MORE SECRET JOYS
Days passed. I worked — very little; I talked — to Frau Oberin, who would stop for a few minutes in my cell, or invite me for half an hour to her office, as often as she could; to the Oberwachtmeisterin, Frau S. to whom I became more and more attached; to Frau So-and-so and to Frau X., the two wardresses who were the most decidedly “in order” and who, at least in my presence, made no bones about it; to H. E. and occasionally to L. M. and one or two other D wing g prisoners. I wrote my Gold in the Furnace whenever I was neither working, nor talking nor sleeping. And I thought a good deal. And I was never bored even for a minute.
Like so many far more important and far more vicious decisions of the Allied occupants in Germany, Colonel Vickers’ attempt to isolate me from my beloved comrades only defeated its own purpose. Whether it resulted or not in making me appear in the eyes of the whole D wing more dangerous to our enemies than I unfortunately was, — as Frau H. had said — I do not know. If it did, so much the better. But I can, in full knowledge, speak of the effect it had upon me. Far from contributing in any way to convert me to a more “humane” outlook, my separation from those other Nazi women whom Colonel Vickers, with pathetic naivety, much more “monstrous” considered so me to idealise them and love them all the more, while it deepened my contempt for the Democrats and their much advertised, hypocritical “kindness.”
“Kindness indeed!” said I, with disgust, stigmatising in the same breath, at every opportunity, before any of the people to whom I talked freely, the attitude of Colonel Vickers towards me, and the policy of the champions of the “rights of man” in downtrodden Germany. “They quack a good deal about our disregard of human suffering and of human life. But they do not seem to know that there are things one resents far more than a little brutality. This Vickers, for instance, seems to take it for granted that I am going to be impressed with his white bread, and marmalade and with the fact that I have been neither flogged nor kicked about, while he thinks nothing of thrusting me here among the thieves and abortionists. If I told him that I would rather be flogged now and then, and be in the D wing, with my comrades, the fool would not believe me. And if one told the Allies that all Germany resents their patronising attitude, their lessons in liberalism, their ‘de-Nazification’ mania more than anything else, they would not believe it either. The strong and proud suffer under humiliation, and hate whoever has the impudence of treating them like naughty children. But these decent-minded worms simply cannot understand that. Never mind; one day they will. One day, I hope, we shall ram the knowledge into their saintly heads in our rough manner, and teach them how we react to their sickening ‘kindness’, which is the most insulting and the most exasperating form of tyranny. Oh, you don’t know how I detest them!”
Quite obviously, nobody objected to my passionate tirades — on the contrary. The German staff, — let alone my two regular visitors from the D wing — seemed rather to enjoy them. I was thoroughly popular, — save among the prisoners who, for one reason or another, had spent
more or less time in concentration camps during our great days. Those, I was told, resented my devotion to National Socialism as strongly as anyone could have in London, in 1946. But the other ordinary prisoners were, or acted, at least, as though they were, either completely indifferent to all ideologies, or sympathetically disposed towards ours, although not always, I must admit, for very high and disinterested reasons. As for the wardresses, they all seemed to look upon me as innocent, if not praiseworthy; they all used to speak to me with utmost courtesy and amiability; and they all enjoyed stopping in my cell and exchanging a few words with me whenever they could find some pretext to do so. One of them had shortened my surname into “Muky” — as we were all called by our surnames, in Werl. Soon, the whole staff addressed me so, save when, occasionally, as a further mark of friendly familiarity, the pet name would be modified into “Mukchen.” It was touching. It created around me a homely atmosphere.
Frau Oberin talked more and more freely to me, and would often remain a long time with me, with the excuse of improving her French. She had, from the start, shown great interest in what I had to say about Indian religion and customs; also about my six months’ stay in Shantiniketan, Rabindranath Tagore’s open air university, in 1935, — although my memories must have been somewhat disappointing to a person who, like her, had hitherto pictured herself the place through the haze of beauty with which the Bengali poet’s well-known work surrounded it. Now, she seemed more curious to hear about India’s attitude during the war: about Gandhi and his creed of nonviolence, about Subhas Chandra Bose, and about the impression the events of the time used to make upon the man in the street. I would
explain to her as best I could that all Indian reactions to politics were dominated by the everlasting, tragic problem of mass poverty — a poverty that one can hardly imagine, in Europe; that the average half-starved Indian, whether labourer, peasant or clerk, had no leisure to feel himself ‘for’ or ‘against’ any ideology, and that poverty alone had prompted millions of ignorant folk to join the British forces for eighteen rupees — thirty shillings — a month, without knowing, without even caring to know, whom they were to fight and why. In contrast to these, I would tell her of the conscious and courageous élite that had wholeheartedly supported the Axis; I would speak of the free Indian Army organised in Burma with the help of the Japanese. I even once succumbed to the temptation of telling her something about my own connections with the latter, and of the subtle way in which my husband and I had contributed to the war effort of Germany’s eastern allies.
