The German Nazi movement is the preeminent example of misinformed prejudice against Jews, people with intellectual disabilities and others they considered impure. The whole terrible experience had many oddities, and Savitri Devi, a relatively unknown woman, is one of them. She was born in France in 1905 as Maximiani Portaz, the daughter of a Greek father and an English mother. She became a Greek national in 1928. She was attracted to the Greek Orthodox Church and Byzantine culture, but soon became more interested in paganism and pantheism, with strong antisemitic prejudices.
The roots of Aryan civilization
She left for India in 1932 at the age of 27, in search of the roots of the Aryan civilization. Following the lead of people like Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and many other pseudo-scientific teachers, she regarded Hinduism as the only living Aryan heritage in the modern world, superior to all other religions. She adopted the name Savitri Devi and accepted India as her home. Convinced that she could rediscover a living Aryan world only in contemporary India, she championed the cause of Hindu nationalism and a neo-Nazi cult. She lived and worked in Calcutta and called Hitler her idol. She admired the Brahmins, India’s highest caste, whom she saw as a pure race. By the late 1930s she was involved with Hindu nationalist movements like the Hindu Mahasabha.
Hinduism, custodian of the Aryan heritage
Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke notes: “For Savitri Devi, Hinduism was the custodian of the Aryan and Vedic heritage down through the centuries, the very essence of India. In her opinion, Hinduism was the sole surviving example of that Indo-European paganism once common to all the Aryan nations” (Hitler’s Priestess, p.44).
Savitri Devi’s writings, a bridge between neo-Nazism and the “New Age” movements
After the war Devi traveled through a devastated Europe and was a vocal apologist and defender of the Nazis, regardless of the horrendous things they had done. Her early writings were re-published by far-right-wing publishers, and she gained new fans in the 1970s as neo-Nazism spread. Devi died in 1982, but her combination of Hindu religion and Nordic racial ideology became “a bridge between neo-Nazism and the “New Age” movements
Her numerous writings are available online at the Savitri Devi Archive. For more on Savitri Devi’s continued influence consult Goodrck-Clarke, The Occult Roots of Nazism: Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology.