“WE SHALL BEGIN AGAIN”
I never again grieved over the now almost certain destruction of my sincerest writings. I also never thought of my possible release. “If they do release me, I shall continue to fight them and their Democracy,” thought I; “and if they keep me in prison, I shall continue to show them that nothing can crush a Nazi.”
Having still nothing to do all day, in my cell, I remembered verses of the Bhagavad-Gita; and sentences from Nietzsche’s books, Der Wille zur Macht, and Also sprach Zarathustra — sentences like these: “Man is a string stretched between the beast and the Superhuman . . .”; “You ask what is right? To be brave, that is right,” — and passages from Mein Kampf. And also certain uplifting conversations with my German comrades, and with Mr. W., Mr. S., Mr. B., and others, the sincerest English followers of Adolf Hitler that I knew, now scattered throughout the wide world; and with my wise husband, who had written to me only once since my arrest, but whom I knew to be in complete communion of faith with me.
I often sang the Horst Wessel Song, or the Song of the S.S. men — “If all become unfaithful, indeed we faithful shall remain . . .” — or the Bengali hymn to Shiva, “Dancer of Destruction. O Lord of the Dance . . . ,” which invariably made we think of the long-desired redeeming war that would one day thrust our enemies against each other, and finally bring us back to power on the ruins of their hated judaised civilisation.
I had completely given up all hope that, under our restored New Order, my writings might help young Aryans to feel proud of their blood. Those writings were now lost forever, I thought. But I was happy to know that I had done my best to save them; moreover, that I was one of the faithful, and that every day brought me nearer to the Day we would rise again.
I was serene, if not cheerful.
On Friday, the 17th June, in the morning, Frau Oberin entered my cell smiling. It was the first time I saw her smile for many days.
“I have good news for you, Muky,” said she. “Your manuscripts are safe in my office. They have given them back to you.”
From the expression of her face, from the naturalness of her voice, it was clear that she spoke the truth. Yet, I could not believe her.
“It is impossible,” replied I; “don’t tell me fibs; don’t make fun of me. They can’t have given me back those manuscripts.”
“Believe me,” insisted Frau Oberin, “for I am telling you the truth. Your large thick copybooks are all there: the dark red one, the light brown one with a bright red binding, the other light brown one, in which you were writing before they searched your cell. They are there, intact. I have orders to put them in your trunk in the cloakroom, for you to have them when you are free.”
I felt myself overcome with a sort of religious awe, as though I were actually witnessing a miracle. And I shuddered. Indeed, it was a miracle. Had my writings been thrown into a blazing fire and brought out intact, the miracle would not have been greater.
I was speechless. Tears filled my eyes. I turned to
the eternal blue Sky. My mouth quivered, then fixed itself into a smile of unearthly joy. Behind the unbelievable wonder I hailed the Power that had worked it, with the selfsame holy Sanskrit syllables that I had repeated in the depth of the abyss of despair: “Aum, Rudrayam! Aum, Shivayam!”
My heart was overflowing with gratitude: “Thou hast done it, Lord of the unseen Forces, irresistible One; Thou, Thou alone!” thought I. “I thank Thee; Thee alone!” And I also thought: “This is a sign: one day we shall rise, and conquer again.” And my face radiated the joy of coming resurrection.
Never had I felt myself so insignificant, so powerless — individually — in the light of that greater Destiny to which I was bound as a National Socialist. But never perhaps, also, had I been so intensely happy to know that I was a detail in the workings of that Destiny; “nimitta matra,” “nothing but an instrument,” yet an instrument in the realisation of the most glorious practical programme, in keeping with the highest truth of all times.
“Well, you are happy, now,” said Frau Oberin, who had been watching me.
“It is a sign,” replied I, referring to the only thing I could possibly think of: the miracle; “it means that, one day, my writings will be of some use to our cause. Yes, I am glad to know, now, that they will be; that, for that reason alone, they were spared.”
It never even occurred to me that I might have felt, also, a little grateful towards Colonel Vickers and whoever else among the British authorities had handled my manuscripts and decided, in spite of all, not to burn them. In my eyes, those people had long ceased to exist. Like myself, like all visible agents, they were but puppets
in the hands of the Unseen — with the difference that they probably did not know it, while I did. The superior Powers had forced then today to give me back my books. They would force them, tomorrow, to leave Germany, running for their lives. And after having done all I could for the triumph of the Nazi cause, I would, then, again look to the sky and say: “Thou alone hast done it; I thank Thee, Lord of the Play of appearances, Dancer of Destruction, Lord of Life!”
But Frau Oberin resumed her account of the today’s, miracle: “And do you know?” said she, “They have given you back all your other things too: your book of songs: your Programme of the N.S.D.A.P., the last samples you have of your leaflets; everything — even the Führer’s picture. I can hardly believe it myself.”
I repeated: “It is a sign.”
“I am very very glad all is well,” said Frau Oberin, shaking hands with me. “I really had feared that neither you nor I would get out of this so easily.”
“Tell my friend H. E.,” said I, pursuing my own thoughts; “I am sure she too will be glad. And tell Frau S., and Frau So-and-so, and Frau X., who have been so kind to me. Tell all those who are in sympathy with me; all those who are ‘in order’. Tell them it means that times are changing in our favour; that the night is less dark around us.”
And as she made a move to go out, I retained her a second longer:
“Tell them that it means that ‘slavery has but a short time more to last’,” said I, quoting the last words of the Horst Wessel Song.
* * *
I was soon called to meet Colonel Vickers in Frau
Oberin’s office — that same Colonel Vickers who, only a week before, seemed to consider me as his deadliest enemy. This time, he spoke to me almost kindly.
“These you can have in your cell, just now,” he told me, pointing to a pile of books among which, to my astonishment, I recognised the typed manuscript of my unpublished Impeachment of Man, on the first page of which I had written a quotation from the Goebbels Diaries. “Your other things, you can have when you leave this prison.”
My trunk had been brought there, into the office; and I actually saw, in it, on the top of other books, my dark-red copybook containing the first part of The Lightning and the Sun, and my two light-brown ones containing all that I had written of Gold in the Furnace, — exactly as Frau Oberin had told me. I could not help feeling that there was something very strange both in Colonel Vickers’ sudden change of tone and in the fact that he had given me back my manuscripts. Doubtless, he had orders from somewhere to act as he did. But why were those orders given? To this day, I do not know. To this day, it all baffles me.
“I am exceedingly thankful to you for not destroying the writings that I look upon as precious personal ‘souvenirs’,” said I; “and once more I beg your pardon if I have, against the rules, kept forbidden objects in my possession. Once more I assure you that I kept them solely on account of the sentimental value that they have in my eyes.”
I was thinking, not without a tinge of irony: “It costs nothing to be courteous.” But the Governor interrupted me. “That’s all right,” he said; “you can have your things when you are free. But you must understand
that I cannot allow you to have them now, in your cell.”
“I don’t wish to have them,” replied I. “I am only too thankful to know that they will not be destroyed. Indeed, I look upon this as a tremendous favour. There is only one thing more that I would like to ask you, and that is the permission to have paper and ink in my cell and to continue, after working hours, to write the book which I had begun long ago about Genghis Khan.”
“You can write about Genghis Khan as much as you like,” replied Colonel Vickers. “But, mind you: no more Nazi stuff! If I catch you at that again, there will be serious trouble.”
“You will never catch me at that again,” said I, forcefully, taking the books that he handed over to me. But I was determined in my heart, to finish writing Gold in the Furnace at the first opportunity, in my cell, under his very nose. I thanked him once more, and walked out of the room, my eyes downcast.
Frau Erste, the matron, soon brought me back my own pen and ink, and some paper — a writing pad that a friend had sent me from England, but that she had not yet given to me on account of the search in my cell and the subsequent restrictions imposed upon me. Never was a gift more welcome than that writing pad. But I was not such a fool as to go and resume writing Chapter 12 of my dangerous book in plain English, upon its blank sheets. The sheets, thought I, had possibly been counted. They would possibly be counted again, to see how many I had used. And I would be asked to show what I had written upon them. Decidedly, I had to be very careful after the narrow escape my manuscripts had just had. In fact, a day or two later, Frau Oberin
brought me a copybook with a blue cardboard covering on the inside of which she had written, above the date — the 22nd of June — and her initials; “this book contains forty-nine leaves.” She had numbered each leaf.
“Continue your book about Genghis Khan, The Lightning and the Sun, or whatever you call it, on this, as much as you like,” said she. “But for Heaven’s sake, don’t start writing that other one again, so long as you are here! If they caught you doing so now, I would surely be accused of encouraging you, and sacked. I have already very nearly lost my job in connection with you.”
“I’ll be as good as gold, and will write only about the world’s greatest conqueror,” said I. “‘When you come again, I’ll show you the end of my Chapter 5 of which the beginning is in my thick dark red copybook; you’ll see for yourself. By the way, could you not allow me to see both that dark red copybook and the others, one day when Frau Erste is not here? I would like to know where exactly I stopped, in that chapter on Genghis Khan’s birth. Also . . . I would like to see for myself that they have not torn out any pages in that or especially in the other manuscript. It baffles me how they can have given it back to me untouched. It would baffle you, if you knew the things I wrote in that book.”
“If you ask me,” replied Frau Oberin, “the Governor could not be bothered reading it.”