“But don’t go and tell that to Colonel Vickers, for Heaven’s sake!” concluded I, jokingly.
Frau Oberin seemed surprised — shocked, in fact, — that I could mention such a possibility, even in jest. “My dear,” said she, warmly; “how can you ever think of such a thing? Have you not yet realised that, before anything else, I am a German?”
I smiled. I wanted to say: “One can be a follower of Adolf Hitler without being a German, provided one is sufficiently proud of being just an Aryan. But one cannot be, today, a good German without being a follower of Adolf Hitler.” And the old, well-known words came back to my memory: “Adolf Hitler is Germany.” But I reflected that Frau Oberin’s statement implied precisely that which I was thinking, and needed no comment. I therefore said nothing.
Other times, I would tell Frau Oberin how, throughout the years I spent in India, I had, in countless public meetings, constantly expressed the everlasting Aryan outlook — our outlook — from a nationalist Hindu angle, using the hostility of the Hindus to both Christian and Mohammedan proselytism in a bitter struggle against the two notorious religions of equality sprung from Judaism; the two systems thanks to which the patient corrupting genius of the Jew has managed to inculcate, into more than half mankind, a pernicious contempt for purity of blood.
“From what you tell me of the significance of the age-old caste system, it must have been fairly easy to present your philosophy from a Hindu angle,” said she; “Indeed, as I have told you the first day we had a serious talk, the more I hear from you about the spirit of ancient India, the more I understand why classical Indian thought was so popular, here, in certain circles, during the Hitler days. Take away from it that aspiration to nothingness, that yearning not to be reborn, that contempt of the world of forms, and the Hindu outlook, if I am not mistaken, is nothing else but the old Aryan outlook of our people before Christianity.”
“Exactly!” exclaimed I with enthusiasm. “That is exactly what I used to tell the Indians myself, in those meetings of mine. The Organisation that had provided me with a convenient platform, aimed precisely at replacing that will to escape which so many Hindus take for thirst for salvation, by the will to live on this earth. The president of it, Swami S., was an Indian nationalist who had taken the orange robes of an ascetic only because he knew that he would impress the masses more deeply by doing so. He was also one of the very few Indians who understood that alone an ardent nostalgia for our long-forsaken
European Heathendom had brought me to India, as to the last stronghold of unbroken Aryan tradition. True, he made no end of concessions to the lower castes, even to the altogether primitive hill men of Bihar and Assam, who are anything but Aryans. But that was only to keep them out of the grip of Islam, away from the influence of the Christian missionaries as well as of the more and more numerous Communist propagandists, until India would be integrated, one day, in our worldwide New Order. He had the greatest admiration for the Führer, whom he openly called, in 1940, an “incarnation of God,” and the “Saviour of the world.” He never made a mystery of these feelings. Shall I tell you a funny story in connection with him?”
“Do,” said Frau Oberin.
“Well, it was in a town of East Bengal, during the war Swami S. was to address a meeting at which I was present. Before speaking, he had told me to be prepared to hear “something that would please me immensely.” In those days, and even before the war, there hardly was an Indian gathering at which police informers would not be present. At this one, there must have been at least twenty or thirty of them. In the course of his speech — which ran, as usual, on the necessity of strengthening, in India, the old Aryan warrior-like spirit, in order to “face the menace of Islam no less than of Communism — Swami S. said, in defiance of the efforts of the British to enlist nonviolent India on the side of the Democracies: “What India needs, my friends; what the whole world needs, is . . . National Socialism.” The German Army was then victorious. An increasing number of Indians were putting their hope in it. A roaring applause, therefore, greeted the speaker’s statement, especially from among the ranks of the students that were present.
I gazed at the swarthy crowd; and at the emerald-green rice fields and luxuriant coconut forests in the distance — at the typically Bengali landscape in the midst of which I stood; and I realised that I was hardly a hundred miles from the Burmese border — thousands of miles away from Europe. I recalled in my mind the words of the famous song: “. . . and tomorrow the whole world!” And tears of happiness filled my eyes.
But I expected Swami S. to be arrested as soon as the meeting was over. To my amazement, nothing happened to him. As I was congratulating him on his good luck, a few days later, he himself gave me the clue to the miracle. ‘Had I mentioned Nazism’, said he, ‘there probably would have been trouble. But the average Indian police informers are simple people: they do not know that Nazism and National Socialism are the same thing’.”
Frau Oberin burst out laughing. “I have never heard anything so amusing!” exclaimed she.
“Our relations with the British-sponsored Indian police — to say nothing of the British police itself, in India — during the war, were often amusing, although, of course, not always,” replied I.
And I continued narrating anecdotes.
* * *
Frau S. used to stop in my cell every morning, and have a chat with me. Sometimes, she would come again in the evening, after I had eaten my supper. She would come on Sundays, whenever she happened to be on duty.
