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Hitler's Priestess: Savitri Devi, the Hindu-Aryan Myth, and Neo-Nazism
     

Hitler's Priestess: Savitri Devi, the Hindu-Aryan Myth, and Neo-Nazism

by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Martin Campbell-Kelly
 

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In this window onto the roots and evolution of international neo-Nazism, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke reveals the powerful impact of one of fascism's most creative minds.

Savitri Devi's influence on neo-Nazism and other hybrid strains of mystical fascism has been continuos since the mid-1960s. A Frenchwoman of Greek-English birth, Devi became an admirer of German

Overview

In this window onto the roots and evolution of international neo-Nazism, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke reveals the powerful impact of one of fascism's most creative minds.

Savitri Devi's influence on neo-Nazism and other hybrid strains of mystical fascism has been continuos since the mid-1960s. A Frenchwoman of Greek-English birth, Devi became an admirer of German National Socialism in the late 1920s. Deeply impressed by its racial heritage and caste-system, she emigrated to India, where she developed her racial ideology, in the early 1930s. Her works have been reissued and distributed through various neo-Nazi networks and she has been lionized as a foremother of Nazi ideology. Her appeal to neo-Nazi sects lies in the very eccentricity of her thought - combining Aryan supremacism and anti-Semitism with Hinduism, social Darwinisn, animal rights, and a fundamentally biocentric view of life - and has resulted in curious, yet potent alliances in radical ideology.

As one of the earliest Holocaust deniers and the first to suggest that Adolf Hitler was an avatar— a god come to earth in human form to restore the world to a golden age - Devi became a fixture in the shadowy neo-Nazi world. In Hitler's Priestess, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke examines how someone with so little tangible connection to Nazi Germany became such a powerful advocate of Hitler's misanthropy.

Hitler's Priestess illuminates the life of a woman who achieved the status of a prophetess for her penchant for redirecting authentic religious energies in the service of regenerate fascism.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[A] superb study. . . . Goodrick-Clarke has done a service to sanity, even if the gullible will go on swallowing [Devi's] recycled poison rather than his antidote."

-Times Literary Supplement

"[A] provoking volume."

-Bulletin of the Arnold and Leona Finkler Institute of Holocaust Research, No. 10

"An excellent, thought-provoking volume. . . . We may readily accept that Devi was a revolting creature. But it is as well that we realise that such demons in human form existed and still do exist."

-Independent

"An engrossing, disturbing, and important book. Well-researched and evocatively told, the strange story of Savitri Devi is a mirror of the twentieth century's dark undercurrents and deserves to be widely read and pondered."

-Robert S. Ellwood,University of Southern California

"An admirably cool-headed history of an inflammatory subject. . . . It is likely to stand as the definitive study of a subject that a lesser author would have exploited for maximum sensationalism."

-Gnosis

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Goodrick-Clarke carefully outlines the life of Savitri Devi, a true believer who took Nazism beyond politics: she believed that Hitler was an avatar or god come to earth. Born Maximiani Portas to a Greek/Italian father and an English mother, Devi spent her early years in her native France and in Greece, but she was inexorably drawn to India and traveled there at 27. It was not the culture of India that drew Devi, but her belief that India represented the best of racial segregation. Once in India, she became interested in Hinduism and wed the Brahman A.K. Mukherji in a marriage of shared ideals that also happened to bolster her shaky legal status as a resident Nazi sympathizer. The couple worked on behalf of the Axis powers during the late 1930s and early '40s, with Devi claiming that Mukherji put militant nationalist Subhas Chandra Bose in contact with the Japanese authorities. But the most interesting material is on Devi's intellectual life. Sections on Devi's writings about Egyptian pharaoh Akhnaton, about animal rights, or on her belief that Hitler was an avatar, which includes a lengthy examination of the Hindu theory of cyclical history, provide understanding in ways that subsequent lists of her later travels cannot. Settling back in Calcutta in the 1960s, "the aged Aryan Hindu prophetess" became a guiding spirit of the international neo-Nazi movement. Although the writing is stiff and matter-of-fact, Goodrick-Clarke provides plenty of information and insight about this little-known but influential figure. (May)
Library Journal
The whole terrible Nazi experience had many oddities, and this relatively unknown woman is one of them. Born in France in 1905 as Maximiani Portas, she became a strong admirer of Hitler in the 1920s, moved to India in 1932 because of its caste system, and took a Hindu name. After the war she traveled through a devastated Europe and was a vocal apologist of the Nazis, their horrific atrocities notwithstanding. Her early writings were republished by far-right-wing publishers, and she gained new fans in the 1970s as neo-Nazism spread. Devi died in 1982, but the author writes that her combination of Hindu religion and Nordic racial ideology became "a bridge between neo-Nazism and the New Age" movements. (For more on this subject, see also Goodrick-Clarke's The Occult Roots of Nazism: Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology, New York Univ., 1992). This work will be useful for understanding the ideological background of the neo-Nazis. Suitable, but not essential, for all academic and large public libraries.Daniel K. Blewett, Loyola Univ. Lib., Chicago
Booknews
A biography of Savitri Devi (1905-1982), the unusual woman who believed Hitler was an avatar and attempted to combine Hinduism and anti-Semitism. The author discusses Devi's denial of the Holocaust, her appeal to neo-Nazis, and the relationship of her beliefs to animal rights, social Darwinism, and even Deep Ecology. The focus of the book is on how someone with so little tangible connection to Nazi Germany became such a powerful advocate of Hitler's misanthropy. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780814731116
Publisher:
New York University Press
Publication date:
10/01/2000
Pages:
278
Sales rank:
509,966
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

Related Subjects

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"[A] superb study. . . . Goodrick-Clarke has done a service to sanity, even if the gullible will go on swallowing [Devi's] recycled poison rather than his antidote."

-Times Literary Supplement,

"An excellent, thought-provoking volume. . . . We may readily accept that Devi was a revolting creature. But it is as well that we realise that such demons in human form existed and still do exist."

-Independent,

"An admirably cool-headed history of an inflammatory subject. . . . It is likely to stand as the definitive study of a subject that a lesser author would have exploited for maximum sensationalism."

-Gnosis,

"An engrossing, disturbing, and important book. Well-researched and evocatively told, the strange story of Savitri Devi is a mirror of the twentieth century's dark undercurrents and deserves to be widely read and pondered."

-Robert S. Ellwood,University of Southern California

"[A] provoking volume."

-Bulletin of the Arnold and Leona Finkler Institute of Holocaust Research, No. 10

Meet the Author

Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke is the author of several books on ideology and the Western esoteric tradition, including Hitler’s Priestess and The Occult Roots of Nazism, which has remained in print since its publication in 1985 and has been translated into eight languages. He writes regularly for European and US Journals and has contributed to several films on the Third Reich and World War II.

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