So, this clean and pretty town that now welcomed me was Linz — the place where “he” had spent the early years of his life! I could hardly believe it.
And yet . . . how vivid was the consciousness of “him” in connection with this place, not only in me but in his people at large! I recalled in my mind the remark of an elderly gentleman who had been sitting next to me, in the railway-carriage on my way: “Linz!” had he said, looking enigmatically at me as soon as I had answered the usual question and told him where I was going, “that is the town where Adolf Hitler used to live when he was a boy!” And he had added, even more enigmatically: “Is that why you are going there?”
I had blushed at the hearing of the beloved Name, and more so at the idea that the man had seen through me. But I had merely smiled, without replying a word: two Frenchmen in uniform — two members of the hated Occupation forces — were seated opposite us. One should be cautious in presence of those creatures: say nothing that might be interpreted as an offence in the light of this or that paragraph of the Occupation Statute. (But smiling, of course, and blushing, however more eloquent they be than any spoken words, can never be held against one as an offence! . . .)
I also recalled the strange way in which the man sitting at the desk in the “Enquiry Office concerning rooms,” — Zimmer Nachweis — at the station, had looked at me when I had told him that I had come from Athens, somehow as though he had wanted to say: “All the way from Athens to see the place where ‘he’ has spent his childhood! . . . So, . . . you too are one of ‘his’ followers . . . and presumably a good one!” Oh, he had not uttered — doubtless not dared to utter — those words! But I had felt pretty sure that he had thought them. And he had spoken to me for over an hour about his memories as an officer in the
German Army in Greece, during the war, and had smiled most sympathetically when I had declared that I had never stood against Germany, whether during this war or before, or afterwards, but that I had, on the contrary, fought on her side “against the international money-Power, arch-enemy of the Aryan race.”
Yes, although one was hardly given a chance of speaking about “him,” one felt, here, that many, very many people think of “him” every day of their lives. The air one breathed was full of “his” presence.
And his presence attracted people — from far away, sometimes.
I remembered a conversation I had had in London, in 1947, with an Indian — a fair-complexioned Brahmin from Delhi — who, during a business journey across Central Europe, had gone out of his way to visit Linz solely for the sake of the memories of the Führer’s boyhood that the town evokes. And as I had told him how refreshing it was for me to hear of such a thing from a man from far-away India, he had asked me:
“Have you not visited Ayodhya and Brindaban, when you were in far-away India?”
I had acknowledged that I had indeed.
“And why, not being yourself an Indian, have you especially wished to see those old towns, both of little appeal to the eye in quest of ‘picturesque’?” had then inquired my interlocutor.
“Because I am an Aryan,” had I replied, “and because Rama, the miraculous Conqueror of the South, who lived and ruled in Ayodhya, and Krishna, the immortal Teacher of the Doctrine of Violence with detachment, who spent his early years in Brindaban, personify in my eyes both the warlike wisdom and the territorial expansion of my hallowed race, and start each of them a new epoch in the history of the awakening of Aryan consciousness in Antiquity.”
“And does not Adolf Hitler also personify, today, both the warlike wisdom and the will to expansion of the Aryan race? And has he not, in spite of Germany’s temporary defeat, started a new era? I have visited Linz because I too am an Aryan,” had answered the descendant of those who carried the Nordic culture of old to the Tropics.
I had been too moved to reply. And the idea of a new,
racially conscious Aryandom, extending to the four corners of the world — the idea of the real Greater Reich of my dreams, united, above all conventional frontiers, in the veneration of the common Race-Saviour, Adolf Hitler, — had brought tears into my eyes.
I thought of that episode, — and of that tremendous idea — as I now myself sat in Linz, before a table on the first-floor landing of the hotel that the man at the Zimmer Nachweis Office at the station had recommended to me, filling a form (Christian name, surname, permanent address etc. . . .) while the hotel-maid was preparing my room for me.
* * *
I had come from Athens, as I said already. And I was travelling under my maiden name. I had, under my actual name, been expelled from occupied Germany after my release from Werl. But I was determined to go back, and would, this time, be careful not to get caught, even if I did, once more, indulge in activities “intended to keep alive the military and the Nazi spirit.”1 I had, with the help of the immortal Gods, managed to secure myself a Greek passport, on the ground that my marriage, which had not taken place in any Christian church, was therefore not recognised in Greece.
I recalled my beautiful journey — first, that rush through transparent space, from the Phaleron Airport to that of Campini, over mountains, isles and sea, and clouds that shone like snow under the Sun, and through which one could catch, now and then, a glimpse of violet-blue water or grey rocky, earth, ten thousand feet below; and then, that rapid vision of Rome for the tenth or twelfth time; my wandering along the “Via dell’ Impero,” full of memories of our great days; my conversation with an old friend who had been a State minister under Mussolini after having been Consul for fascist Italy in Calcutta, where I had made his acquaintance and then, the railway journey northwards, towards Germany.
I recalled the feeling I had experienced at the Brenner Pass — the frontier. Our Führer had met there, number of
1 Occupation Statute: Law 8, Article 7.
times, the Italian Leader whom Dr. Goebbels has so tragically — and so accurately — characterised as “the last of the Romans.” There lay the actual spot of contact — and of separation — between the two portions of Western Aryandom: Greater Germany and the Mediterranean countries. “To which of these two worlds do I really belong?” had I thought, as the train had rolled, technically, into Austria, in fact, into what was, is and always will be Germanic land. In my youth, I had felt proud of my half-Mediterranean descent. Now that I had learnt how useless it was to expect any lastingly wholehearted, unconditional collaboration from Greece in particular and from Southern Europe as a whole, in the struggle for the reassertion of the Aryan values, I had felt grateful to my mother for the Viking blood she has given me. It had even occurred to me that, whatever Italian blood I had, from my father’s side, all came from Lombardy, i.e., was more Nordic than Mediterranean. And I had been pleased at this thought, as though this fact strengthened my right to claim a place in the future Nordic civilisation of my dreams. And I had crossed the frontier as one crosses the threshold of home. And the words in which the best English National Socialist I knew had once characterised Germany, in a letter to me, came back to my mind: our spiritual home. “The spiritual home of all racially conscious modern Aryans,” thought I.