She often found me writing. She would not ask me what I was writing; she knew. She would simply say, in a most friendly manner: “Well, how is that book of yours getting on?” She would bring me a cup of real
coffee; or show me a photograph of herself among several other ladies of the Frauenschaft — the Nazi Women’s Organisation of the great days, of which she had been a member; or recite to me the verses of praise that were once written below the Führer’s portrait, in her drawing room. She seemed keen on proving to me what an ardent National Socialist she had been in bygone years. But as soon as, encouraged by her talk, I would in my turn express my radical views and strong feelings, she would somehow withdraw herself behind a screen of ostentatious indifference and tell me: “But now, I have nothing more to do with all that.” The statement — which I never believed — often irritated me. “Why must she think herself obliged to put up a show with me, as though I were a disgusting spy on behalf of the occupants?” I would wonder. But then, I would reflect that, had she taken me for a spy, she certainly would not have told me the things she did, about her own past. Moreover, other statements that she would occasionally make, and things that she did, tended to prove to me more and more that she knew perfectly well how genuine I was, but that she feared that I might land her into trouble through sheer stupidity. She had, I think, a much higher opinion of my sincerity, fearlessness and Nazi orthodoxy, than of my intelligence. “I might not be able to write books, but I am shrewder than you,” she once told me; “and I know human beings, — former Party members and others — better than you do.” In answer to which, after admitting that she was no doubt right, I had spoken of my husband’s exceptional shrewdness, — as though that could make up, to some extent, for my hopeless lack of it.
I often talked about India and about my husband to Frau S. The questions that she used to pose to me were
at first somewhat less impersonal than Frau Oberin’s — which is understandable, Frau S. being a woman of my age, while Frau Oberin was by far my junior. But very soon, my strange destiny appeared to her much less romantic than she had hastily imagined — and perhaps, thereby, all the more strange.
“So I see, you did not meet Mr. Mukherji in Europe, but in Calcutta,” said she, one day. “How long were you already in India when you were introduced to him?”
“Six years or so.”
“And why had you gone there, then?”
I told her the truth — as I had told a hundred thousand people, both in India and in Europe: “To find there something of a tropical equivalent of old Aryan Heathendom, abolished for centuries in our clime; to seek gods and rites akin to those of ancient Greece, of ancient Rome, of ancient Britain and ancient Germany, that people of our race carried there, with the cult of the Sun, six thousand years ago, and to which living millions of all races still cling; and to witness, in the brahmanical élite of today, a striking instance of the miracle that racial segregation can work, and the triumph of an Aryan minority throughout the ages.”
I paused a second and thought: “It was perhaps a mistake on my part — a mistake from the practical point of view. Yet, the yearning that drew me there sprung from my true self.” And I added: “I once wrote, in India, a booklet entitled Warning to the Hindus — Aryan propaganda from a modern Hindu standpoint. Few, among the Hindus who praised it, knew enough Western history to grasp the full meaning of its dedication: ‘To the memory of divine Julian, Emperor of the Greeks and of the Romans’. Julian, the so-called
‘Apostate’, tried hard, during the three brief years of his reign, to postpone the twilight of the Gods. But fate was against him. The Greco-Roman world, in the fourth Century, was rotten beyond all hope; nothing could give it back that merciless vigour of youth, the only thing that can buttress such a cult as that of the Gods of Olympus. Christianity — the religion of the tired, of the squeamish, of the old — was bound to win. Despite his sincere aversion for the new superstition, Julian was half-Christian himself, without knowing it. And beyond the eastern limits of the Roman Empire, in that Iran, where Light was still worshipped, in that India, outwardly faithful to the Vedas, notwithstanding the still prevailing warrior-like virtues, decay had also set in. The new dawn of the Aryan Gods — the true resurrection of the Aryan race — was to start somewhere else, sixteen hundred years later. It was to be Hitler’s lifework; his glory — and Germany’s.”
Frau S. gazed at me with great interest. “Does your husband see things in the same light as you?” she asked me.
“I hope he does. He is a serious student of history. And he was an upholder of our ideals in India long before he met me. His alliance with me is, in fact, but an episode of his long-drawn collaboration with the men of the New Order.” And I told her, among other things, about the New Mercury, the German-sponsored fortnightly magazine of which my husband was once the proprietor-editor. “Herr von S., then Consul general for Germany in Calcutta, expected every German in India to subscribe to it,” said I.
Frau S., who objected so strongly to my going with the D wing prisoners into the courtyard, where I might be seen, willingly took me out herself, now and then, for
a stroll along the corridor, where my presence in her company could always be explained without anyone getting into trouble. The first time she did so, she was with Frau X., one of the wardresses I liked the best. It was a Sunday, but too early yet for my two usual visitors to, come. “You have been writing enough all the morning: come with us for a little walk and a little sunshine,” said Frau S. “And put on your white collar, and do up your hair nicely,” added Frau X.
“Nobody sees me here, anyhow,” said I; “it does not matter much what I look like.”
“Of course it matters!” exclaimed Frau X. “We see you. And your two friends will see you today.”
