On that day, the 21st of February, in the evening, after a beautiful motor drive, I arrived before the doors of the Werl prison. Miss Taylor had conversed with me with the utmost courtesy and cordiality during the journey — about Marcus Aurelius, whom she knew well and admired; about Christianity, which she forgave me for detesting; about the religion of the Sun as it appears in the hymns of King Akhnaton of Egypt, and in the immemorial hymns of the Rig-Veda, the most ancient verses that have come down to us in an Aryan tongue. We talked also a little of more modern subjects. And she began to realise — perhaps — how thoroughly National Socialism expressed my whole Pagan philosophy of life, and how inseparable that whole philosophy is from my very being.
I got down from the car and waited. It was already dark. A warder in greyish-green uniform opened the door and let us into a room on the left. Another man, also in uniform, seated at a table in that room, signed a paper that Miss Taylor handed over to him, acknowledging that I had actually been transferred into his custody, in other words, that she was no longer responsible for me. He also put me a few questions. Then a young woman in khaki uniform, who had been called for, came in and bade me follow her. I took leave of Miss Taylor, and crossed with my new custodian a courtyard on all sides of which were high walls, nearly entirely covered with creeper. Then, the wardress opened a large iron door with one of the two huge keys that she held, and
shut it behind me. I followed her along a path with a high wall on one side — the wall that separated the prison grounds from the street, I presumed — and, on the other, a building from which came a smell of food — the kitchens of the prison. That path led us into an alley in the midst of an open, grassy space, surrounded with buildings — four-storied ones on the left, and in the distance; a one-storied, elongated one, on the right. In all I saw hundreds of barred windows, now most of them lighted, each one of which — I guessed — corresponded to a prisoner’s cell. Then, again the wardress opened a huge door with her key, and I crossed a sort of covered yard, — a paved space between two workshops — in the dark. Another door was opened before me — and, as always, shut after me, immediately I had passed — and I emerged into a rectangular courtyard, surrounded on all sides with the walls of a one-storied building. The ground floor was dark. But the windows on the first floor — all barred, like those I had seen from the much broader open Space which I had just crossed on my way — were lighted. Two flights of steps, each of them protected by a roof, led to the first floor from that courtyard. We went up the one on the left. The door at the top was again shut. The wardress opened it, walked in and turned to the right. I found myself in a long, dimly lighted, fairly wide and perfectly silent corridor with rows of doors each side of it. The wardress took me along, right to the end, and ushered me into a small room in which were an elderly lady in dark blue uniform, obviously an important member of the prison staff, and a young woman, seated at a table before what seemed to me to be a book of accounts. Along the walls of the room ran large shelves upon which heaps of clothes and linen were neatly piled
The elderly lady — who, with her wavy hair, now white, her blue eyes and regular features, must have been pretty in her youth — took down my name, age, etc., and asked me the nature of my “offence” — at the hearing of which both her face and that of the wardress brightened imperceptibly. Those German women did not dare to tell me: “You are on our side; good for you! But I felt at once that in their eyes, I was innocent, if not praiseworthy, although surely stupid — stupid enough to have let myself get caught.
“Well, those are your convictions,” said the white-haired lady. She made no further remarks but asked me — as that had to be written down as a matter of routine — what was my religion.
“I am a worshipper of the Sun,” replied I, sincerely, not without causing a little surprise; far less, however, than there would have been, had I not already stated that I was wedded to an Indian.
“Did you, then, adopt your husband’s religion?” the old matron asked me.
“Not at all — although, of course, he too pays daily homage to the fiery Disk, as every true Brahmin does, in India. I evolved my present religious outlook from the earliest days of my youth, and I can say that I spent my life regretting that my country — Greece — ever left off worshipping her old natural and national Gods (Apollo in particular, the fairest of all) to turn to a doctrine imported from Palestine. I went to India precisely in search of a civilisation as entirely free as possible from Judeo-Christian influences of any sort.”
“But you were christened?”
“So you did, officially, belong to a Christian Church, in your youth?”
“To the Greek Church.”
“And which service would you like to attend, here in prison: the catholic or the evangelical? They are the only two we have.”
“I wish to attend neither,” said I; “I only hope it is not compulsory.”
“It is not. But you will find time long in your cell, on Sundays.”
“I am prepared to put up with a little discomfort for the sake of consistency,” I replied. “I have never loved the Christian mythology — nor the doctrine. And the days I used to attend Church services on the sole ground that, historically, Christian pageantry has won itself a place in the life of every Aryan nation in the West, — and that the music is sometimes beautiful — those days, I say, are far, far away; irretrievably gone.”
I was classified as “dissident” in the catalogue, and taken to the cell number 121, in the C wing of the prison, where I was to live as long as I remained “on remand.” As I was a British subject, I was allowed to keep the civilian clothes that I was wearing — a dark brown tailored suit and overcoat — and my attaché case, emptied of all its former contents except a few sheets of blank paper, a towel, a piece of soap, a looking glass, and the English translation of the Bhagavad-Gita. I deeply appreciated the gesture of the persons, whoever they be, who had left me that hallowed Scripture to read and to meditate upon in my cell.
The cell contained an iron bed, fixed to the wall; a table, a stool, and a cupboard. Light came from a high window — with iron bars on the outside, — of which the topmost part alone could be unfastened to let in a little air. The floor was covered with earthen-coloured square bricks. In the thick door lined with iron, there was a
small round hole in front of which hung, on the outside, a metal flap. By lifting that flap, one could at will look into the cell from the corridor; while the prisoner could never look into the corridor from the cell. The walls were whitewashed. The inner side of the door — the iron side — was painted in light grey. It all seemed — and was — perfectly clean — as it would be, in an establishment of which at least the material management was entirely in German hands.
“Leave your attaché case here, and come with me,” said the wardress that was accompanying me; “before I lock you up, you must see “Frau Oberin.” Frau Oberin, whose name I learnt much later, was the person in charge of the women’s section of the prison, the “Frauen Haus.”
I was ushered into a fairly large and very neat office room nearly opposite my cell, in which a young woman between twenty-five and thirty, dressed in black, was seated at a desk. She had brown hair, and blue eyes, and a sweet face. On the walls of the room I noticed one or two pictures — photos of classical paintings, chosen with much taste — and there were flowers on the windowsill and flowers in a vase on the desk before the young woman. “In former days,” I could not help thinking with a certain sadness, “there would have been here also, no doubt, a lovely portrait of the Führer.” It only occurred to me after a minute or so that, then, I would not have been there.
The wardress left the room. The young woman at the desk, who had returned my evening’s greeting, had a look at my chart, which the wardress had handed over to her. “What is it that you are here for, may I ask you?” said she, addressing me after a moment. “You must excuse me; but I simply cannot remember what is forbidden by every article of every law — and, in your
particular case, by ‘the article 7 of the law 8 of the Occupation Status’. Moreover, I am accustomed to prisoners, and can see by your face that you are no ordinary delinquent.”
“I am here for Nazi propaganda,” said I, with obvious pride.
“That!” exclaimed Frau Oberin — and an enigmatic smile gave her face a new expression. “Will you not sit down for a while and have a cup of coffee — of real coffee, I mean, not of ‘mook-fook’?”
Was that the spontaneous reaction of “de-Nazified” Germany’s officialdom at the news of National Socialist underground activities carried on by a foreigner? I ardently wished it were. Or was it just the personal reaction of this individual woman, who, incidentally, happened to hold a responsible post under the authority of the British occupants, of the land? And if so, how far was she on our side, or, — like good Mrs. Hatch — sympathetically disposed towards me merely as a person? Was the “real coffee” for the guiltless woman, who had neither stolen nor committed murder, or was it for the friend of Germany who had striven, in her humble way, to keep the Nazi spirit alive in the hearts of Hitler’s persecuted people? In other words, was this young woman kind to me in spite of my being a National Socialist, or because I was a National Socialist? I did hope that the second possibility was the one corresponding to fact. But I could not ask — especially while Frau Oberin had made no comments whatsoever about my “offence.”
I seated myself in the comfortable armchair that she had offered me. Soon a lovely smell of coffee filled the room, as the young woman prepared the exotic beverage upon a small electric stove which she had taken from a cupboard. She poured out a cup of it for me and another
one for herself. She talked to me in a friendly manner, as though I had not been a prisoner and she the head of the Women’s section of the prison.
“When did you first come to Germany?” she asked me, after I had told her that my home was in India.
“On the 15th of June 1948,” replied I.
“And you had never come before?”
“Alas, no. I was six thousand miles away, during the great days,’’ said I, with infinite, sincere sadness.
“It is a pity.”
It was, indeed. But Frau Oberin did not stress the point. She asked me about the customs and beliefs of India, and about the women’s dress, the sari, of which I described the grace to her, as best I could.
“A crowd of Indian women on a festive day, in the atmosphere of one of those old temples of which you spoke a while ago,” said she, “must be a beautiful sight.”
“It certainly is,” answered I. And I related to her, as vividly as my knowledge of German permitted, the “Vaishakha Purnima” festival as I had admired it in the great temple of Rameshwaram, in the extreme south of India, on the 17th of May 1935: the procession, headed by handsome half-naked torch bearers, and by magnificently harnessed sacred elephants, along the huge pillared corridors of the temple, at night; the crowd — men in spotless white and women draped in silk of all colours with jasmine flowers in their black glossy hair, and flowers in their hands — gathered around the sacred tank to honour the passage of the chariot carrying the statues of the God incarnate. Rama, and of his consort, Sita, hardly visible under heaps of flowers; and the reflection of the full moon in the sacred tank; and the unreal splendour of the deeply sculptured surrounding colonnades in the light of the full moon; and, above all that, the glory of
the tropical sky — violet-blue, unbelievably luminous in its depth — with one tall coconut tree, one alone, shining like silver in its midst, from behind the intricate architecture of the temple.
Frau Oberin gazed at me in wonder. “How lucky you are to have such remembrances!” said she. And for a while her blue eyes seemed to follow, beyond time and space, the stately outlandish scenes that I had tried to evoke. Then she added: “It astounds me that you could leave India and your husband and household to come to us and do what you did, after we had lost the war.”
On impulse, I wanted to reply: “Do you take me for one of those turncoats who, after praising all that the Führer did for fifteen or twenty years, began to change their minds when the Anglo-Americans landed in Normandy, and who, after the Capitulation, concluded that Democracy was decidedly the only salvation for mankind?” But I said nothing of the kind. I knew in my heart that Frau Oberin had never doubted my sincerity, and that she meant no harm. Recalling the age-old festival that I had just described, I simply said: “India means more to me than most people think, and not less; and so does Germany. Rama, the virtuous warrior, whom the people of the Far South worship to this day in the great temple by the sea, is the half-historical half-legendary Aryan conqueror of the luxuriant South. In him, the caste-ridden masses of India bow down to the hallowed Race that once brought India the Vedas, and the cult of male gods, and warrior-like ideals, along with the everlasting principle of the natural hierarchy of races. My contact with Hinduism has only given me further reasons to feel proud of being an Aryan. It has, if anything, made me a better National Socialist. Few people realise that, since the days of the Aryan conquest of India,
— the dawn of Sanskrit civilisation — never and nowhere in the world has a serious attempt been made to bring the natural, the divine Order into existence in living society, save here in Germany, under the Führer’s inspired rule. It was my duty to come over anyhow — all the more so, now that the war was lost; now that the whole Aryan world had turned against its Saviour. As for my husband, I have given him no reason to blame me — except that I was foolish enough, for once, to allow the police to detect me in my activities. But at that he will not be surprise: he knows what an ass I can make of myself in practical matters.”
Frau Oberin laughed. We talked a long time more, — mostly about India. The young woman had read the Bhagavad-Gita in a German translation, with a sincere effort to understand it. And although she quite frankly admitted that much of it remained obscure to her — as I admit much does to me — she was sensitive to the beauty of its essential teaching of action with detachment. I quoted to her one or two of the classical passages that I happened to know by heart.
“I am now beginning to understand why we were told such a lot about ancient India in the Hitler days,” said she at last.
I opened my mouth to speak, but I said nothing. I was not quite sure whether I should add anything to all that I had already said. A few words, thought, I, often leave a deeper impression than a good many. But Frau Oberin spoke again. “I am also beginning to understand one of the reasons why there are, and were — even under the Third Reich — so few really genuine National Socialists among us,” she said.
“And why?” asked I.
“Because the hold of Christianity upon us is still
very strong, — stronger than it seems at first sight, even upon those of us who reject the bondage of the Church.”
“I am sorry the Roman emperors did not nip in the bud what they then called the ‘new superstition’,” said I, repeating what I had written in an Indian newspaper in 1945. “They would have rendered a service to the Aryan race.”
But time was passing. “I shall send for you sometimes, and have further talks with you,” said the young woman as I left the room. And she told me also that she would not deprive me of the few gold bangles, chain and rings that I was wearing. “They suit you; as long as you are on remand you can keep them,” she assured me. I thanked her — for I now knew that, for the time being at least — I would not be separated from the precious little glass portrait that hung around my neck.
* * *
The wardress on duty brought me my supper in my cell — some macaroni, bread and marmalade; for I had told the man who had received me at the door downstairs that I ate no flesh.
I was told that the light in my cell would have to remain on all night “unless the English governor of the prison permitted the contrary.” I — who cannot sleep with the light on — hung my clothes over the electric bulb in order to make the room as dark as possible, and pulled the bed clothes over my head, in addition to that.
Piously, I held against my breast the portrait of the Führer that I wore on my gold chain. I felt happy at the thought that I was now locked up in that cell for the love of him. Even there, between four walls, nay, especially there, I would bear witness to his greatness, to the everlastingness of his Idea, to the mission of the people whom
he so loved. And my testimony would be all the more convincing for the fact that I was not one of that people. Then, I remembered the woman who had given me the portrait, — not long before; since my latest return from England. I recalled her fine, rather sad face, that used to take on an inspired expression as she evoked the joy and glory of Hitler’s days. She was one of the most lovable National Socialists I knew personally. I had spent a couple of days under her roof somewhere in the French Zone. And she had given me that invaluable little likeness as a remembrance of the Greater Germany that I had not seen, as a token of her friendship, and as something to replace the gold swastika that had dropped off my chain in London, in November 1947, and that I had never found again. And as I had somewhat hesitated to take it, — knowing it was the only one of its kind that she possessed — she had told me: “It does not matter. I give it to you with all my heart because you are worthy of it. You are one of us.” I had thanked her with tears in my eyes. Nothing touches me more and gives me greater joy than the love and confidence of other Nazis, especially of those who have stood the test of suffering as that woman has.
And now I wondered how I could, without the authorities suspecting any connection between my friends and myself, let her — and a few others — know that I was in captivity. Those in the French Zone at least would not learn it from the newspapers: I remembered that Monsieur P., a French official in Baden Baden, had once told me that “acts of resistance were never given any publicity” in the papers under French licence, “in order not to encourage further trouble.” I thought of the three thousand posters that were in my trunk in the care of friends. How would I now write — clandestinely — to
those people and ask them to distribute the propaganda themselves, as I could no longer do so? And I hoped and prayed that none of those with whom I had come in touch would suffer on account of my arrest. If my trial was really “about the posters alone,” as the Englishman in Düsseldorf had assured me, there was no earthly reason why they should, for I had, indeed, in this matter, acted entirely on my own initiative; nay, against the advice of one or two other National Socialists — far more intelligent than myself — who had warned me that activities of such a spectacular nature were “yet premature.” But one could never be sure. Suspicion and fear, and not coolly thought out reasons suggest to the occupants of a defeated country the steps they take against all manner of underground resistance. I knew that, and consequently, felt uneasy. The thought worried me a long time before I could go to sleep, on that and the following nights. It was to worry me bitterly all the time I remained in prison — and some months after my release.
* * *
I was awakened early in the morning, as the wardress on duty opened my cell. A prisoner, dressed in blue, and wearing a brown jacket and a light grey apron — like the one I had seen, the evening before, in the old matron’s room — came in to remove the sanitary pail, and brought it back after a while, well cleaned, and smelling of phenol. She also brought me a jug of water. I returned her “Guten Morgen!” and got out of bed.
“Oh, you need not get up at once,” said she; “you are only on remand.” She had a coarse, but sympathetic face. I wanted to speak to her.
“I shall not sleep again anyhow; so I may as well get up,” said I.
“If you want some more water or anything else,” she continued, “you just have to press upon that electric switch. It will light a bulb above your door in the corridor. The wardress on duty will see it and ask you what you need, and send for me (or another one of us) to give it to you.”
“I know; the other wardress, who was here last night, has explained that to me. Still I thank you for telling me. I would like a little more water, if possible.”