I recalled my impression at my first renewed contact with this Germanic land: an impression of silent, methodical, perseverant work, coupled with intelligent organisation; an impression of cleanliness, of order and self-respect; of health, and will to live. Not yet the boisterous enthusiasm of the great days, surely; but the solid virtues that will make that boisterous enthusiasm irresistible, when it does come back. (And my conversation with a couple of Bavarian women in the train had been more than sufficient to convince me — in supposing that I needed to be convinced that it will come back.)
I recalled the wooded slopes and snowy peaks that I had admired on each side of the railway track, between Innsbruck and Salzburg, — and the two representatives of the French Occupation forces travelling in the same carriage as I. These would go, one day. But the gorgeous landscape — and the people — would remain to greet the resurrection of all I loved,
never mind after how many further years of struggle, and after what further upheavals.
I recalled my feeling as I had walked out of the station, across a square, and then, through a public park, to a fairly broad, well-lighted street, — the main street in the town, I had been told, — and then, along a side street on the right, to this hotel, thinking all the time: “Can it be true that I am in Linz, the town in which our Führer has lived?” It had all seemed to me — and it still seemed to me — like a dream. Of course, I would have to find out in which house “he” had lived. It was now too late anyhow to go asking people. But the next day I would ask. And I was bound to find somebody willing to tell me . . .
* * *
In the meantime the hotel maid had come back to inform me that my room was ready. She was a girl of about twenty-eight or thirty, with a sympathetic face, large, light blue, sad eyes, — too sad for her age. She took the form I had just filled and read it: Maximiani Portas, domiciled in Athens . . . It had seemed strange to me to write down that name instead of Savitri Devi Mukherji — the name under which I was known to all my German comrades. But what is there in a name? I was the same person, anyhow; the same disciple of Adolf Hitler, the same Aryan Heathen I had always been already long before I had started writing under the pen name of Savitri Devi (let alone before I had become Mrs. Mukherji). The girl did not, of course, know my real identity or the story of my life. Yet, something in her subconscious mind must have told her that she could trust me. She obviously liked the look of me, and wished to talk. And I felt that I could perhaps ask her where Adolf Hitler’s house stood, without running the risk of getting into trouble. But I let her speak first.
“Athens!” exclaimed she, repeating what she remembered of my “permanent address,” that she had just read upon the form. “You come from far away. You must be tired.”
“Not a bit,” said I. “I have stopped in Rome on my way. Moreover, I am too excited to feel tired.”
“Are you staying here long?”
“Tonight and tomorrow night. On the day after tomorrow — the twentieth — I am going to Braunau.” (I blushed as I uttered those words. For years I had been longing to spend the Führer’s birthday in his very birthplace. The materialisation of that dream now appeared to me as something miraculous.)
The girl looked at me intently. The date, apparently, stirred in her familiar memories. And she had noticed how moved I was . . . Her sad eyes suddenly brightened, and she smiled — as only one of us can smile when recognising a comrade.
“You came from Athens to see the place where Adolf Hitler was born and the place in which he lived,” said she with enthusiasm, in a low voice “Can it be true? Now! — eight years after the disaster!”
“Eight hundred years after this disaster and after many further upheavals, people will come to see these places in the same spirit as I, today,” replied I. “But should I . . .”
I hesitated to say more, although I had already spoken more than enough for anyone to guess what I was. The girl interrupted me:
“You need not be afraid to talk to me,” said she. “I have suffered for the love of ‘him’ and of the Greater Reich. My husband — an S.S. man — has died for ‘him.’ You need not be afraid to tell me how ardently you revere ‘him.’ I know it already: I can read it in your eyes.”
I felt sure she spoke the truth. “I belong to ‘him,’” said I; — “to ‘him’ and to those who love ‘him’ and whom ‘he’ loves.”
The girl’s eyes were full of tears. And she uttered the selfsame words which a young German had uttered over four years before, on that cold February night, after I had given him, at the Cologne station, a few samples of the dangerous posters that were, soon after, to cause his arrest and mine; the selfsame words, with the selfsame passionate devotion: “Our Hitler! — our beloved Führer!” — the cry of Germany’s heart for all times to come.
Then, after a pause, she took a further glance at the form I had filled, and said: “Excuse me, if I am being indiscreet; but are you really Greek?”
It was queer. Already in Rome, in several shops, and once in the street, people had taken me for a German in spite of my dark eyes and hair. What was there in my “aura” which proclaimed my allegiance to Adolf Hitler’s people?
I could have answered: “Half Greek and half English.” But no; it did not occur to me. Instead of that simple — and technically accurate — reply, I gave her spontaneously an unexpected, but in fact infinitely more accurate one — the same one I had given my young friend in Cologne, on that memorable night, four years before; the one that justified both the history of my life and my presence in Linz: “Ich bin Indo-Germanin” — “I am Indo-European, — Aryan,” said I with a smile.
“I can understand you,” replied the girl, rather to my surprise. Apparently, she remembered — and had assimilated — the knowledge of the world she had been given under the third Reich.
And she added: “It is late. But tomorrow is Sunday; I have more time. I shall come to your room, and we shall talk.”
“Could you, tomorrow, show me the house where the Führer lived, here in Linz?”
“I am sorry to have to say that I do not yet myself know where it is,” answered the girl. “I have come to Linz but recently, and have started working at once. Had no chance to see the town. But I can show you where you should take the bus for Leonding, if you like; you also want to go there, naturally?”
She explained me where I was to take the bus: only a few yards away from the hotel. She also told me her name Luise K. We parted with the ritual salute and the two now forbidden words: “Heil Hitler!”
It was a long time before I fell asleep.
* * *
“Is this Leonding?” asked I, as the bus halted.