“That may be. But,” said I, “what about those, ‘experts’ in whose hands my things were, — from what he told me on the 3rd of June? Could they also not be bothered going through it thoroughly?”
“How could I know?” admitted Frau Oberin.
“The representatives of the Western Occupying Powers are out here to have a fat pay and a ‘good time’,” remarked I, repeating what the Dutch woman had once
said during the “free hour.” “They have no ideology. So much the better. The Communists, who have one — be it the worst in the world — will beat them. And we shall beat the Communists and rule the world.”
“I only hope you are right,” said Frau Oberin as she left my cell.
What I actually did was to write the rough text of my dangerous book, in the evenings after six o’clock, upon my wooden stool, with a piece of chalk that the searchers were kind enough to forget in a corner of my drawer; to correct it, wiping out with a damp cloth this sentence or that one, until I was satisfied with it; and then to copy it off with pen and ink, in tight writing, paragraph by paragraph, not upon my new writing pad nor in the copybook that Frau Oberin had given me, but at the back of the pages of the letters that I used to, receive from Miss V. And that too, not in English, but in Bengali; and with many abbreviations and conventional signs of my own.
This Miss V., a charming English woman whom I had met in 1946, was a weird character, “between two epochs”; a bundle of contrasts too typical not to deserve a mention in this book. She was thoroughly anti-Jewish, fanatically anti-Communist and, — which is much rarer — anti-Christian; (the one woman who had ever told me that she would any time worship an English oak tree rather than a deified Jewish prophet) and yet, not one of us; indeed, incapable of ever becoming one of us, for want of that primitive, merciless, aggressive vitality that distinguishes us from the decadent world of today; sincere, kind to creatures, truth-loving, intelligent — understanding better than most Europeans the fundamental falsehood of any equalitarian man-centred doctrine, —
and yet, incapable of devotion to anything impersonal; afflicted with incurable individualism, with the phobia of all collective enthusiasms, good or bad, for the sole reason that they are collective, and with congenital squeamishness — with the phobia of physical suffering, be it inflicted upon herself, her friends or her worst enemies; decidedly overcivilised; and too class-conscious ever to be able to become wholeheartedly caste-conscious; in one word, a person that could be used in our New Order, but that can never be a part of it; and yet, one of the exceptionally few non-Nazis who could put up with me for more than half a day, and perhaps the only one of them who ever loved me (Goodness only knows why!) in full awareness of all my potentialities. She sent me food parcels and wrote to me regularly when I was in jail. For my good luck, it happened that, just at the time of which I am now speaking, she quarrelled with a neighbour of hers, Miss G., — another weird character half in the past and half in the future — whom I know. Her letters were, in consequence, much longer than usual, — all about the quarrel. They were nearly always typed on one side only of the paper. After reading them, I would use my writing pad to answer them, and . . . use their blank pages to write the last chapters of Gold in the Furnace. (Miss G. also wrote me long letters — much longer letters than Miss V’s, in fact — telling me all about that same quarrel from her point of view. But her sheets of paper, being written on both sides, unfortunately, could not be used.)
I wrote feverishly every day. I felt inspired. And the days were long. After I had finished, I folded up the letters as they were before, and put them back in their respective envelopes. Each time Frau Oberin came, I could give her one or two, and ask her if she could not
be kind enough to put them with my other things in the cloakroom, as I wished to keep them. “Most willingly,” she would say, taking the letters — never suspecting that they contained any writing apart from Miss V’s.
When I gave her the last one, I felt relieved of an immense worry. I now knew that my Gold in the Furnace was complete, — and safe, for nobody would peer into my luggage before my release. The only work left for me to do, once free, was to translate the end of my book into English and to write it down in the light brown copybook that Miss Taylor had given me on the day I was sentenced. Again I thanked the invisible Powers for having protected my manuscript. And I settled down to continue my other book, The Lightning and the Sun, after a long time. I used my writing pad as rough paper, and wrote the final text in my brand new blue copybook, Frau Oberin’s gift, which I could show the Governor any time, if he cared to control what I was doing.
Thus absorbed in interesting work, I was happy after 6 p.m. But during the rest of the day, I often missed H. E.’s visits. I missed her — and L. M. — on Sunday afternoons. I missed the pleasure of spending my “free hour” occasionally with my comrades of the D wing, as I had before that unfortunate search in my cell.
Every day, morning and afternoon, I could hear the latter come and stand in the corridor, right in front of my cell, and call out: one, two, three, . . . so that the wardresses on duty might know how many were to go out together. Then, I would hear them move along the A wing and the B wing, in the direction of the door leading to the stairs. Again, when they came back, they would pass before my cell. And provided Fran Erste,
whom all feared, was not there, H. E. would call me from outside as she passed: “Savitri!”
“H. . . . !” would I answer, calling her in my turn by her name.
That was the only contact I had with her for days.
Then, one morning, I saw her. She was to help a few others to distribute to the prisoners the bread and chicory that composed their daily breakfast, and on her way to the landing, where the food was brought, she could not resist casting a glance into my cell, which was, not locked.
“H. . . . ! my H. . . . !”, exclaimed I, as soon as I noticed her blonde head peeping in. And I ran to the door to welcome her.
“I have lost my post at the Infirmary on account of all that happened,” said she. “But that is all. They have not questioned me, thank goodness! It looks as if they did not find out . . .” She spoke rapidly, looking around every five seconds to see whether anyone was coming along the corridor. I understood that she meant that they did not find out it was she who had told me about the most gruesome Allied atrocities I had reported in my Chapter 6, and about the Belsen trial.
“It looks as if indeed they did not,” replied I. “You will surely be glad to know that they have given me back my manuscript — that they have put it with my things in, the cloakroom, that is to say — strange as it might seem. Frau Oberin thinks they cannot have read it. And she told me I would probably be released very soon. I am damned if I know why. Of course, I told these people that I had no intention of publishing my book on Germany. God alone knows if they were simple enough to believe me. But never, for a minute did I pretend to
have given up our Nazi faith. If they release me, they will do so fully knowing what I am.”
“What idiots!” exclaimed H. E. with a smile. This was her first reaction. But then, she added, thoughtfully: “. . . or, — perhaps — what past masters in diplomacy! One of the two.”
“Why?” said I. “Do they imagine they are going to win me over with their ‘kindness’? Not me, my dear; not me! They don’t know me. I never forget, and never forgive.”
“Nor do I; nor do any of us,” replied H. E. And her blue eyes flashed. “But they don’t know that. And if you ask me, they are about to try to win over the lot of us. They feel they will soon need our help against the Reds. They are afraid. But that’s enough. If I am caught discussing on your doorstep, there will be trouble. I must see you, however, again, before your release.”
“I’ll ask Frau Oberin to arrange an interview for us.”
“Good! I’ll ask her too. I am sure she will not refuse. In the meantime . . . Good bye!”
We both felt it unsafe to salute each other in our usual manner, be it in a whisper. So we uttered the secret formula which, even if overheard, would mean nothing to the uninitiated, but which to us, the few, means: “Heil Hitler!”
* * *
During the “free hour,” the Dutch woman would tell me the daily news, that were sometimes interesting. I thus learnt that two of my comrades of the D wing had been sent to Hamburg as witnesses on behalf of the defence, in a new “war crime trial” in which the accused
were thirty-five German women formerly, like themselves, in service at Ravensbrück. I was indignant.
“Those rascals will never stop sitting as judges in ‘war crime trials’ as long as they are here,” said I. “I would love to see the Russians try them, one day, for alleged ‘war crimes’, and to go and meet them before they are killed and tell them: ‘It serves you right! Remember what you did yourselves.’ I am glad, now, to see any anti-Nazi suffer at the hands of his ex-allies, in the countries under Communist rule — like that notorious cardinal Mindszenty, whom they caught some months ago. Now, you can of course tell me that the Russians treat us no better. I agree. I hate all those who fought against Hitler’s New Order, be it in the name of Marxism, of Christianity, of Democracy, of the ‘rights and dignity of the human person’, or of the interest of their own pockets. Since 1945, I have lived only to witness their destruction.”
“Many were misguided and are now ‘coming, around’,” said the Dutch woman.
“I have hardly any more sympathy for those,” replied I. “‘Misguided’! If indeed, they are as stupid as sheep, then their fate does not interest me. If they are not, then why did they allow themselves to be ‘misguided’? How is it that I was never impressed by anti-Nazi propaganda, all these years, in India, in Greece, in France? I had never seen the grandeur of the Third Reich. But I had Mein Kampf and my common sense to go by; and that was enough for me. Why was it not enough for those fools? Because they were utter fools, — or selfish, mean-minded rogues. I don’t say we must not use them, if we can, now that some of them are ‘coming around’. But I have no, confidence in them.”
“You don’t trust human nature at all?”
“No,” said I. “I trust only the few real National Socialists.”
Another day, the Dutch woman related to me an incident that had taken place at the dining table, where D wing prisoners and others ate together (while my food was always brought to me in my cell). A Czech woman, a newcomer in Werl, who had spent some months in a concentration camp under the Nazi régime, had spotted out and started abusing a former wardress of that same camp, now serving a sentence of ten years’ imprisonment as a so-called “war criminal.” The latter had, it seems, once given her a slap. Some prisoners — there was no, need for me to ask which — had automatically taken the side of the ex-“victim of the Nazi monsters,” others, the side of the former wardress, and the dispute had degenerated into a general row, with the result that Frau Erste had intervened and given orders that henceforth the so-called “war criminals” were to take their meals apart from the other prisoners.
