THE HOLY FOREST
“Es mag sein, daß heute das Geld der ausschließliche Regent des Lebens geworden ist, doch wird dereinst der Mensch sich wieder vor höheren Göttern beugen.”
“The walls, in this house, are as thin as paper; every word can be heard, especially at this time of the night, when everything is quiet. And the fellow who lives on the first floor is a treacherous swine. Used to pretend to be a National Socialist, once—when it paid. But went and joined the SPD2 as soon as the Occupation started. And now, goes about denouncing us. So be careful what you say.” This is what Herr A had told me, the night before, as I sat by him in a comfortable easy chair after a tiring journey from one end of Germany to the other. “But,” he added, “tomorrow I shall take you to the forest. There, we can talk freely.”
And we were now walking uphill towards the forest. In fact, we were already practically in it. We were only walking farther and farther away from the road—away from possible onlookers, away from possible listeners, possible traitors, possible spies. And I thought to myself, recalling what someone had said in the first German town I had visited: “Indeed this is ‘the land of fear.’ Unfortunate Germany! For how long?”
We walked on and on without talking. I had never met Herr A before. I had come to him recommended by other Nazis from abroad, with whom he was in touch without having, either, actually met them. And all he knew of me was that I had spent long years in India; that I was “in Ordnung,”3 i.e., myself also a Nazi; and that I was prepared to take part, directly or indirectly, in any underground activities aimed at strengthening the National Socialist spirit and undermining the
1 “It may be that today gold has become the exclusive ruler of life, yet the time will come when man will again bow down before higher gods” (Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, II, ii, p. 486; cf. Mannheim, p. 436) [Trans. by Ed.].
2 The Social Democratic Party, revived and sponsored by the Allied occupation.
3 In order—Ed.
influence of the Occupying Powers in present day Germany. So he had many things to tell me, and I many things to tell him. But we waited.
It was a bright September morning. Through the branches of the trees, still thickly covered with green leaves, the Sun projected patterns of light upon the ground and upon us—patterns that moved, as the breeze stirred the leaves—and birds were singing. The more we walked towards the interior of the forest, the more I felt elated. After the hundreds of miles of ruins that I had been seeing, day after day, ever since I had entered Germany, to find myself in that inviolate sanctuary of peace was refreshing. And the knowledge that Herr A and I were there alone, and that we had come to seek aloofness from the venal treachery of man; silence; secrecy; and heart-to-heart communion with each other in our grand, impersonal ideals, made it all the more so. I was aware that the hidden Godhead of the Forest—the unseen, still, invincible Soul of the Land—was our ally. And indeed it was.
A couple of deer ran past gracefully at some hundred yards’ distance from us, and disappeared in the thickness of the trees. I admired the beauty of their flight. I wanted to ask Herr A if, like the English friends who had sent me to him, and like myself, he disapproved of the chase as of all cruel sports, both on moral and on aesthetic grounds. I remembered a Jew who had declared, in a tea-party in Iceland, where I happened to be present, that such sports “should be encouraged” as they provided “a convenient outlet for man’s natural destructive instinct” which was, according to him, “more suitably exercised against animals than against people.” To which I had replied in indignation that, if one’s natural destructiveness must have an outlet, it was far more suitable to direct it against dangerous human beings rather than innocent animals. And when the man had asked me whom I called “dangerous human beings” I had answered defiantly “People like yourself,” setting against me the whole company—Icelanders (anything but Jews) but people with a Christian outlook. I wanted to relate that episode to Herr A. But I did not. I could not bring myself to break the silence. And I felt that Herr A was thinking of things in comparison with which all personal episodes were unimportant. We continued to walk, without speaking, for about half an hour. Dead leaves and dead twigs creaked under our feet.
At last, Herr A spoke. “Nobody can hear us here,” said he. “Now we can talk. Would you like to sit down, or would you mind us going still a little farther into the forest?”
“Let us go a little farther,” said I; “I like walking.”
He asked me a few questions about my background, my childhood, my life as a student, both in Greece and in France; he asked me when and how I had come to National Socialism, and how long I had lived in India, and what I had done there during the war, and how I had come to know the people who had recommended me to him. I replied faithfully. He told me something of his own life and struggle; of his beautiful birthplace, in Sudetenland; of his pious upbringing; of his conversion from Christianity to National Socialism.
“You are right,” he told me, “when you say that the two philosophies can never go together. You had the privilege never to have been a Christian. I ceased to be one in 1933.”
“I was one, outwardly, till 1929.”
“What do you mean by ‘outwardly’?”
“I mean that I used to go to church on Sundays. But I had never believed in the teaching of any Church. I used to go to the Greek Church, not because it was Christian, but because it was Greek; because I had there an opportunity of meeting the other Greeks of the French town where I was brought up, and of hearing Byzantine singing, which I love; and because I knew that the Church, as an organisation, had done a lot to keep Greek nationality alive during the four centuries Greece remained under the Turks. Also because, however sorry I was, at heart, that the Greeks had ever taken to Christianity at all, in the past, I considered that the foreign creed had irretrievably become a part of the national culture of a modern Greek. I don’t think so now. I have not thought so for many years—not since 1929, as I said.
