The mystical fascist who admired Hitler

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Savitri Devi Archive

Savitri Devi, a mystical admirer of Hitler and a cat-loving devotee of the Aryan myth, seemed destined to fade into obscurity after her death 25 years ago. But thanks to the rise of the extreme right, her name and her image now crop up online more and more, writes Maria Margaronis.

In 2012, browsing the website of Greece’s Golden Dawn party for an article I was writing, I stumbled on a picture of a woman in a blue silk sari gazing at a bust of Hitler against a blazing sunset sky.

What was this apparently Hindu woman doing on the site of an openly racist party devoted to expelling all foreigners from Greece? I filed her as a curiosity at the back of my mind, until the rising tide of extreme-right politics in Europe and America threw up the name “Savitri Devi” once again.

It isn’t hard these days to find discussions of Savitri Devi’s books on neo-Nazi web forums, especially The Lightning and the Sun, which expounds the theory that Hitler was an avatar – an incarnation – of the Hindu god Vishnu, and Gold in the Furnace, which urges true believers to trust that National Socialism will rise again. The American extreme-right website Counter-Currents hosts an extensive online archive of her life and work.

Her views are reaching a wider public, too, thanks to American alt-right leaders such as Richard Spencer and Steve Bannon, former Trump chief strategist and chair of Breitbart News, who have taken up her account of history as a cyclical battle between good and evil — a theory she shared with other 20th Century mystical fascists.

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Richard Spencer in Charlottesville (August 2017)

Dark metal bands and American right-wing radio stations also roar about the Kali Yuga, the Dark Age of Hindu mythology, which Savitri Devi believed that Hitler was once destined to bring to an end.

Who was Savitri Devi, and why are her ideas being resurrected now? Despite the sari and the name she was a European, born Maximiani Portas to an English mother and Greek-Italian father in Lyon in 1905.

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