“And who is that specimen, whom the crusaders of Democracy came to ‘liberate’?” asked I. “I would like to make her acquaintance — from a distance.”
The Dutch woman pointed out to me a short, coarse, ugly-looking object, walking not far in front of us. “That is the one,” said she. “And I am afraid that, for once, I can wholeheartedly share your hostility towards her, I who as a rule, am human, contrarily to you. For would you believe that she has been ‘inside’ nineteen times since 1945, for different offences, especially theft? She is here for theft. And whoever has heard her talk to the wardresses as I have, cannot find fault with that other wardress for slapping her.”
“I should think not!” exclaimed I. “All you tell me does not astonish me in the least. I know perfectly well
that nobody was in a concentration camp for nothing, in the Hitler days. And I have always said so to the people who, not knowing me, were foolish enough to come begging for my sympathy in favour of the alleged ‘victims’ of our régime. I am grateful to you indeed for your information about that Czech woman: it is good propaganda for us.”
* * *
But soon — whether of her own accord, or because she was asked to do so, I could not tell — the Dutch woman started taking her “free hour” with the other batch of A wing prisoners, namely with those who went out at the same time as the D wing; and I had to find myself another companion. My next door neighbour, C. P., the inmate of cell No. 50, offered to go out with me, as her usual companion had just been released. And thus, unexpectedly, I discovered a new comrade, for the woman, — a German, who had served in occupied France during the war — was “in order,” in spite of certain inconsistencies of which she was not conscious.
She was an honourable woman, by no means to be classified with the bulk of the other nonpolitical prisoners. Her only crime, for which she was serving a term of two years’ imprisonment, was to have been found in possession of a revolver, being a German. Both she and her husband, she told me, had been militant National Socialists from the start, and were still so, notwithstanding the fact of having been forced to go through the “de-Nazification” farce so that they might be allowed to continue earning their living. She related to me anecdotes from her life in occupied France, and others from the glorious early days of the National Socialist struggle for power. She told me how, once in her life,
she had had the privilege of meeting the Führer and of hearing him address her a few simple uplifting words, in his own voice, sometime in 1934.
“I would give anything to have such a memory as that, I who have never seen him,” said I.
She answered me: “You will see him one day; he is alive.”
I felt a sudden gush of joy fill my heart. I forgot for a while that I was in the courtyard of a prison, only to remember that all Germany, all Europe, was a prison, since 1945, but that one day, we, Hitler’s faithful ones, would be free, and that all would be well with use since “he” breathed, somewhere on this earth, never mind where. Indeed, all Germany seemed to know that “he” was not dead, and to be waiting for him.
I looked up to the blue sky that shone above us and thought of the miracle that had saved my book. “If that is possible, anything is possible,” felt I. “Perhaps one day I shall be thankful for having survived the disaster of 1945.”
C. P., who was to be free in a month’s time or so, told me: “When you are released, come and stay with us. You are Germany’s sincere friend; our house will be yours. Or if, as I fear, they don’t allow you to remain in the country, then write to me, now and then.” Once more, I felt, in her, that unfailing love with which the German people have repaid a millionfold the little I have tried to do to show them that I have not turned away from them in the hour of defeat. And I was happy; for it is sweet to be loved by those whom one loves and admires. Now, all the white bread and other nice things that I could no longer give to H. E., I gave to C. P.
The woman was, however, less intelligent than H. E. She had not yet found out for herself that Christianity
and National Socialism cannot go together. And after telling me that she had been brought up in the most pious Protestant atmosphere, she declared to me one morning, in the course of a conversation, that, in Germany, the Protestants were “much better Nazis than the Catholics.”
My first reaction would have been to reply: “My dear friend, doesn’t it occur to you that no out and out Nazi can profess a religion that allows every shameful mixture of blood provided it takes place under the cover of a so-called ‘sacrament’? Now, neither does the Catholic Church nor the Protestant forbid what we call shameful unions — crimes against the Aryan race.”
But I knew that it is sometimes dangerous to enlighten, people too abruptly.
And I reflected that, indeed, I did not know C. P. enough to be sure that, in the case she felt she had to choose between her beloved National Socialist Ideology and her professed traditional religion — in the case she realised, at last, that they were two incompatible religions — she would necessarily choose National Socialism. I therefore refrained from trying to make her realise it. I merely remarked — firmly, but without any direct allusions and direct attacks — that, in any free Aryan country, the priests of all confessions should stress the importance of the basic principles of National Socialism in daily life, in particular, that of the ideal of purity of blood. The woman agreed with me enthusiastically, without realising for a minute that, to do so, would be for them to reject the very spirit of Christianity, which is preeminently other-worldly and — like that of any Jewish teaching for non-Jewish consumption, — essentially equalitarian.
Back in my cell, I remembered how brilliantly H. E. had understood that; and how conscious she was of the revolutionary character of our faith on the philosophical
plane, — no less than on the political. And I missed her more than ever.
* * *
During those last weeks I spent in jail, I made the acquaintance of another prisoner who deserves to be mentioned: a French woman, living in Germany ever since 1941, and sentenced to two years imprisonment for having indulged in abortional practices. Few women have lived as innocently a filthier life than hers, and few have had, amidst countless sordid experiences, the privileges that she has enjoyed.
She was called L. C., but she went under the nick name of D. And she was undoubtedly the most cheerful inmate of the whole “Frauen Haus.” The Dutch woman had introduced her to me telling me that I could speak French with her — which I did. D. seemed glad to meet me. “I have heard of you already from the others,” said she.
“And you don’t mind my being a Nazi?”
“Dear me, no!” exclaimed the French woman. “I like Nazis. My man is one.”
The person she so crudely described in French as mon homme, “my man,” was a German whom she had met in France in 1940, and with whom she had lived ever since, after having all her life, before, during and after the two short periods during which she had been married, revelled in utter sexual promiscuity.
Her redeeming feature was that she was fundamentally promiscuous by temperament, rather than venal. She did not mind, of course, taking presents and money from men, but she seldom took a lover solely for the financial advantages he would give her. She had chosen her life freely, deliberately, feeling — as the “sacred” harlots
of Antiquity probably did — that the best thing she could do in this world was to give a short but necessary satisfaction to thousands of men. She was intelligent and unscrupulous; witty, and full of gaiety and without guile. She had the cynicism of all those who have never experienced remorse. As I said, she was innocent — as innocent, in a way, as myself, her exact opposite. Her sense of honour was, no doubt, very different from that of an honest woman according to the Christians or according to us. But she had a sense of honour, and a weird, inconsistent loyalty of her own. She had made money on the black market, in Germany, during the war, and practiced abortion upon German women, half the time without the excuse that the father of the unwanted child was physically or racially unworthy — done things, in one word, that would fill any of us with indignation — and yet, on the other hand, she had worked with unabated ardour and helped the German war effort with all her heart, both in France and in Germany, convinced that Germany’s victory would be the salvation of Europe. I would have myself liked to have rendered the cause certain of the services she told me she had rendered, while still in France. And she had remained faithful to Germany after the war. She said of “her man”: “I’ll marry him, when I am released, and remain here. His country will be mine. I was born near the frontier anyhow.”
I used to meet her in the recreation room. She spoke the most picturesque French slang I have ever heard, and she knew the ins and outs of the underworld in Paris and other places. She would often make coarse jokes; she would talk about her lovers and compare their abilities; she would relate smutty stories from the three brothels of which she had been in turn the manageress — stories that made me feel thankful for never having had as much as
a peep into one whole side of human experience. She would even speak of her intimacy with “her man,” much to my embarrassment. But when she liked, she could also speak of other things. And sometimes the scenes she evoked made me forget all the squalor of her sexual life and envy her for the privileges she had had, or for certain things she had done.
Once, with an unaffected eloquence that brought tears into my eyes, she described to me the most beautiful sight that she had seen in her life: the parade of the German Army beneath the Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile and along the Avenue des Champs Elysées, in conquered Paris. “You know, my man took part in it; and it is I who shined his boots for him; and didn’t they shine like looking-glasses!” said she, with all the pride of the eternal primitive woman who has won herself the favour of a victorious soldier superior to the males of her own nation. “I got up early in the morning to prepare everything for him. You don’t know how happy he was, my man, on that day — and I too! It was a splendid day, the like of which I have never seen. I went and stood to see ‘them’ pass. Oh, you should have seen that beautiful display of uniforms and flags and helmets shining in the sunshine! And that unbelievably perfect coordination in the men’s movements, so perfect that it seemed unreal! And you should have heard the music — the Song!”
I listened to her with rapture, while slowly a tear rolled down each of my cheeks. The tune and words of the Horst Wessel Song resounded within my heart:
“Soon Hitler’s flags will wave along all the highways;
Slavery has but a short time more to last.”
Oh, those words! “Those words were heard in Paris along the conquered avenue, and I was not, there,” thought I once more.
“You should have heard the Song,” repeated the woman, as though she had guessed my secret regret. And she added proudly: “I was there. A parade like that, I have never witnessed; nor shall I witness again . . . unless ‘they’ come back one day. Nobody knows.”