I stepped out. My heart was beating. Before me, on the
border of the road, stood the little church behind which — I knew — was the cemetery where the Führer’s parents are buried.
I walked into the church. It was empty. Sunshine poured in from the narrow windows of plain glass, and stressed every curve or surface of polished wood upon which it fell, and every detail of chiseled metal upon the altar.
This was a pretty little village church like any other, with white-washed walls, a few artless pictures and plaster statues, and benches on which generations of pious folk had knelt and prayed. Perfect silence. It must have been about one o’clock in the afternoon. And an atmosphere of serene restfulness; of inexpressible peace.
I imagined a young, fair woman kneeling by one of those benches over fifty years before, with a thoughtful, blue-eyed child at her side — a child in whose face the light of boundless love and the flame of genius already radiated: her son, Adolf Hitler, the Chosen One of the Invisible Powers. And an overwhelming emotion caught hold of me at that thought. I knelt, and crossed myself automatically, — I, the Heathen, — as though that age-old gesture brought me nearer to the Christian mother of my Leader. And I wept for a long time.
Perfect silence; perfect peace. Frau Clara Hitler, the predestined Mother, had doubtless many times come here, when the church was empty — like it was today — to seek communion with God after her household work was finished. She was a simple-hearted and pious woman, who had found in the one religion she knew — Roman Christianity — a frame within which she could give expression to her inborn longing for Perfection and Infinity. One can read that longing in her eyes, on the pictures one has of her. Her only surviving son was to inherit both those magnificent, star-like eyes, and the more-than-human yearning of her ardent soul. He loved her, and — which is more, — understood her; knew that her serene Christian piety meant, to her, the very same thing which his own merciless Struggle against the dark Forces of disintegration meant to him: boundless aspiration to perfection without end. And therefore, he respected her faith, — he, the detached, far-sighted Exponent of the more positive faith in Blood and Soil; of the faith in everlasting Life rooted in this earth. “Were my mother still alive, I would be the last man to try to
prevent her from going to church . . .”1; “. . . but until some substitute, manifestly better than it, appears, only fools and criminals will destroy the religion that is there, on the spot.”2 His own words came back to me. And I acknowledged in my heart that they were words of wisdom, all the more impressive, all the more significant, while coming from one who has fought to the bitter end, as few men in history, not only “the Church” — the Churches — but the Christian scale of values, the very essence of the Christian doctrine as it has come down to us.
And I felt as though my loving intuition of his mother had bound me more intimately to him, during this hour, than had, hitherto, two and a half decades of enthusiasm.
* * *
Through the side door of the church, I stepped directly into the cemetery, and slowly walked along one alley and then along the next one. The graves, upon which I read in turn the names of the dead, were all relatively new; the one I was seeking was doubtless further away — nearer the wall; among the older ones. I followed the last alley, parallel to the wall. And there I suddenly stopped before a grave covered with overgrown creeper, upon which lay a wreath of fir tree twigs, utterly dried up and falling to pieces. Some pious hand had recently added a few fresh flowers in a tin can. At the back, a slab of black marble, inserted in a rough block of stone, bore in gilded letters the inscription:
Here rest in God
who passed away on the 7th January, 1903, aged 67, and his wife
who passed away on the 21st December, 1907, aged 47.
Alois and Clara Hitler — our Führer’s parents; the last link in that endless chain of privileged generations destined to give Germany the greatest of all her sons, and the Western world, the one Saviour of its own blood.
1 Quoted from the “Goebbels Diaries,” published after the war.
2 Mein Kampf, edit. 1939, p. 293-294.
I knelt before the grave.
All round me, like in the little church, there was peace, perfect peace. But a peace of a different quality: not the meditative serenity of the house of prayer, away from the turmoil of life; still less, the peace of death; but that of smiling Nature seething with impersonal life, — of Nature that has no memory and no history. High above me, the leaves of a nearby tree rustled. On the ground before me, a pretty brown insect, — a speck of life — crawled across half a foot of earth and sand, into the thick forest of creeper that covered the grave. A ray of sunshine fell straight upon the lovely pink and white double-daisies that one of “his” faithful followers, no doubt, — one of us — had laid upon the ground under which the Führer’s parents lie.
I imagined “him” laying flowers here, before a reverent crowd of people — his closest friends, and the officials (and population) of Leonding, — during the great days. Where was “he” now, if still alive? Would he ever come back, and stand once more before this grave, in silence, surrounded by his new collaborators? And if he was dead, was it yet possible that he might know — that he might feel — how ardently we love him? Or was the life of those who have passed into eternity impersonal and without memory, like that of Nature?
I had brought no flowers with me, for the shops were all closed in Linz, as it was Sunday. (And the day before, I had arrived at 9 o’clock at night or so, — after working hours.) My intention had been to try to find some here, in Leonding, and then to come to the cemetery. But when I had seen the church, I had walked in. And I had not been able to go out without stepping into the cemetery and seeing the grave. Now I would go and see whether I could get any flowers, and I would then come back.
* * *
I was soon talking to the owner of the one garden in Leonding where — I had just been told, — I should be likely to find the greatest variety of flowers.
“Forget-me-nots? Have you not got anything better?” said I. I had been picturing to myself a magnificent mass of
dark red roses. And I was ready to give any price for the joy of placing such a wreath upon the desolate grave.
“I am sorry I have nothing else,” replied the young woman. And she added sadly: “Don’t you like forget-me-nots? They are pretty — all flowers are — and they last a long time. I shall give you as many as you want, roots and all, so that you can plant them.”
She was most sympathetic, — and pretty, too: blonde, with regular features, and bright, sincere eyes. Moreover, she was right. Her words moved me, as though she had known for whose sake I had come, and had wished to tell me — indirectly — that “he” would surely not disapprove of forget-me-nots. And I felt guilty for having despised the humble sky-blue flowers.
“It is all right,” said I. “Give me twelve forget-me-not plants with their roots. Of course I like them. As you say, all flowers are beautiful.”