We walked along in the direction of the D wing. The barred separation between the A wing and the D wing was open. Nearby, I saw H. B. and another of my D wing comrades, busy folding up and putting back into their places the trestle tables upon which the prisoners had just had their lunch. I smiled to them. They smiled to me.
We crossed the separation and walked along the corridor of the D wing, before the closed doors of the cells of those whose daily life I would so much have liked to share. We passed before the cell where my beloved H. E. lived, at the other end of the corridor, and before the Infirmary, and walked along the C wing and along the B wing. The two women talked to me as if I were a friend of theirs visiting the prison, — not a prisoner. And it suddenly occurred to me that it would be lovely for me to come back to Werl, one day, when my comrades would be in power once more, and to walk along this selfsame corridor, this time as a visitor, in the company of the new Governor of the prison, — some man who
would have my views, and to whom I would be proud to speak of my experiences of 1949.
We reached the bars that separated the B wing from the A wing, passed in front of the recreation room and in front of my cell, that was very near it, and walked once more all round the “Frauen Haus.” Through the glass roof, the bright warm spring sunshine flooded the corridor.
“I do thank you for this lovely stroll,” said I, as I was about to take leave of Frau S. and of the wardress. “It really was kind of you!”
Frau S. patted me on the shoulder with affectionate familiarity. “How can we not do what we can for you,” said she. “You are here because you love us. You have wanted to help us. You are for us a sign of hope.” Her friendly blue eyes fixed upon me, a ray of sunshine in her blond hair, Frau X., stood by, smiling. “Certainly,” said she, confirming Frau S’s flattering statement.
I was moved beyond expression. And at the same time, I felt small. For what had I really done to deserve that love and that consideration? Hardly anything. In a flash, I recalled in my mind that healthy and beautiful new Aryan world of which the Third Reich was the first living illustration, and what people of my own race, Englishmen and others, — people who should have known better than to let themselves be used by the forces of disintegration — had done to it.
“Germany is in ruins because she wanted to help the whole Aryan race,” replied I, from the depth of my heart. “No Aryan worthy of the name should ever forget that. And the least he or she can do is to work with you for the resurrection of the glorious Greater Reich.”
And as we reached my cell, which Frau S. opened, I turned once more towards the two women and greeted
them with the ritual salute, uttering in a low voice the forbidden words of devotion that are to us, today, in our effacement, like a spell of power: “Heil Hitler!”
Frau X., — behind Frau S’s back — returned my salute, but said nothing. Frau S. walked into my cell with a mischievous smile and, shaking her finger at me, said jokingly: “You naughty, very naughty girl! . . .” I smiled back to her, but not mischievously. She was silent for a short while and then said, taking back her usual expression: “I am not locking your cell, for I am coming back in a minute with a cup of coffee.”
* * *
Such kind attentions, such marks of favour on the part of members of the German staff, were, along with my free conversations with the same people and with those of my beloved D wing comrades with whom I was secretly in touch, my great joys in jail.
Frau Erste herself, the matron, whom other prisoners used to criticise sometimes so bitterly for her harshness, treated me with exceptional leniency. I never had, with her, the heart-to-heart conversations that I enjoyed with Frau S, Frau So-and-so, Frau X., and the Oberin. And to this day I do not know how far she was ‘for’ or ‘against’ the Nazi ideology. I was told that she was a staunch Catholic, which in my estimation, of course, would exclude all possibility of her being in sympathy with us, but which, in fact, given the appalling absence of logic that characterises most human beings, even in Germany, excludes nothing at all. She never reproached me with what I had done; on the contrary, she told me once, quite plainly, that, in her eyes, I was innocent — only a little stupid, and that, probably, for having let
myself be caught. She would tease me now and then, but she never seemed to mind the answers that I gave her.
Once, in the cloakroom, where I had been allowed to go to take one or two more things out of my trunk, she told me, in the course of a short talk, that Adolf Hitler “wanted the whole world,” to which I replied unhesitatingly that, if so, he was right, “for he deserved to rule over it, anyhow.” Far from rebuking me, she seemed rather pleased with me for saying that. And when, throwing the entire responsibility for what I call “the crime of 1939” upon the unseen Jewish power behind all governments hostile to the Third Reich, I bitterly attacked Mr. Churchill, called him a “nefarious figure,” a “tool in the hands of the Jews” and what not, and ended by saying something exceedingly rude about his physical appearance, she merely laughed.
Another time, — a Friday, before leaving the bathing-room, in which she always used to supervise us, — I had asked her if I could not have, any day in the course of the week, some extra book from those I had in store in the cloakroom. “You have enough books in your cell,” she abruptly said, at first; “Only the other day, Mr. Stocks sent you a heap of magazines and two books in English.”
“Yes,” replied I; “it is surely very kind of him. But the magazines are full of nothing but articles on sex problems, that don’t interest me, and the books are just novels.”