“What did you do in 1929?”
“I spent forty days in Palestine. I wanted to know, not from books but from experience, the birthplace of the religion that had overrun Greece and nearly the whole of the Aryan world. I saw it thoroughly, from one end to the other. I saw the Jews there—the people whom my pious aunt1 (my English mother’s sister) used to call ‘God’s chosen ones.’ Not that I had never seen any before. I had seen many. But it is one thing to meet an occasional Jew in France or in England, or even in Athens, and another thing to see hundreds, thousands of them in a land in which they were already settling twelve centuries before Christ or so; in a land that one can no longer separate from their history. I had never felt myself in such a foreign atmosphere as in those picturesque and dirty streets of the old Jewish quarter of Jerusalem; also as in the
1 Nora Nash—Ed.
very churches of the place, and its sites of Christian pilgrimage. How could people of pure Aryan blood, nay, descendants of the Vikings, like my pious aunt and my own mother, thought I, bring themselves to accept a God said to have chosen such a nation as that one as ‘his own’? How could the Greeks have gotten accustomed to calling him ‘their’ God, even outwardly—for I knew that, inwardly, they had always been far less Christian-like than the English—and that, through a teacher such as Paul of Tarsus, of all men, a hater of life and of beauty? It may well be that his Church had helped to preserve Greek nationality under Turkish domination. But before that, it had ruined the Greek race and what was left of the Greek spirit—as it had ruined the Aryan spirit in all other Aryan countries, more or less. I could no longer lie. I could no longer force myself to believe that this religion was an indispensable part of any national inheritance. There was too much Jewry irredeemably mixed up with it for me to tolerate it any longer. I had always been a Nature worshipper, a Sun worshipper, at heart. I would now be one openly. And I retained this attitude ever since.”
“Why did you go to India?”
“To see a land in which the old Aryan religion had resisted victoriously, to this day, the efforts both of Islam and of Christianity to wipe it out; in other words, a land of Aryan culture, free from the influence of the Jew—so I thought, at least. I had read a few books about the caste system. I could not help feeling a connection between that heroic effort to keep Aryan blood pure (and the blood of every race) in that land of many races, and the amazing survival of the Aryan Gods of old. I wished to see that system at work with my own eyes; to study it. I could not help noticing that the principles that had guided the immemorial Aryan lawgivers in their insistence on purity of blood, in that distant tropical country, were exactly the same as those which the Führer proclaimed in our times—for the first time in the West since decay had set in. I had just read Mein Kampf and was already, in the full awareness of my Aryan pride, a devoted admirer of Adolf Hitler.”
“Did you not wish to see, also, Hitler’s own land?”
“Oh, do not again tear open the lasting wound in my heart! Too many people have done so already, first of all the generous, detached, all-understanding Indian who gave me his name and protection that the British might allow me to leave India in the beginning of the war. I was to go to France. From France, I would have come here. I had introductions; everything I needed. I would have broadcast on behalf of the Propaganda Department, and put all my heart and soul in my
messages. But Italy joined the war a fortnight too soon. And so the last Italian ship, which I was to take, never sailed. Of course I should have come before the war. I intended to. I never meant to remain in India more than two or three years—not fifteen.1 But it is not always possible to do as one has planned. And not easy to come from ten thousand kilometres away. When the war once broke out, it was impossible, in spite of all my efforts.
“I have told you what I did during the war. Whatever it might have amounted to, it was nothing compared with what I could have done here.”
“It was the best you could do, in the circumstances. And it was useful. And now you have come to us, and you are welcome. You can also be useful, if you know how to be careful and patient.”
“Still, in former days, I would have seen the Führer.”
“You will see him, one day.”
“So you too believe he is alive?”
“I do not ‘believe’ it; I know it.”
“Do you know where he is?”
“I cannot tell you now. But a time will come when you will know.”
“And see him?”
“And feel his divine eyes rest upon me, be it only for a minute or two! And hear his voice—his own voice—address me!”
“And tell you that he is pleased that you were among us in 1948, in the darkest days. Yes, why not?”
My eyes brightened at the thought of this happiness. And I blushed. Herr A smiled to me as he would have to a little girl, although I am as old as he, in fact a year or two older. “Don’t I know,” said he, “what you want? I can read your thoughts.”
“Then, you know at least that I am sincere.”
“That, I do! I knew it as soon as you opened your mouth. But sincerity is not sufficient, in times like these. You also have to learn how to wait, how to keep calm, and how to hide your feelings, also, if you do not want to get into trouble one fine day and—which would be worse—to get others into trouble along with yourself. Be careful, very careful. You seem entirely to lack the sense of danger.”