The young woman dug out the forget-me-nots and wrapped them up for me in a piece of newspaper. “I’ll also lend you a shovel and a watering can,” said she.
Her friendliness touched me. I wanted to know more about her. “Excuse me if I have spoken in a haste,” said I, recasting the way I had let her see my disappointment at the lack of variety in her garden. But it is only because I wound so much have liked dark red roses! . . . If you could guess which grave the flowers are for, perhaps you would understand me.”
The woman gazed at me, a ray of sunshine in her blond hair, and the expression of comradeship — like Luise K. — in her bright eyes.
“I think I can guess,” answered she. “But in that case I must warn you: take care nobody sees you; for it is forbidden to adorn that grave.”
“Forbidden! It is just like ‘them’!” replied I, meaning both the Occupation Authorities and the docile puppets whom they put in power to impose their hated Democracy: — our persecutors. “But I shall not get caught. I am accustomed to do whatever ‘they’ forbid. And if by chance ‘they’ do lay hands upon me, I don’t care: I have nothing to lose; and it will not be the first time. Only I would, of course, rather fall
into their clutches after my visit to the rest of Germany: I have several people to meet there.”
The young woman stretched out her hand to me and smiled. “I congratulate you,” said she, “I too am one of those who do not forget, and who are waiting for better times — for the second Seizure of power, never mind how and when. My husband also belongs to the Movement: he was an S.S. man.”
“It looks as though I have the knack of meeting people connected with S.S. men,” thought I, remembering Luise K’s sweet face. I felt happy. There is nothing so lovely as to discover one’s unsuspected comrades wherever one goes.
“I live in that house you can see there,” continued my new friend. “Come upstairs and have a cup of coffee with me. I have just been baking a cake.”
I walked by her side, holding my forget-me-nots. She asked me where I had come from.
The name of the glorious ancient city, here, in this garden where I had come to buy flowers for our Führer’s parents’ grave, sounded to me like a magical spell. And I felt once more — as I so often had — as though I were the inspired agent of a tremendous Destiny, just now beginning to work itself out.
“Athens!” repeated the young woman, as if she had suddenly became aware of the symbolical meaning of my presence. “And you were there also during the great days?”
“During the great days, and all through the war, I was in India,” replied I.
“India!” repeated she, in the same tone as she had said “Athens,” only with perhaps even greater interest. “And you intend to go back there?”
“One day, yes; but for a time only. I wish to settle in Germany — if I can manage to,” said I. And for the second time I felt as though I had been uttering a spell — two more words that had to be uttered, along with the name of the violet-crowned City, to give my presence in this place its full significance.
“Yes,” thought I, as we walked up a wooden staircase to my new friend’s room, and as I sat there alone while she
prepared the coffee; “yes, Greece, India, Germany: these are the three visible landmarks in the history of my life. Just as other women love several men in turn, so have I loved the essence of several cultures, the soul of at least three nations. But in all three and above all three, it is the essential perfection of Aryandom which I have sought and worshipped all my life. I have sought God — the Absolute — in the living beauty and in the manly virtues of my own godlike Race, as other women seek Him in their lovers’ eyes, and given everything for the joy of adoring Him in them; not in heaven, but here on earth.”
With the one, brilliant exception of my husband, I had met extremely few Indian Aryans that could stand the test, when compared with the German National Socialists, my comrades. No collectivity embodied, as the latter did today, the living, immanent Godhead of Aryandom. I had admired them from the beginning, no doubt. But I had needed to live all these years and to go through countless disappointments both in Greece and India, before I had turned my back to all mankind — nay to all Aryans, — save to them; before I had learnt to live less for their world order (that the silly world has rejected) than for them alone.
Words apparently unconnected with my trend of thoughts — words that a French author1 has put into the mouth of a temple courtesan of old, speaking to her last lover — came back to my memory: “Love is a difficult art, in which young girls are not well-versed. I have learnt it all my life to give it to thee — my last lover.” Devotional nationalism — absolute consecration to the Godhead of one’s own Race, through absolute identification with and service of the collective Soul of a Nation: the only form of human love that I had ever really lived, experienced — was also, perhaps, “a difficult art” which I had learnt all my life to give it, in all its perfection, to the only ones among my Aryan brothers whom I deemed collectively worthy of it: my Führer’s people. I recalled the end of the French writer’s short prose poem — the meaning of it, at least, if not the actual wording: “I shall destroy for thy sake even my remembrances. I shall give thee the treasures that still
1 Pierre Loüys, “Les Chanson, de Bilitis.”
bind me to my dearest lovers . . .”1 And I thought, with the feeling that the whole poem could be, symbolically, applied to me; “I shall give you, German National Socialists, children of Light, forever young, all that which the old outside world has given me: the lasting mark of the Grecian landscape and of the Indian temple — love of this earth and yearning for the Absolute — in all my works, in all my gestures. If anything foreign to your spirit has ever passed through my life, it has already been so completely destroyed that I do not myself remember it.” And I could not help adding within my heart: “But you will not disappoint me, as the old outside world has! Or will you — you too, one day?”
But the young woman had come back from the kitchen with the coffee. She laid a most appetising cake upon the table, and was now talking to me as she filled my cup
“Many did not, then, grasp the full significance of our Movement,” said she; — “or they grasped it too well and did not like it, because their religious prejudices stood between them and the spirit of the Hitler doctrine. But now, — now that they have had a taste of Democracy and of revived Christianity, and know that neither the present-day State nor the Churches can give them the equivalent of what they have lost, — they are slowly turning round and coming to us. I honestly tell you: never were there, perhaps, so many sincere National Socialists, at least here in Austria, as now. Even those Austrians who, in 1945, were ready to betray the Greater Reich, — when they did not actually do so, — are now more conscious than ever of the fact that they are part and parcel of it, whatever they might do.”
