahmin, as Savitri Devi. She spent a troubled life, partly in India, partly in Europe, serving jail sentences for her fanatical beliefs and being the subject of exclusion orders by British immigration authorities. There seem to be three main strands in her voluminous theoretical writings: "metaphysical" anti-Semitism, Aryanism, and the apotheosis of Hitler. Like other theorists of Aryanism, Devi maintained that all mankind's true achievements came from the banks of the Ganges or the roof of the world in Tibet and are the product of an "Aryan" race. Devi, unfortunately for her, found herself out of line with Nazi ideology, since she believed the Aryans originated in India; the Nazis, however, transmogrified Aryan theory and alleged that the Aryans came from Europe and later migrated to India.

"Metaphysical" anti-Semitism rests on a cyclical view of history and a desire to return to the alleged Golden Age. According to Devi, the Jews are the living expression of the perigee of this time cycle, and their aim is the destruction of all races and nations and, ultimately, all human life on the planet.

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Books: Keeper of Hitler's Crystal Ball HITLER'S PRIESTESS: Savitri Devi, the Hindu-Aryan Myth and Neo- Nazism by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, New York University Press Pounds 15.95
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