1 Savitri’s first sojourn in India lasted only a little more than ten years, from May 1935 to November 1945.—Ed.
“I was aware of danger when I crossed the border with my trunk full of those leaflets which I showed you; acutely aware of it indeed.”
“Yes. But you forgot all about it as soon as you felt that you had safely come through. You should not forget. Danger is lurking everywhere, in this unfortunate country. People can denounce you for nothing, in the sheer hope of securing safety for themselves. You do not know who is a friend and who is a traitor.”
“But surely no Nazi would harm me.”
“Certainly not. But you do not know who is really a Nazi and who is only speaking as one, in order to trap you. Be careful. Bribery and fear are the weapons of our enemies; powerful weapons. Our proud Germany has become, under the Occupation, the land of fear.”
For the hundredth time I recalled in my mind my arrival at Saarbrücken, my first evening in the midst of a German family, and those self-same words, which I heard there for the first time: “ Das Land der Angst”—“the land of fear.”
“But,” said I, “the faithful minority, the genuine German National Socialists, they stand erect in the midst of that general terror . . .”
Herr A gave me a beautiful, proud smile.
“Yes,” said he, “we, the wide-awake, the steadfast; the true followers of him you love and revere. . . . 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 looked up to him admiringly. The words he quoted might have been mine, no doubt. But the pride was his. And so were the hardships endured these three and a half years: the loss of his home and of all he possessed; and his sufferings as a soldier on the front and as a prisoner of war abroad. And it was his indomitable will that had overcome those sufferings, and kept him erect and expectant, strengthened instead of disheartened in the depth of disaster and destitution; ready to seize the mastery of the future at the first opportunity. In his tall and handsome figure walking by my side against the sunlit background of the forest; in his virile countenance brightened by large, deep blue eyes, I beheld a living representative of that golden minority that I love; that I had come to Germany in order to seek and serve; of that minority which is, in my eyes, the real German nation, for whom Hitler dreamed such glory, such power, and such happiness. Herr A was Hitler’s people welcoming me. I had not felt so happy for a long time.
“Would you like us now to sit down,” said he.
We reclined upon a mat of dead leaves, at the foot of a tree. A ray of sunshine struck Herr A’s ash blond, glossy, wavy hair, and made it shine like gold. His face was stern. His eyes, looking in the distance, were as hard and cold as steel. I too, looked straight in front of me at the play of light and shade in those hundreds and hundreds of trees; at their varied shades of green; at a patch of blue sky, visible through the intricate branches. We were silent for a moment, as though under a spell. I felt the soul of that forest in me. I was a part and parcel of that endless life. And I knew Herr A felt the same. (I have never met a National Socialist who does not feel the same as I do about Nature.) He turned to me and his hard eyes softened. And his mouth, which had expressed up till then nothing but concentrated willpower and pride, smiled faintly. “Are you comfortable?” he asked me.
“I am happy.”
“Do you know where we are? In which forest?”
And without giving me the leisure to answer or even to think, he pursued: “We are in the outskirts of the Hartz, the great sacred forest of all times. It stretches on, from here, for kilometres and kilometres, right into the Russian Zone. Is it not beautiful?”
“‘They’ have cut down whole portions of it, the devils. One day, I shall show you: whole hilltops robbed of their verdant, age-old mantle; acres and acres of land, in which you will see nothing but stumps of felled trees. At one time, in their first fury of plunder and desecration, in 1946, ‘they’ were cutting down ten thousand trees a day. And goodness only knows what the Russians have been doing on the other side of the forbidden border—although they have enough wood in their own country without spoiling ours. That is what ‘Occupation’ means.”
“I know,” I replied: “I have seen some of the damage ‘they’ have wrought in the Black Forest. And believe me, I hate ‘them’ as fiercely as you, although I am not a German. I shall never forget the massacred woods, nor the cities in ruins, nor that splendid faith of ours, for which I lived twenty years, shattered in the hearts of millions. Shattered, and replaced by what? Blank despair—like that which I myself experienced until this year in the spring; for one cannot have loved our ideals and then love different ones. I shall never forget that moral ruin added to the material.”
Herr A’s cold blue eyes looked straight into me inquiringly. “Have you ever really lost faith?” he asked me.
“No,” said I. “And yet, in one way, yes. Of course, I never lost my devotion to the Führer, nor my faith in his mission. I always believed, or rather always knew, that one day his principles would triumph, for they are rooted in truth. What is rooted in truth never perishes. But I had given up all hope to see them triumph in my lifetime.”
“Did you ever give up your willingness to act?”
“Why, since you had no hope?”
“First, because I hated those millions of fools who had obediently swallowed the Jew’s horror tales (which never impressed me, anyhow, and would not have, even if they had all been true) and fought against the Führer. I hated those who have been persecuting his faithful ones ever since the capitulation. I would have given anything, done anything to witness their destruction and to rejoice over it. Then, I realised that the faithful ones were more numerous than I had imagined. Hope came back to me, as I have already related to you. Then, I saw the ruins of Germany and could no longer remain away from here in freedom and security. No. Even if I had still believed that the New Order could not be restored in my lifetime; even if there were no hope, still, I would have come—come, at least to suffer with Hitler’s people, if I could do nothing more useful; come to share their hardships and their dangers; to be persecuted with them. I would have crossed the frontier on foot, clandestinely, from the nearest village in France, if I had not, this time, been granted an entrance permit.”