I was thinking: “This woman had never given a thought to the Nazi Idea before she met ‘her man’; and yet, she was there. Why was I so far away?” And it was difficult for me to brush aside a feeling of envy.
Another time, D. related to me how, after the war, in Berlin, she had met two distressed Germans, — two S.S. men, escaped from Russia, who, after having walked for days and days, lay exhausted and half-dead of hunger on the side of the road. She had brought them to her room, fed them for a week or so, given them civilian clothes so that they might continue their journey and reach their families unnoticed. “I used to go with the Americans and ‘pinch’ their cigarettes and sell them over,” she told me. “Cigarettes fetched a lot of money, then, as you surely know. I used to ‘pinch’ their purses, too, when they were drunk. In that way, I gathered quite an important sum for my two Germans to take home. And I gave them plenty of food, also — butter, jam, preserves of all sorts. You should have seen how glad they were, the poor dears! And they wrote to me, and thanked me, when they reached their place of destination.”
“You have saved two of my Führer’s people. For that alone, may the heavenly Powers protect you all your life!” said I, deeply moved. And again I envied her, I who had done nothing but distribute ten thousand leaflets.
* * *
On Monday the 25th July, I ran to Frau Oberin’s
office to answer an unexpected telephone call. It was Colonel Vickers himself talking to me.
“We are doing all we can to enable you to leave this prison as soon as possible,” said he. “However, it is less easy than we thought to send you straight back to India. And anyhow, the formalities would take a long time. Is there not a place nearer than India, where you would like to be sent in the meantime, — for I have no need to tell you that you will not be allowed to remain in the British Zone.”
“Could I not be sent to the French Zone?” asked I, brazenly. “I have friends there.” In fact, I much preferred to remain in the French Zone than to be sent back to India. And although I did not dare to hope to hear that I could, I thought to myself: “I have nothing to lose by asking.” Colonel Vickers seemed a little taken aback by my audacity. When he had asked me whether there was not a country nearer than India where I would like to stay, he had never expected me to answer so unhesitatingly: “There is Germany itself.” He was puzzled.
“That, of course, is the lookout of the French authorities, and no business of mine,” replied he. “However, I would not advise you to ask to remain in Germany at all. Have you no friends or relatives elsewhere?”
I reflected that he was perhaps right — from my point of view also. Anyhow, I would not be able to publish my book in Germany, for some years. While elsewhere, away from Europe, who knows, perhaps I could much sooner. However it be, I would have to type it first. I remembered that in Lyons, my native town, I knew someone who would probably lend me a typewriter. My mother lived in Lyons. But I did not know how far she would allow me to live in her house, for on account of my views there was no longer any love between us since
the war. I did not know how far a Greek woman who had lodged me previously, would be willing to put me up now. She knew me for years, and agreed with me far better than my mother did. But she might be afraid to take me in after my imprisonment, I thought. I answered, however, hoping for the best: “I could perhaps go to France. My mother lives in Lyons.”
“That is perfect,” exclaimed the Governor, at the other end of the wire, “Why didn’t you tell me that at once? Well, I shall try to secure you a visa for France.”
“I could go back to India from there, when my husband sends me my passage money,” said I, reflecting that I had, at first, perhaps a little too enthusiastically proposed to remain in Germany, and trying to counteract the impression that my haste might have produced.
“That is all right; once in France you can go where you please; it is no business of mine,” said Colonel Vickers. “I am going to try to get you a visa for France. If they give it to you, you should be free within a month or so.”
“Thank you! I have indeed no words to express how much I thank you,” said I, putting up the receiver.
I felt at once all my old self-assurance, all my old aggressiveness come back to me. I was virtually no longer a prisoner. Soon, thought I, I would no longer need even to be “diplomatic.” What a relief!
Frau Oberin was watching my face.
“Going away from here soon?” she asked me, smiling. “Pleased to be free?”
“Not only pleased to be free, but hoping to be a little more useful than I am here,” said I. “You know French. You probably know one or two French popular songs. What do you think of this one?”
And I sang to her the two last lines of an old song,
that the schoolgirls used to sing in the playground, when, I was a child:
“. . . The punishment is sweet,
And ro ro ro, little pa ta po,
The punishment is sweet,
We shall begin again, ro ro,
We shall begin again . . .”1
Once more, Frau Oberin’s face brightened. But she said nothing.
“Am I not right?” I asked her at last.
“You are as hasty as a child,” replied she. “Great things take time.”
I wanted to say: “They take time to ripen, perhaps. But once the atmosphere is created, they happen quickly.” But I kept silent, thinking: “What does it matter, now, whether I say this or that? Even if I cannot speak freely, I shall now soon be able at least to write freely . . .”
Frau Oberin let me return to my cell unaccompanied, thus giving me a foretaste of freedom. And I walked along the empty corridor, with my two hands in my pockets, feeling happy, and humming once more the old French song:
“. . . We shall begin again, ro ro,
We shall begin again!”
“When I used to sing that in the playground of the school, with other little girls, thirty-five years ago, who
1 “La pénitence est douse,
et ron ron ron, petit patapon,
La penitence est douse, nous recommencerons ron ron,
could have foretold that one day I would give these words the meaning which I give them now?” thought I. And once more, I thanked the Gods for my beautiful destiny.
I was now writing Chapter 5 of The Lightning and the Sun, about the childhood and early tribal wars of Genghis Khan. I was happy, because the subject interested me immensely, and also because I felt I was doing something useful. The whole book, — of which the study of Genghis Khan’s life represented only a part — put forth a definite conception of history, and that conception was ours. The Governor had told me in the most casual manner: “Oh, you can write about Genghis Khan as much as you like,” as though to say: “Thirteenth century stuff! — That’s not dangerous.” “And yet,” thought I, as I read over a whole paragraph that I had just written, “nothing could be more national socialistic in spirit than this.”
I recalled an incident from the time I was in Paris trying to obtain a military permit to enter Germany. I had already secured my entry into the French Zone, — with which I could, in fact, travel all over Western Germany. I tried to obtain a permit for the Russian Zone through a vague acquaintance of mine, a rather insignificant Frenchman (so I thought) who had been a student at the same time as I and who, while I was in India, had undergone an evolution in the direction of Communism. The man had taken an active part in the French “resistance”; he was a journalist, and knew many people. Naturally, I did not go and tell him who I was. Nor did he ask me directly. He merely asked to have a look at anyone of the books I had written. My only book in French, apart from my two doctorate theses was L’Etang aux Lotus, a book about India, written in 1935. I handed him over a copy of it thinking: “The devil himself would not be
shrewd enough to guess my views from this mere collection of impressions about a tropical land.” But, to my amazement, the man, after reading a page told me: “I see you are an out and out follower of Adolf Hitler. It is as clear to me as daylight. No doubt your book is about India. But you see India from the National Socialist standpoint.” I admired the man’s perspicacity. Needless to say that I had to give up all hope of obtaining through him a permit for the Russian Zone.
I remembered now — as I had then — the words of Emerson: “A cat can do nothing which is not essentially graceful.” “I suppose I can do nothing which is not essentially National Socialistic,” thought I, “and write nothing which is not propaganda in disguise, whether the actual subject-matter be India, Akhnaton, or Genghis Khan.”
And I was all the more happy to realise that I did not do so intentionally, but that it was the consequence of my natural orthodoxy.
* * *
Frau S., who came to see me in my cell practically every day, told me that my comrades of the D wing, in particular my beloved H. E., would very probably be released before the end of the year. Already L. M., whose term expired in a year, was to be freed in two days’ time. “Decidedly,” thought I, “things are changing.” And I was actually happier to hear that news than I had been to hear Colonel Vickers tell me of my own release.
I tried to imagine the feelings of my comrades. I knew that none of the genuine National Socialists among them was “reformed” — any more than I was. A few might, for a time, refrain from all dangerous activities. But somehow I felt that the trend of events would, sooner
or later, bring back the great hopes of the past, the tension and enthusiasm of before 1933. And the words I had hummed along the corridor at the news of my release seemed to come back to me as an echo from the hearts of all the released Nazis of Germany: “We shall begin again!” I was happy.
The only thing that grieved me during those last days was the loss of the little glass portrait of the Führer that I had worn around my neck. Frau Oberin had really intended to give it back to me, as she had promised me. But, she told me, it had dropped out of her pocket and Fräulein S. had caught sight of it — then, when the whole staff was under the threat of being sacked on account of me — and she had insisted on destroying it.
“Had I known that these people would themselves give you back all your things, I would never have allowed her to do so,” said Frau Oberin. “But you don’t realise what a panic seized us all when your cell was searched. You will hate me, no doubt. But what can I do now? The harm is done.”
I wept when she told me that. “You don’t know what that little portrait meant to me,” said I; “it was given to me by one of the finest German women I know, who deprived herself of it to put it around my neck telling me she thought me worthy to wear it. Yet, don’t believe I hate you. I don’t hate Fräulein S. — although, to think that she could break such a thing to pieces with, a hammer surpasses my understanding . . .”
In a flash, I remembered the ruins of Germany, and all the horror of the long-drawn occupation. Fräulein S’s panic was but a tiny instance of the widespread terror that oppressed the whole land. “I don’t hate you, or her, or any German who, out of fear, might cause me to
suffer,” pursued I: “I hate those swine — the Allies — who have imposed upon Germany the reign of fear.”