“I’ll bring you some.”
The door of the cell was again locked, after she had, gone out.
Then came my breakfast, brought in by another prisoner — a heavily built young woman, with a red round face, dark hair and grey eyes.
“All that!” I could not help exclaiming as I saw the amount of food she had laid upon the table. There was a pint of hot tea, with milk and sugar; a large tin can of porridge; six slices of beautiful white bread — such as I had not eaten even in postwar England, let alone in starving Germany — a piece of butter, and a large spoonful of orange marmalade. “Is it all for me?” I asked the wardress, a very sweet, kind-looking, blue-eyed blonde.
“Yes, of course,” said she.
“But I have never had such bread, even when I was free. And I could not eat so much anyhow. Are they giving me a special diet because I am a ‘political case’?”
“No. The ‘political cases’ here, are treated exactly like the ordinary criminals — given in the morning one single slice of dry, black bread, and a tin of ‘mook-fook’ (chicory) without sugar nor milk. You are given a special diet because you are a British subject.”
“But I hate the Occupation as much as any German can.”
“That makes no difference. In their eyes, you have a British passport; that’s enough.”
“Can I give a slice of my white bread to this woman,” asked I, seeing with what longing eyes the prisoner was gazing at the quantity of food she had brought me.
“You can,” whispered the wardress; “but don’t allow anyone to see you, for it is against the rule.”
“I am accustomed to do things against those people’s rules,” said I, referring to the present-day masters of Germany. I smeared a piece of bread with a little butter and jam, and gave it to the woman. “Thank you!” exclaimed the latter. “Oh, I do thank you!” She folded the bread in two, put it in her pocket, and disappeared, as another wardress was calling her from the corridor, to help in the distribution of black bread and chicory to the bulk of the prisoners. She would eat the “delicacy” in her cell, as soon as she would be off duty. It was probably the first slice of white bread and the first butter she had tasted since the Capitulation. For the millionth time, I recalled in my mind the ruins and desolation I had seen, and the appalling starvation that had succeeded, since 1945, the horror of the phosphorus air raids. “Poor dear Germany — my Führer’s country!” thought I, as tears filled my eyes.
Turning to the wardress who still stood in my cell, I asked her: “Could you not manage to give my porridge and my tea, and four slices of bread, to some of those who are here for the sake of the same Idea as I, — to my comrades, the so-called ‘war criminals’? As there is not enough for all, could you give it to . . . the best ones; you understand what I mean . . . to the sincerest ones; those . . .”
“I understand,” she replied; “and I’ll willingly do
as you say. But not now at once. Later on; when there is next to nobody in the corridors. . . . They must not know, you see, or else there will be trouble.”
“Thank you!” said I, “I cannot tell you how grateful I am to you. It is not much, I know. But it is now all I can do for the people who have fought for the same ideals as I; the people whom I love and admire.”
“Be sure I shall help you as much as I can,” said the woman in a very low voice. “I was in the Party myself . . . and so were several others of us. We understand you — and love you — although we cannot speak. Keep the food in some corner. I shall come to fetch it later on. Auf wiedersehen!”
I could not see the sky from my cell, for the window panes were made of nontransparent glass. Yet, I was happy.
Having no pen and ink, — not even a pencil — I could not write. I paced the room, from the wall below the window to the door and back, over and over again, like a captive tigress in her cage. I was impressed by the similarity of any position to that of a wild beast in a “zoo.” “But I have my great love and my great ideals, and pride to uplift me and sustain me,” I reflected. “What have the poor captured lions and tigers, panthers and leopards, to make up for the loss of freedom and adventure? I am a thousand times more fortunate than they.” Never had I realised so vividly what a long-drawn torture the life of a wild beast in a cage must be — what a trial my life behind bars would have been, had I not been so proud and so glad to confess my Nazi faith in these times of persecution. And I prayed that in our new world, one day, I might raise my voice with sufficient eloquence to
have all the beasts of the circuses and “zoos” given back to their native jungles.
Then, I thought of my friends far and near, especially of all the Germans with whom I had been directly or indirectly in touch just now or formerly. Again, I carefully went over all that I had said during my two days’ cross-examination in Cologne and in Düsseldorf — I remembered it with extraordinary clarity, and felt I would remember it forever. And I decided that I had not let out a word, not made a gesture, not allowed my face to take on an expression that could possibly have implicated any other National Socialist. No, indeed I had not. I felt quite sure of it. And still, could one ever tell what the police are capable of finding out? I was happy, for I had nothing to blame myself for — not even my arrest, in fact, that had come as a consequence of someone else’s. If “they” did discover things that I hoped and prayed they would never discover, it would be through no fault of mine. But then, my friends would suffer none the less — suffer, and (who knows?) perhaps believe, or be induced by our enemies to believe, that I had spoken when, in reality, I had not. I would have felt perfectly happy but for that ever-recurring worry; that feeling of impending danger for others in spite of all my efforts to protect them from it.
I sat down, and took to reading the Bhagavad-Gita — the only book I had in my cell, and the one which I would have chosen to read, anyhow, in my present mood, even if I had had a whole library at my disposal. I read the first lines that drew my attention as I opened the book — the following words of the God incarnate to the warrior in search of wisdom:
“Even the devotees of other Shining Ones, who worship
full of faith, they also worship Me, O son of Kunti, though contrary to the ancient rule.
“For I am indeed the enjoyer and Lord of all sacrifice. But they know Me not in essence, and hence they fall.
“They who worship the Shining Ones,1 go to the Shining Ones; they who worship the ancestors, go to the Ancestors; to the Elementals go those who sacrifice to the Elementals; but my worshippers come unto Me.”2
I withdrew my eyes from the book for a while and mused: “Today, also, there are thousands who, in the depth of their hearts, aspire after the Truth, and who yet pay homage to leaders who will not lead them to it; there arc thousands who, nay, fight furiously against us, the witnesses of the Truth, without knowing what they are doing. They are misguided by externals, and ignore the eternal, the kernel of wisdom, the real Way of life and regeneration — the essence — and therefore they shall fall.” I thought of the many who, could have sided with us and who did not; who had begun to do so, but who had stopped on the way; who had preferred half-truths, afraid as they were to face the divine laws of Life — divine truth in life.
I read a little further: “Whatever thou doest, whatever thou eatest, whatever thou offerest or givest, whatever thou doest of austerity, O son of Kunti, do thou that as an offering unto Me.”3 And I prayed that I might always live up to that everlasting teaching. I identified, as I have from the start, our cause with the cause of Life, the cause of God.
1 The Devas.
2 The Bhagavad-Gita; IX verses 23, 24, 25.
3 The Bhagavad-Gita; IX, verse 27.
But the nurse in charge of the infirmary unlocked my cell and stepped in to make my acquaintance. She was a short, thin, elderly woman of pleasant bearing, dressed in white.
“Well, my dear child, that which you have done is awful,” said she, after inquiring about my health. But I knew by the tone of her voice that she was not really indignant. And her eyes were smiling while she spoke.
“Why, ‘awful’,” asked I, returning their smile.
“But you are English — and you have been working against the Occupation, here in the British Zone! So you are a traitor to your country.”
“I? To begin with, I really have no country. I mean, I am only half-English. What can I do about it? But above England, and above Greece — whose citizen I was before my marriage — and above any particular State with more or less artificial boundaries, and above any more or less pure section of the Aryan race, I place the Aryan race itself. To it, at least, I know I belong. To it, — and to those who have fought to bring it back to its original purity, and to give it back its God-ordained mastery over the world — I have given my wholehearted allegiance. The traitors are not such ones as I; no! They are, on the contrary, the people of Aryan blood who have sacrificed the real, the highest interests of the race to the apparent immediate interest of some selfish State — whether the British State or any other — and to the welfare of a handful of selfish capitalists, mostly Jews. The greatest traitor of all is that complacent instrument of international Jewish finance who governed England during this war: Mr. Winston Churchill.”
“Gosh, she’s right!” burst out the wardress, who had come in while I was speaking, and who had been
waiting for the to finish my tirade, to tell me to follow her to the Governor’s office.
I walked out of my cell. The nurse gave me a sympathetic smile as she locked the door behind me.
* * *
I crossed, this time in the sunshine, the courtyard that I had seen the day before in the dark. I again passed between the two workshops, and emerged into the broad open space surrounded with buildings with five endless rows of barred windows (four stories and a ground floor). Around a more or less triangular lawn, men-prisoners were taking their morning walk, silently, two by two, under the supervision of their warders in greyish-green uniforms. They themselves wore brown trousers with a yellow stripe along the side. I had been told that there were, in the men’s section, over one thousand eight hundred prisoners, out of which one third at least were political ones (so-called “war criminals”) and more than another third . . . Poles, guilty, for the most part, of such offences as black-marketeering and robbery with or without violence. And as I passed by with the wardress, I looked at the men walking around the dewy, sunlit lawn. And each time I spotted out from among them an individual with a fine face and a noble bearing, I wondered if he were not one of the so-called “war criminals,” and wished I could speak to him.
Again, as on the preceding evening, I followed my custodian past the kitchens of the prison, and I reached at last the courtyard from which I had taken my first glimpse of the premises of my new abode. I now saw in broad daylight the creeper that entirely covered the high walls of the buildings on my right and of the central building facing tee. “How green and beautiful it must
be in the spring!” thought I. I also noticed the clock at the top of the central building. It marked twenty past nine.
The door was opened and I was ushered into an office on the right side of a fairly broad corridor. I stood before the desk of Colonel Edward Vickers, the British Governor of the prison — his name I had read on the door as I had entered.
“Yours is an offence of a very serious nature — an offence against our prestige in this country,” said the Governor, addressing me. “However, it is the Court’s business to judge you, not mine. All I wanted to tell you is that you are here in a prison, and that there are rules which you will have to obey, as every other prisoner. You will be fairly treated, — in fact, you will enjoy the privileges of a British subject, since you are one. But I cannot allow you extra privileges. In particular, you cannot have food specially cooked for you in consideration of your strictly vegetarian habits. You shall be given all that is neither meat nor meat soup in the daily diet for British prisoners.”
“I am grateful for that, and have never expected undue privileges,” said I.
In fact, I wanted to ask as a favour that no distinctions whatsoever be made between the Germans and myself. (I now knew that they received no meat anyhow, so that my only existing scruples in matter of food did not come in the way). But I reflected that, if I accepted the special British diet — which was incomparably better than theirs — I would easily be able to pass over to them whatever niceties I might be given. I already knew that of the hundred and seventy or so inmates of the “Frauen Haus,” twenty-six were so-called “war criminals” — former members of the staff of German concentration camps and so forth, during the great days; people against
whom our enemies had succeeded in loosening the fury of a whole world. I was impatiently looking forward to make their acquaintance, and to show them all marks of comradeship I possibly could. Naturally, all my best food would be for them — for those of them, I mean, that were “in Ordnung,” i.e., real National Socialists, for I had already been told — to my amazement — that half of them were not. I therefore said nothing.
“A British doctor will examine you this afternoon, and another one in a day or two,” continued the Governor. “Have you anything to say concerning your needs apart from food?”
“I would be grateful if the light in my cell could be switched off at night,” said I. “I cannot sleep with it on.”
“We generally keep it on so that the wardresses on duty might be able to look into the cells at night and see what the prisoners on remand, are up to. We do so in case some might try to commit suicide,” emphasized Colonel Vickers. “But I have no such fears in your case — goodness me, no! And if the doctor sees no objection, I am quite willing to allow you to have the light put out. Anything else?”
“I would also like to have a few sheets of paper and a pen and some ink, or even an ordinary pencil — if it is possible — to write a couple of letters.”
What I wanted to do in reality was to try to remember the plan and at least certain passages of the three first chapters of my Gold in the Furnace and to rewrite these the best I could. And when that would be finished, I would continue the book clandestinely. The Englishmen would not be all day long at the “Frauen Haus.” And I was beginning to feel that the members of the German staff, if not all in Ordnung, were at least all
sufficiently hostile to the Occupation — all sufficiently German — to allow me to write in peace provided that they did not thereby get into trouble.
The Governor looked at me with suspicion, as though he had guessed my intentions. “I am certainly not going to give you paper for you to continue your propaganda in this prison,” said he, sternly.
“I have not the slightest intention of carrying on any sort of propaganda, or of doing anything which is against the rules,” answered I, with utmost naturalness. “I would only have liked to write a few letters. But if I cannot, of course, it does not matter.”
Apparently, my naturalness was somewhat convincing for the Governor was kind enough to give me a writing pad and a pencil. “I hope you understand,” stressed he, however, “that every word you write will be censored.”
“Most certainly,” said I. But in the depth of my heart I thought: “That we shall see!” And after thanking the man I left the room, feeling that I had won a victory.
But the more I remembered his unfriendly face, abrupt speech, and patriotic indignation at the idea of my offence against British prestige in occupied Germany, the more I knew that the best I had to do was to avoid, as far as possible, all direct contact with him, and — whenever that could not be done — to speak as little as I could and to appear as dull, nay, as stupid, and therefore as harmless as my limited capacity for acting permitted. For, of all the representatives of the Allied Powers whom I had met up till now in the unfortunate land, he was the one who, for some mysterious reason, — without having cross-examined me — seemed to consider me the least “harmless.”
Back in my cell, I at once put down in black on white whatever I remembered of the three first chapters of Gold in the Furnace — and of the beginning of the fourth chapter, that I had started writing in a café in Hanover a day before my last journey to Cologne and my arrest. I also wrote down the titles of the proposed following chapters. Of these, there would now be one less, for the one I had planned about my intended visit to the “places of pilgrimage” — Braunau am Inn, Linz, Vienna, Münich, Nuremberg — could not be written. For even if I were to be released quicker than I expected, I would surely not he allowed to remain in Germany — and perhaps not be allowed to remain in Europe — unless, of course, they kept me long enough for the coming crash to free me. “Never mind,” thought I, “I shall go to the places of pilgrimage one day, anyhow.”
Then, I set myself to continue the fourth chapter of my lost book — the story of the unforgettable night during which I had distributed my first five hundred leaflets. “By the way,” I reflected, “why should I not, here, try to distribute a few copies of my latest ones among the members of the staff who seem to be in sympathy with me and also, if possible, among the so- called ‘war criminals’?” (I was longing to get in touch with these.) So I wrote several times the text that I knew by heart — not upon the pad that Colonel Vickers had given me (that, I would use actually for letters, so that he might be convinced that I was a “good girl”) but upon the paper which I already had, and which I also used for writing my book. I hid the copies carefully under a loose brick of the floor, between the back of my cupboard and the wall. Then, I returned to my Chapter 4.
The day passed quickly. With all the sincerity, all the love of my heart I projected unto those long, rough sheets of paper, in tight writing, the living picture of what I had, until my arrest, considered as the most beautiful night in my life — yes, even more beautiful than my watch on the slopes of roaring and burning Hekla, under the northern lights; even more beautiful than the night during which I had worshipped the midnight Sun, on the beach of Rif Stangir, facing the Arctic Ocean. I was happy, — exceedingly happy. Even if the beginning of my book were destroyed, I would recreate it. I was already remembering more and more passages of it, which I wrote down immediately, each time, on separate sheets. It would never be like my first writing, but still, it would be the product of the same spirit. As for the first part of The Lightning and the Sun, I had some hope that they would perhaps not destroy it, after all: they would not be sufficiently perspicacious to see that, specially the second chapter on “Time and violence,” was the most glaring justification of all that we did and are prepared to do again — a systematic, philosophical justification, beyond the passions of yesterday and today.
In the afternoon, I was taken to the infirmary, where the British doctor examined me, in the presence of the matron of the prison, of the nurse in charge, and of a prisoner who worked there under the latter’s supervision.
I could not take my eyes off that prisoner. She could leave been about thirty-five or forty. In the shabby blue uniform she wore — like all the others — she displayed the classical beauty of a chieftain’s wife in ancient Germany: a vigorous, well-built body, created to comfort a warrior and to give birth to heroic sons; a queenly bearing; a regular face in which one detected serene strength, and pride — and lofty dreams, also; authority and inspiration.
Her pale blonde hair, as glossy as silk, shone in a ray of evening sunshine. Her large, luminous blue eyes, of which the glance could, occasionally, I knew, be as hard as stone — now smiled at me. “You are the ‘new one’; the one who is here for having defied our oppressors; I have heard of you,” they seemed to tell me. And, while the doctor was examining my heart and liver and lungs, my black eyes, full of admiring friendliness, answered and said “Yes, I am. And you are surely one of my comrades. My Führer’s compatriot, you are too beautiful not to be also one of his faithful followers!” And I imagined her amidst the cheering crowds of the days of glory, greeting hint as he passed by, with the ritual Nazi salute and the triumphal worlds: “Heil Hitler!” And tears came to my eyes.