Herr A took one of my hands in his, and pressed it, and smiled. “There is no moral ruin for the strong,” he said, triumphantly; “and material ruin does not count, in the long run. I have not only never lost faith in our ideals but, even in 1945 when, a prisoner of war in the USA I was told of the capitulation, I knew that one day we would rise again; and that I would live to witness our second rising, more irresistible, more glorious than the first, and more lasting. I knew then that the Führer was alive. Something told me.”
The forest continued to breathe and to sing all round us, in grace, in majesty, in the superb indifference of things everlasting. “The felled trees will grow again,” I said. “It might take a long time—a hundred years, two hundred—for the holy Hartz to look like itself once more. But what are two hundred years in the life of the Land?”
“We too will rise again,” replied Herr A. “Like the divine Forest, we too are eternal. We too have our roots in the soil. The world does
not yet know what real National Socialism is. It will, soon.”
“In less than two years’ time—surely in less than three—you will see the beginning of our second struggle for power.”
“How I wish I could believe you! So soon! Yet, would it not have been better if there had been no capitulation, no disaster? Why, after all, why could we not win this war? Whose fault is it, according to you, that we lost it; that Germany is occupied, plundered, terrorised; that our Hitler’s name is slandered all over the stupid world; that the best men of the Party were killed as ‘war criminals’; that you and I have to come here, miles away from the town, to speak freely?”
“Ours,” replied Herr A.
“You mean to say that the Nazis in power were not ruthless enough? I have always said that myself. There would have been no trials for so-called ‘war-crimes,’ had there been no Jews left to bear false witness against our people.”
“Not ruthless enough, not merely towards the Jews,” observed Herr A, “but towards a number of good-for-nothing fellows who had crept into the Party, and towards the traitors in high position. Not critical, not discriminate enough; not suspicious enough. The facts you told me last night about Rommel’s briefcase are significant. And the other information you obtained abroad about that pack of traitors in the German railway services, sending regular dispatches to the London War Office concerning our troop movements and so forth, while pretending all the time to be sincere National Socialists, is no less eloquent. We must not blame the Occupation authorities if those rascals now have good posts as a reward for their doings and if they go about denouncing us to increase their income still a bit more. We must blame ourselves for not finding them out in time and ‘liquidating’ them before they did irreparable mischief.”
“We had,” said I, “a too high opinion of human nature. We were too generous.”
“Too slack, too stupid, and too self-centred,” replied Herr A.
“But the Party members . . .”
“I have told you: there were all sorts of fellows in the Party besides genuine National Socialists,” said Herr A. “Three-quarters of them had not the right spirit. Had it been otherwise, we never would have lost the war.”
And he started discussing some of the prominent members of the Nazi Government. He was bitter in his criticisms.
“Look at that creature, Schacht,” said he. “Can you call that a
Nazi? The slimiest type of traitor. And to think we tolerated such a man twenty years without being able to see through him!”
“Capable, but characterless,” said I. “He should have been a Democrat from the start. But he is an exception, you must admit.”
“I should think so! Still; look at Ley, a man who never should have been in high position. Look at Baldur von Schirach; the reputation he had . . .”
“I have heard all that,” said I. “Oh, don’t tell me any more! I don’t wish to know. They were both among the Führer’s early followers. And one died a martyr at Nuremberg. And the other is, to this day, in captivity, in our enemies’ hands. Leave them in peace. Whatever might have been their weaknesses, they suffered enough to expiate them a thousand times.”
“A Nazi should have no weaknesses,” said Herr A. And his bright eyes were as hard as stone. And I felt that he despised me a little for the sympathy I had shown the two men.
We remained some time without speaking. The many noises of the forest were the same as before: songs of birds and rustling of leaves; the fall of a pebble at the swift passage of a lizard. I saw another couple of deer run past in the distance. But I was neither looking nor hearing with the same restfulness as before—that restfulness without which one cannot remain in touch with the soul of living Nature. I looked up to Herr A once more, and I did not know what to think. “Have you not a good word to say of any of them?” I asked at last; “Not even of Hermann Göring? Not even of Dr. Goebbels, the embodiment of devotion to our Führer?”
And I thought of Göring’s fine, frank face. And sentences from his speeches at Nuremberg—at the Party rally in September 1935, and, ten years later, before our victorious enemies—came back to my memory; unforgettable sentences, everlastingly true. And I thought of Goebbels’ eloquence also, and of his death with all his family, worthy of the heroic Age; and of Göring’s death in honour and dignity—and in defiance of the iniquitous judgement of our persecutors.