The other prisoners, waiting in a double row near the exit, to be let out, were thoroughly amused at my remark. Articles about sex problems, such as in those issues of the Psychiatrist that Mr. Stocks lent me for entertainment, and novels, would have indeed interested
most of them. I was a funny person not to appreciate such a gift.
But Frau Erste, whose features were generally hardened in inalterable impassibility, at least during. the exercise of her duties, gave me one of her rare smiles. “That which you take so seriously was also a long novel,” said she; “a novel that lasted twelve years . . .”
“And that is not finished by any means!” retorted I triumphantly, smiling in my turn. “The second volume — the most thrilling — has not come out yet. But it will.”
The prisoners standing in a row — D wing ones and others; women in sympathy with me and women who were not — all burst out laughing. The matron who made great efforts not to laugh herself before them, smiled at me once more as I passed by her on my way out. And once more, I did not know what to think about her. But I felt safe with her. Whatever were her ideas, she would never report the things I said to Colonel Vickers, — the representative of the Occupying Power. Once more I thought: “Wherever I go, in Germany, even in jail, German patriotism is my greatest, my surest, my most unfailing ally.” And that fact was for me the source of deep joy. For it did not merely guarantee me the affection of a great nation which I admire; it guaranteed that nation a future of glory under the swastika banner, in spite of all apparent impossibilities; and it foreshadowed the slow creation of a higher mankind, out of the now persecuted German élite.
The occupants of Germany had never inspired me with anything else but hatred or contempt — contempt, every time I thought of the silly ideas they had come to preach to people with firsthand knowledge of National
Socialism; hatred, every time I remembered that, for the time being, at least, they were the victors; every time I would see their flags upon the public buildings, in the place of the Swastika flag. Now, in jail, I looked forward to the rare occasions on which I could defy them under their very noses, without landing myself into trouble. I enjoyed doing anything that, I was sure, would make them wild — ‘if’ they knew of it; anything that injured their already flimsy prestige in the eyes of anybody, from Frau Oberin down to the meanest thief in the prison. Secretly entertaining my D wing comrades on Sunday afternoons, or singing all manner of forbidden, warrior-like Nazi songs in my cell; or having, with members of the German staff, such conversations as would have shaken to pieces the last illusions of the occupants about Germany’s democratic “re-education,” all filled me with that awareness of invincibility, so pleasant in times of trial.
On at least one more occasion, I experienced that refreshing feeling. As I have said, the Governor used to walk around the “Frauen Haus” every Friday, between 11 and 12 a.m., after we prisoners had all finished bathing. The doors of our cells remained open as he passed by, with his assistant, Mr. Watts, Frau Oberin, — or Fräulein S., her assistant — and the German interpreter. Visitors, — once, a Polish bishop, another time, some high official of the British administration — would occasionally accompany him. And, if they felt like it, they would, through the interpreter, address a word to one or two among the prisoners. It thus happened that, one day, a British general, whose name I was never told, stopped with Colonel Vickers outside my cell. “This is the only British subject we have here among the women; she is sentenced to three years,” I heard the Governor
tell him. The general took a look at me and then, calling back Colonel Vickers who had gone a step or two further on, asked him: “And what was she sentenced for?”
Colonel Vickers seemed most embarrassed. Obviously, he found it difficult to state before the general the unpleasant fact that a British subject — and half-English by birth at that — felt herself Aryan first and last to the extent of indulging, after the war, in subversive activities against the Allied Occupation in Germany. But I quickly put an end to his hesitation by answering the general’s question myself: “I am here for Nazi propaganda,” said I, with joyous pride
The general became thoroughly interested in me, and crossed the threshold of my cell to talk to me a minute. “Is it so?” said he, addressing me with courtesy. “And what prompted you to help the Nazis?”
“The simple fact that I am one of them,” said I. “I have done my best, in accordance with my dearest and deepest convictions.”
“Interesting,” commented the general. “At least, you are not afraid to say so.”
“We people are afraid of nothing and of nobody,” replied I. “Many of us might be prudent, but that is all.”
“And how is the ‘underground’ getting on? Gaining power, I suppose?” asked the representative of the victorious Democracies, looking at me scrutinisingly.
I looked in my turn straight into his face, and smiled defiantly. “I would not answer that question even if I could,” replied I.
“I understand; you would feel as though you were betraying your comrades.”
“I am not in the habit of discussing our affairs outside
our own circles,” said I, glad to speak thus to one of those men who had fought with all their might for the benefit of the enemies of the Aryan race.
The general smiled good-humoredly. He asked me whether I had any complaints to make as regards the way I was treated in prison. “I very strongly resent being thrust here among the thieves, black-marketeers and abortionists, instead of being in the D wing among women who have done, at the most, things that I could have done myself.”
“You mean the war criminals?” said the general.
“Those whom Germany’s present-day victors call ‘war criminals’, but whom I call my comrades,” rectified I.
