Defiance: The Prison Memoirs of Savitri Devi
Edited by R. G. Fowler
Atlanta: The Savitri Devi Archive, 2007
Kindle E-book: $9.99
Defiance is Savitri Devi’s vivid and impassioned memoir of her arrest, trial, and imprisonment on the charge of distributing National Socialist propaganda in Occupied Germany in 1949.
On 7 September 1948, Savitri Devi entered Germany with eleven thousand propaganda posters and leaflets condemning the Allies, proclaiming that Adolf Hitler was still alive (which she believed to be true at the time), and urging Germans to resist the occupation and to hope and wait for his return.
It was a quixotic, futile gesture, born of a spirit of defiance and a thirst for martyrdom.
For more than four months, Savitri Devi traveled throughout western Germany distributing thousands of posters and leaflets, making contact with the underground network of faithful National Socialists, and writing her book Gold in the Furnace.
On the night of 20–21 February 1949, Savitri Devi was arrested in Cologne, interrogated, and taken to the Werl Prison. She was tried in Düsseldorf on 5 April 1949, convicted, and sentenced to three years imprisonment in Werl.
While in Werl, Savitri Devi befriended a number of German women imprisoned as war criminals. She also completed Gold in the Furnace and continued work on her magnum opus, The Lightning and the Sun. Defiance can be read as the companion volume to Gold in the Furnace, since it takes place at the same time and tells the story of its creation.
Savitri Devi was released early from prison on 18 August 1949 at the request of the government of Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
Defiance is Savitri Devi’s most readable book. It is not primarily a work of philosophy or history, but a gripping first-person narrative that often reads like a novel. Defiance does, however, contain Savitri Devi’s most profound and moving philosophical meditation, “The Way of Absolute Detachment,” in which she uses the teachings of the Bhagavad-Gita to console herself before the prospect of the destruction of her writings and to explain the proper National Socialist view of the relationship between duty and practical consequences.
Reading Defiance, one quickly understands why the Allies imprisoned Savitri Devi and, once she was behind bars, tried to keep her away from the other “political” inmates: her spirit of defiance is contagious.
Until now, Defiance has been almost impossible to find. Published in a tiny edition by Savitri Devi’s husband A. K. Mukherji in Calcutta in 1951, it was distributed privately by the authoress to her friends and comrades, and it has not been reprinted since.
Part I: Triumph
1. The Empty Train
2. The Arrest
3. Questions and Answers
4. On Remand
5. The Glorious Day
Part II: Whispers
6. The Doors Close
8. Clandestine Conversations
9. More Secret Joys
Part III: Silence
10. The Search
12. The Way of Absolute Detachment
13. “We Shall Begin Again”
ABOUT THE AUTHORESS
Savitri Devi (1905–1982) is one of the most original and influential National Socialist thinkers of the post-World War II era. Born Maximine Julia Portaz in Lyons, France, she was of English, Greek, and Italian ancestry and described her nationality as “Indo-European.” She earned Master’s degrees in philosophy and chemistry and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Lyons. Her books include A Warning to the Hindus (1939), L’Etang aux lotus (The Lotus Pond) (1940), A Son of God: The Life and Philosophy of Akhnaton, King of Egypt (1946), later republished as Son of the Sun (1956), Akhnaton: A Play (1948), Gold in the Furnace (1952), The Lightning and the Sun (1958), Pilgrimage (1958), Impeachment of Man (1959), Long-Whiskers and the Two-Legged Goddess (1965), Souvenirs et réflexions d’une Aryenne (Memories and Reflections of an Aryan Woman) (1976), and And Time Rolls On: The Savitri Devi Interviews (2005).