Frau Oberin kissed me. Her eyes were full of tears.
“What can I do now, to please you, before you go?” she asked me.
“Allow me to spend an hour with H. E.” replied I.
“You shall,” said she. “But, mind you, don’t tell anyone — anyone!”
* * *
On Sunday, the 14th of August, as soon as the Catholic Church service began, Fräulein S., obeying Frau Oberin’s instructions, came to fetch me. On tip-toe, she led me to one of the washing rooms. She then went to fetch H. E., and locked us both in. I shall always remember with intense emotion that last conversation in jail with one of the persons I love the most on earth.
We gazed at each other, and fell in each other’s arms — like on the day we first met. And we kissed each other.
“I am so glad to know that you are being released,” said H. E.; “L. M. is now free; you know?”
“Yes,” replied I, “Frau S. told me. Moreover, I met her myself in the corridor on my way back from the ‘free hour’ as she was going out, and I shook, hands with her. I wanted to talk to her, but Frau Erste was there, and would not allow me.”
“L. M. has left me her address for you. You must write to her,” said H. E. And she gave me a piece of paper which I put in my breast. She pursued anxiously, without giving me the time to add a word: “Did you receive the letter and addresses that I sent you days ago?”
“I have but only yesterday; the girl had not the opportunity to come into my cell before,” replied I, alluding to a prisoner who used to clean our windows and
in whose hands H. E. had given her message for me: “Don’t fear,” pursued I, “I shall keep the addresses in my memory, and write to the people as soon as I am free, — and give news of you. I wish I could pay a visit to them. But I am afraid I am to be taken in a car straight from here to the border of the French Zone. And there, it seems, I shall be watched; I was told so the other day when I went down to the Governor’s office to fill the forms in connection with my visa for France. Anyhow, in France I hope to be more free. I shall type my book there, — provided they do not search me at the frontier and take it away from me. I shall not feel really safe until I have crossed the frontier. Then . . . not only shall I type my book, as I said, but I shall write another one, about our life in Werl. You will have a great place in it — It does not matter to you, does it? You will be free anyhow, long before I can publish the book. I don’t know whether I shall go back to India, or whether I shall try to go to South America or elsewhere. I must write to my husband first; see what he suggests, for he always gives me sound advice. But, wherever I be, wherever I go, be sure that my heart will remain here with you, with the others. Never, never shall I give up our struggle, as long as I live! And one day, when times change, I shall come back. My H. . . ., how lovely it will be for us to meet again in a free Germany, and to speak of the bygone nightmare, when it is all over
“Yes,” replied H. E. thoughtfully, “it will be lovely. But we have yet a long and difficult road to walk, before that. I hope to be myself free soon — next year, or by the end of this, from what I hear. Oh, how I am longing and longing to be free, you can’t imagine! You were captive six months; I, already four years. And before that, all the horrors of which I told you are but a small
part of what my eyes have seen. You call us, German National Socialists, ‘the gold in the furnace’. We are. We have suffered beyond human bearing. And yet, as you say, nothing can crush us. I for one, am a better Nazi now than I was during our great days. I know it. For now I understand why we were right to be merciless in dealing with the Jews and traitors, nay why we were not merciless enough. And you have contributed to make me understand it. You have contributed to make me realise how universal and eternal our Nazi Weltanschauung is. Honestly; I admire you . . .”
I felt ashamed, and interrupted her. “Don’t say such things!” exclaimed I. “Admire the martyrs of Schwarzenborn and Darmstadt, not me. I have not suffered.”
“You love our Führer, and you love us,” said H. E. “Of all those foreigners who seemed to be on our side, when we were powerful, you are the only one who loved us. They all turned their backs on us, when we were defeated, or tried to excuse their collaboration with us by all sorts of arguments. You have boasted of your allegiance to Adolf Hitler before your judges, now. And no sooner free, you are ready to fight for us again, solely because of what we represent in your eyes.”
“Which pure blooded Aryan,” said I, “can be, as I am, fully conscious of the supreme value of Aryandom, and yet not believe in Germany’s divinely appointed mission in the modern world, and not love you?”
I took her hands in mine, while tears filled my eyes. “My H. . . .,” continued I, “you, one of the few millions in whom the higher mankind of my dreams breathes in all its strength and glory, and one of the first victims of our, enemies; my living Germany, . . . it is you whom I admire from the depth of my heart. I shall miss you,
now, in the hostile outer world, as I have missed you all these weeks. For there where I shall be going in a day or two, I shall not have, a single comrade to whom I shall be able to open my heart . . .”
“But you will be useful said H. E. “You will be writing for us.”
“Yes; that is true . . .”
And to think of that made me feel my parting from her less painful.
“Moreover,” said she, “we must meet again. I’ll write to you, as soon as I am free. And if you are in India, who knows? I might try to go there myself, if conditions here are not yet favourable to us. Do you know what I would like? I would like to relate to you in detail all that I have seen since we fell into the hands of these people, so that you might write it down, and so that the world might know, one day, what we suffered. You are the person to write our true story.”
“You flatter me,” replied I. “But I would do it willingly, to the best of my ability. And I would be happy to have you at my side, be it in India, be it elsewhere.”
And I imagined myself waiting for her, one day, at the Howrah station, in Calcutta. “Why not?” thought I; “the world is small.” However I would be still happier to see her waiting for me in Berlin, if Germany were once more under our régime . . .
We spoke freely of our plans, of our hopes, of the possibilities of tomorrow. “What would you do if there was a war?” she asked me, — “a war between Russia and the U.S.A.”
“Nothing,” replied I. “I would look at our enemies — the ex-allies of 1945 — tear each other to pieces, and I would laugh (provided we are not involved.) Why
should I stir to help these to make the world a safe place for Democracy, or to help those to make it a safe place for Communism, when I hate both? I shall not budge — not side with either block unless I am ordered to in the name of the ‘Realpolitik’ of the Party, by someone who has authority to speak.”
“I feel exactly the same as you,” said H. E. “And I believe we all do.”
“Never to forget and never to forgive, but to place the interest of the Nazi cause above everything, — even above the most legitimate yearning for revenge, if need be — that is my whole attitude in a nutshell,” explained I.
“Never to forget and never to forgive,” repeated H. E. “Once already, you told me that. You are right. But as you say, no apparent concessions to expediency are too great if they really be means to achieve our final triumph, condition of the establishment of our new civilisation.”
Frau Oberin came herself to tell us that time was up. And we thanked her for having allowed us that hour of heart to heart communion.
“Good luck to you!” said H. E., then turning to me: “May the Powers in heaven protect you, and bring us together again, one day!”
“Yes”; replied I. “And may They protect you, also, and all of us, and help us to restore the New Order! Heil Hitler!”
“Heil Hitler!” repeated she, raising her arm in her turn. And we parted on those holy words of faith and power.
* * *
I was to leave Werl on the morning of the following
Thursday, the 18th of August. Frau Oberin, whose summer holiday started in the meantime, came to say good bye to me in my cell, on Sunday evening. For the first time, knowing she would not see me again so long as Germany remained under Allied occupation, she spoke of her allegiance to our Ideology. “My father was in the Party,” said she; “and so was I.”
My face brightened. “I felt it,” exclaimed I; “I felt it all the time, without being sure. But tell me: how is it that ‘these people’ kept you in service? They have sacked so many who have our views . . . .”
“They did,” replied Frau Oberin; “but they could not sack us all, for then there would have been nobody left to carry on the administration of the country.”
“I want to meet you again, one day, when Germany is free.” said I, “It is you who allowed me to write, while I was here; you, who allowed me to meet one or two at least of my comrades. I can never forget that. And now, I know I shall miss you — as I shall miss Frau S. and Frau So-and-so, and Frau X., and, of course, H. E. I shall be free, no doubt; but I shall be in a hostile atmosphere. I shall often look back to our friendly conversations, and to the understanding and sympathy that I enjoyed here. I shall often say to myself, remembering you and a few other members of the staff: ‘I was in prison, no doubt; but at least I was in Germany’. I know I shall say that, when I am gone, and alone.”
Frau Oberin seemed moved, yet she said: “It is easier to get out of a hostile atmosphere when one is free, than it is to get out of prison. Be thankful for your freedom. You will he more useful free.”
“You talk like H. E.” said I.
“I talk common sense,” replied she.
“Oh, if only I could go to South America, now that
I am expelled from Germany,” said I, thinking aloud. “But how? I know nobody over there, and the little gold I have left is not enough to pay my passage . . .”
“Don’t worry over the future,” answered Frau Oberin; “Be thankful that you are now free, and you will see: things will happen for the best, in the long run.”
“You are probably right,” said I. And I thought “The unseen Powers Who have miraculously saved my manuscript will help me to publish it in due time, and guide me in the service of the Nazi cause.”
Frau Oberin bade me farewell. And for the first time I saluted her with the ritual gesture and the two forbidden words: “Heil Hitler!”
She smiled to rue sadly. But she did not return my salute. Was she afraid that somebody might see her through the spy hole? Who knows?
Frau So-and-so and Frau X. also came to say good bye to me. And they left me their addresses. “Write to us,” they said; “but be careful what you write. Remember this is not a free country.”
