The S. S.:
Knights of the New Faith
by Savitri Devi
The Lightning and the Sun (Calcutta: Savitri Devi Mukherji, 1958), pp. 371-79.
The title is editorial.
Edited by R. G. Fowler
Illustration : Waffen SS Recruitment Poster
It certainly is no mere coincidence that, of all the organisations closely connected with the defence of the National Socialist State, the S.S. is precisely the one which has been (and still is) the most bitterly hated by the enemies of the Hitler faith: first and foremost by the Jews, whose aversion to it is well-nigh pathological; then by the Communists and by the Catholics, and finally by the non-descript “decent people” of all degrees of mediocrity—even by such narrow-minded nationalists of countries other than Germany as should normally (given the personal career of some of them1) be the last ones to censure any supporters of ruthlessness in warfare or in coercion. The most bitterly hated and the most widely slandered; and the most relentlessly and the most savagely persecuted, no sooner persecution became materially possible; the one body, hundreds of thousands of members of which have died a martyr’s death in the anti-Nazi extermination camps of practically all countries of Europe—and of their colonies—and of the Soviet Union, or in the cellars and torture chambers of the Allied Prisons, after the war; thousands of members of which are still in chains for so-called “war crimes,” in Siberia, no doubt, but elsewhere also—in Holland, in France, in Greece—even ten years after Germany’s unconditional surrender; all members of which were collectively stamped by the judges of the international Tribunal of Nuremberg as “belonging to a criminal organisation,” and are, still today, after all these years, more or less everywhere (save in Germany itself) looked upon as such by the broad, uncritical masses, who have lived (or have been told about) the Second World War.
It is no mere coincidence. And by no means also, a fact which the so-called “crimes against humanity,” rightly or mistakingly or willfully wrongly ascribed to numbers of S.S. men by the Nuremberg judges, would suffice to account for. No armies, ancient or modern—and those of the united anti-Nazi front, less than any—and no police organisations are innocent of so-called “crimes against humanity”: acts of violence which obvious military necessities (or State necessities) cannot entirely justify. The history of the whole world is eloquent enough—and that of all great colonial powers of the past and of the present, particularly eloquent—in that respect.
But why mention colonial powers and the multifarious horrors connected with the repression of resistance movements in tropical lands—or with the conquest of those very lands—by greedy crusaders of man-loving creeds? Were not Eisenhower’s gallant “crusaders to Europe” themselves lashingly censured, and that by non-Nazis and even by anti-Nazis—by Maurice Bardèche, a sincere Christian; by Frida Utley, a Communist, or at least the wife of one—for their disgusting behaviour in Germany in and after 1945? And has not the American judge van Roden, who was sent to investigate into the atrocities perpetrated by his compatriots upon Germans (in fact, upon S.S. men) in connection with the all-too-notorious “Malmédy case,” clearly declared in 1948 that, were one seriously desirous of detecting and chastising “war criminals,” one should send home the “whole American Occupation forces” so that they be legally and impartially tried?
It is true that the victors of 1945 never had the slightest desire of being “impartial,” let alone “just.” Apparently what they had decided to punish were German “war criminals” only—not their own. But even that is not rigorously accurate. At least, that does not suffice to explain why they drew such a definite line between German soldiers of the Wehrmacht and German soldiers of the Waffen S.S. and no line at all between the latter and the members of the elder organisation known as “Allgemeine S.S.”: the only one out of which were recruited the Security Service, the Secret State Police (commonly known as the Gestapo2), and the staff of the concentration camps, i.e., all men entrusted with the inner defence of the National Socialist State. It does not suffice to explain why the German (and, during the war, also non-German) regiments labelled as Schutz Staffeln—S.S.—be they police or field units, were, as a whole, and without discrimination, branded as units of a “criminal organisation,” while their fellow formations of the Wehrmacht—the Kriegsmarine, Luftwaffe, etc.—were not; why the victorious Allies and, along with them, the post-war press and radio, literature and cinema industry—all the forces of the anti-Nazi world—went out of their way to persecute, humiliate, or revile every S.S. man, whatever he might have done or not have done, while they persecuted mostly individual officers and men out of the Wehrmacht and other German fighting forces, and presented their occasional so-called “war crimes” as individual cases of unjustified violence. It does not suffice to explain that reputation of cold-blooded barbarity which the whole S.S.—the Waffen S.S. no less than the “Allgemeine”—has acquired during and after the war, and the horror attached to its name to this day among the gullible masses of practically all countries, with the natural exception of Germany (and of Austria, which is, whatever one may say, a part of Germany), of Spain, and probably of Japan, where, I expect, no amount of democratic nonsense can kill men’s inborn admiration for any faithful soldiers.