“Göring was both able and sincere, and I respect him,” said Herr A. “Still”—he added—“. . . too much luxury, too much money . . .” as though this were nearly a disqualification in his eyes. “As for Goebbels, he was undoubtedly one of the best ones,” he said, “although none were perfect—none but the Führer himself.”
He paused for a while and then addressed me again. “You mentioned the martyrs of Nuremberg,” said he. “Shall I tell you of two among them, the most misjudged, the most hated by the world at large,
but worthy men, whom you should admire?”
“Himmler, and Streicher.”
Herr A’s choice did not astonish me. In fact, I expected to hear these two names from him.
“I have never shared the prejudices of the God-forsaken world—or even of many Germans—about these men,” said I. “I remember the passage of Mein Kampf relating how Julius Streicher, in a gesture of unselfish, true patriotism, dissolved his own previous party and asked his followers to join the Führer, in the beginning of the struggle.1 I always liked that generous attitude of his. And I like his uncompromising spirit, also; his one-pointed effort to free this country from the unseen yoke of the Jew; and his last gesture, and two last words—‘Heil Hitler!’—at the tragic hour of death, after going through still more suffering, perhaps, and greater humiliations than the others, at Nuremberg. Poor Streicher! And I know Himmler’s task was a heavy and a thankless one. Yet he did it well.”
“Right,” replied Herr A. “And have you ever read his little book, Die Stimme der Ahnen? It is not well known; not even published under his own name. But if you can ever get a copy, read it. You will then understand what a man he was.”
And he added in a lower voice: “A real Heathen; a man you would have been happy to meet. A man who would have understood you, too, for he had the right view of things and hated half measures. So did Streicher, in fact. And so did Goebbels. He too was a man from the people.”
* * *
Herr A uttered those last words with particular emphasis. One could feel that, in his estimation, it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a person born and bred in a “bourgeois” atmosphere to make a good National Socialist. For Herr A could not forget the enormous influence of upbringing upon most human beings. He did not speak of the exceptions. “Yes,” he repeated after a pause, “only among the people—the workmen, the peasants; those who know and accept real life—are the qualities of the race to be found, unmarred. The workman is healthier than the ‘bourgeois.’ His blood is purer—in general—and therefore stronger; more valuable. All
1 Mein Kampf, II, viii, p. 575; Mannheim, p. 514.
or nearly all ‘intellectuals’ are perverts in some way or another. All are more or less hopelessly sick. Cut them down, as a class. Suppress classes. They are incompatible with a society dominated by the national (völkisch) ideal which is, before anything else, racial. And the leaders of the people should be men of character and of experience; men who have lived and suffered, and learnt; whose personality has been forged by the Gods upon the anvil of hardship, like that of the Führer—not men of books; theoreticians; men who do not know mankind, and who can neither love it nor hate it.”
“I have always said that myself,” I replied—strange as it might seem to many, who believe that one’s education determines one’s being, in all cases. “No one is more contemptuous of unthinking ‘intellectuals’ than I. I want people who think for themselves, or at least who trust and follow those who do think—and who really love them. And of all such ones I met, nine out of ten come, as you say, from the working classes.”
I was perfectly sincere. And Herr A felt it. He gazed at me with warm, understanding approbation, and was silent.
The birds continued to chirp, and the leaves to rustle, and the Sun to throw moving patterns of light upon the mossy ground and upon our faces. I felt safe, and at rest. All was so beautiful and so peaceful around us. Herr A pressed my hand and smiled at me gently. “Are you happy, here?” he asked me.
“Yes,” said I. “I love forests. And to know that this one is a part of the famous Hartz makes it all the more lovable to me. I feel on a holy spot.”
“So you really love our Germany, don’t you? Not merely with your brain, but with all your heart.” And his large, limpid eyes, that could, at times, be so hard, looked at me with tenderness. “You are right,” he added; “see how lovely she is!”
“She is, indeed,” I repeated. “Yet, it is not her beauty alone that moves me. The whole world is beautiful. But she is my Führer’s land. Her people are his people, whom he loves more than himself, more than anything on earth. And that is why I love them. That is why I came, when all was lost.”
Herr A again pressed my hand in his and looked at me so gently that my heart ached.
“You are a woman,” said he, smiling; “a young, loving woman. I know it. How old are you?”
“Nearly twenty-three,” replied Herr A.
“About the age I was,” said I, “when I first realised all that National
Socialism meant to me.”
“That is to say, all that Adolf Hitler meant and still means to you,” said Herr A mercilessly.
“Is it not the same thing?” asked I, suddenly flushing crimson.
“Yes, it is.”
“It is,” he repeated after a pause, “and always shall be. For not only is our Weltanschauung, as you say so well, the modern form of the everlasting Religion of Life and Light—of health, and strength, and beauty—but he is the one modern Man of action in Whom God—“the Heat-and-Light within the Sun,” to use the expression you quoted last night—manifested Himself. I believe that. And so do a few others who understand, who feel the truth.”