I recalled in my mind the unforgettable, tragic words about Germany: “This is the land of fear,” and I thought: “Until when?” And I longed for the events, whichever they might be, that would, sooner or later, enable my Führer’s people to get back their place in the world. I did not care — any more than I do now — if the nine-tenths of the globe had to be blown to atoms as a prelude to the achievement of that one great goal: the rule of the best; the establishment of a new civilisation on the basis of our everlasting principles.
Frau S. came in the evening of the 17th of August, which was my last evening in Werl. She did not give me her address. “No my dear, you are too dangerous a
person,” replied she, when I asked for it. “You are sincere, and above reproach from the ideological standpoint; but you are impulsive; you might, with the best of intentions, write things that are likely to incriminate people. I prefer to keep on the safe side as long as the occupants are here.”
“And how long do you think that will be?” asked I.
“I don’t know,” answered Frau S.; “nobody knows. They are sure to go away some day, as nothing lasts forever. They are giving us a ‘government’ very soon, it seems, which of course means nothing, as it is only a puppet government. They are asking us to vote. But we can choose only among the parties which ‘they’ authorise — all puppet parties. On the other side of the Elbe, where the Russians rule, it is no better — even worse, people say. There is no hope for us except in the mutual destruction of our oppressors, that is to say, in war. We would not mind that if our country were not to become, in all probability, the battlefield of the two hated forces. But we have had enough bombing, enough misery, enough war on our territory . . .”
I understood her easily, after having seen those hundreds of miles of ruins. “I know,” said I; “I know. And yet, is not even that less horrible than slavery forever?”
Frau S. gazed at me very earnestly and replied: “More and more Germans think as you do, and, . . . in spite of all that we suffered, I am increasingly inclined to think the same. Rather than this Democracy forever or Communism forever, we would all, I believe, prefer destruction.”
“Destruction?” repeated I, as though speaking to myself, — “or . . . resurrection?” And tears filled my yes as I uttered those words. I thought of the subject
of the Führer’s first great public lecture, in the dark days after the first World War: Future, or ruin.
“Listen,” said I to Frau S.; “I have not lived the ordeal of total war as you have. And I am not a German. But one thing I always knew; one thing I know, more than ever now, since I have come to Germany — to this defeated Germany, in the most atrocious period of her history — and that is: nothing can crush the German people. And now that such a people are realising, every day more and more, what National Socialism meant; now that they are, every day more vividly, feeling the contrast between Hitler’s glorious New Order and the disgusting, rule of the scum — the rule of the self-seeker, of the frustrated nonentity, and of the international Jew — imposed, upon them by the “fighters for human rights,” now, I say, nothing can crush National Socialism. I know not through which unpredictable interaction of circumstances — in other words how — that Germany whom I have admired so many years, National Socialist Germany, real Germany, will rise, one day, out of this unprecedented humiliation. But I know she will rise — rise and conquer once more, as I wrote in my first leaflets. I know it because I have confidence in you, my Führer’s people, and in the unseen Forces that lead you to your tremendous destiny. I know it because I know my Führer — our Führer — is alive; because, even if he were to die, his spirit can never die.”
Frau S. gazed at me once more. “It is better that you are expelled from this unfortunate country,” said she; “if you were allowed to remain, you would only get yourself caught again, which would be a pity. But you are perhaps right. Anyhow, your words have power. And one day, if things change, if you can come back, you will be welcome — and you might be useful.”
“I would like to publish in Germany the book that I have just written, the book in which I have put all my heart. Will you do that for me, one day, if things change?” asked I.
“We shall do that for ourselves,” replied Frau S. with a smile. “To you, what shall we give? Tell us yourself, now, what you would like.”
“Nothing,” answered I, without hesitation. “All I want is the satisfaction of knowing that the regenerate Aryandom of my dreams has become a lasting powerful reality, a conquering force.”
“And there is absolutely nothing that you would like to enjoy, you personally, under that New Order that you love so much? Not a place of honour? Not a single personal advantage?”
“Absolutely nothing,” repeated I, sincerely. “The joy of knowing that henceforth all is well would be sufficient for me.”
But I reflected a minute, and then rectified my statement. “Or rather,” said I, “I forget: there is something I would like under our restored New Order; there are two things that I would like, in fact, if I could have them . . .”
“And what are they?” asked Frau S., all the more vividly interested that I had not, at first, put forth any ambitions.
“I would like to have the privilege of meeting the Führer at least once,” said I; “and I would like to be declared — if that were possible, be it after I am dead, — ‘honorary citizen of the Reich’.”
Frau S. took my hands in hers and smiled at me again. “You are an idealist,” said she. And she added, conferring unto me for the second time, on the eve of my release, the supreme title of honour of which she
had deemed me worthy in the depth of distress: “. . . a genuine National Socialist.”
* * *
The morning came — the morning of the day I was to be free.
I had not slept all night; I had prayed. I had thanked the invisible Gods for the fact that I was to take my manuscripts with me, in a few hours’ time. And I begged for serenity — detachment — and efficiency. “Free me of all vanity, O Lord of truth,” I prayed; “free me of all pettiness, of all childish haste. And help me to serve our cause, which is Thine, with absolute selflessness as well as with iron determination. And may I be useful in the long run if I cannot do much now!”
As I saw the first ray of sunshine strike the huge building opposite the “Frauen Haus,” I got up and washed. I then sang the Horst Wessel Song, my arm stretched out towards the east, — towards the Sun. I knew nobody would ask me to be silent, especially as it was my last day. (In fact, throughout my stay in Werl, nobody ever had tried to prevent me from singing the Horst Wessel Song or any other.)
It was on my way back from the “free hour” that Frau Erste, the matron, told me to gather the few things that remained in my cell and to go to the cloakroom with them, when I had dressed. My luggage I had packed two days before, with Frau Oberin’s permission. I wore the selfsame dark red frock in which I had crossed the frontier on my second journey to Germany. I took in hand my brown attaché case — the one I had on the night of my arrest. — I had put in it my manuscripts, the picture of the Führer, and all the things that I valued the most. I carried my coat on my left arm.
As I walked out of the cloakroom, ready, with Frau Erste and a prisoner who helped me to carry my luggage, I met Frau S. who had come to see me once more before I left.
“Auf wiedersehen!” said I, — “until we meet again in a free Germany!”
“Auf wiedersehen!” said she, — “and good luck to you, wherever you go in the meantime!”
I went to Frau Oberin’s office to say good bye to Fräulein S. (Frau Oberin herself was, as I said, on leave.)
“Take good care you do not come back here sooner than you expect. That would not surprise me seeing the mood in which you are,” Fräulein S. told me.
“Don’t worry about me,” replied I; “I’ll be more careful next time than I was this, if ever I come back to Germany before ‘these people’ are out.”
“I would advise you not to try to return before they are out.”
“Well,” said I, “I might listen to you. It will take me some time, anyhow, to type my book. And I might write another one before I try to come back.”
Before I left, I handed over to Fräulein S. a pair of pearl earrings, my remembrance gift to my beloved H. E. I had not been able to give it to H. E. myself, as my jewellery had not been given back to me until the very last moment before my departure. Fräulein S. put the earrings in a paper envelope containing H. E.’s belongings, and added them in writing to the list of the latter, on the page corresponding to my friend’s name, in a large catalogue. I was glad. One day, when the comrade I loved the most would leave Werl, she would find those pretty daisies, each one composed of seven real pearls, and she would remember me, and our last conversation, and
the unbreakable link of faith that binds us together forever.
I was taken with my luggage to an empty cell, and left there alone, until it was announced from the Governor’s office that the policewoman who was to accompany me to the border of the British Zone, had come with the car. Frau Erste then took me down. “Be careful not to do any foolish things as we cross the courtyard,” she told me: “The D wing prisoners are now having their “free hour.”
As on the morning that had followed my trial, I saw from the top of the stairs my comrades, the so-called “war criminals,” walking around the courtyard, and my heart ached. I was now going away — being released through God alone knows what distant influences. (In a letter, an old Indian friend of mine had told me that a telegram had been sent to Pandit Nehru, asking the Indian Government to intervene in my favour.) But they, — they who had suffered so much more than I, — when would they have the joy of crossing the threshold of the prison in their civilian clothes, once more? When would they be free? “Give them back their freedom, soon, Lord of the unseen Forces,” I prayed within my heart; “give us all back, soon, freedom and power, and the joy of the great days!”
I noticed that Frau X., and Frau So-and-so, the two wardresses whom I knew to be “in order,” were on duty. “You don’t mind me going to say good bye to Frau X. and to Frau So-and-so?” I asked the matron.
“You can go,” replied she; “but you must not speak to the prisoners.”
I shook hands with the wardresses. But I could not help giving my comrades a last glance. I saw H. E. among them; and H. B. and H., the other two victims of
the Belsen trial; and Frau S., the martyr without faith; and Frau R., formerly in service at Ravensbrück, of whom I had been told that she was one of the “real ones” of the D wing. I gazed at them all; and tears filled my eyes. “Slavery has but a short time more to last!” cried I, quoting the last words of the Horst Wessel Song, before I walked to the gate that separated the courtyard of the “Frauen Haus” from the rest of the prison.
There, seeing that the matron had gone ahead of me and was busy unlocking the next gate, I turned around, lifted my arm and cried: “Heil Hitler!” I was too far for my comrades to hear me. But some of them could see me. And out of the dreary prisoners’ round, several other arms lifted themselves in answer to my gesture.