The truth is that, what roused—and still rouses—the hatred and fury of the “common man” in nearly all lands—and the very understandable fears of the intelligent leading Anti-Nazis, specially of the topmost Jews, actual rulers of the present-day world—was (and is) not so much the German so-called “war crimes” themselves as the particular conception of life, the particular scale of values of some of those men who are alleged to have committed them or ordered them. For that which nearly the whole world of this advanced Dark Age stood up to combat and to crush, with a more or less clearly expressible but nevertheless most definite sense of self-defence, was not, in reality “violence,” not “crime”—not even “crimes against humanity,” in the material meaning of the word—but National Socialism, or, more precisely, Hitlerism: the latest expression of the perennial cosmic Wisdom “against Time”; Hitlerism, the creed of the healthy, strong, and beautiful, in their place at the head of a creation of which “man” is but a part; the creed of triumphant Life—of Nature—as opposed to the commonly accepted creed of “man.” And that which distinguished the whole S.S.—the “Allgemeine” and the other—from the rest of the German forces, and justified, in the eyes of the world of our Age (from the Nuremberg judges and the leading Jews behind them, down to the most irresponsible specimen of two-legged mammal whom anti-Nazi propaganda could possibly reach) that name of “criminal organisation” indiscriminately applied to it, remains the sole fact that it was, or, at least was intended to be, the National Socialist body par excellence; the physical and moral élite of awakening Aryandom; the living, conscious kernel out of which and round which the yet unborn race of gods on earth—regenerate Aryandom—was to take shape and soul.
In other words, the S.S. as a whole had, in new Germany, the meaning which new Germany herself had among the people of the broad Aryan family: that of being the innermost and uppermost stronghold of the wisdom “against Time”; the ferment of regeneration, determined to overcome millenniums of decay. Is it a wonder that the very agents of the forces of decay treated it as they did—and as they do?
* * *
A few quotations out of Georges Blond’s book L’Agonie de l’Allemagne will help to buttress what I have just said. The French author may have held Petain’s policy of collaboration with Germany for the right one, in France’s interest, but he never was and never pretended to be a devotee of the Hitler faith. His words are therefore neither those of an enemy nor those of an admirer but those of a reporter whose sole desire is to give an accurate picture of what was.
“S.S. men,” says he—and although he speaks only of the Waffen S.S. this applies also to the “Allgemeine”—had to measure at least one metre eighty (nearly six feet) and to undergo an extremely severe physical and medical examination. They were not to have a single tooth which had once needed the attention of a dentist.”3 It strikes me as a remarkable coincidence that this same condition (of not having even a single decaying tooth) was, among others, imposed, in ancient Greece, upon those who wished to become priests of Apollo, the god of Light. I must also add that, apart from revealing, at the medical test, a more than average sharpness of sight and hearing, S.S. men were all to be possible givers of blood. The letter indicating his particular blood-group—A, B, or O—was tattooed under the right arm of every one of them, to make things easier in emergency cases. It is needless to stress that all S.S. men had to be of irreproachable Aryan blood. The genealogy of each and every one of them was studied with utmost care—generations back4—before his admission.