“I believe it too. I know it, because I love Him. And I have never loved anyone in that way, but Gods. Oh,” said I, in a new outburst of enthusiasm, stretching out my arms as though I would reach the ends of the earth, “I wish I could say it freely, write it, proclaim it, stick it on all the walls: ‘Hitler is divine; our glorious, our beloved Führer is the cosmic Soul, the Spirit of the Sun, born for the first time in the West since immemorial Antiquity to stay the decay of creation.’ I wish the world could rise and praise him—and love him—at my voice!”
“The broad world—nay, his own Fatherland that he so loves—will listen to no one. It will learn the truth as it has always learnt: through bitter experience, through remorse, through despair; through the way of blood and tears. Germany is learning already. As for you, continue to love him and serve his ideals, in small as well as in great things. Continue to love his people. Are you not happy to feel that some of them, however few, think and feel as you do, and are waiting and working with you for his triumph?”
“Surely I am. And it is a joy for me to feel myself, just now, in this holy forest—away, far away from the impure world created by his enemies; alone with one of his sincere followers.”
Herr A gazed at me more tenderly than ever, and spoke in a low, caressing voice: “I too am happy with you in this solitude, united to you in the love of all I adore and stand for and live for. There is no link like that one. Had you been a little different, I would have perhaps tried to bring you nearer to myself. But I shall never do so; for you have been put aside to live for gods alone.”
“My husband always said the same.”
“A wise, very wise, and noble man,” said Herr A.
We were silent for a few minutes and then, overwhelmed by the feelings that had been roused in me, I suddenly said in a low voice,
with such appealing gentleness that I was myself surprised at the sound of it: “You must have seen ‘him.’ Have you ever had the privilege of speaking to ‘him’? Oh, do talk to me about ‘him’!” Herr A understood—knew—that I meant: about Adolf Hitler.
“I have seen him and greeted him several times, but only spoke to him once,” he said. And his face was beaming with a strange light, as though inspired.
“Do tell me!” said I.
“Well, it was in Berlin, long ago—before his coming to power. He had just been addressing a meeting and spoke individually to many people. I was then a student, and I had been attending the meeting with other students. We went up to him, some eight or ten of us. And he shook hands with each one of us, and spoke to us in turn. He told us that he relied upon us; that we were to be the builders of new Germany. But it is not so much his words that impressed me, as it is himself, especially his eyes. ‘His divine eyes,’ you said. You are right: large, deep blue, magnetic eyes, he has; eyes that look straight into one’s soul or straight into infinity; full of heavenly light. No one could see those eyes and remain unmoved. No one could hear his warm, convincing, compelling voice; no one could behold his countenance—stamped with unbounded willpower; brightened with the holy radiance of inspiration; softened with kindness—without loving him. No one—at least no German—could come in close contact with him even once, even for five minutes, and not become his follower.”
He paused a minute, as though lost in a dream, or watching some inner vision. The words he had uttered would have thrilled me anywhere. But there, in the midst of the sacred forest, the Hartz, they took on a beauty, a solemnity that lifted me above myself and above the world, to the realm of the eternal.
But Herr A was again speaking—speaking freely in this sanctuary of peace where no profane ears could hear us, no enemy watch us; where we lay, for a while, outside the pale of persecution: “Yes,” he was saying, “you are right, entirely right: Adolf Hitler is National Socialism; He is Germany; He is the Aryan race; the ‘god among men’ as you write in your paper; the living Soul of the race—our Hitler!”
He was no longer the same man. He was transfigured, as though the very spirit of the forest and of the blue sky had entered him, overshadowing his individual spirit. And I too, probably, looked more than myself. He took my hand in his, and I looked up to him with tears in my eyes.
* * *
We remained a long time without speaking, absorbed in our feelings, in tune with each other through the great One who filled our consciousness; in tune with the majestic trees, with the soul of the Hartz, the soul of all woods, abode of silent, inexhaustible strength and life—with the invincible soul of the Land he so loved. Ascending the pure blue sky, the Sun shed his rays more and more directly upon the treetops above our heads.
At last, Herr A spoke: “You told me last night,” said he, “that you are a worshipper of ‘the Heat-and-light within the Sun,’ of the Energy that is Life; in other words, that you are a Heathen like myself and like the few others of us who really know the meaning of what we profess to stand for. Have you never longed to see the spirit of our philosophy exalted in a public cult?”
I thought I had heard the self of my youth, of my childhood, of always—my eternal self—speaking to me in the Führer’s sweet language.
“I have longed for that all my life,” said I, “and travelled all my life in search of its nearest equivalent, without really finding it.” (I nearly said: “I have longed for that all my lives, and sought it in all the countries of this and other planets, without yet finding it.”)
Herr A looked at me intently and spoke: “The public cult of Life and sunshine, as you have dreamed it,” said he, “will flourish here in Germany, the cradle and the stronghold of National Socialism—during your lifetime and mine. One day, somewhere on the edge of this very forest, men will behold the temple of the new Soul. I have planned it; and I shall build it after we are free once more; after ‘he’ comes back; in other words, after the new soul awakens in earnest and takes consciousness of itself.”