* * *
It was not Miss Taylor who had come to fetch me, but another English policewoman whose name I do not know. Colonel Vickers was not in his office. Nor did I see Mr. Stocks. I bade farewell to Mr. Harris, the Chief Warden, and to Mr. Watts, the Governor’s assistant.
I was given a copy of the order expelling me from the British Zone “for five years” as a person whose presence was considered to he “against the interest of peace, order and good government of the said Zone.”
I crossed the courtyard, and the two last gates that separated me from the world of the free were flung open before me. I found myself on the threshold of the prison, breathing the scented air from the neighboring gardens. I remembered the evening when I had stood on that very threshold, believing that I was entering the gloom of captivity for three long years. And lo, hardly six months had past, and I was free once more: and my precious
writings were with me, in my own hands, saved from destruction by some miracle of the Gods. I gazed at the bright blue sky with an overwhelming feeling of infinite gratitude, and I whispered the sacred Name of the Lord of the Dance of creation and destruction, in the oldest known Aryan language, — the Name I had repeated in the depth of despair — “Aum, Rudrayam! Aum, Shivayam!”
With those holy syllables on my lips and in my heart, I stepped into the car that was to carry me to freedom; to action, whether in darkness or broad daylight; to the new place appointed to me by Destiny, in the present-day struggle for Adolf Hitler and for Aryandom, — in the eternal struggle for truth.
* * *
The car rolled along the same Autobahn along which I had several times travelled, there and hack, between Werl and Düsseldorf, when I was still “on remand.” But now, I was being taken to Andernach, on the border between the French and the British Zones. It was a bright summer day. Comfortably seated by the side of the policewoman, I looked out of the window, and regretted I was not allowed to remain in Germany.
Never, perhaps, had I been so strongly conscious of the hold Hitler’s country had on me, as now that I was forced to leave it. I gazed at the fields, at the bushes on the roadside, at the occasional passersby, at the half-ruined towns through which the car rolled without stopping. It all seemed to me like home. I reflected that, whether in the place of my birth or elsewhere, I had never had a real home; that, beyond the exceedingly narrow circles of people who shared my aspirations, everywhere, all my life, I had been a foreigner, even in the lands that I could, at first sight, call the most spontaneously
“mine,” Greece and England; even in hallowed India where I had sought the continuity of Aryan tradition — for the people who shared my aspirations were amazingly few, there too. I had been “a nationalist of every land” as I had once so accurately described myself; a foreigner with the yearning for a country that I could serve without reservations, for a people with whom I could identify myself entirely, without regret. A profound sadness came over me, as I thought of that. And the landscape that smiled to me on either side of the autobahn, appeared to me more beautiful, more alive, more appealing than ever.
We crossed a small town in which I noticed in passing a ruined wall covered with living creeper. “Life,” thought I; “irresistible life that nothing can crush.” I saw in that conquering patch of green a symbol of invincible Germany. And I recalled in my mind our Führer’s words: “It is not lost wars that bring men down, but the loss of that power of resistance that resides in pure blood alone.”1 And I prayed that the unseen Aryan Gods might never allow the German people to forget this. In my heart, I felt sure that they never would. “These are at least the only modern people who have accepted the real Aryan ideals wholeheartedly,” thought I, again. “I was not alone, here.” And I longed to come back. I longed to finish my life among them; to die, one day, surrounded by understanding friends, while some regiment composed of young men who were babies in 1948 and 1949, when I first came, would march past,
1 “. . . die Menschen gehen nicht an verlorenen Kriegen zugrunde, sondern am Verlust jener Wiederstandskraft, die nur dem reinen Blute zu eigen ist.”
Mein Kampf, I, Chapter 11, pp. 324.
before my windows, to the music of the immortal Song . . .
But I knew I would not be able to come back just now. I would have to wait. To wait how long? That, I did not know. It suddenly occurred to me that the enemies of National Socialism did not know any more than I did; that they were not, any more than I, the masters of the workings of the unseen factors on which visible changes depend. And that thought pleased me to the point of making me feel aggressive.
“May I ask you something that puzzles me?” said I to the policewoman at my side, — the only person in the car besides the driver and myself.
“Certainly; what is it?”
“Well, listen: ‘they’ have expelled me from the British Zone for five years, it seems — up till the 31st of August 1954. Now, suppose (for the sake of argument) that Germany were to be free and united under a Nazi Government in 1953. What could you do then to keep me from running back at once?”
“In such a case I am afraid we could do nothing,” said the policewoman.
“Hum, hum!” insisted I, with a defiant smile; “I am glad to hear you admit it, at least.”
“Be careful not to get yourself into trouble again before there is a Nazi Government to protect you,” replied the policewoman, softly.
“No fear!” exclaimed I; “no fear, as long as I don’t do anything that is positively against some law of whatever country I shall be living in. And I intend to be careful about that. But, barring that, — and barring the circumstances in which I might have to be ‘diplomatic’ in the higher interest of the cause — I intend to make myself as disagreeable as I can to all our opponents wherever
I go. I detest anti-Nazis! They call us ‘monsters’. Hypocrites, self-seeking rogues, or squeamish fools, that’s what I call them; degenerates; monkeys — and sickly ones at that; slaves of the Jews, which is the worst one can say . . .”
The policewoman smiled and said: “You are free to have your opinions.”
“Yes,” retorted I: “free to have them; and free to express them, here, in this car, because the driver does not know English, because it is my first day out of prison, and because you are delighted to show me how magnanimous you Democrats are; but not free to express them in a café, in German, as soon as we step out of here; nor free to publish them in black and white. What hypocrites you are, really! You don’t believe in ‘individual freedom’ any more than we do. You know perfectly well — as everyone else does — that no system of government can last if intelligent and courageous individuals attack the very principles on which it is based. And you defend your parliamentary principles as fiercely as you can. You don’t respect the ‘individual freedom’ of those who have set out to expose their absurdity. You do try to keep us from thinking, through your whole system of so-called ‘education’. And if you don’t actually punish us for thinking, it is only because you do not believe in the power of thought and therefore hold us to be ‘harmless’ so long as we do nothing against you, or else, because you are not yourselves sufficiently convinced of the truth of your principles to sacrifice human lives to them. The Catholic Inquisitors of old, who valued human life far more than you do (for they all believed in the immortal soul) did not hesitate to get rid of the men whom they considered dangerous to the faith of others. They served what they believed to be the truth. And we, who are
only vaguely concerned with the next world — if at all — are prepared to bump off any obstacle that stands in our way, for we too act in the name of truth; of our truth. Your apparent magnanimity comes from the fact that you have no truth to believe in. You only sacrifice human lives to your material interests; you kill off (in the name of ‘humanity’) those of us who could be a danger to your incomes and to your dreary and ‘secure’ little pleasures. You believe, not in truth, but in profit — for the Jews and a handful of the most judaised Aryans; and in slowly degrading ‘happiness’ for the others. Distasteful as they may be, my words are not blasphemy, to you, as your attacks on our régime would be to me. That is why you tolerate me, provided I am not an obvious danger to ‘peace, order and good government’; that is why you were ‘kind’ to me. Gosh, what hypocrites you are!”
“Yet,” said the policewoman, “would you have liked it better if we had tortured you?”
“There is no question of ‘liking it better’,” replied I. “Had you done it in the interest of something greater than yourselves, in which you really believed, I might have hated you (as I hate the Communists) but I would have respected you. But you don’t do such things for higher impersonal interests, with that detachment which alone we people of faith can have. When you do them — and you have done them often enough, if not on me, on my comrades and superiors; I know it — you do then out of sheer cruelty out of spite; for the pleasure of seeing us suffer, now that, for the time being, we are powerless. That is the democratic spirit. Don’t I know it?”
“Couldn’t we talk of something else?” said the policewoman.
“Talk of something else because you have nothing to say in answer to my tirade?” said I; “yes, why not?
Let me just add this: I suppose I shall never change your convictions, whatever they be. All I wanted you to know is that nothing and nobody can change mine. Colonel Vickers told me on the 10th of June that I was ‘the most objectionable type of Nazi that he had ever met.’ I intend to spend the rest of my life proving how right he was.”
The car was entering Andernach.
“Now, come and have a cup of coffee with me at some nice café before we part,” added I. “You deserve it for not losing your temper.”
We left my luggage in the car and sat at a table in a pleasant-looking café. But somehow the policewoman could not bring herself to “talk of something else” with me. She had visited Germany before the war. She could not refrain from telling me her impressions in a nutshell: “There were, admittedly, quite a number of real idealists,” said she; “but the rest . . . were just people trained to do what they were told, like robots . . .”
“Better than in the ‘free’ Democracies anyhow,” retorted I: “for there, everybody thinks what they are told: what they are subtly conditioned to think through the influence of the radio, of the films and of the penny press; and there are no idealists at all; the conditioning is done solely for the greatest glory of big business, and for the greatest profit of the international Jew . . . Indeed I like our régime — not that!”
This time the policewoman started talking about the weather.
* * *
I was formally handed over to the two men on duty at the French police station of Andernach. One of them — apparently the most important of the two — signed a
“receipt” for me, which he handed back to the English policewoman. I produced my passport, bearing the visa for France granted me by the French consul in Düsseldorf. The man who seemed the most important of the two asked me why I had been under arrest in the British Zone, and I replied that it was because I had entered the Zone without a military permit and also because I had been found in possession of a five pound banknote — which were indeed the two minor charges against me. I omitted to mention the main charge of Nazi propaganda. And as I spoke French perfectly, the man asked me no further explanations, and told me I was free to go where I liked.