Before telling me that I now could dress, the doctor looked at the glass portrait that hung around my neck on a gold chain. But he did not say a word. The old matron took me back to my cell.
The next day — which was the 23rd February, and the nineteenth anniversary of Horst Wessel’s death — I experienced one of the great moments of my prison life. I saw that prisoner of whom I have just spoken walk into my cell, with the nurse who accompanied her. She held in her hands a tray on which were disposed several objects — a plate, a bottle, a cup containing some pills — for it was her job, twice a day, to go round with medicine to all the cells of which the inmates needed any. I, however, needed none.
“We have come to pay you a visit — to see how you are,” said, the nurse with cordiality. “This woman, who is one of our ‘war criminals’ is keen on making your acquaintance.”
I felt my heart leap with joy, and my face brighten. The nurse pulled the door shut and told the prisoner she could, for a minute, put her tray down, upon the table. The latter did so; and then, addressing me:
“Yes,” said she, “I am a ‘war criminal’. My name is H. E. I am one of those from the Belsen trial — the trial as a result of which poor Irma Grese was sentenced to death; you must know, surely, I was sentenced to fifteen years’ imprisonment.”
H. E. of the Belsen trial! Of course, I knew. I actually remembered her name for having seen it in the papers. And with irresistible vividness, the atrocious past suddenly rushed back to my consciousness. I heard, once more, the wireless of those days barking at me from all sides, wherever I went, the news of those sickening trials — the Belsen one and the others — along with its daily insults against all I loved and (what was perhaps even worse) its daily slimy sermons about the “re-education” of Germany in view of her “reintegration into a more humane and better world!” Those were the days in which, crushed to the depth, I had hated all men save the persecuted Nazi minority; in which I had aspired after nothing but the utter destruction of all humanity — including us, the henceforth powerless handful; including myself; the days in which, if I had not actually committed suicide, it had only been because, before I left this earth, I wanted to see that vulgar, idiotic, ungrateful Europe, then busy torturing her own élite — that Europe, who would have tortured our Hitler, her Saviour, had she had a chance to do so — writhe and groan, and bleed to death, one day, never mind under whose whip, to my delight.
Once more, for a minute, I felt all the bitterness, all the passion, all the despair of those weeks and months, as I saw, standing before me, calm and dignified, and
friendly, that living ancient German, — that eternal German — the embodiment and symbol of the regenerate master race, vanquished and persecuted, for the time being, by its inferiors.
I put my arms around her neck and my face against hers, and kissed her.
“There are no ‘war criminals’ in my eyes,” said I; “there are only victims of the slaves of Jewry. You are my comrade — and my superior, for you have suffered. I am proud to meet you; and proud to share your captivity, now that I can do nothing else for our ideals.”
A tear rolled down one of my checks as I spoke. The sky blue eves with golden eyelashes gazed at me intently, with tears also in them. H. E. embraced me as an old friend. “It is the first time I feel, since those horrid days, that someone really loves us,” said she, with deep emotion.
“I have crossed land and sea — half the world — to tell you and all faithful Germans that I love and admire you, perhaps even more now, in the dark hours of tribulation, than when you ruled the earth from the Volga to the Atlantic and from the Arctic Ocean to the Libyan desert. I am glad I have come at last. I have seen your invincible spirit (I am nine months in Germany). And I want it to triumph. And it is bound to triumph, sooner or later. The world belongs — in the long run — to the pure-blooded warriors who fight for health and order and truth to prevail.”
“It does one good to hear you after all that we suffered,” replied H. E. “It makes one feel that, even vanquished, we have not fought entirely in vain.”
“In vain! Of course not,” said I. “Already Adolf Hitler has raised Germany to the status of a holy land in the eyes of every worthy Aryan of the world. Otherwise, I would not be here.”
H. E. gave me a proud and happy smile. “Tell me,” said she, “what is it exactly you did.”
“I distributed leaflets and stuck up posters bearing the following words — which I wrote myself — under a large black swastika,” answered I. And I recited to her the whole text of my papers.
“What, now, in 1949?” she exclaimed, after listening attentively.
“Yes; and in 1948 also.”
“Splendid! And how right you are about the hunger and humiliation! And about the plunder of our country by those hypocrites!” said she. “But are you sure, that ‘he’ is alive — really?”
“Oh, if only you were right!”
“I have confidence in those who know.”
“But tell me again: We who are here and in a hundred other prisons for having done our duty with all our hearts, how long more have we to suffer? It is already nearly four years since I was arrested.”
“None will remain here for more than a year or two longer,” said I. “The inexorable Nemesis that awaits these people will come. Nothing can prevent it. And perhaps our enemies will set us free before it comes. They can do anything, when they are afraid. Perhaps you and I shall leave this place together, who knows? And I honestly tell you: I would then be even happier on account of your release than of my own. I mean it. For you have suffered enough.”
“Oh, now it is nothing! You should know all we went through in 1945!”
“You will tell me, one day.”
“I shall. For we must meet again — and as often as we can.”
“Surely. But listen; I was going to forget to tell you something very important: I have heaps of white bread, here, porridge, tea with milk and sugar and what not. As you can imagine, I only accepted the British diet in order that you, my comrades, might profit by it. One of the wardresses came this morning and asked me if I could not give her a slice of white bread for one prisoner who is sick and cannot digest the other. I gave it gladly. But I have plenty more, not only from this morning but from yesterday. Take it — and the tea and porridge also, and whatever I can put by — for yourself and for those who share our faith.”
“I do thank you!” exclaimed H. E. “I love tea! — and so do the others. I’ll give the porridge to H.B. — another one from the Belsen trial. She works hard and is always hungry.”
“What do you get to eat in the mornings?”
“A single slice of black bread and a tin of chicory, without sugar or milk,” said my new friend, confirming what I had heard two days before.
“But they must not see you in the corridor with all that food and drink, or there will be trouble,” put in the nurse, who seemed quite willing to help us provided it could be done quietly.
“I’ll hide it all under my apron,” said H. E.; “see; like this. Nobody will find out.”
“Do come back when you can! I’ll put by for you whatever I can spare. I don’t eat much.”
“But you must eat, to keep up your strength.”
“The mere knowledge that I will soon be given, in my trial, a new opportunity for defying our enemies, makes me feel strong and happy. Every time I think of it . . . it is as though I had wings . . .”
My new friend pressed my hand in hers. “I must
be going, now. I’ll come back,” said she. “Auf wiedersehen!”
I gazed at her and smiled, and then, took a glance at the nurse. “She may not be on our side, but she would do us no harm,” I thought. And turning to H. E. and raising my right arm I said: “Heil Hitler!”
“Heil Hitler!” repeated she, as she returned my salute.
“You should not do that,” said the nurse in a whisper, on the threshold of my cell. “You never know who might be looking in through the spy hole.”
* * *
A day or two later, I was again taken to the infirmary. A different doctor, — a short, thin man, with reddish hair —walked in just as I entered. “The mental doctor,” thought I.
The nurse in charge and H. E. were not, this time, allowed to remain in the room.
The doctor bade me take a chair, seated himself opposite me, and started talking to me, apparently, in a friendly manner, in reality, with studied purposefulness — to find out if the working of my mind presented anything “pathological,” in which case he would report me as “unfit to undergo trial.”
One hears of prisoners who, intentionally, do all they can to appear as “pathological cases.” I was surely not going to take that course. I was much too keen on being tried. Even if that meant speaking to the Court — that is to say, to the German public — only for half an hour, I was not going to miss the opportunity. So I was just natural — as I had been before the men who had cross-questioned me in Cologne and in Düsseldorf; as I had been, from my childhood, in any of those innumerable
talks in which I had shocked average people as a matter of course, without even taking the trouble to do so; without caring whether I did so or not.
The doctor noted a few particulars about my family, education, and life.
“Half Greek, half English, with a little Italian blood on your father’s side, born and brought up in France, and wedded to an Indian. . . . If ever any one had the right to be an internationalist, it is undoubtedly you!”
“No,” said I: “I am a nationalist of every Aryan country. It is not the same thing.”
Amazed as he was at the glaring accuracy of that altogether unexpected summary description of myself, the doctor was, perhaps, still more taken aback by the spontaneity with which I had opposed it to his casual statement. Decidedly, I knew who I was and what I wanted.
I pursued — less with a view to enlighten the professional psychiatrist than for the pleasure of thrusting at the presumed Democrat the flawless consistency of my position
“What is an ‘internationalist’? A man who loves all nations as his own? No; but a fellow who loves only himself — and his lesser, his lower, his least valuable self at that; his dull amusements; his silly little hobbies — and who has discovered, in the empty phraseology of our decadent epoch, a marvellous excuse to live for nothing and to die for nobody. I am not — I never was — that! I might be the daughter of people of different nationalities, in the narrow sense of the word, but I am (thank goodness for that!) of one single race, the Aryan, and I put my race above myself, — and above others; and the everlasting ideals which the best men of my race have
embodied from time immemorial, are the only thing I have ever really lived for. Any country that boldly stands for them is my country.
“I have loved Greece passionately, not merely for the fascination of her far-gone past, but because, outside a repulsive, Levantinised, French-speaking apish minority of Greeks, product of decay, there are, still today, — after centuries of non-Aryan influences — thousands of healthy peasants and sailors who live honourably and in beauty, as Hellenes; because there are, in genuine modern Greek literature, sprang from the people, supremely beautiful works, in which the age-old cult of strong, sane, all-round perfection, is masterfully expressed. I have loved the English because, as a whole, they are a fine nation, endowed with many solid Nordic qualities — incomparably better than their leaders. I have loved India, because, being what she is, a land of many races, she has clung throughout centuries to the only social system fit for such a land — a system such as we would extend to the whole world, if we were to rule it. And I love Germany as the living symbol of Aryan regeneration in our times: the cradle of National Socialism; the Führer’s hallowed fatherland. I would not do less for her than I would have done for Greece when I was an adolescent. By the decree of a strange Destiny, I have experienced — lived — not one, but several nationalisms, unusual as this may be. All are alike — amazingly alike. And behind all, there is — and always was, from the very beginning — that insatiable yearning after the ideal beauty of my own race, on the physical and on all other planes; that worship of eternal Perfection in a perfect human élite, an élite ‘like unto the Gods’, to use an expression current in Homer.”
“And have you met any men and women who actually
represent, in your eyes such an élite?” asked the mental practitioner.
“Few, in the wide world, in all my life; many — in proportion — in this martyred land, where I have lived only nine months,” said I.
“And you would be prepared to die for Germany?”
“Gladly,” replied I with the unwavering directness of conviction. “Germany herself has died — materially — for the Aryan race. I am sorry I have not died with her, in 1945.” I paused. In my mind, I recalled the unforgettable sight that had struck my eyes in my first Journey: against the golden background of a summer’s sunset, the endless succession of torn and charred walls that lead once been Hamburg; and the other cities through which I had passed — heaps of ruins; and all that I had seen since. “But,” I added, after a few seconds, “one day, she shall rise in power and glory from the dead.”
I then imagined some thousands of little men like the psychiatrist — “crusaders to Europe” and fighters “for peace and Democracy” (and the interests of big businessmen) — running away or trying to run away before tight formations of irresistible tanks; and I smiled in anticipation. Fortunately — for him — the psychiatrist did not ask me why I was smiling.
“Would you never help a people who were not of Aryan stock?” asked he, instead.
I reflected: “Why not?” In fact, I had done so already, during this war, although in a very humble, non-spectacular manner. . . . And I remembered my exultation at the news of the fall of Singapore, and of Rangoon, of Mandalay, — of Akyab, on the border of Bengal — one after the other; and also . . . at the news of certain detached sections of the Democratic forces in Burma, now and then
suddenly and mysteriously encircled by the Japanese, and killed off as they tried to escape from the jungle set on fire, news which the papers, as a rule, did not report. Oh, those glorious days!
“I surely would, if such a people were our allies,” said I, with perfect truthfulness, in answer to the doctor’s question, “or,” — I pursued, in order to give the conversation a trend as philosophical as possible — “if they were struggling, be it against a nation of more or less Aryan stock, who had tried to impose upon them one of the great international equalitarian superstitions, such as Christianity. In 1780, for instance, I would have willingly helped Tupac Amaru in his rising against the Spaniards and the Catholic Church in Peru, in the name of the rights of the Inca, children of the Sun, from whom he was descended. First, there was nothing better to do in Europe, in those days, as far as I remember. And then, I prefer anyhow a healthy, nature-worshipping tribe of Red Indians, in its place, to so-called Aryans who go about preaching — and practising — the gospel of legalised interbreeding among the Christian converts of all races; whose outlook on life leads to the growth of a bastardized mankind. Moreover, the Spaniards . . .”
I was going to launch into a historical dissertation about the import of Carthaginian and, later, of Moorish blood in the bulk of the population of Spain, but the psychiatrist interrupted me.
“Why are you so mercilessly against all mixture of races?” he asked me. “You must admit that some exceptional individuals had both what you call Aryan blood, and other blood too.”
“Anyone with a slight knowledge of history admits it,” said I. And to make it clear that I, — that we — are not afraid of facing facts, I became explicit. “There is
for instance, the poet Pushkin,” I added. “And the greatest philosopher-king of Antiquity, Akhnaton of Egypt . . .”
“Well, then . . . ?”
“Such instances are glaring exceptions. They do not impair the fact that ‘all the great cultures of the past have sunk into nothingness because the original, creative race’ (who had evolved each one of them) ‘died out, through contamination of blood’,”1 answered I, quoting a well-known sentence of the Chapter 11 of the first part of Mein Kampf. “Great individuals who happen to be of mixed blood — and who are great in spite of it, not because of it — cannot but recognise that truth themselves, if they be sincere. Akhnaton did, for one, accept the principle of the separation of races as the natural and desirable order of affairs, decreed by the Sun.” And I quoted the verses of the “Longer Hymn to the Sun,” written three thousand three hundred years ago by the young Pharaoh, “Living in truth”:
“Thou hast put every man in his place,
Thou hast made them different in shape and in
Speech, and in the colour of their skins;
As a divider, Thou hast divided the foreign people.”
“It is perhaps precisely because his splendid solar philosophy was so thoroughly Aryan in spirit,2 that the Egyptians rejected it,” I added.
And I was ready to quote Sir Wallis Budge and Pendlebury. “Those ‘re-educators’ of Germany have the obnoxious habit of taking us Nazis for ignorant fanatics. I shall show this man that we are anything but that,”
1 Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, I, Chap. XI, p. 316 (edit. 1939).
2 Modern scholars have pointed out its similarity to that expressed in the Rig-Veda.
thought I, with malicious satisfaction. But again, he did not give me an opportunity to pursue my discourse. He was obviously more interested in my attitude to personal problems than in my views on archaeology.
“What do you do with the right of the individual to choose the mate he pleases?” he asked me.
“I strongly deny any such ‘right’,” replied I sincerely. “At least, I deny it to all individuals save those who, of their own account, put the interest of superior mankind above everything else — the only ones who are worthy to be free, for they will never misuse their freedom.” I had answered some of the doctor’s very first questions frankly enough for him to know already that I had never “misused my freedom” in any way.
“And you stand for the sterilisation of the unfit no less than of the cross-breeds, as the Nazis all do?”
“Absolutely. I might be — unfortunately — less intelligent, less efficient, and especially less supple than many of my comrades and superiors (otherwise I would not be here),” said I “but I am not less Nazi than any of them.” I uttered these last words with unconcealed pride, glad to be the last among the world’s élite rather than the first among the more popular worshippers of mediocrity.
“Would you go as far as upholding the elimination of the unfit?” asked the psychiatrist.
“If you mean the elimination of the idiots, of the insane, and of all those afflicted with painful or repulsive incurable diseases, yes, most certainly. But I would be willing to keep a person who, though from our standpoint unfit to have children, is, in other ways, active and capable and willing to work; especially if he or she shares our ideals wholeheartedly and can therefore be as useful as many of those who breed families.”
“In other words, you do not accept the value and dignity of every human being.”
“Nor the right of every man to live?”
“Certainly not. The dregs of humanity have no right to live — and no right to immobilise in their service the energies of healthy people. Shall I tell you of an experience of mine?”