He was silent for a while, and spoke again. (“Was it he, Herr A, or was it more than he? Was it the consciousness of the future, was it reborn Germany speaking to me through him?” thought I.)
“The new Aryan soul that will pray and sing and dream in the temple of Life, is now slowly taking shape,” he said; “the collective soul that will uphold the Religion of Life and Light, the one religion that can minister to the aspirations of man in a permanent National Socialist State. I shall describe to you the temple as I have conceived it. I have hardly ever spoken of this to anybody. But you will understand me, I am sure.”
“I hope so.”
And he unfolded before me his beautiful dream. He described to me a splendid structure of granite, against a hill, in the midst of the woods. He evoked, before my eyes, the altar of the Sun—a huge cubic monolith bearing the holy Swastika, the Sign of the Sun, in the centre of a broad open platform, reached by a monumental staircase from within the temple, and upon which fire, lit directly from the sun rays through a convergent glass or crystal, would burn day and night—and the stately services to which the warrior-like sound of trumpets would call the population, not at ten or eleven o’clock, but at sunrise and sunset, on ordinary Sundays, and on the great festive days of the Sun—the equinoxes and the solstices—natural, regular landmarks in cosmic life, and on the great national anniversaries, landmarks in the history of the race, days on which the people have taken consciousness of their greatness in some great action.
And I listened to the wonderful conception, more and more moved as Herr A spoke. I was a Sun worshipper all my life, and I was all my life a National Socialist—knowingly, for the last twenty years. And I had been aware all the time, at the bottom of my heart, that the everlasting Religion of the Sun and the modern Weltanschauung of power and beauty, of purity of blood, bodily perfection and mental virility—the eternal and the modern philosophy of the Swastika—were the same. And all my life I had dreamed of a modern cult expressing this fact. And lo, at last, a man was telling me that my dream would become a living reality, at least that it would inasmuch as that depended upon him; and that man was none other but one of the faithful National Socialists in downtrodden, persecuted Germany. I felt as though, through Herr A, her worthy son, it were Germany herself speaking to me in her martyrdom: “Trust Me, the Führer’s Nation; The Power of the Sun, Whom you worship, will again raise Me from the abyss. And I shall make your dream a reality from Ocean to Ocean. I shall establish the cult of strength and joy—of youth—all over the subdued world!” And the words of one of our beautiful Nazi songs came back to my mind: “. . . for Germany belongs to us today, and tomorrow the whole world.”1
I gazed at Herr A. “I have never heard of any conception as beautiful as this,” said I sincerely. “When did you first think of this ‘German temple’ of yours?”
“And what did you do about it then?”
1 “denn heute gehört uns Deutschland, und morgen die ganze Welt.”
“But why? Why did you not try to bring the scheme into being, under the great One who would have understood it and appreciated it better than anybody else?”
“But he would have been the only one to understand it and appreciate it,” said Herr A.
And I recalled what my wise husband had told me sometime in early 1941—and then, not for the first time: “There is one man, and one alone, in the wide world, who would fully understand and appreciate your conception of religion and life, and that is . . . the Head of the Third Reich. You should have gone straight to him instead of coming and wasting your time in the East.”
And the old sadness, and the old feeling of inexpiable guilt again made my heart ache. The knife was again thrust into the unhealed wound.
But Herr A spoke once more. “The time was not ripe, then,” said he. “It is not ripe now. But it will soon be. It will be, when the German people have walked to the end along the way of blood and tears, and learnt to value that which so many of them considered lightly.”
“And what did they consider lightly?” I asked.
“Hitler’s words, Hitler’s love, Hitler’s spirit,” replied Herr A. “They are only now beginning to realise what a man lived in their midst; lived for them alone.”
“But would not the public cult of Life, as you understand it so well, would not your ‘German temple’ as you planned it in your mind, have helped them to realise all that?”
“No. The new soul must slowly emerge out of unconsciousness before it can express itself in a public cult. It must emerge out of new dwellings, new schools, new factories, new centres of physical training, new life. The ever-burning high altar of the Sun, bearing the sacred Sign both of Life and of National Socialism, can only be the culmination of the future city in which the new life will be an everyday reality, accepted as a matter of course. We were gradually building that splendid new life, when the vile Jew stirred up the whole world against us, and forced war upon us.”
And he described some of the features of the world that would have been if National Socialist Germany had not been defeated in 1945—of the world that will come into being tomorrow, one day, never mind when, if, with the help of the invisible forces that govern all things, we succeed in imposing our will upon men.