The general probably deemed it useless to enter into a discussion with me about so-called “war crimes.” He merely asked me where my husband was; and in what locality I had lived in Calcutta, and since when. He finally said: “I was in India in 1922 — ten years before you,” and parted from me amiably.
On my side, I was happy to have shown an important military man of the Occupation how proud and dignified we fighters for the New Order can be, even in defeat. And I thought with pleasure, as I heard the general’s footsteps retreat along the corridor, after the wardress on duty had closed my cell: “I do wish he remembers his short interview with me in a few years’ time, when our day comes!” I smiled in anticipation of the future, and paced up and down my cell, full of excitement.
And the first thing I did was, naturally, to relate to my friend H. E. my whole talk with the British general.
One of my great joys in Werl was to receive, on the 13th May — which happens to be my husband’s birthday — the only letter my husband sent me while I was there. Frau P., who was on duty that day, brought it to me, requesting me not to forget to give her the Indian stamp.
Tears came to my eyes when I saw upon the envelope, — opened by the prison censorship, namely by Colonel Vickers himself — the large, firm writing of the man who had helped me all these years, financially, whenever he could, with moral support, whenever he was not in a position to do more, without ever expecting anything from one in return: neither the fulfilment of domestic duties, nor even my presence at his side; of the saintly man who had told me, when, in the early days of the war, he had given me his name and protection: “You have no duties towards me, — rely upon my alliance.” That well-known writing reminded me that, even in the broad, indifferent outer world, far away from the immediate sphere of influence of National Socialism, one man at least was in absolute sympathy with me; one, at least, was glad to know that I had been “faithful if all were unfaithful.”
The contents of the blessed letter confirmed my expectation. It was not one of those outspoken letters that I had received now and then before coming to Germany; my husband knew of the rigour of censorship, and consequently, used careful language. Still, it was a letter in which I felt, under the ambiguity of the wording, and the clever choice of metaphors, the unfailing sympathy
of Herr von S.’s sincere old collaborator and of my devoted ally for the last eleven years.
From it, I learnt that the Indian papers had published on the 6th April “significant passages” of my statement before the Allied military Tribunal of Düsseldorf, for which I was glad — although I wondered what passages they had left out. I learnt also that my husband had offered to my intention “flowers and scented incense to the Goddess Kali.” Kali, the Dark-blue Mother, as patient and as inexorable as the Ocean that shapes continents, and as the Night, back to which all things go, thought I; the Force to Whom I cried, from the midst of Germany’s ruins, on my unforgettable first journey: “Avenge my Führer’s people, Mother of Destruction!” My husband knew of that all-important episode of my life. Colonel Vickers, who did not, had been, no doubt, far from suspecting what feelings were implied in that sentence about offerings, which must have seemed to him nothing more than a picturesque expression of oriental piety. But I recalled the grim Image in the famous Kalighat temple in Calcutta, garlanded with wreaths of blood-red jaba flowers, surrounded with clouds of incense, amidst the roar of kettle-drums. And I imagined my husband (who otherwise hardly ever used to go to Kalighat or to any temple) standing before it, thinking of me, of us, and our struggle so far away; of the sufferings of my German comrades; of the ruins I had described so vividly to him in my letters, and repeating, perhaps, those selfsame words that I had uttered so often since the unforgettable night of June 1948, nay, since the Capitulation, three years before: “Avenge them, Mother of Destruction!”
And I felt him nearer to me even than where he had shared my joy, in glorious 1940 and 1941; even than
when, in 1942, he used to listen to my description of the terrible barren majesty of the Khyber Pass — that I had seen — and agree with me, in joyous anticipation of events that were, alas, not destined to take place: “How grand the music of the Horst Wessel Song would sound, in such a setting!”
I read, further on: “You can well imagine my innermost sentiments. I will not give vent to these at present. My only regret is that I could not attend your trial.” And, a few lines further still: “Destiny has always been inscrutable in her ways. But her ways are full of meaning.”
“They are, indeed,” thought I, recalling the miracles that had been wrought in connection with me, to allow me to remain of some use, even in jail; looking at my precious manuscripts, uninjured, upon my table; and remembering that my two comrades from the D wing would come, as usual, on the following Sunday, despite all Colonel Vickers’ efforts to make it impossible for me to come in contact with people of my own faith.
* * *
But my greatest joy of all was undoubtedly to be able to continue writing my Gold in the Furnace.
In none of the books I had written, — not even in those passages of A Son of God that express the best my lifelong yearning after Pagan Beauty; not even in my vehement Impeachment of Man, of which Frau S. had once told me that it “could perhaps be published in fifty years’ time, not before” — had I put so completely all my heart and soul, all my aspirations and nostalgia, all my love and all my faith.