“Well, long ago, — it was, if my memory does not fail me, in February, or March, 1922 — I visited the famous asylum of Laforce, in the Southwest of France. I was sixteen (in fact, I had to say I was eighteen in order to be allowed in). Such a repulsive collection of monsters I had never imagined when I had been told of ‘idiots’! The sight has haunted me for years. I felt not pity, but physical loathing, as in front of something unclean. But what made me downright indignant was to witness those numerous young, perfectly healthy, and sometimes pretty nurses, go to and from one of the idiots to the other, — bustling, loving, maternal — to wipe spittle from some hanging jaw, or to remove a bedpan from under some inert, speechless, brainless, distorted body. It shocked me. It disgusted me — like the sight of a man devoting his whole life to a chimpanzee would shock all sane people; more so, in fact, for a normal chimpanzee is at any rate better than those freaks; a healthy fish is; any healthy creature is. To think of the time and devotion wasted upon the monsters for the sole reason that they, are supposed to have a ‘human soul’, and to realise that such ‘abnegation’ is admired, in most Christian countries, — instead of being despised, as something absurd and degrading — would have been more than enough to make me hate the Christian attitude to life, if I had not
done so already. It was enough to make me greet with cheers, a few years later, the much criticised application, in Hitler’s new Germany, of moral standards more worthy of a strong and sane nation of Aryan blood. The remorseless cult of health, of sanity, — of beauty — is surely one of the features of National Socialism that has the most powerfully attracted me.”
“Don’t you see any beauty in the feelings which your system mercilessly crushes out of existence,” asked the psychiatrist.
“What feelings? The sickly affection which a potential mother of healthy children squanders upon an idiot, or upon a good-for-nothing fellow with rotten lungs or rotten genitals?” replied I, indignantly. “No; indeed, I can see no ‘beauty’ there. I despise such feelings. Not only would I grant them no possibility of satisfaction whatsoever, if I had a say in the management of any country, but I would turn out of the country (or simply liquidate) any person who encourages them in himself or in others. Such people are degenerates — therefore undesirables. For there is, I repeat, no beauty in degeneracy.”
“But what about the feelings of a healthy man or woman for another healthy person of the opposite sex from what you and your friends call an ‘inferior race’?”
“There too,” said I, “there is nothing but an insult to the divine laws of order and propriety; no beauty, but only shame.”
“But think of all the suffering your system would bring into the world, — which it did, in fact, bring, during the short time it remained in force! You take no account whatsoever of individual happiness.”
“Indeed not, of the individual happiness of sickly-minded people! We could not care less what ‘human
tragedies’ our effort to build a beautiful world might provoke in their lives. If individuals will cultivate morbid feelings, — feelings unworthy of a superior race — in the midst of a well-organised healthy Aryan society, then they must suffer. There is nothing in that to make a fuss about. It is just an uninteresting — and, moreover, temporary — detail in our grand new civilisation. And what happens now is far worse. Now, it is we — the sane and virile — who have to suffer in the midst of a society organised for the survival and success of the weak, and ugly, and morbid and mediocre; of all the worthless; a society that draws the little inspiration it pretends to have, from ideals of sickness and disintegration and death.”
The mental doctor gazed at me. Decidedly, I knew what I wanted. It would never be of any use trying to convert me to the “humanitarian” and democratic conception of life. And I was certainly not mad. I only, perhaps, at times, seemed slightly abnormal, but precisely for the apparently total lack, in me, of that little dose of instability and inconsistency, of those human contradictions, that all “normal” people possess — save we. It was interesting to try to measure how complete that lack was. The psychiatrist asked me: “How long is it that you have these views?”
“I have always had them,” replied I. And this was absolutely true — too true for the doctor to believe at once. “How, ‘always’?” said he.
“Yes, always,” answered I. “Once, when I was ten, I was sitting in the corner of a tram-car in my native town, with a book in my hand — Poèmes Barbares, of Leconte de Lisle, which I was bringing home — and I was sobbing. The words I had just read were those put by the French poet in the mouth of an old bard deploring
the end of the Heathen world and the coming of Christianity, the religion of the meek:
“. . . . the axe has mutilated the forests;
The slave crawls and prays, where swords once
And all the Gods of Erinn have gone away. . . .”1
And I, — the future Nazi — was sobbing because the old Heathen world of the strong, of the proud, of the beautiful, — ancient Aryandom — had been obliterated, and because I thought I could do nothing to bring it back.”
The doctor asked me many questions more about my childhood. I answered with ease, for I remember my whole life with extreme lucidity.
“Admittedly, you have no ties now,” said the practitioner at last. “You love nobody in the world but those who share your views and serve your cause, and do not care two hoots what might happen to the others, be they your nearest kith and kin.”
“Perfectly true! And that is why I am free — even now. For what can one do to a person with no ties?”
“Yes; but try to remember and tell me: had you no ties in the very beginning, in your earliest childhood, long, long ago, — before you felt, in so strange a manner, the lure of ancient Barbarity? Before you were a potential National Socialist?”
“I always was a potential National Socialist, even then,” replied I, to the surprise of the psychiatrist. “I mean that I always had the unwavering faith and ruthless determination of one, in my very blood. As far as
1 “. . . la bathe a mutilé les bois,
L’esclave rampe et prie, où chantaient les épées,
Et tous les Dieux d’ Erinn sont partis à la fois.”
(“Le Barde de Temrah”)
I can go back into my past, doubt and compromises and ‘problems’ were foreign to me. When I was less than two, and used to sit in my perambulator and pull the tassels off my blue and white woolen rug, one by one, exclaiming ‘you come’! (I remember that and other details as though it were yesterday), then already, I divided people into three groups — as I do now — the useful ones; the indifferent and harmless; and the dangerous. But, naturally, I was then still self-centred, or hardly beginning to grow out of my self-centredness, and ‘useful’ were those who did immediately and without protest what I wanted; who gave me a plaything I coveted, or let me walk when I wanted to walk and stop when I wanted to stop. The dangerous ones were all those who hindered me, and, I must say, even more, those who harmed any animal or spoilt any plant — for I loved living creatures, as I do still; I found them beautiful, and it is through them that I spontaneously grew detached from myself. Hardly a little older, I could, if left to do so, inflict endless studied suffering by way of reprisal upon anyone who had kicked a dog or pinned a live butterfly on a piece of cardboard. And I never forgot such deeds. And never forgave any man or child who had committed them.
Soon the ideal of a just and healthy world — of a world from which all injurers of living beauty would be drastically eliminated; in which I would no longer be told that I was to ‘forgive’ them for the sake of little Jesus — became, in my consciousness, the centre and measure of all things, in the place of my insignificant self. And I looked upon myself as the champion of such an ideal. And the ‘useful’ people became, in my eyes, those alone who seemed to forward it — not those who did good to me, as a person, but those who felt and thought as I did, just as now; and the dangerous ones were those who attempted to persuade
me that there were things more lovable than my dream of beauty, things such as, for instance ‘sick and suffering humanity’ to which healthy, beautiful and innocent beasts could be sacrificed. How I hated those people and their mania of saving what I never loved, and considered not worth saving! But what I want to say is that, whether at the age of two or twelve or forty, I have never really loved or hated a person but for what he or she represented in my eyes; not for his or her love or hatred of me, but for his or her love or hatred of the ideal which I loved. Only indifferent Nature I have always loved for her beauty alone.”
“And you were never worried by the problems of so many adolescents?” asked the psychiatrist.
“Problems?” repeated I, with a certain contempt, “no, I never experienced the existence of any — save of . . . economic ones, in later life. The others, the psychological ones, the sexual ones, etc., that seem to worry so many people, I looked upon as things totally foreign to me, out of my reach, but of which it was good for me to acquire some purely bookish knowledge in order to be able to write about them at my University examinations. Especially all that fuss about Freud and his ‘‘repressions’ — very fashionable in my College days — I witnessed with contempt. ‘Decadent stuff’, I thought, and nothing more. And I was much amused when I heard of the somewhat rough manner we handled the old Yid before kicking him out of the Third Reich. ‘I wish all those who spend their time trying to discover “complexes” within themselves instead of doing something more useful were treated likewise,’ I often said. I surely never gave a thought to such things . . .”
“But,” said the doctor, “there are other psychological problems; there are conflicts of allegiances, for instance . . .”
“Not for me! I have only one allegiance!”
“But supposing, for the sake of argument, that you came to know that someone whom you loved had worked against your cause, would that not be painful to you?”
“It would be painful to me to think that I did not know it before, to have him or her liquidated in time, yes. But where is the ‘moral conflict’ in such a feeling?”
“But if you loved the person?”
“As soon as I would know of treason, I could not love him or her any longer. On the contrary, I could feel but loathing for such a person.”
The psychiatrist forgot how accurately he had himself summed up my mentality only a while before, and asked me a silly question. “But,” said he, supposing it were someone who, from the start, had never had your views . . . ?”
“In that case, I never would have loved him or her, from the start. There could have been, between us, at the most, relations of courtesy, even cordial relations — if I judged it necessary, or expedient — but deeper feelings (on my side at least) would have been out of question. No. Remember please that people like me — like us — people with a single allegiance, are free from ‘moral conflicts’. That is our strength.”
“That makes you monstrous.”
“People who aspire to supermanhood are bound to look monstrous, to men of a decaying civilisation,” said I, as though speaking to all Democrats in the name of all National Socialists.
“There is no superman-hood, and there never will be a super-mankind,” replied the psychiatrist. “There is only our poor, imperfect but dear humanity — dear in
spite of all its weaknesses; our living humanity, full of contradictions, of inconsistencies, worried by ever-recurring problems, who struggles and suffers . . .”
“Gosh, what the long-drawn influence of a Jewish religion can bring some people to value!” exclaimed I, with the feeling that all our opponents had indeed spoken through that red haired man seated before me. “Well, I know nothing is absolute and therefore nothing can be perfect within time, especially at the end of a period of decay like our age is. But if you love present day humanity as it is, I tell you I don’t. And never shall. I love the living gods — my comrades, in my eyes the forerunners of a regenerate age. And if they are not destined to rule the world, well, away with such a world! Quickly a shower of atom bombs upon it and, in the place of its meaningless chatter about ‘love’ and ‘peace’, the voice of the howling wind over its ruins, — and ours!”
The psychiatrist got up. So did I. The interview had been long, very long. I was only sorry that it had not been public.
I was taken back to my cell. And there, I ate two slices of white bread and orange marmalade, with the best of appetites — feeling grateful to mother Nature for having made me one of the living instances of what Mr. Grassot, of the French Information Department in Baden Baden had called on the 9th of October, 1949 our “appalling logic.” Then, I smeared a third slice, and a fourth one, and put them by for my new friend H. E. to take on the following morning. Then, I sat at my table and continued Chapter 4 of my Gold in the Furnace.
* * *
My new friend now came every morning with the sister in charge. She stayed two or three minutes, took the
food and drink I had for her, exchanged a few pleasant words with me, and went away.
One day she came, not with the nurse, but with one of the wardresses, and for once sat down upon the stool which I offered her. “I came today with Frau So-and-so, so that we might talk a little freely,” said she, as the wardress seated herself upon my bed. “Frau So-and-so is ‘in order’.”
The wardress gave us a smile of assent; and H. E. continued; “Ever since they have arrested us, these people have been trying to rub into our heads that we are monsters on account of the things we did, especially of the gassing of the Jews. The priests they have sent us to bring us back to Christian feelings have been repeating the same to us, for three and a half years, namely that that, of all things, was something appalling. You are not a German, although one of us. You have in these matters an impartiality that none of those enemies of Germany can pretend to have. Tell me frankly: what do you think of that feature of our régime?”
“It was necessary,” replied I unhesitatingly. “The only pity is that, first, so many dangerous Jews were never gassed, never even arrested; and second, that the slaves of Jewry were not gassed with their masters — to continue to serve them in the next world, if such a thing exists, like the slaves of dead chiefs were supposed to follow them, in remote antiquity. I admit it would have been doing the Yids a great honour, to give them an escort of pure Aryans to the gates of Hades; but it would have cleansed the Third Reich — and the world — of a considerable number of traitors.”
Both the wardress and H. E. smiled.
“How nicely you put it!” exclaimed my new friend. “But, — I am only telling you, for the sake of talk,
what ‘they’ say on the other side — it seems that ‘it is wrong’; that it is a ‘crime against humanity’.”
“Humanity! Let me laugh!” I burst out. “How long will you and others condescend to listen to their Christian twaddle? What would you do if you had bugs in your bed, sucking your blood? What would ‘they’ do — our opponents, the wonderful ‘humanitarian’ Democrats (who cease being ‘humanitarians’ when it comes to showering phosphorus bombs by the million over Germany, as you must know better than I); what would the clergymen whom they send you do, in similar circumstances? Kill off the bugs, naturally. And their eggs with them. And they would not care how they would do it, as long as it were quickly done. Yet bugs are so made by nature that they cannot possibly be anything else but parasites; while Jews could go and work with their hands, like better races do, but will not. They have chosen to be, from the beginning of time, the parasites of every other nation kind enough to let them live, be it ancient Egypt, be it modern Germany. And when at last, the exploited nation, driven to exasperation, becomes aware of their unseen joke and awakes and begins to treat them as parasites, then, they pose as martyrs, and expose ‘antisemitism’, and finance atrocity campaigns all over the world, and succeed — alas! — in uniting all the uncritical, squeamish ‘humanitarians’, all the ‘decent people’ of the world against that nation, the clever rogues! But it is no fault of theirs, I readily admit. They have always been what they are. It is, first, the fault of those idiots of Aryan blood who have tolerated them so long — who, even, have more than once made use of them (as the princes and dukes of old did) to squeeze money out of other Aryans, (their subjects but, I say, their brothers). It is the fault of all those who have, in the past and now, treated racial
differences lightly and who have preached that a Jew who becomes a Christian is as good as any Christian of Aryan blood, or that a Jew domiciled in Germany is a German and a Jew domiciled in England an Englishman and so forth. . . . Such rubbish! It is the fault of all those who were and who are taken in by that nonsensical talk, as though they had no brains to think better and no eyes to see the glaring truth all around them. It is never the fault of the bugs, if a house is overrun with them; it is the fault of the housewife . . .”
“My God! You are right!” exclaimed H. E. “There is no difference whatsoever between what you say and what they used to tell us, during our training, in the Hitler days.”
“I should think not!” said I. “It is not because I was not here, during the great days, that I am less aware of the truth than those who were. And it is not because I was brought up in one of the countries that make the most fuss about Democracy, — namely France — that I stand for order and authority. and for drastic steps wherever the future of the Aryan race is concerned, any less than you; or that I am in the least, less devoted to our Führer.”
H. E. smiled, and squeezed my hand warmly. “My dear, I never doubted it!” said she. “Indeed, when I think of you, I only regret that you were not here in our days. You would have been happy. And you would have been given among us a place worthy of your fervour and capability.”
“All I regret is that I could have been a little more useful in Europe during the war than I was so far away in the East . . . and also that . . .”
“And also what?”
“And also,” said I, “that I have never seen the
Führer — nor any of his great collaborators. You have seen him, surely?”
“Yes, many times. I have greeted him in the streets of Berlin, as thousands of others have. But I have never spoken to him.”
The wardress got up and told me that, although she would very much like to please me, she could not possibly remain with H. E. any longer in my cell. “But,” she added, “if I am on duty on Sunday afternoon, I’ll bring her again.”
“Yes, do! I will be so grateful to you,” said I. “And is it not possible for me to come in contact with one or two more of my comrades?”
“I’ll see,” said the wardress; “I’ll see what I can do.”
H. E. saluted me: “Heil Hitler!” “Sister Maria — the nurse in charge — does not want us to say that,” she explained, “but Frau So-and-so is one of us.” Frau So-and-so smiled sympathetically.
“Heil Hitler!” said I, raising my hand.
* * *
Life continued for me, happy, in the expectation of my trial soon to some. I finished Chapter 4 of my Gold in the Furnace, and started writing Chapter 5, about “de-Nazification.” I put all the fervour of my heart into my work; and the words I wrote were words of faith in the future. “What a difference with ‘46’ and ‘47’!” I often thought to myself. “Then, I was free — and desperate. Now I am captive, but I know we shall rise again, one day. As long as that is true, what does the rest matter?”
And I remembered a play that I had written in those awful days, — a play entitled Akhnaton, that pictured the
persecution of the most beautiful form of Sun worship in Antiquity, under the Pharaoh Horemheb. Nobody had even suspected the meaning of that play — save a handful of English-knowing German friends of mine. Now, I quoted at the top of the page, under the title of my Chapter 5, — “De-Nazification” — the words of the old hymn of hate intoned by the priests of Amon as they cursed King Akhnaton, after his death:
“Woe to thine enemies, O Amon!
Thy City endures,
. . . But he who assailed thee falls . . .”