After taking leave of the English policewoman, I went to the railway station. There was a train for Koblenz in an hour’s time or so. I booked my ticket, hired a porter for my luggage, and went to wait on the platform. I sat on a bench for five minutes, then got up, and took to pacing the platform my brown attaché case in one hand, my bag in the other, at last alone. I could hardly believe that it was true; that I could now go where I pleased, stop where I pleased, speak to whom I pleased, without being always watched, always accompanied; that I was really free. I felt inclined to tell the porter, the passengers, all the people within my reach: “You who always have been free, do not know the meaning of sweet liberty. But I do, I who have just come out of jail. And I tell you: after honour and health, liberty is the greatest treasure.” Then, I suddenly thought of H. E. and of all my other comrades, in Werl and in all the prisons in Germany and elsewhere; already serving terms of imprisonment or still waiting to be judged and sentenced as “war criminals.” When would she, when would they at last experience the joy that I now knew, the joy of being free? And more I
thought of them, more I felt small, I who had suffered so little. And more I was puzzled at the idea of the miraculous way I had “got away with it.” “Why hast Thou freed me, and not one of then who are worth more than I, Lord of the unseen Forces?” asked I, within my heart. “Is it that Thou hast put me aside for some work of which I know nothing, yet? Or is it because I am to write for our cause something that I alone can conceive? Oh, help me to justify, by selfless and efficient service, that freedom which Thou hast given me today!”
Thus I prayed, in waiting for the train. Then as there was still time, I sat on a bench once more; I took out my pen and paper, and started writing to my husband, who had contributed to free me.
But the train came before I had finished my letter.
* * *
From the window of the railway carriage, I gazed at the Rhine shining under the sun, at the foot of its lovely green hills. And I felt sadder than ever at the thought that I was forced to leave Germany. I tried to brush the idea aside and to think only of the joy that awaited me now, in Koblenz, in less than half an hour, — the joy of being once more, for a short tine at least, amidst people of my own faith.
We reached Koblenz. After leaving my trunk at the cloakroom of the station, I went straight to my friends. Seldom was I so welcome. And seldom did I spend so happy a time as during the three days that I was to remain among them — my three last days in Germany.
Seated on a patch of green grass, in front of a hastily built two-roomed house in the midst of an entirely ruined locality, — away from onlookers — I related to my friends the story of my arrest and trial, and of the six months I
had spent in jail. They knew what had happened to me from a magazine in which my photograph had appeared. But they wanted to learn the details. I felt a little ashamed to speak of myself, for seated before me was one of those men who have really suffered for our cause after having brilliantly served it for years and years: the former Ortsgruppenleiter Fritz Horn, now dead. There was Fräulein B. also, — the same Fräulein B. who had once given me the little glass portrait of the Führer, of which I have spoken in this book — and her sister, with her three children. All these people had suffered a great deal, although they had not, personally, like Herr Horn, experienced the horror of the postwar anti-Nazi concentration camps. They were “the gold in the furnace.” I was merely the woman who had written Gold in the furnace. Yet I spoke, and they were kind enough to take interest in the little I had to say.
“I shall never forgive ‘them’ for not allowing me to be with my comrades the so-called ‘war criminals’,” said I. “But I must admit I am glad ‘they’ did not destroy my manuscript. It baffles me that they did not. I see the written pages before me, and still I can hardly believe it.”
“It is unbelievable,” declared Herr Horn. “One would think either that they did not care to read your book, or that they are trying to reverse their policy.” The remark struck me. I remembered that H. E. had once said the same. “But if they wish to reverse their policy, then why do they keep on trying people for “war crimes” every other day?” objected I. “Now, in Hamburg, they are trying another batch of thirty-five German women, former wardresses at Ravensbrück, who have done nothing but their duty.”
“That is true,” put in Fräulein B., “but it is not
easy to release thirty-five women in Hamburg and God alone knows how many other so-called ‘war criminals’ elsewhere, without it coming to the knowledge of the public. While it is easy to give you back your book, especially when they know you are leaving Germany, and perhaps leaving Europe.”
“But I can publish my book outside Germany, although, — naturally — I told ‘them’ that I never would,” said I.
“Not easily, even outside Germany,” replied Herr Horn. “From the little I have read of it, then, — when you had written only the beginning — you can hardly publish it anywhere, except under an out-and-out Nazi Government. Our enemies know that.”
“By the way, before I go,” said I, “I must translate to you what I wrote in Chapter 6 about the hunger and ill-treatments that you suffered at the hands of those rascals.”
“Certainly. I’ll listen to your impeachment of ‘them’ this evening.”
‘‘I can read it in the original,” observed young Hermann, a handsome fourteen year-old blonde boy, Fräulein B.’s nephew; “I am the best one in my class, in English. Won’t you show it to me?”
“Of course I shall,” replied I. “You will be there when I translate it, and you will correct me if I make any mistakes.”
The other two, younger children, had got up to join a few kids of the neighbourhood who had come in soon after me. While carrying on the conversation, I watched them playing hide-and-seek behind the torn walls that had once been the walls of happy homes. Their laughter echoed in the midst of the still desolate, nightmare-looking surroundings. “The voice of invincible
Life,” thought I; “the voice of future Germany.” And I recalled in my mind our Führer’s well-known words: “Healthy children are the nation’s most valuable possessions.”
We talked for a long time more, till darkness fell.
* * *
I spent the two following days visiting a couple of other friends — all glad to see me free — and talking to Herr Horn, when he was able to talk; for his health, once as strong as iron, had been utterly ruined during the three hellish years he had remained in the extermination camps of the Western Democrats. He spoke, however, without hatred or bitterness, with the serene assurance of one who has lived his faith and done all his duty, and who has “surrendered the fruits of action” to the supreme Arbiter of Life and Death. He spoke without passion of the unavoidable clash that would, sooner or later, bring face to face the coalesced forces of Communism and those of the money-ridden western Democracies, and he said: “What will remain of the Aryan race will be forced to recognise that we were right, and to come to us.”
“I wrote somewhere in my book that we would in due time proclaim to the ruined world our supreme ultimatum: ‘Hitler or hell!’ So you agree with me, you who know so much more than I?” said I.
“Entirely,” answered Herr Horn
“But when will that be?”
“What does it matter when?” replied Hitler’s faithful and wise lifelong fighter. “You have said yourself our Weltanschauung is eternal. Time does not count for us who have truth on our side. Don’t be in a hurry and waste your energy in useless babble like those clowns who
think they are going to reform the world with their U.N.O. and their precious ‘schemes’ and ‘plans’. We are not they. We build for eternity.”
When, on Sunday morning, before my departure, I went to see him for the last time, he told me: “You are right to go. There is no purpose in trying to remain among us any longer at present. ‘These people’ have now spotted you out, and you are surely being watched. If you stay here, you will only be running the risk of falling once more into their clutches thus giving them a pretext to destroy your book. Don’t take that risk. It would not be doing your duty, — for you owe that book to us, for whom you wrote it. Be cautious, and you will give it to us one day. Go to France — and from there, wherever you might be the most useful — and wait. “Hope and wait.” One day, we shall welcome you again. In the meantime, if, being alone, you feel powerless, you have your burning faith — our common Nazi faith — to sustain you. And you have this — our Führer’s immortal words.”
And he handed over to me a beautiful copy of Mein Kampf, — the only one he had. “It is yours,” said he; “a remembrance from Germany.”
Never have I received a gift with such profound emotion.
“Ich danke Ihnen!” said I, with tears in my eyes. And I could say no more. For a second or two, I gazed at the serene face of the Nazi martyr. Then, slowly raising my right arm in the ritual gesture, I cried from the depth of my heart: “Heil Hitler!”
He answered my salute as though accomplishing a religious rite, and repeated the spell-like syllables: “Heil Hitler!”
I did not know that I was really seeing him for the
last time. But it was so. For, on the 12th of December 1949, after lingering a whole year, Herr Horn died of the illness contracted as a consequence of the hardships and cruelties he had suffered at the hands of our enemies.
* * *
Fräulein B. gave me a brooch of metal bearing the picture of the Führer against the background of a swastika, to replace the little glass portrait that had been taken away from me and destroyed. She — and young Hermann — saw me off to the station.
My train was there. I stepped into a wagon going to Luxemburg, via Nanish, for I did not wish to face the customs officers and police at Saarhölzbach, if I could help it. I had been seen there too often already, on my journeys between Saarland and the French Zone.
My friends entered the railway carriage and remained with me until it was time for the train to start. Then, they stood on the platform, and I talked to them from the open window. “Auf wiedersehen!” cried Fräulein B., as the train moved. “You will come back to us. Hope and wait!”
“Auf wiedersehen!” cried also young Hermann. They could not add: “Heil Hitler!” for we were not unobserved. But I knew they meant it. And they knew that I too meant it.
As I took a last glimpse of him standing on the platform in the sunshine, tall and virile like a young Nordic god, Hermann appeared to me as the embodiment of all my dreams, of all my hopes. “The lovely future Storm Trooper!” thought I. And I was proud of him, as though he had been my son.