The majority of the French despised Nazi leader Adolf Hitler for not only killing the 6 million Jews but also for militarily humbling France within a matter of days during World War II. There was one French, however, who had converted to Hinduism in her pursuit for the Aryan culture and called Hitler, the greatest European and regarded him as an avatar of Lord Vishnu.
This is the story of Maximiani Portas, a French woman, who assumed the name of Savitri Devi after she converted to Hinduism in 1932.
“To the god like an individual of our times; the Man against Time; the greatest European of all times; both Sun and Lightning,” that’s how Portaz regarded Hitler in her book ‘Lightning and the Sun’ which speaks volumes and admiration for the Nazi leader.
Conjectures say she was the Nazi spy who spied on the British in India and even played a role in making Subash Chander Bose meeting the Japanese which later paved way for the advent Indian National Army (INA).
Her ideas, known as Esoteric Hitlerism prophases the beliefs of Hitler and she even after the war ended and Hitler committed suicide after witnessing a certain defeat at the hands of Allied forces continued her propaganda of serving the Nazi ideology and referred the Nazi sites in Germany as Holy.
The Nazis believed that the Aryan race was the greatest and base of all civilisations and Portas too advocated this thought. She fell in love with India when she visited the country in pursuit pagan Aryan culture and married an Indian nationalist activist Asit Krishna Mukherji.
She is said to have dedicated herself to freeing the subcontinent from both British imperialism and Christianity, which she condemned as an anti-Aryan faith.
Here is her story:
Of Greek and Italian ancestry
Savitri Devi was originally born as Maximiani Julia Portas in 1905. She was a French citizen of Greek and Italian ancestry from the father side and English from her mother’s side. Right from the childhood, she advocated for animal rights and her earlier political affiliations was with Greek nationalism.
She studied philosophy and chemistry, earning two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the Univerity of Lyon.
Sign of Swastika changed her life
Savitri gave up her French citizenship and embraced Hellenism in 1928 when she visited Greece. It was the swastika signs on the palace of Athens, built by 19th-century German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, that stirred Maximian’s first feelings for the Aryan race and she was eager to know more about the race.
Journey to India
Pontas arrived in India in pursuit to trace the pagan Aryan culture in 1932. She regarded Hinduism as the only living Aryan heritage and had a belief that Hinduism could only take on Judaeo-Christian heritage. Soon, she adopted the name Savitri Devi which would make her famous in neo-Nazi circles.
India fascinated her as even a hawker would talk about Mahabharata in the morning and to Pontas who by now was Savitri Devi everything brought resemblance to the lost Aryan culture.
Next one decade she spent in India and knowing Hinduism
She was fascinated by Hinduism and sought to make Hinduism supreme religion in India. And therefore, she got associated with various Hindu groups including Hindu Mahasabha and RSS. In early 1937, Savitri Devi met Srimat Swami Satyanand, president of the Hindu Mission in Calcutta, and offered her service to the mission.
It is believed that Swami Satyananda who was moved by her devotion to the religion told her that Hitler was an avatar of Vishnu- a force that would restore the cosmic order.
In 1939, she published A Warning to Hindus under the auspices of the Hindu Mission which warned Hindus for being submissive to the increasing assertiveness of other religions especially Islam and Christianity.
Married an Indian
IN 1940, Pontas married an Indian Brahmin Asit Krishna Mukherjee, who was a publisher with pro-German sympathies. He was the editor of The New Mercury, a Nazi mouthpiece funded by the German consulate in Calcutta.
When she met Netaji Bose
It’s believed that in the early 1940s when the Second World War had begun and Germany and axis powers were getting one success after another, she had met Netaji Subash Chander Bose and paved way for his meeting with the Japanese which resulted in the formation of Indian National Army.
Germany’s defeat shook her
Germany defeat in 1945 and Hitler suicide shook her to the core and she decided to leave India and go back to Europe to support the depleting morale of the Nazis. She travelled to various countries like England, France, Denmark and Germany and tried to propagate the Nazi theory. In 1948, she was arrested for distributing pamphlets advocating the Nazi ideas.
SAVITRI DEVI Archive
She was sent to jail for two years in 1949, but there too she kept advocating the Nazi theory of Aryan supremacy. There she also met other Nazis jailed after the war.
In 1953, she re-entered Germany with a Greek passport and declared the Nazi sites as holy and worthy of pilgrimage. She penned down her journey from various countries to Germany and sites of Nazis and Hitler in particular in her 1958 book Pilgrimage.
An ardent holocaust denier
Savitri never believed that holocaust ever happened and Jews were murdered by the Nazis in concentration camps. She believed that everything is a lie and a propaganda by the allied forces. Concentration camps, she said, were meant for the detention of enemies of Nazism.
Returning to India
During her stay in Europe, she developed allegiance with fascists spread in various countries and her books further increased her popularity among them. There she also joined forces with the British fascist party, the National Socialists.
She also wrote theories which denied the Holocaust and was patronised by Ernst Zundel, the German revisionist publisher. She became an active member of neo-Nazi International called World Union of National Socialists (WUNS)
SAVITRI DEVI Archive
In 1971, she returned to India and stayed in Delhi. She completed her autobiography here. But she left India in 1981 and started living in Europe again where in 1982 she died in England en route to America for a lecture.
Most people in India still don’t know about her and her quest for the search of the lost Aryan culture.
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