“From a literary standpoint, much better, but in spirit, just as bad as the speeches of the self-appointed custodians of ‘human values’ at Nüremberg,” thought I. And a cold sensation ran through my spine as I realised, perhaps better than ever, that, in the realm of Time, the fury of our enemies is as lasting as our divine philosophy; that there always were vested interests opposed to our truth; that there always would be, as along as Time lasted. But still, nothing can destroy us. And, below the ancient words of victorious hate, I quoted one of the undying sentences of our Führer: “Every attempt to combat a ‘Weltanschauung’ by force fails in the end, so long as it does not take the form of an attack in favour of a new spiritual conception.”1
And for a while, I thought of the encouragement contained in those true words: What “new spiritual conception” could indeed supersede ours, the one which is, in the Führer’s own very words, “in full harmony with the original meaning of things”?2
1 Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, I, Chapter 5, edit. 1939, p. 189.
2 Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, II, Chapter 2, edit. 1939, p. 440.
Out of touch with my free comrades; out of touch with Herr W. — now surely, like I, “on remand” in some prison — out of touch with my husband and with my friends abroad, yet, I felt myself linked to all Germany and to all the world, even more so than when I had been free. And although from my cell I could see neither the sky nor the Sun, I felt myself linked to them beyond the world. When I guessed the red glow of evening behind my nontransparent windowpanes, I would put my stool upon the table and stand on it, and gaze at the fiery Disk through the narrow opening at the top of the window, and pray: “Put Thy power in me, Source of all power! And keep on inspiring me, that my life may always be a beautiful hymn to Thy glory, and a testimony to truth!” And when, after that, I again sat down to write, I felt that the strength and brightness of the Sun filled indeed my whole being, and set the seal of duration — the seal of truth — upon what I wrote.
Once a day, I was taken out for a quarter of an hour’s walk around the courtyard, by myself, under the supervision of the wardress who happened to be on duty. For I was still “on remand,” and had not the right to join the other prisoners in their “free hour” — which was also, most of the time, a free half hour or a free quarter of an hour.
In the evenings the wardresses on duty often used to come and have a few minutes’ talk with me in my cell. They were mostly young women, curious to hear something about the wide world, and perhaps even more, keen on questioning a foreign National Socialist who had proved her sincerity. I soon learnt to know them by their names, and to like some of them more than others. H. E. — who now came regularly every morning — had told me of four who, to her knowledge, were “ganz in
Ordnung,” i.e., who shared our faith wholeheartedly, whether officially “de-Nazified” or not. I loved those, naturally. I knew I could rely upon them. But I must say that the others behaved also in a friendly manner towards me. None seemed to look upon me as anything else but a genuine friend of Germany — a praiseworthy person. They held, however (and how rightly!) that I perhaps could have been more useful, had I been a little less trusting and more supple.
They often asked me about the things I had seen in the Near and Middle East, in the course of my travels. And I evoked before them the ruined temples of Upper Egypt, and the Valley of the Tombs of the Kings, and the Nile between Aswan and Wadi-Alfa; or the austere splendour of the desert of Iraq, under the moon; or the beauty of the Malabar coast or of the Bengali countryside, just after the rains. And they asked me about my life in India, and about India during the war.
I spoke lengthily about the appalling Bengal famine of 1943 — the result of the general requisition of the rice harvest by the British, for the British and American troops in Burma and for the staff of the “indispensable services” in case of emergency. I evoked as forcifully and as vividly as I could the endless rows of starving men, women, and children — living skeletons — come from the countryside to await death along the busy avenues of Calcutta; and those whom one met seeking for something to eat in the stinking dust-heaps, while fighters for Democracy, stuffed with food — and whisky, at eighty rupees a bottle — could be seen tottering out of “Firpo’s” — the fashionable ultramodern restaurant — and getting sick upon the pavement. “One third of the population of Bengal is said to have died of starvation or of the consequences of long-drawn undernourishment,” added I.
“And the people who were at the bottom of that are those who, in 1945, had the impudence to pose as defenders of ‘humanity’ and to accuse the vanquished of ‘war crimes’.”
The reaction of my listeners was the reaction I had obtained all over Germany, wherever I had related what I had seen in Calcutta from March to December, 1943. “Yes, how dare they speak of us?” they all agreed. And I thought: “These women had perhaps never heard of the Bengal famine before. Now, they will go home and comment upon it in the presence of other Germans. And that will contribute to increase the general loathing for the hypocrites now busy dismantling the German factories in the name of peace and trying to keep down National Socialism in the name of liberty. So, I suppose I am not entirely useless, even here . . .”
One of the wardresses asked me if, during the war, there were many people in India on our side.
“That all depends when,” I answered. “In 1940, everybody was on our side — save the British settlers, the Anglo-Indians, who aped them, and, naturally, the Jews. You should have seen the enthusiasm at the news of the fall of France; at the expectation of the fall of England! That lasted till 1942. In 1943, it was already beginning to wane. In 1944, it was gone. In 1945, many of those who had spoken the loudest, even before the war, about the “unbreakable bonds of Aryan solidarity” and so forth, turned their coats and welcomed the “era of peace, justice and true Democracy” that the United Nations were supposed to have inaugurated. Unfortunately, I must say, this phenomenon is not particular to India. Exactly the same course of evolution has been followed by a great number of Icelanders — pure Nordic people . . .”
“And by some Germans, too . . . still more unfortunately,”
put in one of the wardresses whom I knew to be, herself, “one of us.”
* * *
One afternoon, I was taken by the wardress on duty to a room opposite the offices of the British Governor and of the Chief Warder. There, I was joined by the gentleman with the insinuating voice — Mr. Manning, I believe — who had tried in vain, in Düsseldorf, to make me tell who had printed my propaganda, and by a young English woman.
“We have come to ask you a few more questions,” said the man, as he took his seat. And he bade me sit down. “First, we have been examining your posters and the two Leaflets found in your bag very closely,” he pursued; “and we have practically come to a conclusion as to where they probably were printed. Would you care to know our conclusion?”
“And would you tell us if we are right or wrong — just that?”
“No,” replied I. “I have sworn to myself that I shall not tell you nor anyone a word concerning the printing of those papers, and I shall stick to my decision.”
“You would not even tell us ‘yes’ or ‘no’?”
“Not even ‘yes’ or ‘no’. You are not compelled to let me know what you have inferred from your examination of my leaflets. I have not asked you to.”
I spoke thus in order to hide my genuine anxiety. For I knew the police was clever — or I thought it was.
“I can see no harm in telling you,” said the man. “We strongly suspect that your papers were printed in France.”
He kept on watching me intently, expecting to detect
upon my face a sign of fear or relief. He had told me, in fact, only to provoke a reaction on my part. And his statement might even have been a complete lie, for all I know.
However, it might also have expressed a genuine opinion. And somehow, somewhere in the depth of my consciousness, I did feel the nearest approach to a sigh of relief — and to a sudden propensity to laugh; for my papers had all been printed in the heart of London. But, to my knowledge, my face — with the help of the Gods — remained as blank as though the man had been talking to me in Chinese. And I made no reply. To have said “yes” would have at once raised suspicions — “How was it that my scruples had so quickly vanished?” the man would have wondered. And he would have perhaps found out that I was trying to lead him along a false track. On the other hand, I could not have said “no.” That might have led him to think of London.
“So you will not tell us anything?” asked Mr. Manning (or whatever his name was) at last.
“What made you suppose that my papers were printed in France?” asked I, in return.
“Well . . . certain particularities in the print,” answered my interrogator. “We are practically sure of it,” he added.
“I have nothing to say,” I declared, putting on a feigned expression of concern, — as though the papers had really been printed in France and as though I feared it would soon be discovered by whom.
The man did not insist. But I believe that he felt more and more convinced (if he ever had been at all) that the propaganda had come out in black on white in some Parisian back shop. He took a paper and a penholder and noted something. Then he asked me if “I minded”
enlightening him on a few more points concerning “my past.”
“It seems you were in India during the war,” said he; “how is it that you were not in Europe working for your cause?”
“Only because I materially could not come in time,” replied I. “I did everything, absolutely everything I could to come. But I waited months for my passport. And the last Italian boat that I was hoping to take never left. Italy entered the war a fortnight too soon.”
“And you had . . . set plans, as to what you were going to do in Europe?”
I reflected: should I tell the truth or not? After all, what did it matter, now that I was caught anyhow? I did not care any longer if “they” knew.
“I intended to broadcast war propaganda in favour of the Axis, in Greek, in French, and in Bengali,” said I. In my voice one could have detected the infinite regret that I had not in fact done so. But my interlocutor looked upon me with nearly as much interest as if I had. “. . . with the deliberate intention of broadcasting on behalf of the Axis . . .” he wrote down upon his paper. And turning to me he asked: “Did the Party know of your intention?”
“I hope some members of the Party did, at least,” replied I.
“And what did you actually do in India, after the failure of your scheme?” was the next question.
My answer — in perfect keeping with the truth, if not with all the truth — sounded like a joke calculated to thrust the man from the sublime spheres of what appeared to hire as premeditated high treason, clown to utter triviality: “I fed stray cats,” said I simply.
“Cats!” exclaimed the man cross-questioning me.
“Yes, cats,” I repeated; “about hundred and fifty of them a day, during the Bengal famine, and some dogs too. Twice a day, I used to go down with rice, fish and milk for them, and feed them in turn in two or three courtyards where they used to gather. And there was a queue of about fifty of them, kittens and all, every evening along the winding iron staircase that led to my terrace. And I had thirty-five in my house alone. You can enquire whenever you like whether I am speaking the truth or not. All the locality knew me, during the war, as “the cat ‘mem-sahib’!”
“How lovely!” said, with a smile, the young woman who was sitting opposite me, listening. “I too, simply adore cats!”
My interrogator had the good sense not to ask me why I had not devoted my whole energy to human beings. He wished to avoid useless discussions. But he did say; “Surely, you did not do nothing but that?”
“Indeed not,” I replied with utmost ease. “I also wrote a pamphlet entitled Non-Hindu Indians and Indian Unity, about the Hindu-Muslim problem; and a book entitled Joy of the Sun — the life of King Akhnaton of Egypt told to young people; and another book, A Son of God about the same three thousand three hundred year-old Pharaoh.” All this was perfectly accurate. But it did not seem to satisfy my questioner’s curiosity.
“You also used to receive members of the Allied forces in your flat,” pointed out the latter at last. “Or am I mistaken?”
He was not mistaken. That, I knew. It was nearly a fortnight since I had been arrested and, evidently, thought I, some sort of an enquiry had been made about
me in India. It was no use trying to deny known facts. But, . . . there was a way of presenting them . . .
“My husband was always there when those men carne,” said I, not knowing at first what else to say — for the remark had somewhat surprised me — and pretending I wished to assert my innocence from a moral point of view.
“We never had the slightest doubts about that,” replied the man. “But how did those people become acquainted with you?”
“I used to bring them home every Wednesday evening from the ‘East and West Club’, then situated in Chowringhee Terrace,” said I, in a casual manner.
“And why were you so keen on bringing them home?”
“To put them in touch with my husband.” My words must have had the accent of sincerity, for what I said could not have been more true.
“Ah, ah!” . . . muttered the police official.
“Certainly,” pursued I, with imperturbable assurance; “my husband as an Indian, and an old-fashioned one, a real one, well-versed in Sanskrit lore, astrology, etc., and all subjects particular to India. Now, the very purpose, the raison d’être of the ‘East and West Club’ — the laudable intention of Rev. Charles Milford and of his wife Mary Milford, its founders — was precisely to put members of the Allied forces, both British and American, in touch with interesting Indians; to give then a taste of Indian home life and pleasant memories of their stay in the East. I was just fulfilling the purpose of the Club to the best of my capacity.”
Without flattering myself, this was logical, plausible; irreproachably well put.
“And what did your husband talk about with our
men?” asked my interrogator, Mr. Manning, or whatever was his name.
“I could not tell,” replied I. “Perhaps about Indian history; or about astrology, if they were interested. I was not generally present at their talks.”
“Why weren’t you?”
“Because it is not the habit of Indian wives to sit in the company of strange men. At the Club, of course, it was different. We were all modern there. But at home, I observed the old custom. At the most, after serving coffee to the men, I used to show them my cats . . .”
“And what did you talk about when alone with them at the Club or on your way home?” asked my interrogator.
“About the heat; or about Indian food; or something like that. I never used to say a word about the war, or about politics.”
“Didn’t they ever ask you what views you had?”
“Yes,” replied I; “they did. But I always told them I had none, and that I was interested only in Antiquity. It avoided all possible unpleasantness . . .”
The man took to questioning me about my husband. “Does he hold the same views as you?” he asked me.
“I hope so,” answered I. “I used to believe he did, of course. But, as I said already in Düsseldorf, I know nothing of other people’s views — although I cannot help feeling that any high-caste Indian proud of his own tradition is bound to hold our views, knowingly or unknowingly.”
“Your husband seems in sympathy with you all right, if one judges him by his letters,” declared the man. “How long is it since you have not seen him?”
“Over three years.”
“And he does not feel lonely, without you?”
“I hope not. I believe him to be spiritually rich enough never to feel ‘lonely’. I never do, who am, spiritually — and intellectually — his inferior.”
“I cannot understand why on earth he married you.”
“It would perhaps be better to ask him,” replied I, with a pinch of irony.
The young woman who was present exclaimed: “A very good answer!”
At last Mr. Manning — or whoever he was — asked me how I had managed to distribute my papers in public places all over Germany, for so long, without getting into trouble.
“I suppose I used to give them only to the right people,” said I.
“I am sure you did, — otherwise you would have been in jail months ago. But how did you recognise those who shared your ideology? That I would like to know.”
“I don’t know myself. I used to feel them, somehow, even before they spoke,” I replied.
“I bet she just picked out the handsome ones!” put in the woman, summing up what she thought of my way of detecting at first sight who was a National Socialist and who was not.
“Well, this was doubtless supposed to be a joke, but there is some truth in it,” said I, to the surprise of both my interlocutors. “When I used to see, in a face, not merely regular features and the external signs of health, hut that indefinable stamp of combined intelligence, willpower and fervour; of serene and patient strength, of courage and love — of all round sanity
which constitutes real beauty, then I used to say to myself: ‘This one looks like one of us; let me talk to him — and perhaps I shall give him a couple of leaflets’. And I never made a mistake, although I am no expert at reading thoughts. That alone would go to prove that every National Socialist is one among a real human élite; a brotherhood of higher beings.”
“We will see you again in Düsseldorf on the 7th,” said the man at last, putting an end to our talk. Then, I had a moment of weakness; I remembered the beginning of my book that was in the hands of the police. I could not help asking Mr. Manning (or whatever his name was) whether he had read it and what he thought of it.
“Well,” answered he, “I cannot exactly say I like it. It may be well written; I am no literary critic. But I don’t know where you went and got your information about Dunkirk. It is all false . . .”
“What is false, for instance?”
“It is false to pretend that our troops were scared of the Germans; also to say that Hitler sincerely wanted peace . . .”
“Oh, that is all right!” thought I condescendingly. “Who wants to admit that his country’s army was ever scared of anybody? And who is prepared to agree that the ‘enemy’ has acted in good faith?” I turned to the police officer: “Do you think that there is any slight possibility that my manuscript might he spared?” asked I unable not to plead in its favour at least once. “If the statements I make in it are so obviously and so shockingly false as you seem to think, then it is surely not dangerous; nobody would take it seriously. I do not intend to publish it anyhow. That is obvious from its contents.”
“I cannot answer ‘yes’ nor ‘no’,” said the man. “The decision does not lie with me.”
“Could you not at least, if they consult you, point out that the writing is not dangerous. It is too out and out National Socialistic anyhow, for anyone to take the trouble to read it, save a handful of enthusiasts . . .”
“I don’t quite agree with you there,” said the man. “Personally, had it not been for the dedication, I would not have found out that it was Nazi stuff before I came to the second chapter, (sic). As for your other manuscript,” he added, speaking of the first part of The Lightning and the Sun, “it is not political at all . . .”
I was amazed — dumbfounded. “Either this man must not have read the first line of my writing,” thought I, “or, . . . he must be a perfect idiot, or he is trying to deceive me.” But I said nothing. I prayed the invisible Powers that all my readers in the circumstance might remain blind to the meaning of my writings, and not destroy them. A slight, very slight ray of hope — which I did not dare to encourage — dawned on that day, in my consciousness, for the first time since my arrest: “Perhaps, they will spare my manuscripts all the same . . .” My reason rejected it as something utterly absurd. My heart clung to it.
* * *
On the following Sunday afternoon, as the prisoners of the D wing — the so-called “war criminals” — were corning back to their cells from the recreation room, the door of my cell was opened and . . . in stepped two of the latter; my friend H. E. and a tall, slim, also blonde younger woman. The wardress oil duty — one of those who were, in H. E.’s words, “entirely in order” locked the
door behind them. “Splendid!” exclaimed H. E.; “now, we are free for a while.”