As soon as I had finished darning the few towels or shirts or pairs of trousers that the Oberwachtmeisterin
brought me every morning, I would pull out of my drawer the thick brown copybook that Miss Taylor had given me on the day of my trial, and start writing. I planned each chapter before I wrote it. And when I had composed a passage to my satisfaction and put it down in pencil upon a scrap of paper. I would at once transcribe it with pen and ink into the copybook. I had very little paper, and could not get fresh supplies of it easily. Getting a few new sheets out of my trunk meant not only obtaining Frau Oberin’s permission (which was not difficult) but waiting, often for days, until Frau Erste, the matron, would have time and would feel inclined to take me to the cloakroom where my trunk would be opened before her, and where I would take in her presence what I needed. Obtaining paper that was not my own (from the supply that Frau Oberin had for her office) was out of question: it could have caused no end of trouble, and not merely to me. So I saved to my utmost the little paper I had. I would write upon the envelopes of the rare letters I received, or even upon the letters themselves, between the lines, or on the packing paper from the parcels that a kind friend occasionally sent me from England, so as to make the half a dozen sheets I had left last as long as I could. I wrote at first very faintly, with a black pencil. Then, again, upon the same paper, over the pale writing with more stress, so that, this time, only the second writing would show. Then, I used over that second writing an indelible pencil which Colonel Vickers had given me “to write letters,” on the day following my arrival, and the existence of which he had apparently forgotten. And whenever it was possible, I would write a fourth time over this third writing, with pen and ink. Each successive writing I copied, after correcting it, in the brown copybook, with pen and ink.
My ink was also running short, and it would be a job to obtain some more. To make things worse, the matron had twice, lately, filled a fountain-pen from my bottle — without my being in a position to object, for then (who knows?) she might have told me abruptly that I was no longer to write without the Governor’s express permission, which would have been to me a fatal hindrance. But I did not allow those difficulties to worry me. Irritating as they might have been, they were minor difficulties. All difficulties were minor, so long as I could write without being detected by the representatives of the Occupying Power.
I had long finished my Chapter 8 — “A Peep into the Enemy’s Camp,” — in which I related a few of my most typical conversations with the Allied authorities, in particular in the French Zone, as a certain Frenchman in high position had hastily given me an introduction to one or two officials there, without knowing who in reality I was. I had finished Chapter 9, about “The Elite of the World” — i.e., my German comrades; and Chapter 10, “Divine Vengeance,” an account of a thrilling conversation that I had had, in a café in Bonn, with a most sympathetic German “tough,” only a few days before my arrest; and Chapter 11, “The Constructive Side,” about the basic features of the National Socialist civilisation — for a new civilisation it is, and not merely a new particular form of government within the frame of the old Judeo-Christian world. And now, I was beginning Chapter 12, “The Holy Forest,” the relation of some of the sweetest hours I had spent in Germany, in the company of a comrade, somewhere on the edge of the sacred Hartz. There would be, at the most, two chapters after that. Then, I would slowly continue The Lightning and the Sun, — the book in which I intended to evoke, as powerfully as I
could, as three eternal symbols, illustrating three different aspects of the rhythm of Creation, the mighty historical figures that I admired the most (for entirely different reasons): Genghis Khan, King Akhnaton of Egypt, and . . . our Führer; the man within Time, the man above Time and the man against Time, as I had characterised them. That work, I reflected, would be the long drawn, main work of my life; the synopsis of my whole outlook on history. But I had no idea when I would finish it, if ever.
The time I worked the most happily was in the evening after 6 o’clock, when I knew nobody would come into my cell until the next day.
I would then take out the Führer’s portrait from under the outer covering of the Mythology of Ancient Britain that was on my table, and lay it upon that thick book, against the wall. I would also go to my cupboard, and take out of an envelope that I had there in a corner, my earrings in the shape of swastikas, and wear them. For a minute, I would look at myself in the small mirror that I was allowed to have. The smiling image that looked back at me, with the large golden symbols on either side of it, was the selfsame face in which the passersby in Calcutta had read the joy of victory, in glorious ’40. New great days, similar to those, were no doubt still far away. However I had regained hope. I had reasons to feel sure that the sacred Swastika — sign of the Sun; sign of National Socialism — would again, one day, be seen, upon the conquering banners of a resurrected Germany, hope of the Aryan race. In the meantime, now, in jail, what more could I do than to continue writing Gold in the Furnace, — my profession of faith and my loving homage to Germany: my epic of the Nazi ‘underground’?
I would put down the mirror, and look at the pure
summer sky and pray within my heart to the invisible Forces behind the forms and colours of the visible world “Give my comrades freedom and power, ye divine Regulators of all things! — and treat the rest of men as they treat the beautiful innocent beasts!” Then, I would gaze at the inspired Face on the table before me, as a devotee gazes at an icon: “Wherever thou mightest be, may thy spirit fill me, my Führer!” thought I. “May thy spirit make me efficient in the service of thy ideals and of thy beloved people!” And, lifting my right arm before the picture, I would whisper with fervour: “Heil Hitler!”
Then, I would settle down and resume my writing — for a long time the one activity left to me. I wrote with fervour, — as I prayed: as I thought: as I lived. Hours passed. And I forgot that I was in jail.