The ideal of physical cleanliness and of absolute health—the natural basis of more-than-physical purity—was exalted among them to the supreme degree; exalted in their training as a conscious élite and in their daily life within the barracks and outside:
The rooms in which they lived and all objects which they used had to be washed and scrubbed, polished and shined every day. S.S. men were entitled to have uniforms and equipment of the very best quality, but the obligations imposed upon them with regard to presentation and cleanliness were unbelievable. At the time of the daily inspection the soldier was expected to look as though he had come “fresh out of a box.” . . . As a result of the most severe inspection of all—the one that took place before the weekly day’s leave—one man out of three was sent back on account of some trifling omission.5
“An S.S. man who caught a venereal disease was punished. The punishments consisted in supplementary military exercises (Aufmarsch: standing, lying, marching, running, crawling, with full equipment, for an hour), in imprisonment, or expulsion from the S.S. community.”6
And, side by side with a deadly, machine-like efficiency, carried, through intensive drill, to the limits of perfection, were cultivated—carried, they too, to their highest degree—among S.S. men, those exceptional qualities of character, the outcome of which is personal value and also efficiency: a complete mastery over one’s nerves; serene indifference to one’s individual fate; absolute detachment within utmost thoroughness and utmost skill. In other words, being already the physical and racial élite, the S.S. was expected to be, at the same time, a perfect organisation and a perfect aristocracy of character and deeper intelligence; an unfailing instrument of war (or of coercion) and a brotherhood of real supermen; the all-round conscious élite of our Age: heroes “against Time” accepting all the conditions of their extraordinary mission; accepting the mechanising tyranny of drill—twelve hours a day of the most exacting military exercises7—not with “resignation” but with understanding and with joy, knowing it was a means to invincibility, at any rate a means to the most terrible efficiency in the fulfilment of duty; and loving duty—their duty; their action for the triumph of truth on earth; their struggle “in the interest of the Universe”—above all.
The military exercises were carried out under the actual conditions of modern war, with all the dangers that this implies. “Danger of accidents bred vigilance, and was an element of the S.S. education.”8 The young future officers were put to even harder tests than the soldiers. “One of these tests, intended to develop self-control, was the following: the young officer, standing in the position of “attention,” held a grenade in his right hand. On command, he was to unscrew it, to hit upon the fire-lever, and then, . . . to place the grenade upon his helmet and while remaining in the position of “attention”—erect and immobile and perfectly calm—“to wait for the explosion.”9 A Hindu would probably think: a beautiful exercise in the training of Western “Karma Yogis.” And he would be right.
All this however—the fact of being a physical and, what is more, a racial élite, no less than a deadly efficient instrument of action (a merciless police-force and, in the case of the Waffen S.S, the toughest of all tough troops of the German Army)—would hardly have been enough to raise the S.S. above the best German military bodies of all times; to place it in a different class of warriors; and to bring down upon it, indiscriminately, the hatred of the Dark Age world. But let me once more quote Georges Blond:
Three times a week the S.S. recruits had a course in political education: lectures about the Führer’s person and about his life; about the National Socialist doctrine and the history of the Party; but before all about the racialist Teaching. The two basic books were Walter Darré’s Die Rasse10 and Rosenberg’s Der Mythus des 20. Jahrhunderts.11
On the form he had filled out requesting his admission, the future S.S. man had nearly always written, opposite the word ‘religion,’ the answer: Gottgläubig—believer in God. It was not the thing to do to write down ‘atheist,’ or ‘Lutheran’; still less ‘Catholic.’ Gottgläubig. That ‘belief in God’ did not [religiously, or rather, dogmatically speaking12] imply much. The important point was to be convinced, or ready to let one’s self be convinced, of the necessity and of the excellence of the advent of a ‘blood aristocracy’ that was to rule alone over the rest of mankind. The superior blood was the Aryan, and more particularly the Germanic or Nordic. The Latin people were held to be not very interesting, the Jews were looked upon as mud and vermin. Christianity was a religion soaked in Judaism, and even an undertaking carried on under Jewish inspiration, with a view to revile man by inculcating him a feeling of sinfulness.
It is an error to believe that cruelty was systematically cultivated. Friendliness and kindness towards children and towards animals were recommended to S.S. men. But the tree of blood aristocracy and of the deified State could not bear fruits of meekness and humanity. Pride always carries within it the seed of cruelty.13
Through this reportage of a non-Nazi—and nobody save a non-Nazi, nay, nobody save a definite opponent of the Hitler faith in its essence (i.e., an opponent of it not necessarily on the political but certainly on the philosophical plane) could write such a sentence as the last one, which I purposely quoted—one can, to some extent, understand the historical significance of the S.S. and account for the world-wide hatred of which that organised, warlike Aryan aristocracy has been, and still is, the object.