And spontaneously, — as though a miracle had happened, and the Occupation with all its trail of shame and misery had been wiped away in the twinkling of an eye, and the grand days had come back — the three of us raised our right arms in the ritual gesture and uttered from the depth of our hearts the magical syllables — cry of deliverance; war-cry; cry of love that nothing call smother; Germany’s cry of joy at the long-delayed re-conquest of her real free self: “Heil Hitler!”
My left arm around H. E.’s waist, the flame of defiance and the light of fervour in my eyes, I stood between the two blonde daughters of resurrected Germany, I, the dark-eyed daughter of the Mediterranean; the messenger of the faithful Aryans of the Far South and of the whole world. And there was no difference between them and I.
“Once,” thought I, — after the divine minute had passed and I was again able to think — “the salute was compulsory, and the two words also. One walked into a grocer’s shop and uttered them as a matter of course, half the time without thinking about what one was saying — as one says ‘Good morning!’ — and then, turning to the shopkeeper, one added immediately: ‘Give me a pound of sauerkraut please.” . . . . Now . . . the two words, already four years forbidden, have really become holy words; now, those alone pronounce them at all, who mean them, with all their heart and soul, — who would die uttering then; and those who titter them together — as we three — feel hound to one another forever. Now, they have re-conquered their meaning and their power; the spell-like power they had, among the storm-fighters of before 1933.”
H. E. introduced me to the other prisoner, H. B.
another victim of the Belsen trial. They both sat upon my bed, and for two hours — until the feeding time came — we talked freely. “My dears,” said I, “how unpredictable is the slowly unfolding pattern of life! Three and a half years ago, when I read about those disgusting trials in the papers, and saw your names in print, among many others, and believed all was lost, who could have told me that one day, I would meet you in prison, and have the joy of telling you: ‘Nothing is lost, as long as we keep our spirit. — Hope and wait!’ And who can tell us today whether, in a few years to come, we shall not be greeting together the return of our Führer amidst the delirious enthusiasm, this time, of a whole continent? Fortunately the world is governed by the Invisible. And the Invisible laughs at the U.N.O., and at the Occupation Status and at the Control Commission, and all such ephemeral inventions of silly dabblers in politics.”
The two women told me something of the atrocious way they and the rest of the German staff in charge of the Belsen camp were treated in April 1945, when the British Military Police took possession of the place. They spoke of the lorries full of frenzied Jews, sent there especially to inflict all manner of ill-treatment upon them — and especially upon the S.S. men, warders of the camp. They described to me how, after four days’ horrid confinement, without food nor water, in their own filth, they had themselves been made to bury, with their own hands, under the threat of British bayonets, the bodies both of the dead internees and of the slain warders, and were not given even water to wash themselves of the stench, but were compelled — rather than nothing at all — to use their own urine for that purpose. They told me of the howls of the unfortunate S.S. men whom they saw disembowelled alive by creatures wearing the British Military
Police uniform (let us hope, for the honour of the Aryan race, that these had all some amount of Jewish blood) and of the thin, long-drawn, high-pitched shrieks of the tortured.
I listened intently. With my naturally vivid imagination, I pictured to myself the ghastly scenes. And I felt every hair of my skin stand erect, and an icy cold sensation run along my nerves and penetrate me through and through. It was surely not the first time that I had heard of such achievements of the fighters for peace and reformers of mankind. I knew of plenty of atrocities performed by the “maquisards” — the “heroes” of the French “résistance” — especially from August 1944 onwards; French people had told me themselves of these things in 1946. And I remembered many similar facts of which I had heard in Germany. But, few instances of anti-Nazi barbarity as repulsive as those I had just heard, had yet been related to me by the very people who had witnessed them hour after hour, for days on end. These surpassed, if possible, even the horrors of Schwarzenborn and of Darmstadt . . .
I gazed at the two women. In my mind, I recalled other tortures, outlandish ones, equally ghastly, but more long-drawn, more methodical, more scientifically studied, more artfully applied, things unheard of, that took place in imperial China, in Korea, in old Japan, and that I knew. And something akin to enthusiasm possessed me. I smiled at the vision of the wide world, spread before me, and at the endless unknown possibilities that might be offered to me, who knows how and when, in the course of the next thirty years. “My martyred comrades, my loved ones!” said I, in a clear, almost inspired voice, “‘They’ have thrown you to the Jews. May I, one day, be given the power and the opportunity to throw them
to torturers of Mongolian blood! — to yellow men, with blank faces and slit eyes. On that day, I shall avenge you! By the unseen Forces, heavenly, earthly and subterranean, that govern all things, I swear it!” And as I said that, I felt a current of power ascend my spine and emerge from the top of my head; and deathly destructive waves rush forth from my body, irresistible. In invisible space, where nothing is lost, that energy, released in an impulse of righteous indignation, is still now working to bring about the downfall of our enemies. Who can stop it?
* * *
On the 7th March, I was again taken to Düsseldorf. Snow had been falling for several days, and under the grey sky, the landscape had become dreamlike I gazed at it from the windows of the car, with passionate admiration, — conscious that the time was drawing nigh, when I would see nothing but the prison courtyard, day after day — and I talked to Miss Taylor, the English policewoman, who had come to fetch me and who sat at my side.
“You are not too unhappy in jail?” she asked me.
“I? Not at all. I am, on the contrary, very happy,” replied I. But I did not tell her that I owed most of my happiness to the fact that, glad to seize upon this opportunity of mocking the Occupation authorities, the German staff left me do practically all I liked.
“You would be happy anywhere,” remarked Miss Taylor.
“Perhaps,” said I.
In Düsseldorf, the hearing of my case was put off another week. And I was taken back to Werl in the afternoon. “I wish they could keep on adjourning my
trial like that” said I in a joke, “and thus afford me the pleasure of a motor-drive every eight days!”
On the 14th of March, once more Miss Taylor was waiting for me at 7 o’clock in the morning. Once more, from the windows of the car, I watched the scenery and the passersby, as we rolled through Dortmund, Duisburg, Essen, etc. . . . Every time I saw ruins, I inwardly prayed for speedy revenge, and I longed for the day when I would see flags bearing the swastika hang from the windows of the rebuilt houses.
At Essen, I asked to get down from the car for five minutes pretexting “a very urgent necessity.” Miss Taylor got down with me but, as I had expected, did not follow me behind the ruined wall that I had chosen as a screen between myself and possible onlookers. Taking a piece of chalk out of my pocket, I wrote upon the smooth surface that had once been a part of a German home, the sweet, the triumphal — and now defiant — words that contain the whole of my emotional life: “Heil Hitler!” Sooner or later, from that road on the side of which the car was now waiting for me, or from another, someone, — some German workman out of employ, cursing the damned Occupation for his present-day misery; some housewife, remembering how lovely life was, under the Führer’s rule, compared with now — would come to this lonely spot and read them. And for a minute, his or her heart would beat in tune with mine, thought I.
At Düsseldorf, I was confronted in Court with my unfortunate collaborator — Herr W. — I, on the bench of the accused; he, although still himself a prisoner on remand, in the witness box. He looked dejected — if not quite so much so as when I had had a glimpse of him, two days after my arrest. Doubtless, he had suffered in prison.
He gave a very clever account of how we had started talking at the “Catholic Mission” of the railway station of Cologne. We had talked in presence of the woman on duty at the mission on that night. And after a while, — in order that she might not follow the conversation (for who knew what views she held?) — we had talked in French. Herr W. had related to me the horrible story of his three years’ captivity in the heart of Africa; and I, practically sure that he was one “of the right sort,” had translated to him, from the English original, passages from the third chapter of my Gold in the Furnace. Now, before the Court, Herr W. said nothing that could lead one to believe that, as a National Socialist, or even simply as a German, he had liked the spirit of my writing.
“She read to me, in French, a few passages from some book,” said he — he did not, in fact, state that it was from that one — “but it was much too difficult for me to understand, as my French is not good. I just nodded my head in assent, out of courtesy, without grasping what it was about.”
In reality, he had agreed enthusiastically with whatever I had read to him. But I was glad he did not say so, for his sake and for mine. “The less attention is drawn upon that book of mine the better,” thought I. Herr W. pursued: “As for the lady’s views . . .” He was probably going to say that he never even suspected them. But I was only too glad to proclaim them.
“Don’t be afraid of saying that I am a National Socialist,” shouted I from my corner. “Now that I am caught, let the whole world know it! I am proud of it.”
There were signs of increased interest among the German public come to hear the case. Miss Taylor, sitting at my side, told me, however, not to speak until I was questioned. The judge asked me “not to interrupt,” and Herr W. resumed his account. He pretended that
he had no political faith whatsoever since the end of the war — he could hardly say he had never had any before, being a volunteer S.S. man since 1939 — and he stated that he had taken my posters to stick up merely because he was expecting that I would have paid him for doing so! He added that he was out of employ, and in dire need of money — which, doubtless, was true.
I listened from my bench and compared what I was hearing with what Herr W. had told me a month before, in the empty train. I remembered his enthusiastic readiness to stick up my posters as soon as he had seen one of them. I recalled the devotion with which he had spoken of the Führer: “Our beloved Hitler! So it is for the love of him that you have come to us, from the other end of the world!” His words, and the warmth with which he had uttered them, I could never forget. And now . . . he denied in public that common sacred faith that bound us! . . . And why? No doubt, to avoid a heavy sentence for himself in his own coming trial. “I would never do that — I, who never was even a member of the N.S.D.A.P., let alone of the S.S. élite,” thought I.
Yes; but then, I reflected, I had not toiled three, years in a slave labour camp in the Congo, under the whip of Negroes, with hardly anything to eat. And I had not been wounded fifteen times in the Führer’s service. And I had not, now, undergone cross-questioning under the same horrid conditions as this young man probably had; nor had I, in prison, to endure the same hardships. What had I been doing, at least up till 1942, while he was fighting upon the battlefields of Europe? Walking down Chowringhee Avenue under my bright-coloured parasol, feeling happy; boasting of Germany’s lightning victories and talking of the coming world New Order, in Indian tea parties! And even after that, I had not incurred any
danger. So, naturally, now, I could afford to be defiant.
I felt deeply ashamed of my first reaction of self-righteousness and severity. “Poor boy!” thought I, “he has the right to try to avoid further useless suffering. He has proved who he is, in ten long years of action. And nobody believes him, anyhow, when he says that “he no longer clings to any ideology.”
The judge asked me if I had any question to put to Herr W., or anything to add to what he had said. I declared that I had “nothing to add.”
During our midday meal. Miss Taylor commented upon my collaborator’s attitude and spoke of his “lack of moral courage.” “It must not surprise you,” she concluded; “they are all like that. You should have seen the ‘top ones’ on trial at Nuremberg, shifting the responsibility unto one another — each one merely trying to save his own skin . . .”
“I refuse to hear a word of criticism, let alone of blame, against the martyrs of Nuremberg,” said I. “Even if what you say were true — which I do not believe for a second — still they are my superiors, and I have no business to find fault with them; much less to allow anti-Nazis to find fault with them in my presence. If you care at all to talk to me, talk of something else.”
“You are the limit, really!” exclaimed the policewoman. “But remember that you are not a German . . .”
“. . . and that you do not represent Germany.”
“I have never pretended to. Still,” said I — and a defiant smile brightened my face — “let me tell you that ‘next time’, when the Democracies are crushed and lie in the dust, twenty times more devastated even than Germany is now, then, you will not find in the whole world
a single non-English person to stand by you in admiring loyalty as I stand by the Germans today. You will not even find mercenary friends, as you did last time, for you will have no money left. Germany today has no money, no power, no international status. But she has the magic of Hitler’s name, and his everlasting Idea. What will you have, to retain a foreigner’s devotion, when your material power will be gone?”
Miss Taylor made no answer. There was none to make.
In the afternoon other witnesses — Wilhelm Kripfel, the policeman who had first dealt with me, and his superior, head of the police office in the Cologne railway station; Gertrud Romboy, the woman on duty at the Catholic Mission of the same station, on the night I had made the acquaintance of Herr W. there; the Oberinspektor Herr Heller, and the man who, in Düsseldorf, had taken down my statement as to “why” I had contributed to keep the Nazi spirit alive, were heard in turn.
Gertrud Romboy’s account of the enthusiastic manner in which Herr W. had spoken of me, was, from the standpoint of the Court, most damaging to the young man. It showed as plainly as could be that, although he might have been hungry, nothing else but a sincere National Socialist faith had prompted him to help me. And, while I would have admired Herr W. had he boldly stated this, himself, I was indignant as I heard Gertrud Romboy imply it so obviously, as though she were doing all she could to render the sentence against him as heavy as possible. Indeed, she told the truth and all the truth before the Lower Control Commission Court, as she had sworn she would. She was none of us — or, in the circumstance, she would have lied, or feigned ignorance. But
even more than her apparent desire to bring punishment upon Herr W. (as well as upon myself) the hasty confidence with which Herr W. had spoken to her and given her a leaflet of mine on his return from the platform of the station, amazed me. Could he not have, first, taken the trouble to find out whether the woman was safe or not? I recalled the fact that, if Herr W. had been arrested at all, it was because, after sticking up as many as he could of my posters all night, he had not stopped doing so when day had dawned; that, actually, thinking himself alone in the midst of a ruined part of Cologne, he had applied fifteen of them in a row against the smooth surface of what had once been the wall of a bank, at 8:30 a.m. or so, — in broad daylight. I had read those details in a summary of his arrest, and of the witnesses’ first statements, that had been handed over to me in prison. Now, for the second time I thought, — notwithstanding all the respect I had for the young man’s sincerity and zeal, and for the genuine efforts he had made to save me from arrest —: “I never would have believed that an S.S. man could be such a clumsy fool!”
It was decided at last that, “given the very serious nature of the charges against me,” my case exceeded the competence of the Lower Control Commission Court and would therefore be heard at the next sitting of the High Court of similar character. I was told that the final hearing would not be further postponed. (The mental doctor’s report, read by the judge, stated indeed that I was “of more than average intelligence” and “fully responsible” and “fit to undergo trial.”) I was asked if I wished to be defended. I replied that I was quite able to defend myself — or rather to state, myself, the reasons that had prompted me to act as I did. “I am proud of what I have done.” I added, “and would begin again if I could
though, — I hope — this time, less clumsily, taking full advantage of bitterly acquired experience.”
The judge took a pencil and a piece of paper. “Will you repeat this, if you please?” said he.
“Most gladly!” answered I. And I repeated the sentence, smiling at the German public. And the judge wrote it down.
“So you don’t want a lawyer to defend you?” he asked me, when he had finished.
“Oh,” said I, “if it is the custom, and if I am not to pay him, I don’t mind having one. But I wonder what he will be able to say in my favour. Anyhow, I also wish to speak, personally. I hope I shall be allowed to.”
“You will,” replied the judge, “provided you do not intend to make a long political speech.”
“I just want to make a short one,” said I. The public laughed. “Moreover,” I added, “I do not know how far it will be ‘political’, for in my eyes National Socialism is far more than mere ‘politics’.”
* * *
As I was walking down the large staircase by the side of Miss Taylor, a woman — who had been listening among the public — approached me and said: “I would very much like to have a talk with you.”
“So would I,” I replied, “but I am not allowed to.”
Miss Taylor intervened. “Come along,” she said; “you are not to get in touch with the public.”
But I turned to the woman who had spoken to me — and to all those who could hear me — and said: “Know, yourselves, and tell all Germany, that neither threats nor bribery, neither severity nor kindness, will ever ‘de-Nazify’ me; that, in my eyes, the interest of National Socialist Germany is the interest of the Aryan race at
large; and that I am waiting for the Day of revenge and resurrection. Wait for it, you too, in the same spirit. Heil Hitler!”
Miss Taylor — who had not understood all that I had said, but who had guessed, more or less, what it could be — held my right hand down to prevent me from making the ritual salute. I looked at her and said: “That is easy. But all the might of the united Democracies cannot hold my spirit down.”
She replied nothing.
She took me to another building, and gave me a cup of tea. An Indian, whom I had noticed by the side of the representatives of British justice during the hearing of the witnesses, came in and introduced himself as the envoy of the Indian Consulate in Berlin, specially sent to attend my trial and to interview me. He looked like a South Indian, and told me he was called Francis. “A Christian from the Southwest coast,” thought I. And I was right, for the gentleman told me a minute later that he was from Travancore. I had visited the place in 1945. We spoke about it for a while. Then, he asked me “how I had come to be mixed up with National Socialism,” and, for the hundred thousandth time I had to point out, in as concise a manner as possible, the logical connection between my life long yearning after the ideals of Aryan Heathendom — which are ours — and my departure to caste-ridden India. “the land that had never denied the Aryan Gods,” in 1932. The things I said were the least likely to flatter the feelings of an Indian convert to Christianity, brought up, in all probability, in an atmosphere of democratic “liberalism” — in other words, of lies. But I could not help it. I spoke the truth.