But it looked as though she had read my silent question and was answering it: “The Church is, of course, more powerful than this puppet government,” added she; “yet, in spite of all, — even of the enormous effort of the priests to win us back, — we are freer than ever from Christian influences; more National Socialist than ever.” She did not say, but her answer was as good as though she had said: “No; we shall never disappoint you!”
“People of the same blood should come under a common
1 “Les Chansons de Bilitis,” same poem as quoted above.
State”1 quoted I out of the first page of Mein Kampf, in reply to what she had just told me of the awakening of National Socialist consciousness in our Führer’s own home, after the war. “I don’t believe in such a thing as a separate Austria.”
I paused to help myself to a cube of sugar and a slice of cake, and continued: “I don’t believe in it, and never did. As a child and as a young girl I lived for that which one then called in Greek the ‘Great Idea’2: the idea of all Greeks (those of Asia Minor as well as those on this side of the Aegean sea) gathered into one State in the name of their common Hellenic origin. I applied the same principle to all nations as soon as I was aware of the historical injustices that caused their grievances, and when I first read Mein Kampf I was amazed and inspired by the wonderful logic with which Adolf Hitler expresses his views — and mine — about artificial frontiers. I say: not only those of what they call ‘Austria,’ but all such frontiers should be abolished. No State that is not, at the same time, a nation — a collectivity with a definite racial personality; a people — should exist.”
“We all think the same. But the so-called ‘free’ world does not. And we are powerless — for the time being,” replied my new friend.
“Let the so-called ‘free’ world and its former ‘glorious allies,’ the Communists, both go to hell — as they are going, anyhow, — and let us rise and rule upon their ruins!” said I, with the conviction of one who, day and night, for eight years, had been thinking of nothing, wishing for nothing, praying for nothing, — willing nothing — but Germany’s revenge, and the definitive establishment of a National Socialist order.
“May it be as you say!” exclaimed the young woman, — Germany’s mouthpiece. And once more, as in 1948 and 1949, I felt that I was not alone.
* * *
“I shall take you to see the Führer’s old tutor, and also one of his school comrades, who lives nearby,” said Frau J. — my new friend. “Leave your forget-me-nots here: the earth
1 “Gemeinsames Blüt gehört in ein gemeimames Reich” (Mein Kampf, 1, p. 1).
2 “e Megalee Idea.”
around their roots is damp, and you need not fear they will get faded so quickly. You can take them and go and plant them on your way back.”
We walked along a sunny country road and soon reached a garden, in which a man, who looked about fifty, but who must have been much older if he were Adolf Hitler’s classmate, was sitting under the trees with his wife. My new friend called the woman by her name: “Frau H., here is a person who has just come from Greece to spend a few minutes of silence before the Führer’s parents’ grave. I am taking her to ‘his’ tutor’s, and from there she will come by herself to see you and Herr H. Absolutely ‘in order’ — I don’t need to stress that: you will see for yourself!” And she explained to me that she could not wait for me and accompany me, as she had somewhere to go — some Sunday afternoon visit that she was expected to pay. Frau H. told us that she and her husband would be glad to make my acquaintance. (The husband greeted us also.) And we parted for half an hour. Frau J. took me a few footsteps further, to the house where Adolf Hitler’s tutor lives, and left me there after introducing me and bidding me good bye.
The Führer’s tutor — a man over eighty — was sitting at his doorstep, before an open space in the midst of which grew a beautiful big tree. He received me with utmost friendliness; bade me sit down at his side. I felt moved beyond words at the thought that his eyes — that shone, still so young, in his old face — had seen every day, as a matter of course, a fourteen year-old Adolf Hitler, whose coming glory no one yet suspected, but whose outstanding virtues — boundless, disinterested love for his people, coupled with extraordinary intuition, iron willpower and practical genius — were already those that were to carry him to power, to martyrdom (even if he be alive, his life, during the last part of the war and after the war, must have been a constant torture) and to everlasting leadership; at the thought that he had spoken to him as one speaks to a son.
“Tell me something about our Führer, you who have had the privilege of knowing him in his youth,” said I. “I have never seen him.”
“What can I tell you?” replied the old man. “He was a healthy, clean-minded, loving and lovable child — the most
lovable I have ever met. All I have to say is contained within these few words. The grown man retained the child’s goodness, honesty, love of truth. The world hates him only because it does not know him.”
“The world — the ugly, Jew-ridden world of today — hates him because it is, itself, congenitally sick and corrupt; decadent; and full of spite against all that is healthy, pure and strong — godlike — within the born-to-rule, whether superior individuals or superior nations,” answered I. “I hate this world which has waged war upon ‘his’ people!” . . .
Before I had time to finish my sentence, a cat, which I had not seen, had jumped unto my lap and was now settling down, making itself comfortable, in the absolute certitude — the intuitive knowledge — that I would not turn it away. I smoothed down the glossy white-and-grey fur, as the feline purred, and I recalled in my mind the starving cats I had once fed in India, and the thin, half-wild ones — afraid of man, all of them, — that I had, years before and again just now, seen in Greece. Here, in my Führer’s Land, along with “his” faithful followers, a homely, well-fed cat was welcoming me, forerunner of happy animalkind in our world to come.
“It looks as though she knows you,” remarked Adolf Hitler’s former tutor. “Practically all animals, and specially all cats ‘know’ me,” replied I. And I put him the question of which I could myself foretell what the answer could be — perhaps for the pleasure of hearing that answer from one of the few people who had known our Führer as a child
“Did ‘he’ love animals?” asked I.
“He loved every living creature that God has made: animals, surely, and trees too; everything that lives and that is beautiful. And he never did any harm to a living creature, even as a child.”
The words brought tears into my eyes. Never perhaps was I more vividly conscious of the injustice of the world’s verdict on the Man who is not only the best German, but also the best European of all ages. And oh, how I hated the ugly, stupid world! But here, all was so peaceful and so beautiful: this old man with childlike blue eyes, who loved our Hitler as his own son; those friendly homes nearby, in which — I now knew — people also loved him; this stately tree before the house;
and the sunlit, softly hilly landscape all round in the distance; and this glossy, comfortable cat, rolled up and purring upon my lap. Here I was away from the hostile world — for some time at least.
