Nazi Occultism


  • Nicholas Goodrick-Clark. Hitler's Priestess: Savitri Devi, The Hindu-Aryan myth and Neo-Nazism. New York University Press, 1998.
  • Alan Baker. Invisible Eagle: The History of Nazi Occultism. Virgin, 2000.

In this book, the author of the acclaimed Occult Roots of Nazism, charts the life and career of one of the strangest Nazis of them all, the sort of life and career that were it to be the plot of a novel would be dismissed as too absurd. Savitri Devi, was born Maximiani Portas, in Lyons daughter of Italian-Greek naturalised French father and &glish mother. Goodrick-Clark traces her career from her involvement with Hellenism, her reaction against the Allies after their refusal to support Greek irredentism in 1922, her journey into the orbit of Hitler, her journey to India, her marriage, largely of convenience, to a Hindu nationalist and pro-Hitler publisher, A. K. Mukherji, her construction of an occult world view based largely on a synthesis of Hinduism and Nazism, with a mix of vegetarianism animal rights and proto-ecology, up to her post-war friendship with old German and new British Nazis.

It is not so much Portas/Devi herself who is of interest, but the way she represents an intersection of various currents in the modern world that few people would automatically connect together. For example the Hindu nationalist movement with which she was associated was the spiritual ancestor the current BJP (Party of the Indian-People), the dominant force in the present Indian government (and a party whose slogan One People, One Nation, One Culture, evokes, shall we say, a certain deja vu). Her own mythology, her rejection of humanism and general misanthropy, has more than echoes in the deep green movement, leaving such movements open to infiltration by the radical right.

Already the radical right in Switerzland has taken up ecology in a big way, the Democratic Ecology Party in West Germany mixes deep green and nationalist themes, and of course we have David Icke's linking of ecology, new ageism and antisemitic conspiracy theories, derived from Nazism and proto facisism. The New Age movement, particularly its apocalyptic deep-green wing, has the same kind of anti-humanism, and would seem to welcome of a catastrophe which will wipe out most of human kind (who just, by pure coincidence of course, happen to be poor and black leaving just nice bronzed, Californians alive. - Peter Rogerson, from Magonia 68, September 1999.

Baker sets out in his book to examine the myths of Nazi occult involvement, and the myths of the Nazi survival conspiracy. Much of the book is eminently sensible, sceptical and good as far as it goes. In the early part of the book where he is guided by the work of real historians such as Nicholas Goodrich-Clarke he is reasonably sure footed, exposing the many myths which have grown around the subject, though the treatment is not original. In the second half, where he deals with the myths of the Nazi survival, UFOs and Antarctic bases, the footing is less sure. The problem is that he appears to have done very little actual research himself, and while he produces a range of interesting information, a glance at the notes shows that this is largely borrowed from a few other writers.

This is not so bad when he is quoting reliable sources, but when, for example in his section on the hollow earth, he quotes liberally from David Hatcher Childress, a man who gives the impression that he thinks he is the reincarnation of Indiana Jones, and who publishes all sorts of wild 'free energy' and conspiracy stuff, one has doubts. In his chapter on the Nazi saucer myth, this reliance leads him to take at face value the fictitious 'biography' of Renato Vesco. Kevin McClure has done research on this subject and found the situation to be very different.

The main popularisers of the notion of 'Nazi occultism' were the writers Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier in their books The Dawn of Magic and Morning of the Magicians, and it is perhaps not a coincidence that Pauwels later went to be a significant figure in the neo-Pagan wing of the French radical right. The main import of such views has been to glamorise the squalid totalitarian state that was National Socialism, as well as to provide the comforting message that the Nazi crimes were something radically alien from the human mainstream, which 'couldn't happen here'. The lessons of human history, alas, do not bear that out. -- Peter Rogerson, Magonia 72, October 2000.

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