1 October 1980
Much Beloved and Admired [Female] Comrade,
Hopefully you have received my long letter, which I sent to you some days ago, and in which I explained in detail the practical—I should say “the technical” reasons—for which I cannot leave India, without running the risk of having to leave it permanently. Surely you will have communicated all this also to Mrs. Asmus, since I would not like to be forced to write such a long—and boring!—letter twice.
But now different thoughts. Your—and Frau Lotte’s—quite royal birthday gift of 285 DM 65 (two hundred eighty-five German Marks and sixty-five Pfennig), that you sent together, moved me deeply. I am not worthy of so much money—and so much love—as I never was able to give for those great things, which are dear to my heart, such great sums since I never earned to much money—and that’s my own fault (if you would call something like that a “fault,” that is). I condemned myself, on 28 May 1928 (I would become conscious only about one year later—1929—of my NS faith) to poverty and a life of financial difficulties, when I rejected my French citizenship in Athens and accepted Greek citizenship.
(Although I do not regret it, I would not do so now, for the simple reason that in today’s world every citizenship is just as bad as the others—precisely because so few correspond to the true soul of a people. The official Greece is no better than the official France or each official “state,” which are all only the colonies of the international financial power, the policies of which are imposed upon the great and the small. But in 1928, I was 23 years old . . . and not 22—and I am now 75. It would be something to despair, if I had remained so naive.)
There was a competition in Athens in June 1928 for a position as a teacher of the French language in a Greek High School. I participated in it, and told my good, beloved French friend Viviane (whom Mrs. Asmus knows) that that was the reason why I, on 28 May 1928, assumed Greek citizenship. I did not lie. But I had—from love for my young friend, who is so good from any point of view—also not told the whole truth.
Family wise, I had much more to do with Lombardy than with Greece. My father’s mother, born Clotilda Porza, was from the vicinity of Turin. My grandfather’s mother as well—all blond, blue-eyed, Nordic types. From Greece—or rather from the Greek upper-class of Constantinople came, I was told, my great-grandfather, Pavlos Portassi, born in 1770, who came to Italy around 1790 to study. He would by marriage join a well-to-do north Italian family and became established. His son Karl—thus my grandfather—was “precepteur” (as it means in German: the position that oversees the collection of tax money). When Savoyards were to choose to become Italian or French, he chose France, and his children were thus born “French” according to French law. My father, the fifth of six, was born 14 February 1861. He knew Italian and French but very little Greek. (Already as a child, by my own choice, I systematically learned modern [and a little ancient] Greek. And I grew up among many Greeks our acquaintance.)
My rejection of France and the Allies began in 1915, when I was not yet 10 years old. In the Catholic school, where I first went, they told us in 1914—thus at the beginning of the war—that the Germans were “terrible barbarians” because they had attacked “poor little Belgium.” I did not have much interest at that time in the war between the great powers, but remembered quite well the second Balkan War—1912 and 1913—Greece, Serbia, and Bulgaria against Turkey, and then Serbia and Greece against Bulgaria. I still remember an anti-Bulgarian Greek . . . of the time. Nothing disturbed me until 1915. (If not the 1909 story of the treatment of the poor dogs of Constantinople by the “Young Turks.” I did not know, naturally, that the three leaders of the Young Turks, Estad Pasha, Talal Pasha, and Enver Pasha were all Jews.) In 1915 the French army (under general Sarrail) landed in Thessaloniki (Salonika), and, with the agreement with the Prime Minister of Greece, Venizelos (I did not know that he was a Freemason!), did in Greece what they wanted. The British fleet blocked the small country, which cannot live without imports—for 10 months. On 1 December 1916 the French also landed in Athens—all because Greece did not wish to fight with the Allies in the war. I was indignant. I thought, “The liars!” The Germans are barbarians, because they marched into “poor little Belgium.” And this pack! Why doesn’t one call them barbarians because they force their tyranny upon “poor little Greece”?
I asked my father. He explained: the Allies fight “for democracy.” Then I said, “I shit on democracy.” I hated the Allies! I went—not far from where my parents lived—behind the newly-built station (Gare des Brotteaux), and as it became pitch dark, wrote on the wall in meter-high letters, with chalk stolen from the school: “A bas les Alliés, vive l’Allemagne!” i.e., “DOWN WITH THE ALLIES, LONG LIVE GERMANY!” Germany was at that time for me only a patch of color in the geography book. But my hate for the liars was genuine. I said to my mother: “When I am 21 years old, I will reject my French nationality and take that of ‘poor little Greece.’”
My mother, who was not at all upset, did not ask, “Why not choose England?” even though she was an Englishwoman. For I hated England just as much because of the blockade of Greece.
After 1918, I was still disgusted by the French hate-demonstrations with the chant: “L’Allemange paiera!” (Germany will pay!), and by what I heard of the conditions of occupation in Germany: occupation by Black Senegalese troops in a land of the White race. That was the end! (But please do not say that to all the good Frenchmen who are on our side today, and whom I would like never to upset.)
Then came the Greek-Turkish war of 1920 to 1922, and the dirty role of the policy of the great powers (France among them). In March 1921 Mr. Franklin-Bouillon in the name of France formed an alliance with the Turks.