I was beaming with elation. “You have described,” said I to Herr A,
“that which, all my life, I have dreamed and longed for, thought impossible, and regretted never to see: modern civilisation at its best, modern industry in all its efficiency, in all its power, in all its grandeur; modern life with all its comforts and, along with that, the eternal Heathendom of the Aryans; the religion of living—physical and supra-physical—perfection, of ‘God residing in pure blood’ to repeat the words of Himmler; the religion of the Swastika which is the religion of the Sun; efficiency and inspiration; iron discipline coupled with enthusiasm; work, a parade; life, a manly hymn; military schools and up-to-date dwellings in the midst of trees; blast furnaces and Sun temples. That is the super-civilisation according to my heart. That is, that always was my conception of true National Socialism applied in practice. And to think that I had to come to defeated, downtrodden, martyred Germany, to find at last someone to express the same dream even better than I ever have!”
“Only through the experience of disaster and oppression, through years of martyrdom, could Germany grow to realise to the full the greatness of her Saviour and of all He stands for, and prepare herself to follow Him in absolute faith. She cheered Him, formerly, in the sunshine of victory, and her devotion was skin deep. Where are they now, those millions, whose lifted arms and joyous faces can be seen in the pictures of 1933 and 1935? Where are they? But now, the increasing thousands who long to shout ‘Heil Hitler’ from the bottom of the abyss, although they are not allowed to do so, mean it, with all their hearts. They will adore the holy Swastika, symbol of Life, in the Sun temples of the future. They will build the new world—the Golden Age world—which Hitler wanted.”
“But could not that have happened without all this misery?”
“No. Only bitter experience teaches nations, as it teaches individuals.”
“What would have happened, according to you, if by chance we had won this war?”
“Herr Schacht would still be Finance Minister of the Reich. And more millions of good-for-nothing people all over the world—some of them not even pure Aryans, strictly speaking—would be calling themselves National Socialists, without having anything in common with our beautiful way of life; without understanding the basis of it. The system would perhaps be in the process of decay through corruption from within. And once it collapsed (for it surely would have, in time) it could never have flourished again. A system that becomes rotten from within never does. Christianity, for instance, never will.”
“Now the world at large thinks us dead. Let people believe it! It is better to be alive, and believed dead, than dead or dying, and believed alive. It is even sometimes expedient to be thought dead. The more our enemies believe us so—the more the Occupying Powers are convinced that they have succeeded in ‘de-Nazifying’ Germany—the better for us. The more they believe us incapable of rising again, the freer we are to take consciousness of our strength, and to organise ourselves, and to get ready. The more silence, the more oblivion there is around us, the easier it is for us to move about in peace, and to do what is needed of us in these times of trial, of suffering, and of preparation.
“We are few. But we have never been so alive as we are now—never so convinced of the absolute justice of our cause, of the absolute soundness of our principles; never so aware of the greatness of all we stand for.
“Wait. And learn how to work in silence, in effacement, forgotten by others, forgetting yourself. Learn how to live, faithful to our ideals, without speaking of them. Learn how to live for our Führer alone, without stirring when you hear men either praise or condemn him. Remain proud and worthy of being a National Socialist, without letting the hostile or indifferent world know that you are one. Then, and then alone, you can be useful in our ranks.”
“But when shall I see, at last, the triumph that our comrades deserve, if I don’t? And that new world which you say is nigh? When shall I witness the public cult of life among the regenerate Aryans?”
“In less than ten years’ time. And you will see the beginning of the new rising in less than two, or at most three, if I am right. Great changes are to take place sooner than people think.”
* * *
Thus we conversed, lying in the moss at the foot of the trees, in the sunny solitude of the holy forest, in communion with those living trees, with the birds, the deer, the Sun and sky above; with the maternal earth on whose bosom our bodies lay—Germany’s earth.
I often wish I had hearkened more strictly to Herr A’s words of prudence and wisdom. I would not now be here, in jail, but would still be useful—and in many more ways than one. Still, as Herr A said, “people learn through experience alone.”
But I remember that warm September day spent in the Hartz, as a moment of beauty that nothing can alter—one of those unforgettable
contacts of mine with the invincible soul of Germany.
We had been sitting there for who knows how many hours, when at last Herr A said: “It is perhaps time for us to go. My wife will be waiting for us.”
“Let us use and enjoy the freedom of the woods yet five minutes longer,” said I; “let us stand and sing any one you like of our old songs, as we would have, in former days, after a meeting of the NSDAP. No political gathering could have made me feel in tune with Germany’s living élite more vividly than I have here, today, through your contact.”
“You are right,” said Herr A. “I too, feel the solemnity of this moment; your devotion represents, in my eyes, the homage of the whole Aryan race to our Germany.”
So we stood, with our right arms outstretched towards the Sun, in that green solitude, the symbolical two of us—he, the Führer’s compatriot, and I, the Aryan woman from far away, the first fruits of the Race’s reverence and love. And we sang the Horst Wessel Song. The manly tune and words that once accompanied the march of the German army across Europe, filled the grand sunlit stillness of the holy Forest, abode of peace.
And we were calm, although intensely happy, in the awareness of the eternity of all we stand for.