“Tell me more about ‘him,’” said I to the old man.
“I can remember ‘him’ as though it were but yesterday, going in and coming out of this door, greeting us with his frank face and his bright loving eyes,” replied he, thoughtfully. “It was fifty years ago. How many things have taken place during these fifty years!” And his voice was full of infinite sadness. He repeated, speaking of Adolf Hitler: “We all loved him. The wide world that has brought ruin on us would have loved him too, if only it had known him as he really was.”
He also spoke of the Führer’s parents: “His father was a hard-working man of few words; a man devoted to his family and to his land, but who had little leisure to exteriorise his feelings. His mother was the embodiment of selfless, unnoticed love, that gives everything and expects nothing. And she was pretty! Peace radiated from her large eyes, and one felt happy in her presence without understanding why. He was much like her, but of a more militant bearing, being a boy. And he adored her, — and she him.”
Words from the seventh Chapter of Mein Kampf came back to my memory: the description of Adolf Hitler’s feelings at the news of the end of the First World War: “I had never wept since the day I had stood by my mother’s grave . . . I had born my fate without a word of complaint. Now I could bear it no longer. Now I was aware how completely all personal sorrow fades away before one’s Fatherland’s misfortune.”1 “There is only one thing in the world which he loved even more than her,” thought I; “and that is Germany.”
I asked the old man: “Do you believe, as many do, that ‘he’ is still alive?”
He answered: “I do not. Not that I have any proof of his death: nobody has seen him dead. But I cannot picture him surviving the destruction of his life’s work and the defeat of all he loved.”
“Not even if someone had managed to convince him that
1 Mein Kampf, edit. 1939, p. 223.
it was the interest of the German people that he should live and carry on the struggle?” asked I.
“In that case, of course, he would have been willing to live in spite of all . . . But was anyone able to convince him? I don’t think so.”
For the first time since that memorable moment, five years before, when I had started believing once more in the possibility of seeing ‘him’ one day, I felt my heart sink within my breast and an unutterable gloom — the same horrible old consciousness of uselessness and of emptiness that I had experienced for so long in and after 1945 — overpower me for a minute. I questioned myself, — as then: “What is there to live for, if I am never to see ‘him’ in flesh and blood? — never; never!” The feeling was physically painful to me. But it did not last more than a minute, if that. There sat before me the old man, who loved ‘him.’ There stood before me the tree under which ‘he’ had played as a boy. There purred upon my lap a well-fed, friendly cat, living instance of that most eloquent of all marks of superiority in Germanic mankind: spontaneous kindness to creatures. There lived in the neighbourhood and far away, in every town and village of ‘his’ Reich, worthy men and women, in whose consciousness the service of their Fatherland and the service of ‘his’ ideals remain the same thing. From the depth of my heart, the voice of my better self — the voice of the woman I am beyond and in spite of all my weaknesses and failures, — cried out to me, as tears filled my eyes: “And even if ‘he’ he dead in the flesh, still there is Germany to live for, — ‘his’ Germany; the one great Being that he loved even more than his mother.”
Never had the old words: “Adolf Hitler is Germany; Germany is Adolf Hitler,” seemed to me so glaringly true. And never also, perhaps, had they in fact become so true as they had now, through me.
* * *
After taking leave of the old man — and thanking him for the hour I had lived in his company — I went and paid my visit to Herr H., Adolf Hitler’s classmate.
He kindly bade me sit down in a garden chair between him
and his wife, under his fruit trees, as though I were an old friend. He showed me photographs of the Führer: one which had been taken while he was laying a wreath of flowers upon his parents’ grave; another, in which he was seen shaking hands with Herr H. from a car, on one of his visits to Leonding.
“I envy you for having such memories,” said I, moved as I always am at the sight of such tangible reminders of the great days. “I have never seen ‘him’ — save on the screen, in the ‘newsreels’ of the time; — and never heard ‘his’ voice — save on the radio. I envy you indeed.” And the insurmountable regret, and the feeling of inexpiable guilt for not having come years before, tortured me once more, for the millionth time.
“Yes, it was a privilege,” said Herr H. “You cannot imagine the enthusiastic happiness of those splendid years! Shall we ever again live anything like them? And even if we do . . . ; without ‘him,’ it will never be the same!”
“Do you really believe that ‘he’ is dead?” asked I.
“To tell you the truth,” replied Herr H., “I don’t know. Nobody knows, — save a handful of people: those who saw him die (if he be dead), or those who are now with him, if he be alive. Time alone will answer the question.”
“I cannot bring myself to believe that he will never come back,” put in Frau H.
“Even if he be today dead in the flesh, Germany lives forever, and he lives in her,” said I, expressing aloud the very certitude that had so strongly imposed itself upon me only half an hour before. And I added, as though speaking to myself: “And even if he be dead, He will come back, sooner or later. He is eternal.”
In my consciousness, the beloved features of my Leader had suddenly merged into the impersonal Essence of the many-featured One Who he was — Who he is — and Who has said, thousands of years ago: “When justice is crushed, when evil rules supreme, then I come. For the protection of the good, for the destruction of the evildoers, for the sake of firmly establishing righteousness, I am born age after age.”1
But Herr H. had got up to get some other treasured remembrances of the glorious days. And Frau H. was intensely absorbed in the contemplation of a photograph that I had just
1 The Bhagavad-Gita, IV, verses 7 and 8.
handed over to her — one of the two best ones I possess, taken on the 22nd June, 1930; a photograph representing Adolf Hitler surrounded by eight of his earliest followers.
“Here is Hermann Göring. My God, how handsome he was, when he was young!” exclaimed she. “And there is Dr. Goebbels; and there, Ritter von Epp; Frick; Heinrich Himmler; Martin Bormann. But who is this one at the back of the picture? I have seen his face, but still I cannot make him out.”
