July 11, 2017

1933. Fascism Infects Europe

Far-Right Nationalist Movements Emerge Throughout the Continent
"Members of the Francist Party, one of many fascist leagues in France in the 1930s, march past a church in Paris," February 13, 1934 (source)
This article is part of a series of posts on how newspapers covered the rise of fascism.

From The New York Times, September 17, 1933:
FASCISM'S INROADS IN EUROPE: A MOVEMENT OF MANY SHADES
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While the Mussolini Pattern Has Been Followed in General, The Hitler Modifications Are Popular With Some Groups

A further spread of fascism was seemingly foreshadowed by Chancellor Dollfuss's announcement at Vienna last Monday, when he said, speaking for the Austrian Government: "We will build up a Catholic, German State which will be thoroughly Austrian upon a corporative [Fascist] basis. It will be an authoritarian State, based on corporations formed on occupational lines."

The situation in Austria, coupled with the recent amazing Nazi demonstration at Nuremberg, at which Fascist organizations from other countries were represented, brings to the fore the question of the extent of the Fascist movement and of the variations from the Italian prototype. Where has fascism shown itself in such organized form as to command attention?

But, first, what is now understood by fascism? Sometimes the ends of the Fascists seem vague and confused, but that was said of the first fascio which Benito Mussolini organized in Milan in the Spring of 1929. "Fascio," meaning bundle, indicated merely the strong union of the movement's adherents; the term fascism which grew out of it has been variously interpreted, but in general it signifies a movement for national regulation of the individual without destruction of private property rights. Because of their attitude toward property, the Fascists have been particularly bitter toward socialism and communism.

Mussolini's Imitators

The German Nazis have imitated Mussolini, even in many details, although they have added such departures as race persecution in their efforts to glorify their Teutonic nation; and the rudimentary Fascist movements in other countries have followed either the strict Mussolini or the modified Hitler model. They have sprung up in parliamentary countries like Sweden and Holland, as well as in dictatorial countries like Poland and Hungary—though in few have they mustered, so far, more than a nominal following.

In England there are two Fascist groups, one led by Sir Oswald Mosley, the other composed of admirers of Hitler. Neither party appeals strongly to the British temperament. In Ireland the old Army Comrades Association has taken the name of National Guard, donned blue shirts and set itself as a check on President de Valera and his Republican Army.

The Struggle in Austria

Two Fascist groups vie for control in Austria. The Heimwehr, formed after the World War to protect the new frontiers of the dismembered nation, rose to power when the late Chancellor Seipel used it as a guard against the Socialists. For several years the Heimwehr, although illegal under the Constitution and the peace treaties, enjoyed the open support of the Clerical government. It was strongly present in the crowds that greeted the Chancellor in the great national demonstration at Vienna last week.

Combating the Heimwehr today is the National Socialist movement directed from Germany as part of the Nazi drive. The Austrian Nazis recognize no frontier between their land and Germany. They follow the Hitlerites in all things, including pan-German union and anti-Semitism.

The present Austrian Government is really a Clerical-Fascist dictatorship, with the Heimwehr represented. It governs against, first, the Nazis, and, second, the Socialists, and deals severely with their organizations and their newspapers.

Situation in Hungary

Fascism is more or less in power in Hungary. Premier Gömbös, an admirer of Mussolini, was leader of the Hungarian National-Fascist movement before he took office. This movement grew out of the secret societies that took part against Béla Kun and his Bolsheviki in 1920. At first it inflicted great cruelties upon the Jewish population. Lately it has modified its anti-Semitic attitude.

The German Nazi infection has caused difficulty, especially among university students, but has not been a danger to the State. Pro-German propaganda is unpopular in Hungary, and Professor Bleyer of Budapest University has virtually been driven from his post because of it.

Poland might be called a semi-Fascist State. The government is a dictatorship that tries to keep up the appearance of a parliamentary democracy. Marshal Piłsudski's dictatorship began as anti-Fascist, and with Socialist help in 1926 it defeated a government with Fascist inclinations. Piłsudski, who is not a party leader and has no program, is supported today by a bloc composed of Democrats and Fascists, Monarchists and Socialists, created to uphold the national government. The Fascist groups in this bloc are outspoken, but curb their special ambitions through loyalty to the Marshal.

One organization behind Piłsudski is the Legion of Youth, whose program is radical and calls for nationalization of key industries. The league is neither nationalistic nor anti-Semitic.

The Nationalists, Piłsudski foes on the Right, stand for parliamentary democracy but have strong Fascist leanings and are violently antagonistic toward the Jews. Their party militia, with a membership of about 10,000, has now been dissolved by the government.

Finland's National Patriots

In Finland the National Patriots, strongly Fascist in program, are gaining ground. They are the logical success of the Lapua movement of 1929, which was suspended by the Supreme Court after such excesses as the abduction of ex-President Ståhlberg. Parliamentarianism has no appeal for the National Patriots so long as Communists and Socialists take part in Finnish legislation.