Sometimes, I would read over again parts of what I had previously written. Certain of my sentences struck me as being the expression of such evident truth, that they could not possibly not be remembered or repeated. Even if I were not destined to utter them or to publish them myself, some other sincere National Socialist would, sooner or later. Others depicted my personal attitude to National Socialism so perfectly that I wanted at least a few of my friends to remember them.
I read, turning over the written pages at random: “The National Socialist creed, based upon truths as old as the Sun, can never be blotted out. Living or dead, Adolf Hitler can never die . . .” “There was gold, base metal and slime, among the so-called National Socialists of the days of glory . . . Now . . . the gold alone remains.” And this characterisation of the parliamentary system; “Democracy . . . the systematic installation of the wrong people in the wrong places; the plunder of the nations’ wealth by
clever rascals; the rule of the scum.” And this characterisation of myself: “I feel myself an Aryan, first and last. And I am proud to be one.” And these statements about those who share our faith: “Such ones are free, even behind bars; such ones are strong, even when their bodies are broken. They stand beyond the reach of threat and bribery. They are the minority among a minority — naturally. Pure gold always is,” and: “I know nothing in the modern world as beautiful as the Nazi youth”; . . . “Somebody once asked me what had attracted me to National Socialism. I replied without a shadow of hesitation: ‘Its beauty’”; . . . “More than ever, now, the National Socialist minority is worthy to rule.” And finally, in the chapter that I was now writing, those words actually addressed to me a few months before by my stern and ardent German comrade, in the sacred solitude of the Hartz; the words that had decided me to give my book the title which it bore: “You have defined us in your leaflets. We are the gold in the furnace. The weapons of the agents of the death forces have no power against us.”
I was glad, oh, so glad, to have laid down all this in black and white! Not conceited about it (the sentences were so simple that there was nothing in them to feel conceited about, in the first place) but just glad; glad, after all these wasted years, to have given my German comrades, in the darkest hour of their history, that written tribute of love and admiration — the best of myself; the tribute of the grateful Aryan of all times to come, that the Gods had chosen to write in advance, through me.
Oh, one day! . . . one day when I would be free again, and the guest of a free Germany, I would publish that book, and the Germans who would read it would feel grateful to Adolf Hitler for having, through the appeal
of his masterful Ideology, compelled even foreigners to believe in Germany’s divine mission!
In the meantime, I continued to relate my conversation with Herr A. in the shade of the holy Forest.
The days were getting longer and longer, for the month of May was nearing its end. In four weeks’ time, it would be the solar solstice, the longest day in the year, I could now work till half past ten at night without straining my eyes too much.
The glow of the late sunset flooded my cell. Through the three transparent windowpanes of my window, I could see series of small incandescent clouds, like streaks of red-hot embers across the luminous, peaceful blue sky. Everything was quiet and beautiful, soothing and uplifting. I then, sometimes, suddenly remembered that, when I was in India, although the sky might have been, equally beautiful, the surroundings were anything but quiet. I recalled how trying it had often been for me to write A Son of God and other of my books in the midst of the shrieks of the neighbours’ children or the noise of their ‘radios’ turned on full blast, or in the night-long deafening roar of drums and shrill sound of castanets from the immediate neighbourhood or the loud conversations, music and brawls of people lying on the footpath before my windows in a country where so many men literally live in the street. “Being in prison is at least better than that.” I often thought to myself; “and especially when the staff is as kind to me as they all are here in Werl!”
I felt that, with my writing, and the regular Sunday afternoon visits of my comrades of the D wing, — with the friendship of H. E., whom I had grown to love as I have loved few people on this earth — three years in Werl would
pass fairly agreeably, if not, of course, as much so as if I had myself been in the D wing. After finishing Gold in the Furnace, I would resume writing The Lightning and the Sun. The books could hardly be published before three years, anyhow. So it did not matter so much after all, if I were not free. The work I had been doing, when arrested, others would surely do, and no doubt more intelligently and more efficiently than I. So why worry?
The interest of the Nazi cause — the strengthening of those convictions that had always been mine, in the hearts of Hitler’s people: and the awakening of the Aryan consciousness all over the world, wherever there were pure Aryans left — was all that mattered. And in silence, in effacement, in the seclusion of my cell, I was contributing my best to that one sole work dear to my heart.
When I could see no more to write, I would gaze once more at the splendour of the sky, and thank the all-knowing, all-pervading invisible Powers that had bestowed upon me such privileges, wrought in my favour such miracles, filled me, in jail, with such a constant awareness of my strength and such constant joy in spite of all difficulties, nay, in spite of the great humiliation inflicted upon me — my exile from the D wing. I would thank the invisible Powers of Light and Life that would, one day, with mathematical precision. at the appointed necessary time, through ways that I did not know, bring back, to the amazement of the world, the role of my undaunted comrades, — grown still greater and stronger, during the trial of these atrocious years — the rule of our Führer, alive or dead — living forever; the rule of the everlasting truth that we represent.