Monday, May 24, 2021

Prophetess Of The Saucers

greyfalcon | September 30 marks the birthday of this strange but remarkable woman, who probably did the most to spread the "Hitler escaped in a UFO" legend.


Her name was Maximiani Portas, but she's better known to history by her nom de voyage, the name she traveled under...Savitri Devi.


Maximiani was born in Lyons, France's second largest city, on September 30, 1905. "Her mother, Julia Nash, came from Cornwall, and her father was of mixed Mediterranean heritage, having an Italian mother from London and a Greek father who had acquired French citizenship due to his residence in France."


As a schoolgirl, Maximiani was greatly influenced by the work of the French poet Leconte de Lisle, whose Poemes barbares glorified the gods and religions of antiquity. And when she dicovered Bullfinch's Mythology, the result was the same as with H.P. Lovecraft a decade earlier. She became an ardent believer in the gods of Olympus. But where Lovecraft soon ended his infatuation with Graeco-Roman religion, the topic became a lifelong obsession with Maximiani.


In 1929, now interested in tracing the roots of occult traditions, Maximiani traveled to Jerusalem. She arrived just in time for the riots between the Arabs and the growing numbers of Jewish immigrants. She sided with the Arabs, and the entire episode left her with a lifelong hatred of Jews, Judaism, Zionism and the Talmud. [Some occultists believe that there is a network of ancient tunnels under the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, similar to the tunnels in the Andes. These tunnels are alleged to be left over from the lost continent of Atlantis. See the book Timeless Earth by Peter Kolosimo, University Books, 1974]


By 1932, Maximiani's quest had brought her to India. Here she came under the influence of Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1856-1920), also known as Sri Baba Lokmanya, who was widely acclaimed as the 'father of Indian unrest'. Besides his radical political activities, Tilak was an accomplished scholar of ancient Hindu sacred literature. Imprisoned by the British Raj in 1897 for sedition, Tilak had immersed himself in Vedic study and in 1903 published his book about the origins of the "Aryan race," The Arctic Home in the Vedas.


Maximiani wandered through India for three years. Then, in July 1935, she enrolled in Rabindranath Tagore's ashram in Shantiniketan in the Bolpur district.  But she left in December after getting into scraps with German Jewish refugees who were also the guests of Tagore.


At the ashram, she "learned Hindi and perfected her command of Bengali. She then taught English and Indian history at Jerandan College, not far from Delhi, and worked in a similar capacity in Mathura, the holy city of Krishna, during 1936. Ever more involved in the life and customs of Hinduism, she adopted a Hindu name--Savitri Devi."


Settling in Calcutta in 1936, Savitri came under the influence of Srimat Swami Satyananda, who was director of the city's Hindu Mission and active in the nationalist Hindu Mahasabha movement. Tilak had gotten it wrong, Satyananda told Savitri, the Aryans didn't originate in the Arctic--they came from the Antarctic. During previous interglacial periods, Antarctica had enjoyed a temperate climate, and there were still ancient cities buried under the ice and snow. [Curiously, Lovecraft wrote a short novel about this topic in 1932 entitled At the Mountains of Madness, repeatedly referring to a city called "Kadath in the Cold Waste"].


More ominously, Satyananda told Savitri that the presence of the swastika, the traditional Hindu sign of good fortune, in the flag of Nazi Germany showed that this European nation was returning to its Aryan roots. In addition, "he told her that he considered Hitler an incarnation of Vishnu, an expression of the force preserving cosmic order."


Satyananda and his new guest lecturer, Savitri Devi, were very much excited when Hitler dispatched an expedition to Antarctica in 1938 under Captain Alfred Rischer. Here was proof that the Nazis were seeking the ancient Aryan homeland. [In 1916, Charles Fort wrote a book called Y in which he talked about buried cities at the South Pole. He inexplicably destroyed this manuscript in 1917, claiming that "it was not what I wanted." Whatever Antarctic oddities the old boy dug up are delightful to conjecture but are unfortunately lost to history].


Friends in the Mahasabha introduced Savitri to Asit Krishna Mukherji, the editor of The New Mercury, India's one-and-only National Socialist magazine until its suppression by the British authorities in 1937. "Mukherji admired the growing might and influence of the Third Reich. He was deeply impressed by the Aryan ideology of Nazi Germany, with its cult of Nordic racial superiority, anti-Semitism and race laws," which he compared favorably with the Vedic law of varna or caste.


When World War II broke out in September 1939, Savitri and Mukherji became the biggest pro-Axis cheerleaders around. Which immediately got Savitri into trouble with the Raj. For one thing, she was a citizen of France and needed a permit to stay in India. Her pro-Nazi views put her on a list for deportation. And when the Germans overran France in May 1940, she was in imminent danger of arrest as "an enemy alien."


So, on June 9, 1940, at the age of 34, Savitri married Mukherji in Calcutta. It was a traditional Hindu wedding.


While her husband worked for Indian independence under the pro-Axis leader, Subhas Chandra Bose, Savitri "spent the rest of the war in joyful anticipation of an Axis victory. By the end of the war, Savitri Devi had assimilated many notions from Hinduism into a heterodox form of National Socialism that glorified the Aryan race and Adolf Hitler.


Undeterred by the Allied victory in May 1945, Savitri resolved to return to Europe and preach her new Hitlerian faith. What spurred her to action was a curious article that appeared in The Times and Le Monde on July 18, 1945 claiming that Hitler and his new wife, Eva Braun, had been taken by a U-boat to Argentina.