“It is Muschmann, the former Gauleiter of Saxony,” replied I.
“Yes, Muschmann; that is right!” And she added, after looking at the date of the photograph: “Those years immediately before the Seizure of power were also great years — years of intense enthusiasm and of unforgettable comradeship.”
I was thinking: “What judgement will one pass, in times to come, — after our second Seizure of power — upon these present years of silent, stubborn, unnoticed day-to-day opposition to all the forces that stand against our Hitler faith? The bitterness of defeat is still too great in us, and the way out of this long-drawn humiliation still too indistinct, to allow us enthusiasm. But we too have experienced, — and are experiencing — in this phase of the Struggle, the meaning of broad-scale, indestructible comradeship.” And I remembered my comrades in Werl — in particular H. E., now eight years a prisoner for the sake of our ideals. When would they all be free? When would they enjoy at last the power that they have so deserved? I felt myself bound to them forever.
Herr H. came back with a heap of books, photographs and papers — publications from the glorious days; letters of the Führer, addressed to him; pictures on which he appeared at his side. With intense emotion, I handled and read and considered those remembrances of the heroic period of that new Western civilisation slowly emerging out of and in reaction against nearly two thousand years of Jewish influence. “Oh, why had I been so far away throughout all these years?” thought I once more. But something within me said: “Still you have played your small part in the unrecorded history of the tremendous epos — even ‘then.’ And you have come, at last. And the heroic period is not yet over.”
“What do people think, here, in this part of the country?” asked I. “Do they see the possibility of the return of our régime?”
“It is difficult to say what possibilities there are in the near future,” replied Herr H. “But one thing is certain: if the German people could have their own way — if, here as well as elsewhere, they had a say in the matter, — our régime would be back within six months. Even the fools who fought against it are everyday admitting that they were fools. They are now ready to support it . . .”
In a flash I recalled the description of “Austrian” freedom under present-day Democracy, so eloquently given me but the day before by one of the two French Occupation fellows in the train: “People are . . . ‘completely free’; we don’t interfere with them in the least: ‘all parties are allowed’ — except, of course, the Nazi Party (this goes without saying).” The man had made this pronouncement without the slightest awareness of irony, as though it were the most natural thing. And as I had pointed out that “to exclude any party was to destroy the very idea of ‘free’ expression,” he had shown such indignation that I had carefully dropped the topic.
Herr H. summed up his point of view — Germany’s point of view — in a sentence: “We have nothing to choose between the persecutors of National Socialism, be they of the eastern or of the western brand,” said he. “Alone reasons of practical expediency — and not ideological ones — can and will determine our attitude to each of them in the unavoidable coming conflict between them.”
“And which do you think we are likely to support against the other — for the time being?” asked I.
“I don’t know,” answered Herr H. “It depends entirely upon circumstances at the time the conflict breaks out. The right attitude, — ours, — will be that which will the most efficiently forward the interest of the Reich. What forwards the interest of the Reich is always right.”
“And what do you think?” enquired his wife, addressing me. “How would you yourself act, if left to do so according to your own initiative?”
“Thank goodness, I shall not have to act according to my own initiative!” exclaimed I. “I know too little, and am
also too much of a fool to understand where lies the real interest of the Reich. I shall blindly do whatever my superiors will tell me. By ‘my superiors’ I mean those who want the triumph of our principles and the resurrection of Greater Germany as ardently as I do, but who are cleverer, more farsighted, and better informed than I.”
Frau H. bade me have a cup of coffee with her and her husband. Their house was on the opposite side of the road. We got up, walked across the lovely garden in which the Sun, shining through the trees, projected patterns of light upon the grass. Frau H. walked ahead of me, showing me the way. She opened a door, and I stepped into a room in which “he” had doubtless sat many a time. The room was full of the most tempting smell of coffee. Frau H. brought out cakes and biscuits. And I found myself — I, who had not known the H.s two hours before, — spending the late afternoon with the Führer’s closest friends as a matter of course; as though I too had been a personal friend of his for years. The thought of this brought tears into my eyes. “But am I not also ‘His’ friend, regardless of the fact whether ‘he’ knows it or not?” reflected I. “Have I not sought Him for centuries, life after life, and all through this present life, until I realised that ‘he’ — the Founder of the Third Reich — is none other than He — the One Who comes back, whenever He should, ‘to establish the reign of Righteousness’?”
And it occurred to me that I was, perhaps, as near to him in spirit as — or, in fact, nearer to him than, — many of those who had had the privilege of seeing him in the flesh. Still I wondered: “Would I ever have that privilege?”
As we parted at last, the H.s greeted me — and I them — with the ritual salute and the two mystical words of power: “Heil Hitler!”
* * *
The Sun was setting when I reached the cemetery once more, carrying my forget-me-nots, a spade and a watering can that I had gone to fetch at Frau J’s house, as she had told me, after taking leave of Herr and Frau H. On the slab of black marble inserted in the rough block of stone upon the grave,
again — in a different light — I read the golden letters: “Hier ruht in Gott . . .” — “Here rest in God . . . Alois Hitler . . . and his wife: Clara Hitler . . .”
“It is forbidden to adorn that grave . . .” I recalled the words which Frau J. had spoken to me in the garden where I had bought my flowers. So, that was the reason why the poor grave looked so neglected! — practically the only neglected one in the whole cemetery. Once more I regretted I had not been able to bring the impressive wreath of expensive roses that I had intended: the meaning of my gesture — love, and defiance — would have been more glaring. But it mattered little: my humble forget-me-nots were also pretty; perfect, in their way, as all flowers are. They would take root in the good earth. They would be there, alive, in weeks, in months to come.
Thus were my thoughts as I pulled out the weeds, and carefully put every plant in turn into the hole I had dug for it, and covered its roots well, and watered it . . . I did not remove the faded wreath, still less the double-daisies in their tin can, both gifts of other pious disciples of Adolf Hitler like myself, no doubt. I just pushed them a little aside to make place for my forget-me-nots. And when this was finished, I knelt in the glow of sunset before the grave.