“Would you like us to try to have you sent back to India?” asked the official.
“I would love to go back for some time,” said I. “There are a few things I would like to ask my husband, when I see him again. But on no account would I run the risk of getting stuck there — like I did in 1939 — where interesting developments start once more in the West.” I thanked the gentleman, however, for the interest he took in me.
After that, Miss Taylor brought me back to Werl. In the motorcar, travelling with me, was, this time, my luggage, which the police had given me back.
“I wonder what they did with my manuscripts,” I could not help saying.
“They told me they kept whatever was of a political nature, and gave you back the rest,” replied the policewoman.
I felt my heart sink within my breast, believing my precious writings were now lost to me and to those for whom they had been written. I spoke little during the journey. Over and over again, I read the list of the things which the police had given back to me, grateful to Miss Taylor for letting me see it before hand. Several large and small “copybooks” were mentioned in the list. But I did not remember how many copybooks I had. There was one ray of hope: the Programme of the N.S.D.A.P. was definitely mentioned on the paper. I recalled the booklet bearing upon its bright-yellow cover a picture of the red white and black swastika flag — and thought: “If they can give me back that, they can give me back anything!” But I did not dare to believe it.
When we reached Werl, Miss Taylor, who had herself taken charge of the few jewels I still possessed, handed them over to the prison authorities. My Indian earrings
in the shape of swastikas were there with the rest. They were mentioned on the list. My luggage was carried to the “Frauen Haus” and, on the request of Miss Taylor — who was kind enough to understand my desire to inspect it at ease — deposited in my cell, under my bed.
As soon as I was alone, I opened it. And my heart leaped: there, before me, lay the thick light brown copybook with a red binding in which were written, in my own handwriting, the three first chapters of my Gold in the Furnace, and a few pages of the fourth! And there was, under it, the dark red copybook containing the first part of The Lightning and the Sun, and the whole typed manuscript of my unpublished Impeachment of Man, finished in 1946, with a quotation of Dr. Goebbels, an extract from the famous Diaries, added in early 1948 upon the outside page . . . ! I could hardly believe my eyes. I took a glance at the precious pages, to see if any had been torn out, or if any lines had been effaced. No; all was in order — just as I had left it on the day of my arrest. Tears filled my eyes. And an overwhelming gratitude rose from the depth of my heart, not towards the police or the British authorities, enemies of all I stand for, who had spared my writings not knowing what they were doing, but towards the Lord of the unseen Forces Who had compelled them to spare them, knowing fully well why. Now more than ever I felt sure that, sooner or later, National Socialism was destined to triumph. I smiled; and in an outburst of almost ecstatic joy, I repeated the words of Leonardo da Vinci, read long ago: “O mirabile giustizzia di Te, Primo Motore!” I felt so light, so exultantly happy, that I would not have found it strange, had my body been lifted from the ground.
I continued examining my things. The police had kept the photograph of a young German whom I had met somewhere in the French Zone. Knowing who I was, and what I was doing (for I had given him, too, a bundle of leaflets) the youngster had had the courage to sign his name under the few words he had written behind the photo: “Remembrance from an S.S. soldier.” I now felt anxious for him, and prayed with all my heart that “they” might never find him. Mr. B’s letters ending with “Heil Hitler!” they had also kept; as well as two issues of a certain English review containing several beautiful portraits of the Führer. But the other portrait I had of him, — one of the best ones; and one that had been following me in all my travels for who knows how long — they had left me. That too, I could hardly believe. And yet it was true! There was the adorable face gazing at me once inure, now as always; the Face I have yet never seen in the flesh, but whose light sustains me in the struggle for the triumph of truth. “Mein geliebter Führer!” I whispered with devotion, holding the priceless photograph to my breast. I then lay it upon the table against the wall, facing my bed. And I continued my inspection.
The police had also left in my possession a booklet of military songs and another one of Fighting Songs of the Movement, and . . . one sample of each one of my leaflets, as a remembrance! Attached to the longer one — the one I had composed in Sweden, in May, 1948 — was a small square of typed paper containing the methodical enumeration of the four mistakes in German that had been found in the printed text. I could not help being amused at the ironical haste they had shown in correcting them, as though to tell me: “Look here; before indulging in Nazi propaganda, you’d better go and improve your German a little!”
“I certainly shall,” thought I, as though answering the challenge in my mind. And I felt ashamed of myself for not having studied Hitler’s language more thoroughly, years and years before.
At last, I sat down and started copying, in the thick light-brown copybook with a red binding, Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 of my Gold in the Furnace, which I had, all these days, been writing upon loose sheets of paper. Then, I wrote the title of Chapter 6, “Chambers of Hell,” and laid down the plan of it.
* * *
Life continued for me, the same — or nearly the same. The wardresses came and had talks with me in my cell, as before. Frau Oberin often came herself, although, as a rule, she preferred calling me over to her office. Once, she told me how “oriental” I appeared to her in my outlook on life.
“‘Oriental’ in what way?” asked I.
“Well, there are certain values,” she said, “that we accept implicitly. They may be Christian, or whatever you like to call them, and be, as you say, ultimately traceable to foreign influences. But they have become a part of our subconscious self. I have never met, even among those who share your views in Germany, anyone who rejected those values as cynically as you do. From the little you told me about the Hindu attitude to morality — life-centred, as opposed to man-centred — I conclude that your long stay in India has greatly influenced your philosophy.”
“Never!” said I, vehemently. “I hated the man-centred creeds — all of them; the ancient and the modern; the religious and the political, and those that are both —
with bitter hatred, years before I even thought of going, to India. I cannot remember myself but as a rebel against such Christian ideas as ‘the dignity of all men’ (just because they happen to be ‘human’) and the ‘value of all human souls’, etc. Still, in India, I was often told I was profoundly ‘Western’ because I had nothing of the other-wordly mysticism, and nothing of the resigned acceptance of things as we find them, that are supposed to characterise the ‘East’; also because I used to say that, even if I could, I would not wish to break away from the endless circle of births and rebirths, but would prefer to come back to earth again and again, for life is lovely, at least among the higher forms of its highest manifestations. The Indians were right. I am thoroughly European — but a European of ancient Europe, exiled in our times; an Aryan, impermeable to those Christian values that have nearly killed the soul of this continent and therefore as foreign to most of our contemporaries as would be a resurrected daughter of the Pagan North or of Pagan Greece.”
“You are perhaps right,” said Frau Oberin.
“I know I am right. And that is why I look so, ‘Eastern’ to you, in spite of my National Socialism, and so ‘Western’ to so many Indians, in spite of my life-centred outlook. But I am not alone. I know quite a number of people — here, in Germany — who are just as ‘cynical’, i.e., just as radical as I am concerning the moral values brought to us by the Jewish Weltanschauung to weaken us and to destroy us. In them, — the true disciples of Nietzsche — I put my hope. They are the ones who shall ‘march still further on, when all falls to pieces’ as it is said in the old Kampflied to which a more than material meaning can be given,” concluded I.
“Perhaps,” said Frau Oberin. “I doubt, however,
whether you will find anyone to understand you in this prison.”
“I have already found one, at least.” “Who?”
“One of the so-called ‘war criminals’.”
“Your friend H. E.? Yes; it may be. She speaks very highly of you, indeed. She seems to like you.”
“I am glad if she does. I admire her.”
“What would you say if only you knew some of the men, imprisoned here for so-called ‘war crimes’? There are some perfect types of idealists among them, — people according to your heart.”
“Oh, I wish I could come in touch with them!”
“Unfortunately, that is not possible,” said Frau Oberin. And she added: “Don’t tell anybody that I have been speaking of them to you. As the head of the ‘Frauen Haus’, I have to be very, very careful about all that I say.”
“Rest assured I shall not speak,” replied I; “but do tell me: you do not really accept any other values but ours, in the bottom of your heart, is it not so?”
Frau F. Oberin looked at me sadly, and just replied: “I repeat: I have to be very, very careful.” And she changed the conversation. She told me about her brother, who had been killed on the battlefield in Russia, and she showed me a picture of him, — an energetic looking and handsome young man, with light, wavy hair.
“I loved him very dearly,” she said.
“She has sacrificed more than I ever can, for the cause I love,” thought I. And I recalled the thousands of German women who have lost one or more than one of their dear ones upon the battlefields of Russia and elsewhere. I was alone. I had nothing to lose, save my manuscripts; and they had been given back to me. I
looked at Frau Oberin’s sweet and dignified face, and felt humble.
* * *
I was no longer alone during the “free time.” Two new prisoners — a Czech woman, charged with espionage on behalf of Russia, and a Belgian woman already sentenced to six years’ imprisonment for “collaboration with Germany during the war” and waiting in Werl (with her two-year-old daughter) for the Belgian police to take charge of her — now accompanied me around the courtyard, a few minutes in the morning and in the afternoon.
I used to speak freely to the latter, since the day she had told me why she had been sentenced. She professed to admire all I stood for although — she herself admitted — she had followed her German husband (one of the right sort, garrisoned in Belgium during the war) “not because of his National Socialist faith, but because she loved him.”
“I could not even flirt with a man who did not wholeheartedly share our faith, let alone love him,” had I spontaneously replied to that. “But, of course,” I added, “I should perhaps better be silent. For I have no experience whatsoever in the matter. Had no time for it — even when I was young.”
I hardly ever spoke to the other prisoner, who was “on remand.” It was Miss Taylor who had told me who she was. And the nature of the charge against her did not render her particularly sympathetic to me. However, once, I had no choice but to walk around the courtyard by her side, as we were alone.
“Little Kareen and her mother have a visitor today,” said the woman: “the child’s father, I believe.” And she
added: “I too, have a child — a boy, twice as old as Kareen. And my husband too is a German.”
“Yes, some damned Communist, most probably,” thought I to myself. I was not interested.
“In general, if I am not mistaken,” said I — just to say something — “there is not much love between Germans and Czechs.”
“That is true — unfortunately,” replied the woman. And she related to me some of the ghastly happenings that took place in her country after the war. “The Czechs were particularly cruel to the S.S. men,” she said. “In several places, they hung in a row as many of them as they could lay hands upon, not by their necks, as one might think, but by their arms; and then, they lit fires under them, leaving them to die the most atrocious death, as slowly as possible.”
I had not the slightest doubt that the young woman spoke the truth. She had no interest to lie to me, and to run down her country in my eyes. Moreover, the picture she had evoked was in perfect keeping with all I knew already about anti-Nazi atrocities. And never, perhaps, did I feel in more complete agreement with a certain German comrade of mine who had told me, in 1948, that, “when the day of reckoning comes” not a single Czech should be allowed to live. However, I controlled my feelings. “Fortunately,” said I, as calmly as I could, “there exists a divine Justice, immanent in this world. Its machinery grinds slowly, but grinds fine — and is deaf to tardy demonstrations of repentance. I am waiting to see what bloody pulp will drop, “next time,” from its merciless iron teeth. I am waiting to see all the martyrs of our cause avenged a hundred thousand times, and to rejoice at the sight.”
The young woman said not a word. Perhaps she
suddenly realised that I had identified myself with National Socialist Germany far more than any foreigner could, in her estimation, and she regretted having spoken too much.
* * *
A member of the British staff of the prison named Stocks — a tall, fat man, with a jolly, red, round face, and twenty-nine years of coercive service in such rough and interesting places as the treaty ports of prewar China — used to invent (whenever he could) some pretext to call me over to the building in which stood the Governor’s office, and to have a chat with me (in some other room, needless to say). A wardress always came with me and sat there during our conversations. The man was a little coarse, but friendly. He radically disagreed with me on most important questions — he would never admit, for instance, that Mr. Churchill, acting, willingly or unwillingly, as an agent of international Jewry, bears the responsibility for this war. But he agreed with me that a healthy baby of good Aryan blood can never be “conceived in sin” and, in his forceful and picturesque language, dismissed the teaching of the Christian priests on that point as “a lot of b . . . ls.” Moreover, he used to give me odds and ends of useful information about some members of the prison staff — telling me, for instance, that the interpreter who used to accompany the Governor in his visits to our “Frauen Haus,” on Friday mornings, had been, himself, a political prisoner in Werl, under the National Socialist régime; or that the other German whom the British had appointed as the head of the men’s section of the prison was “a man who had suffered in Hitler’s days” (which I had immediately translated, in my mind, as “a confounded anti-Nazi”). And I knew I
could say practically anything to him without fearing he would go and repeat it to the Governor.
“Why do you use those people in your services?” asked I, once, speaking, precisely, of all those German enemies of National Socialism who hold well paid posts under the Occupation. “Don’t you realise that they are the scum of the earth?”
“Most of them are,” admitted Stocks. “But . . . we have to show some consideration to those who helped us.”
“Hum!” thought I, “not merely anti-Nazis, but active traitors, eh! Nothing surprising: every anti-Nazi of Aryan blood is a traitor to his own race — a fortiori a German one.” And I remembered some information I had gathered in 1946, in London, from a very reliable source, — to my horror — concerning traitors in Germany during the war. But I said nothing.
“Don’t you realise,” asked I again, another time, “that you cannot ‘de-Nazify’ the Germans any more than you can ‘de-Nazify’ me?”
“We all know that,” answered Stocks.
“Then, why do you pretend to try? Why do you keep up the farce? You are only sowing hatred.”
“Maybe; but it is a part of our policy. We have to do it, whether we believe in it or not.”
“But, again, why?” said I. “To deceive the Russians? Or to continue. deceiving your own people?”
“I am only repeating: it is a part of our policy,” replied the man. “And I wish I could meet you in free surroundings, when you are yourself free.”
“But,” said I, “when the West is sufficiently scared of Communism to realise the necessity of standing united against it, then, it will simply have to accept National Socialism as the only salvation. There is no other policy.
Only a totalitarian organisation inspired with an ideal as radical, as uncompromising as that of Marxism, can beat totalitarian Marxism; the united Democracies can never prevail against a totalitarian block.”
“But they did, this time,” answered Stocks — a little hastily. “We beat you in this war.”
“No,” said I, with a bitter smile; “don’t believe it. Your then ‘gallant allies’ the Russians did it; not you. And next time you will have the choice between being kicked about by them or by us — unless it be by both . . . who can ever tell?”
“But you and your friends would never ally yourselves with the Communists?”
“I don’t know. It would not be worse than allying ourselves with you sneaking people, at any rate. Personally, I loathe you both. They stand for an ideology of disintegration which is the opposite of ours, in spirit. You have no ideology at all and fight — or rather incite other people to fight — for your big businessmen’s pockets, which is even more repellent in our eyes. A sincere Communist can, sometimes, be brought to acknowledge his delusion and to join us. There are no sincere Democrats, apart from downright imbeciles. You people can never be brought to join anything great. You are too afraid of excess, too devoid of strong impersonal feelings, too hopelessly mediocre.
“Next time,” I pursued. “I shall do what I am told; what we shall all do. I don’t know — and don’t care — what that will be. I have absolute confidence in those, infinitely more intelligent than I, who live solely for the triumph of the eternal Aryan values, as I do, but who fully understand the intricacies of ‘Realpolitik’, which I do not. I shall do what they tell me — even be your ally (for a time) if they decide I should. But I shall not, for all
that, change my opinion about you and your parliamentarism, — your worship of quantity as opposed to quality; your false ‘human’ values, your lying ‘individual freedom’. I know the worthlessness of all that — and yours.”
The man looked at me with interest. He offered me a cigarette which I politely refused for I do not smoke. Then, at last: “You see,” said he, “you are deadly serious about things. We are not. Why are you so serious? Why don’t you just live, have a good time, and let things take their course?”
“But I do live,” replied I. “In fact, my life is far more interesting, far more intense, than that of most of you Democrats.”
“But you don’t enjoy yourself!”
“I did — a few years ago. And I shall again,” said I, thinking of “enjoyments” of an entirely different nature from those the former British “bob” of Shanghai had in mind.
“But when?” exclaimed he, “you will soon be getting too old.”
“I shall enjoy myself now — next week or the week after — when I speak before you mighty ones of the day, at my trial,” I answered. “And in a few years’ time, when our turn will come to be vindictive and arrogant; harsh; and bitingly ironical. I shall not be too old to gloat, if I am not able to do anything better.”
“But we are not vindictive,” said the man.
“You think so? I don’t.”