Convinced that der Führer would soon be making his comeback, "Savitri Devi returned to Europe in October 1945. In London she took casual employment as a wardrobe manager with a traveling Indian dance company."

 

During her brief showbiz career, Savitri read another article that appeared in the Argentinian newspaper Critica on July 17, 1945 which "stated that the Führer and Eva Braun had landed from the U-530 in Antarctica, noting the possible place of embarkation was Queen Maud Land, the destination of a German Antarctic expedition in 1938-1939."

 

She also read a book by Ladislao Szabo, a Hungarian living in Buenos Aires, entitled Hitler esta vivo (Hitler is alive) Szabo expanded on the Critica article and discussed the top-secret but abortive Operation High Jump.

 

But what really kindled Savitri's excitement was the sudden appearance of the "flying saucers" in July 1947. UFOs dominated front pages everywhere.

 

Ready to undertake her missionary work, Savitri hit upon the idea of distributing pro-Nazi leaflets while passing through Germany by train in June 1948.

 

Returning through France and entering Germany at Saarholzbach, she spent some three months between 7 September and 6 December 1948 distributing a further six thousand leaflets in the three Western (Allied) occupation zones and the Saarland.

 

While in Germany, Savitri made contact with former SS men, who told her an amazing story: in 1942, a German engineer named Miethe began work on a "flying disk," also known as the V-7. Encouraged by the progress in the development of this new "vengeance weapon," Hitler placed the project under the command of SS-Obergruppenführer Kammler. A limited number of these vehicles were produced at underground factories in the Harz Mountains.


The V-7 was a futuristic aircraft, Savitri was told, 'a fantastic creation nearly 15 meters (50 feet) in diameter, in its center the plexiglass cupola of the control room glistening in the sunlight.'...it had no rotating parts and was driven by twelve adjustable jets, five rearward for forward flight and the other seven for directional steering. With a range of 13,000 miles (20,000 kilometers) the V-7 was able to reach 1,500 to 2,000 miles per hour (2,400 to 3,200 kilometers per hour).


Soon it was all coming together in her mind--Hitler's controversial demise, the Antarctic expedition of 1938, the Miethe V-7 flying disk, the SS rumors of a diehard "Last Battalion" preparing to resume the war. She truly believed that a flying saucer had spirited the Führer out of an embattled Berlin and dropped him off in Cuxhaven. From there, the U-boat convoy ferried him to the Nazi colony of Neuschwabenland in Antarctica.


Thus convinced, Savitri undertook her most dangerous gamble yet. In preparation for her third propaganda sortie to enemy-occupied Germany, she had printed in London a small German-language handbill with a swastika. Here she exhorted the Germans to remain true to their Führer, who was alleged still to be alive, and to rise up against the Allied forces that now were stationed throughout the country.


In part, the handbill read,


    "However, 'Slavery is to last but a short time more.'"


    "Our Führer is alive."


    "And will soon come back, with power unheard of."


    "Resist our persecutors."


    "Hope and wait."


She began distributing the handbill on the night of 13-14 February 1949 in Cologne and soon found a young ex-SS man to help her.



The Allied occupation officials were at first alarmed by the appearance of these handbills. Was there a clandestine neo-Nazi group out there actually agitating for revolution? But then a German informer told them that a certain Mrs. Mukherji was distributing the subversive leaflets. And on February 22, 1949, Savitri was arrested by the British Army.

 

She was detained at the British military prison for women at Werl until her formal trial, which was fixed for 5 April 1949.



No doubt about it, Savitri was in a heap of trouble. As part of the postwar "denazification" program, the Allies had proclaimed the Laws of Occupation Status n Germany. Article 7 of Law Number 8 "forbade the promotion of militarist and National Socialist ideas on German territory subject to the Allied Control Commission." The maximum penalty was death.


Instead, the Allied court-martial sentenced Savitri to three years at the prison in Werl. She struck up close friendships with former SS concentration camp guards from Belsen and began writing her book Defiance. Here she enjoyed a high regard among her fellow Nazi and SS prisoners for her high-flown rhetoric, her insistence on the idealistic philosophy of Aryan rebirth, and her pious Nazi spirituality. Her presence proved so disruptive that Savitri was soon placed in solitary.


Just as Savitri was looking at an extended stay at Werl, the husband she had abandoned four years earlier came to her rescue. Asit Krishna Mukherji, now a citizen of newly-independent India, arrived in Germany and lobbied the Allied occupation authorities for his wife's release.


In the end, Mukherji was successful, and Savitri was released from prison in August 1949.


For the rest of her life, Savitri continued her mission as a Nazi evangelist, writing several books and helping to found the World Union of National Socialists. She also insisted that some UFOs were indeed craft from the Nazi sanctuary in Antarctica, a theme that her colleage and disciple Ernst R. Zundel expanded upon in his 1974 book, UFOs: Nazi Secret Weapons?


Savitri Devi died on October 22, 1982.


Although her main contribution to ufology was the promotion of the "saucer Nazis" legend, there is one curious postscript concerning Savitri Devi.


On April 5, 1949, at the same moment Savitri was facing the Allied court-martial in Germany, a spectacular UFO event occurred thousands of miles to the west, over that part of the USA's New England region Loren Coleman calls "the Bridgewater Triangle."


A "very large, luminous, blue-green object" first appeared over Middleboro, Massachusetts, then flew a wobbly corkscrew course westward over Taunton, Rehoboth and Seekonk, Mass. and finally over H.P. Lovecraft's hometown of Providence, Rhode Island, where it suddenly and inexplicably vanished. The sighting was reported in Doubt--The Fortean Society Magazine for October 1949.

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