The Patriots would limit citizenship to those belonging to the nation racially, culturally and historically. They would ban the parties of the Left, oblige every citizen to perform work, require the State to provide the work, and exclude all but their own class from public service and control of public expenditure. Intensification of religious and nationalistic instruction is demanded. The movement has a lively nucleus in every parish.

Sweden's Nazis

Sweden is full of dissatisfaction with the machinery of democratic government. Nazism has taken root in the farming districts of the Skåne (Southern Sweden) and there is bigotry toward the Jews and hatred of fixed-price stores and international finance. The Swedish Nazis, however, are hopelessly divided. It is within the Conservative party that really significant developments are happening.

The old Conservative leaders are out of touch with the younger elements, who demand greater activity and the adoption of such propaganda tactics as the Socialists have found successful. Minority groups within the party favor a Fascist policy.

The Italian idea has awakened echoes in Holland ever since 1922, but only since the Hitler success in Germany have the currents against Parliament and democracy gained any force. Today in Holland there are ten Fascist groups, the largest being the National Socialist Movement and the General Dutch Fascist League, both of them looking more toward Italy than toward Germany. At the April election the Fascist groups of all shades in Holland polled less than 2 per cent of the votes.

In Spain the Fascist idea has again become a force, although it operates now without uniforms and rituals. Retired army men long for the "good old days" of the Primo de Rivera dictatorship. The middle-class business men yearn with them. Against socialism, which has become strong throughout the country, the Fascist discontent is directed, and Socialist leaders watch the unrest with apprehension.

There is little Fascist organization, however. The army would have to lead any such movement, with the civil elements falling in behind, and the army has been well purged of officers suspected of having anti-socialistic bias.

Fascism in France

The manifestations of fascism in France are confined to one organization (which denies that it is Fascist), and a vague movement for constitutional reform intended to strengthen the government at the expense of the two electoral bodies.

In the league called the Jeunesses Patriotes is a group of extreme nationalists whose doctrines have a Fascist look. The movement, which claims 300,000 adherents, began in 1924 as a reaction against a supposed menace of communism. Two years later it turned its animosities toward Marxism and the cartel of Socialists and Radical Socialists in Parliament.

Czechoslovakia has two Fascist movements, potentially dangerous to the State in event of foreign war, but controllable in normal times. The Czech Fascists are enemies of Foreign Minister Beneš and would like to turn the democratic republic into a national-Fascist State. They are strong, having penetrated the public services, including the army. The other Fascist movement of Czechoslovakia is composed of Germans who wear Hitler brown.

Portugal Is Disturbed

In Portugal the Nacional Sindicalistas take their cue from Rome and Berlin, and their blue-shirt membership, now 18,000, is growing. Royalists and members of the intellectual class support them, Communism is opposed. Democracy is attacked on the ground that it puts the competent and the incompetent on an equal footing and leads to instability of government.

The Sindicalistas demand obligatory syndicalization of workers and popular representation through provinces, municipalities and professional and trade guilds.

Switzerland has Fascist movements, notable among youth. The National Front has lately united the German-Swiss and the French-Swiss Nationalists, and this double organization agitates against the liberalism prevailing in the mountain land. Another group, the Federal Front, is more military and leans toward Hitler.

Yugoslavia, under the rule of King Alexander, tolerates no fascism from either Italy or Germany. Nationalism here employs as its chief instrument the Sokols, gymnastic organizations entirely Pan-Serbian.

Other Balkan Fascists

Around the University of Sofia, in Bulgaria, many battles are fought between students communistically inclined and a growing group of their fellows who have espoused Fascist principles. An older form of Bulgarian fascism finds its expression in Ivan Michailoff's faction of the Macedonian Revolutionary Organization, which is given to shooting down people who oppose its prime ideal, the liberation of Macedonia and parts of Bulgaria from the Serbs, the Greeks and the Rumanians. The student fascism of Bulgaria is definitely anti-Semitic; the older Fascist movement not at all.

In Rumania the leading exponents of fascism belong to the "Iron Guard" of anti-Semitic Professor Cuza of Jassy University Their program demands, mainly, the expulsion of all Jews. The movement has grown since the World War. Essentially it is a student movement, but in times of economic depression Rumanian governments have more than once allowed the Iron Guard to propagandize the countryside, telling the peasants that the Jews are to blame for the high cost of living.

A more recent Fascist movement in Rumania, under Gregor Filipescu, is somewhat Italian in style and is not essentially anti-Semitic.

Thus has the seed of fascism, sown in Italy after the war, spread through Europe and taken root. In many forms it expresses the discontentment of people under tribulation. In two great countries it has risen to control. In other lands it awaits its opportunity.