At the root of both, there is that explicit and uncompromising repudiation not merely of “Christianity,” but of that which I have called “the values common to Christianity and to all man-centred faiths”; to all faiths “in Time,” be they otherworldly or of this world; the repudiation of the values which appeal to bastardised masses (and all the more so that these are more bastardised); there is the haughty rejection of that dogma of the superexcellence of “man,” outcome of immeasurable human conceit and, more and more, for the last two and a half thousand years or so, of Jewish sophistry. That, and that alone, is what this Dark Age world could not and cannot and never will be able to forgive the S.S.; that, and not its so-called “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” (the “decent people” and their leaders commit or encourage or tolerate far worse horrors); that, and not its terrible efficiency, nor its purity of blood as a fact, nor even its German pride and thirst of expansion.
The famous Teutonic Knights of the Middle Ages were pure-blooded Germans and merciless warriors; conquerors of new lands for a German Reich that was already pushing eastwards with all its young strength. They were the sword that prepared the way for the German settlers’ plough—exactly what the S.S. would have been, had the Russian campaign ended victoriously, i.e., had the anti-Communist Western Allies left Russia to her fate. Yet they were not “war criminals” or “criminals against humanity,” whatever violence they might have exerted. For they fought and conquered in the name of Christianity, with the blessing of the Catholic Church—it was the only way to carry on a successful German Ostpolitik in the twelfth, thirteenth, or fourteenth century. And had the toughest among the modern German forces—the S.S.—done the same, or that which can be, today, regarded as the equivalent of the same, namely, had it fought and conquered with the self-same violence, the self-same ruthlessness, nay, the self-same national fanaticism, but in the name of the “rights of man” against the “Bolshevik danger” considered as a menace to “man’s dignity” and to “individual freedom,” never would it have been collectively branded as a “criminal organisation” by an international Law Court—never; not even if Germany had finally lost the war. (In that case it is, in the first place, probable that Germany would have won. For the world-wide coalition of Communists and Anti-Communist against her would not have taken shape.)
But there is more: whatever people may say, now that powerful material interests have torn asunder the Yalta front, I doubt whether the toughest and most fanatical units of the Red Army—whose fanaticism can match that of the S.S. and whose brutality has, already in this war, by far beaten it—be, even after a conflict between the so-called “free world” and the Soviet Union ending with the latter’s unconditional surrender, collectively stamped as groups of a “criminal organisation.” I doubt it because, however much the so-called “free world” may profess to hate Communism, Communism does not profess to attack that deep-seated superstition of “man” which is the implicit faith of the Dark Age. On the contrary! That very superstition lies at the root of Marxism even more so than at the root of historical Christianity or of humanitarian. Atheism, of which Marxism is but the logical prolongation in a world increasingly dominated by “technique.” The only way to carry on any successful national Ostpolitik (or Westpolitik) in our Dark Age, is to carry it on under the mantle of some form or other of that international superstition.
National Socialist Germany carried on the struggle for her existence against that superstition; against the accumulated moral prejudices of Dark Age mankind; I repeat: “against Time.” She fought for her existence, being herself the citadel of the Hitler faith. And the S.S.—indiscriminately, whether Waffen S.S. or “Allgemeine”—was and remains the great dedicated Knightly Order of the Hitler faith. For no other reason has the Dark Age world persecuted it with such elemental hatred.
For example that of the French “résistant
” Jacques Soustelle, as “Governor of Algiers, in 1956.
3 Georges Blond, L’Agonie de l’Allemagne, 1944–1945 (Paris: Fayard, 1952), p. 103.
4 Up to 1600 A.D. at least.
7 In the second degree training of the Waffen S.S., after the young recruits’ oath. See Blond, p. 106.
10 Probably R. Walther Darré, Das Bauerntum als Lebensquell der Nordischen Rasse [The Peasantry as the Life-Source of the Nordic Race] (Munich: Lehmann, 1929).—Ed.
11 Alfred Rosenberg, Der Mythus des 20. Jahrhunderts [The Myth of the Twentieth-Century](Munich: Hoheneichen, 1930).—Ed.
12 Savitri Devi’s insertion—Ed.