In 1928 I completed my Licence ès Lettres [Master of Arts degree] and began to write my doctoral dissertations (there are at least 2 books that one must write for the title of doctor). I stayed in a completely modest room in Athens, lived by giving lessons, and worked in the library. One should remain three years in Greece, in order to be able to get citizenship. I—because I had Greek relatives—got it in a week. But, in the Interior Ministry, where I was interviewed, a man said to me: “With a doctorate and all the education that you have, you can have a marvelous position in France. Here you would have to begin with piece-work, or, if you cannot wait, live by giving lessons, like every half-educated foreigner. Why do you reject French nationality? Very well-educated Greeks have intentionally taken it in order to obtain important positions.” Probably it meant nothing to them to be compatriots of general Sarrail, of Jonnard, of Dartige du Foumet, and all the others who exerted criminal military coercion on Greece—and compatriots also of Franklin Bouillon! To me it meant something. I would rather live by giving lessons: poor, but without compromise.
The government official said to me: “Well then, congratulations and condolences.”
I also received in France (where I ended my study in my parents’ house) a Licence ès Sciences [Master of Sciences degree] (in Chemistry) and came back from the East in 1935 for a few days to get my Doctoral diploma.
In Greece my longing for the pre-Christian world had met with little response. Many things infuriated me, among other things the indifference of the people to trees and animals. For one (long) moment, I thought of going to Germany, but despite your opposition to Jewry, the propaganda at this time (the public at least, but I knew no other) was for me much too tolerant of Christianity. But I felt that true N.S. [National Socialism] is incompatible with Christianity.
I went to India, where the Aryan tradition remains in its essence (too bad that at that time I knew no Initiates of the Thule Society).
In India also I lived on “lessons” and little jobs. I was employed only 9 years in France as a teacher (1960 to 69), for which I get the small pension on which I live—for which, however, I had to be recognized again as “French” by the authorities.
One day—of you are interested—I will tell you of the first, the very first German, a prisoner of war whom I saw a half hour in a camp, whose commander was an acquaintance of my father—a certain Monsieur Lagrillon. Well, I will tell it now, since I cannot send my letter on its way: Today is Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, and all businesses and the post office are closed.
I was 13 years old when Monsieur Lagrillon invited my father to visit his camp with my mother and me. The camp stood on the site in Lyons—or rather in a suburb of Lyons—where today stands the enormous hospital called the “Grange blanche” [White Barn]. At that time, the whole place was a building site where prisoners of war worked.
We saw the bedrooms, and I was afraid of the large, half-wild dogs the guards held so that no prisoners could escape at night. Then we saw the foundation walls, which rose slowly from the earth. Then Monsieur Lagrillon said to my father: “We have here a prisoner who is very educated and among other things knows English well. Would you like to meet him?” My father said that he did not know English, which was true. “However,” he added, “my wife is an Englishwoman. If she would like to speak to him . . .”
They brought to us a red-blond, tall youth with gold-rimmed eyeglasses, with beautiful manners, the type of the natural aristocrat.
My mother—the pacifist—expressed to him the desire that soon no traces of the war should ever be seen, and “that never again would there be war between brother peoples.”
I looked the youth with admiration, until my father spoke and said: “You may say also some words in English to the young man.”
I jumped on the opportunity, like a cat on the wall. “Please know,” I said to the young German, “that all these long war years I was never against you and your people. The hypocritical Allies led a disgusting propaganda campaign against you, which ran over me like water on a duck, without affecting me. I have hated the Allies from day they abused Greece so cruelly and forced it into the war on their side. My warmest wish is that ‘next time’ you smash them. I would be glad to see you as the lords of Europe! And hope to see it as soon as possible!”
The young man merely smiled. (What else could he do as a prisoner of war?) He was named Mr. Geißlin or Geißler or something like that. I do not remember exactly. If he is still alive, he must be over 80 years old. I wonder if he ever thought of that 13 year old blonde girl (I was also blonde as a child, but with brown eyes, dark-blonde as an adult, now more white than grey), if he ever thought of the girl who said to him after the end of the First World War in the prisoner of war camp, “I would be glad to see the Germans as the Lords of Europe.”
He must have remembered during the Kampfzeit [i.e., Hitler’s struggle for power]—and in June of 1940.
When we returned home, my mother the English pacifist asked me what I had said to him. She said nothing, except that I had “the right, even when so young, to have my own opinions and my own ‘likes and dislikes.’” She never tried to impose her pacifism on me—and she never understood when I said that if I went to the trouble of having children, I would make it my mission that they accept all my basic ideas and, that if not, I would regard them as enemies.
Then she said that I should have nothing to do with what one calls “love” and motherhood. (I did it, but not to obey her words!)
My father died (of paralysis) to 24 February 1932 (12 years after the establishment of the NSDAP).
During the war, my mother—although 75 years old in 1940, 80 in 1945—joined the resistance movement in France. I did not know it naturally. There was no communication between Calcutta and Europe. She told me 1946, when I visited her, and said also that if I had been present in France in 1944 and had actively worked against the resistance (as I then surely would have), she would have handed me over to the resistance. She died on 25 March 1960. Forgive this long, badly written letter.
With love and with the greeting of the faithful. Give my greetings to your nine beautiful children. How old are the eldest? And what are their names?
. . . my eyes and handwriting are so . . . good that you write with a typewriter!
Savitri Devi Mukherji
Today, 2 October, Gandhi’s birthday. But (much better!), Alexander’s great victory on 2 October 331 BC in Arbulus. 8 October 1897, Himmler’s birthday. I will write Mrs. B—.