“Well, I am not, at least. If I were the judge, I would set you free.”
“Would you, really?” replied I. “Then, why are you here in service in occupied Germany, if you don’t care more than that about the future of Democracy?”
“I am here for my bread and butter,” declared Stocks. “And I am, naturally, loyal to those who pay me.”
“I am here for the triumph of order and truth. And I am loyal to my Führer and to his faithful people whom I love and admire. All the riches of the world could not detach me from them.”
The man laughed. “That’s all very well,” he said: “But you see, I love and admire nothing but pretty women. And all I care for is to have a good time.” And he started talking in a light and loose manner about what a “good time” meant to him.
The wardress who had brought me in was sitting on her chair, opposite me, and looking out of the window. I was thinking: “What a pity this German woman does not know English! For the talk of this representative of the democratic forces in uniform would do nearly as much harm, I presume, to the flimsy prestige of the Occupying Powers, as a dozen of my posters stuck about the walls. I must tell Frau Oberin and the others about it!” And in fact, I did tell them. But for all practical purposes, I decidedly preferred Stocks to the Governor. I was — rightly or wrongly — under the impression that, even if he had been in the Governor’s position, he would never have interfered with my activities in jail. He seemed far too engrossed in his own affairs.
* * *
H. E. spent another Sunday afternoon in my cell — alone, this time. She repeated to me, in detail, the account of the Allied atrocities she had witnessed in 1945, and the story of the iniquitous Belsen trial; of which she was one of the main victims.
“The witnesses against us, mostly, if not all Jewesses, had been flown over by the Allies to England, to America, or goodness knows where, immediately after their statements had been taken down. They did not appear in our trial, which was conducted merely upon the evidence they had given. Moreover our judges knew not a word of German, and we not a word of English; and the interpreters who translated what we said (and what our accusers had dictated before they had left) were all Jews.”
I wrote down every word she said — matter for Chapter 6 of my Gold in the Furnace.
“You should not write those things,” said H. E.; “if ever they searched your cell and found out that I have been telling you all this . . . I would have to suffer for it terribly.”
“Rest assured they will never find out, even if I do write down every item of it,” said I. “Look at this!” And I handed over to her the rough paper on which her account was in black and white.
“What language is this?” asked she, at the sight of the unfamiliar signs.
“Bengali,” replied I; “my husband’s language.”
“And you write it from left to right, like German?”
“Naturally. It is also an Aryan tongue — derived from Sanskrit. All Aryan tongues are written from left to right.”
“But would they not find someone to decipher it?”
“Let them!” said I. “Nobody could ever translate to them what this means to me. See, here, for instance, those five words in a row — all very harmless, current Bengali words, without any connection with one another. Well, they each begin with the same letter as each one of the names of the camps in which you worked from 1935 onwards. I shall understand, when I use these notes. Nobody else possibly could.”
“You are more resourceful than I thought,” remarked H. E.
“One has to be.”
“But tell me: you will repeat all I told you of our enemies’ atrocities in that book you are writing, will you not?”
“Naturally. Or rather, I shall repeat some of them, lest my Chapter 6 become longer than the rest of the whole book.”
“But that is in English!”
“Don’t fear. The book is not to be published before I am free, anyhow. And that will not be tomorrow. If they discover it in the meantime, they will not understand that the information conies partly from you.”
“Be very careful,” repeated my new friend.
“Rest assured I shall,” said I. “Only you must promise me that, when our day comes again, you will expose those people’s horrors publicly, and add the weight of your priceless testimony to my impeachment of their hypocrisy.”
“Naturally, I shall!”
“When I am sentenced, I hope they will put me in the D wing, with you and the others,” said I. “You will introduce me to those who are ‘in order’ and who have suffered. And in our recreation hours, I shall hear more about the ghastly behaviour of those ‘defenders of humanity’, and when I am free, I shall be in a position to write a book about their crimes — and their lies — alone; to disgrace them before the whole world. Oh, how gladly I shall do it! In fact, in a way, I was lucky to get arrested and thereby to come in contact with you. Look what damaging evidence against ‘them’ I would have missed, if I had remained free! And I would not have known you, either. I only hope they will not refuse to put me in the D wing.”
“Why should they?”
“Precisely, for fear that I might hear too much.”
“There is something in that, of course. Still; where else could they put you? You are a ‘political’, if not a ‘war criminal’ like us.”
“I had not the opportunities you had to become a ‘war criminal’ — unfortunately,” replied I. “Yet, if they knew a little more about me, they perhaps would look upon me as one. There are many varieties of ‘war crimes’ as you know. By the way — I never asked you — what is it that made you a ‘war criminal’ in their eyes, apart from your National Socialist faith? I mean: what were you charged with? And what did you actually do? You can safely tell me. Personally, I could not care less what any of us might have done to the Jews and traitors who stood in the way of the New Order. What ever you did, I can never blame you. I probably would have done worse myself, had I been given a chance. But if it be something likely to lessen the value of my chapter from the propaganda point of view, I shall just not mention it.”
H. E. smiled, and patted my shoulder affectionately: “I know you are safe and loyal,” said she; “But you can mention it without fear: all I did was to give a few slaps to one or two of our internees — not for the pleasure, of course, but because I had caught them stealing. I never flogged or ill-treated any of them, whether in Belsen or in my other camps, as the Jewesses accused me of having done. Nor has H. B., who came here with me the other day.”
“Good God!” exclaimed I. “And you have got fifteen years just for that! Why, I have done more than that!’’
And in a low, very low voice, I started talking: “Yes, surely, if I had managed to come to Europe, it
would have been a thousand times better. Still, you know, where there is a will, there is a way . . . So, during the war . . .”
H. E. was listening intently. When I had finished, she asked me in a whisper “Have you been relating this to anyone in Germany?”
“Only to one comrade; an absolutely reliable man who had promised never to say a word. But I thought I could, to him . . . and to you.”
My friend squeezed my hand. “Oh, with me, it is all right! We understand each other. But give me the assurance you will never speak of this to anyone in this prison, nor let out a word likely to put ‘those people’ on the track, during your trial.”
It was my turn to smile. “My dear! If only you had heard me talk to ‘those people’ — our persecutors. I have made fools of them right and left . . . while giving then) the impression that I was the biggest fool in this world. Not any later than the other day, when that tall police officer came from Düsseldorf to question me — you know? The man I mentioned to you on the following morning — you should have heard me! And mind you: I never spoke a word against our Ideology. I never said I did not firmly believe in it, or that I regretted what I have done — On the contrary! As far as my feelings and philosophy are concerned, I am always perfectly truthful. So am I, also, about the facts which ‘those people’ know already or are bound to discover . . . As for the others, as for the contributions of mine of which there is no trace . . . that is a different thing . . !”
But H. E. said: “Be careful, however; for we are living in atrocious times. Prudence will help us to survive, until our day comes.”
The wardress on duty, — one of those who were “in
order” — opened the door to tell us that time was up. “Good bye, then,” said I, to my friend. “And come again. We have plenty of interesting things to tell each other. Heil Hitler!”
“Heil Hitler!” replied H. E. as she walked out of my cell. The wardress smiled at us, and shut the door behind her.
* * *
One morning, — I had finished Chapter 6 of my book, and was now busy writing Chapter 7 — the door of my cell was opened and in came Fräulein S., Frau Oberin’s assistant. “I am not stopping, this time,” she said, cordially; “I only rushed in to tell you that the date of your trial has been fixed. It will be on the 5th of April.” She handed over to me a copy of my charge chart, both in English and German, and a paper summoning me to appear before the Court on the mentioned day. And she left.
At once, a more than earthly joy filled my heart; and tears carne to my eyes. “The 5th of April!” I repeated, with an ecstatic smile, “the 5th of April! . . . So, it will be exactly two years after that night; two years after my unforgettable Watch of Fire . . . !”
And as vividly as though it had been only a day before, I remembered the dreamlike landscape of Iceland: the bright nocturnal sky, streaked with transparent, moving hangings of lurid green and purple; the honey coloured moon, obscured by a long black cloud of volcanic ash; the shining snowy hills all round me, wider the phosphorescent lights of heaven; and before me, the lava stream, with the gaping mouths of fire that appeared in its dark, convulsed crust, and, beyond that, the seven craters of the erupting Volcano, two main ones, five small
ones, flaming and smoking and projecting white hot quarters of rock in flashes of pink light. I remembered the incandescent boulders that loosened themselves from the crust of the lava stream, and rolled down its steep black and red surface before my eyes (one had nearly rolled over me). And I remembered the unceasing tremor of the earth beneath my feet and the solemn, awe-inspiring roar of the burning Mountain, echoing at regular intervals the sacred primaeval Sound: “Aum!” And I recalled how, exultant, ravished in religious rapture, I had walked up to the lava stream — as close as I possibly could — singing a hymn to Shiva, Lord of the Dance of Life and Death, in the language of far-away Bengal. Then had begun my whole night’s watch along the river of fire, in a spirit of adoration, from about 11 o’clock until sunrise.
And like on that Night at the sight of the flames, of the smoke and of the northern lights — and at the sound of the regular, subterranean roar, — tears rolled down my cheeks; this time, tears of joy before the beauty of invisible correspondences in time and space; and tears of gratitude towards my Destiny. “O mirabile giustizzia di Te, Primo Motore!” thought I, once more. “Hast Thou decreed that I should exalt the grandeur of National Socialism) before the German public, exactly two years after that unforgettable experience? Hast Thou decided to render that day twice sacred in the history of my life?”
Whatever would be the sentence pronounced against me, I knew, now, that the day of my trial would be my greatest day. “Only when I see the Führer with my own eyes, on his return, will I be as happy,” thought I. And I knew, now, that one day, he would return; that one day, his people would acclaim him again, in delirious crowds. And in my mind were blended, as two parallel manifestations of the Divine, the roar of the burning
Mountain at regular intervals: “Aum! Aum!” and the equally irresistible roar of Germany’s millions, a few years back and in a few years to come: “Sieg! Heil! . . . Heil Hitler!”
My humble testimony, to be given on that hallowed 5th of April, would be one of the first stirs in the depth preceding the new great outburst of indomitable power and elemental joy.
* * *
I told everybody about this miraculous coincidence of dates: Frau Oberin, her assistant, my friend H. E., the wardresses who were “in order” and even those who were not (or rather, of whom I did not know whether they were or not). Then, one day, I was called to meet the lawyer who had been appointed to defend me. I met him in the room in which Mr. Manning (or whatever was his name) had questioned me, three weeks before, about “my past,” and in which I had had, since that day, a few talks with Mr. Stocks.
The lawyer was a short man, young, of agreeable approach, in military uniform as the rest of them.
“Do you intend to plead guilty or innocent,” he asked me.
“Guilty,” said I, as regards the main charge against me. “I mean ‘guilty’ technically speaking; for in my own eyes, far from being blamable, I have just done my duty. As regards the two minor charges, I shall plead innocent.”
The two minor charges were that I had crossed the border between the French and the British Zone, without a military permit for the latter, and that I had been found in possession of a five pound banknote, and of one thousand and some odd francs of French money.
“You are right,” said the lawyer; “everybody travels from one Zone of Western Germany to another without a permit, nowadays; and all foreigners keep some foreign currency for the day they will leave the country, knowing very well one cannot exchange marks at the frontier. I have some French francs myself — otherwise I could not even hope to have a cup of coffee in a French station, on my way back to England. But you cannot get away with your main charge: the evidence against you is overwhelming.”
“I would not deny what I have done, even if I could,” replied I; “I am far too pleased with it. It is one of the best things I did in my life.”
“Do you intend to speak?”
“If I were you,” said the lawyer, “I would speak as little as possible. You could just answer the questions the judge will put to you.”
“But,” exclaimed I, “I am not going to miss this golden opportunity of saying a few things which I wish the German public to hear! I have nothing to deny. But I wish to state why I have acted as I did. It is a public profession of faith I wish to make. Goodness me, it is a long time since I have not been able to make one!”
“I suppose you realise,” answered the lawyer, “that the more you speak in that trend — in other words, the more passionately Nazi you appear — the heavier will be the sentence pronounced against you.”
“How heavy, for instance?” asked I, out of curiosity.
“Well,” said the man, “normally, if, without denying your faith, you do not speak too much, you should get away with a year’s imprisonment at the most. In ’45 or ’46, of course, you probably would have been shot. But we are now in ’49. Still, if you say things likely to
make the judge loose his temper you might be given anything varying from a few years’ detention to a death sentence. Mind you, I do not believe for a minute that we would ever go, now, to such extremes of severity. Remember, however, that, rightly or wrongly — wrongly in your eyes; rightly in our own — we are here to put down National Socialism, and that the more ardently you stick up for it, the worse it will be for you. Remember that you are appearing before a military Tribunal and that, whether it actually chooses to do so or not, the Court has the power to condemn you to death.”
I looked at the man, and smiled; and said, from the bottom of my heart: “Oh, I wish it would use that power in my case!”
There was in my voice the unmistakable accent of sincerity; the yearning of years; the burning regret of wasted years; the thirst of redeeming martyrdom. Surprised as he seemed, the lawyer must have been convinced that I had spoken according to my genuine feelings. “Why such a haste?” asked he, “Are you tired of life?”
“No,” said I. “I am anything but tired. But I believe that, even if they just mentioned it in the papers in two or three lines, my condemnation to death would perhaps do more to kindle the National Socialist spirit in Germany than the ten thousand leaflets I have distributed and than all the books I might write. And that is not all. There would be, also, the joy of the last sunrise upon my face; the joy of the preparation for the greatest act of my life; the joy of the act itself . . . . Draped in my best “sari” — in scarlet and gold, as on my wedding day, in glorious ’40 (I hope they would not refuse me that favour) — I would walk to the place of execution singing the Horst Wessel Song. I, Savitri Devi, the ambassador of southernmost and easternmost Aryandom as well as a
daughter of northern and southern Europe. And, stretching out my right arm, firm and white in the sunshine, I would die happy in a cry of love and joy, shouting for the last time, as defiance to all the anti-Nazi forces, the holy words that sum up my lifelong faith: ‘Heil Hitler!’ I could not imagine for myself a more beautiful end.”
“I see you are decidedly a ‘real’ one,” said the lawyer. “And I do not know what one can invent to defend you in the circumstance. Still, I hope your dream of martyrdom will not materialise.”
“If the immortal Gods think I can be more useful alive, then, and then alone, I shall be glad to live,” answered I; “To live, — in order that one day, — I hope, — all our enemies bitterly regret that the military Tribunal of Düsseldorf did not sentence me to death on the 5th of April 1949, when it had a chance.”
* * *
I was brought back to my cell. A strange exultation possessed me. For a long, time, I paced the room to and fro; I sang — although it was forbidden to sing. Then, I gazed at the Führer’s portrait that stood upon my table, against the wall. I remembered the lawyer’s words: “The Court has the power to condemn you to death.” And now, just as a while before, my heart answered: “I wish it did!”
A ray of sunshine fell directly upon the stern and beautiful Face, and made it look extraordinarily alive. “Yes,” thought I; “I wish they did kill me. It would be lovely to die for thee, my Führer!” But again, after a while, I reflected: “It would also be lovely to continue to live for thee, and, one day, to greet thee on thy return!”
And I prayed intently, with all the fervour of my being, to the Power within fire, within the Ocean, within the storm, within the Sun; the Power Whose majesty I had witnessed two years before, in the burning and roaring Mountain: “Decide Thou my fate, Lord of Fate! For Thou alone knowest how Thou canst use me for the triumph of truth. I shall do nothing to avoid the heaviest possible sentence from our enemies. I shall defy them, happen what will — and bear the consequences with a smile, whatever these be. I feel, I know, it is my appointed role to defy them and their ‘de-Nazification’ schemes. If they kill me, I shall be glad. But if they spare me in spite of my defiance, I shall take it as a sign from Thee that National Socialism shall rise and rule again.
“Lord of Life, Thou hast raised the everlasting Doctrine under its modern form; Thou hast appointed the Chosen Nation to champion it. Lord of Death. Thou hast allowed the forces of death to prevail for a while. Lord of Order and of Harmony, Lord of the Dance of appearances; Lord of the Rhythm that brings back spring after winter; the day, after the night; birth after death; and the next age of truth and perfection, after each end of an age of gloom, Thou shalt give my beloved comrades and superiors the lordship of the earth, one day. If I survive this trial, I shall take it as a sign from Thee that this will be in my lifetime, and that Thou past appointed me to do something in our coming new struggle.”
I felt happy, having thus prayed. I then sat down, and laid down in black and white the few points I wished to stress in the speech I would make before my judges.
When that was done, I read a section of the Bhagavad-Gita.