Alive within my mind was the Face of him whose father’s and mother’s dust lay under the dark stone and the sky-blue flowers; the Face that had beamed in the joy and pride of victory, in glorious ’40, and that had, also, more and more, reflected agony at the daily sight of Germany’s martyrdom. “Were are you now, on the surface of the wide earth, my beloved Führer?” thought I. “Will you ever know how much I have loved you?”
One of those everlasting words of wisdom — doubtless older than Christianity — that are to be found here and there in the Christian Gospels, came back to my memory: “Blessed are those who believe, although they have not seen.” And it seemed to me as if, from a distance, the nature of which I could not define — whether the distance from the realm of Time to that of Eternity, or that from one place of this earth to another, — the superhuman Face spoke to me and said “Live for my Germany! And you shall never part from Me, wherever I be.”
I pictured to myself the dismembered Land. (I had, only
a few hours before, on the very morning of that day, seen the American frontier posts and the Russian frontier posts at each end of the bridge over the Danube, in Linz itself: detested guardians of the division wrought at the criminal meetings of Yalta and Potsdam). The political unity of Germany was no doubt the first goal to attain. But what could I do, in order to bring it about more speedily? “Just contribute to the strengthening of the National Socialist spirit among my faithful people,” said our Führer’s voice as I heard it through my own heart. And I felt that he himself would not — could not — have told me anything more. For in this — the strengthening and expansion of our spirit first of all in Germany, — lies indeed the condition upon which depends the fulfilment of all he has ever striven for.
And I thought of the long stretch of land from the Brenner Pass to the Baltic Sea — that German world into which the old officer at the railway station, and Luise K. had welcomed me the day before. And I did not want to go away — although I wondered how (with what material means) I could stay. But I brushed aside all worries and gazed at the pure sky, already darkening. And I was overwhelmed by the peace that poured down from its infinity. “May the invisible Powers that rule the stars according to those laws which we call divine, guide my life!” thought I. “They know better than I do.” And I renewed my daily prayer to those unknown heavenly Powers — to the “Almighty Father-of-Light” of the ancient Germans; to the “Shining Ones” of the Aryans who once conquered India; the “Heat-and-Light-within-the-Disk” of King Akhnaton, Living-in-Truth: “Send me, or maintain me, there where I shall be the most useful in the service of the sacred Aryan Cause! — the Cause of Truth.”
As I got up, I noticed that three other people were standing at a little distance behind me, in silent reverence, by the hallowed grave.
I walked out of the cemetery by the back door, and found myself right before the little house that had been described to me as the one in which Adolf Hitler’s parents had lived in Leonding. There was light behind the closed windows. Other people were now living there. That fact — so natural, so simple, — appeared strange to me. I saw the garden around the
house — the garden in which “he” had probably sat and played, and read, as a boy. And a profound sadness filled my heart — until I felt for the second time sure that my Leader would tell me, if only I could hear him: “Live for those for whom I live, wherever I be: my people. And you shall never part from Me.” Sadness then gave way to serenity.
* * *
Herr H. had given me the address of the house in which Adolf Hitler had lived, in Linz itself, as well as that of the old school to which he used to go. I saw both on that evening, after coming back from Leonding.
I did not enter the school, naturally. (It would not have been possible at such a time of the day.) But I walked into the house — which is quite near the hotel where I was staying — and went up the stairs, to the third floor. (Herr H. had told me that the flat which Adolf Hitler’s parents had occupied was there.) And again it seemed strange to me that a different name was now to be read upon the door; that different people were now living in the flat. Were they at least on “his” side? I wondered. I could not bear to think that perhaps, after all, they were not. Most people, however, appeared to be on “his” side — or was it that I had the good luck of meeting only such ones as were?
The space at the back of the house was occupied by a garden full of fruit trees in blossom. Leaning against the windowsill in the staircase, between the third and the second floor, I let my eyes rest upon the sight before me: that garden, and, beyond it, dark against the limpid spring sky, other houses, and, in the distance, the spire of a church. The atmosphere was peaceful, soothing. Had “he” sometimes leaned against his windowsill, and looked at this selfsame landscape on his way downstairs? He probably had — and “she” too; “she,” his sweet, pious, dutiful mother, in whose eyes one read the same aspiration to infinity as in his. In fact, here, just as in Leonding, “he” and “she” were inseparable.
As I came back to the hotel, I found Luise K. waiting for me.
“I have kept something for you: a cup of coffee, some
buns with butter and a slice of apple tart, as you don’t eat meat,” said she, placing a tray upon the table in my room. “I am sure you had nothing to eat all day.”
I had been munching all the afternoon. Nevertheless, this humble chambermaid’s kind attention touched me as much as — if not even more than — all the marks of affection of which I had been the object. I could not help asking her “why” she was so good to me: was it mainly because she had guessed that I was travelling with very little money (as I was indeed) or was there . . . another reason?
“It is because I love you,” said she. “And I love you because you are one of us.”
The answer brought tears into my eyes. It was Germany’s welcome to me after three years of absence — and after nearly thirty years of silent allegiance to the greatest of all her sons.
It was past midnight when Luise K. left my room. I had shown her the one sample I possessed of the posters I had stuck up in Germany in early 1949: “German people, what have the Democracies brought you? . . .” She had shown me the photograph of her husband, who had died for the Führer and for the Greater Reich.
Having nothing better to give her, I gave her a box of raisins that I had brought from Greece. “Do you know what I would like from you?” said she, after thanking me.
“A postcard from Braunau, where you are going tomorrow; a postcard showing the house in which our Führer was born.”
“I shall send you one if I can find one,” replied I.
“The spirit of the great days lives in, you,” added she as she got up. “I shall never forget you! Heil Hitler!”
I lifted my right arm, conscious that I was accomplishing a rite, and greeted her in my turn: “Heil Hitler!”
These were the last words I exchanged in Linz.