Conservatives and Right Radicals in Interwar Europe 2020038119, 2020038120, 9780367225155, 9780367225162, 9780429275272

138 99 4MB

English Pages [351] Year 2020

Report DMCA / Copyright


Polecaj historie

Conservatives and Right Radicals in Interwar Europe
 2020038119, 2020038120, 9780367225155, 9780367225162, 9780429275272

Table of contents :
Half Title
Series Page
Title Page
Copyright Page
Table of Contents
Notes on Contributors
1 “Laboratory for World Destruction”: The Habsburg Monarchy and Fascism
2 Volksdeutsch Revisionism: East Central Europe’s Ethnic Germans and the Order of Paris
3 Conservative and Radical Dynamics of Italian Fascism: An (East) European Perspective (1918–1938)
4 The Crisis of Legitimacy and the Rise of the Radical Right in Interwar Yugoslavia (1918–1941)
5 Integral Nationalism in the Absence of a Nation-State: The Case of Ukraine
6 Catholic Authoritarians or Fascists as Such? the Polish Rightist Subculture Turns Fascist (1919–1939)
7 Faith, Family and Fatherland: Conservatism and Right Radicalism in Interwar Hungary
8 The Romanian Right: Images of Crisis, the Press and the Rise of Fascism
9 Nationalism and Authoritarianism in Interwar Greece (1922–1940)
10 Dynamics of division: The French Right (1918–1941)
11 Consecrating the Fatherland: Catholicism, Nationalism and Fascism in Spain (1919–1939)
12 In the Mirror of Fascism: Portugal and the Italian Experience
13 America as Alternative to European Radicalism? the United States and the Transnational Rise of the Right
14 Fascism After fascism: History and Politics

Citation preview

‘Bresciani’s book makes an invaluable contribution to our understanding of the highly heterogeneous political Right in interwar Europe. Against the backdrop of the recent rise of right-wing populism in Europe and beyond, this is a particularly timely intervention that explores the complex relationship between conservatism and Right radicalism. The chapters in this book, written by some of the finest historians of their generation, will be of interest to anyone who wishes to gain a deeper understanding of the rise of fascism, notably in Central, Eastern and Southern Europe.’ Robert Gerwarth, Director of the Centre for War Studies at University College Dublin, Ireland ‘Interwar conservatism and right radicalism appear in this volume as part of an “open system”, subject to influences and provoking reactions across ideological positions and national boundaries. The tableau that emerges is of a pluriform Right watching and learning from one another, forming strategic alliances, and fostering similarly strategic enmities. With several provocative interventions— and as many hitherto under- or unexplored periods, places, and transnational connections—the book has a great deal to offer readers seeking to learn more about crises of democracy and the history of the Right more generally.’ Holly Case, Professor of History at Brown University, USA ‘To assemble a volume so rich in theoretical insights and so wide-ranging in coverage is an impressive achievement. But to do so while also challenging— compellingly—some of the most persistent orthodoxies about fascism and the “old” right or about supposed “centres” and “peripheries” of interwar radical right-wing politics is a rare feat for which the editor and all authors alike deserve special praise.’ Aristotle Kallis, Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at Keele University, UK


This book features a broad range of thematic and national case studies which explore the interrelations and confrontations between conservatives and the radical Right in the European and global contexts of the interwar years. It investigates the political, social, cultural, and economic issues that conservatives and radicals tried to address and solve in the aftermaths of the Great War. Conservative forces ended up prevailing over far-right forces in the 1920s, with the notable exception of the Fascist regime in Italy. But over the course of the 1930s, and the ascent of the Nazi regime in Germany, political radicalisation triggered both competition and hybridisation between conservative and rightwing radical forces, with increased power for far-right and fascist movements. The book will be of great interest to students and scholars of politics, history, fascism, and Nazism. Marco Bresciani is a Research Fellow in the Department of Political and Social Sciences at the University of Florence, Italy. His main research fields are the political and intellectual history of Italian and European socialism, antifascism, and anti-totalitarianism, as well as the political and social history of the postHabsburg Northern Adriatic and of the post-war ascent of fascism.

Routledge Studies in Fascism and the Far Right Series editors Nigel Copsey,Teesside University, UK and Graham Macklin, Center for Research on Extremism (C-REX), University of Oslo, Norway.

This new book series focuses upon fascist, far right and right-wing politics primarily within a historical context but also drawing on insights from other disciplinary perspectives. Its scope also includes radical-right populism, cultural manifestations of the far right and points of convergence and exchange with the mainstream and traditional right. Titles include: Anti-fascism in a Global Perspective Transnational Networks, Exile Communities and Radical Internationalism Edited by Kasper Braskén, Nigel Copsey and David Featherstone British Fascism After the Holocaust From the Birth of Denial to the Notting Hill Riots 1939–1958 Joe Mulhall Fascism, Nazism and the Holocaust Challenging Histories Dan Stone France’s Purveyors of Hatred Aspects of the French Extreme Right and its Influence, 1918–1945 Richard Griffiths Conservatives and Right Radicals in Interwar Europe Edited by Marco Bresciani Radical Right Populism in Germany AfD, Pegida, and the Identitarian Movement Ralf Havertz For more information about this series, please visit: Routledge-Studies-in-Fascism-and-the-Far-Right/book-series/FFR


First published 2021 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2021 selection and editorial matter, Marco Bresciani; individual chapters, the contributors The right of Marco Bresciani to be identified as the author of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Bresciani, Marco, editor. Title: Conservatives and right radicals in interwar Europe / edited by Marco Bresciani Description: Abingdon, Oxon ; New York : Routledge, 2021. | Series: Routledge studies in fascism and the far right | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2020038119 (print) | LCCN 2020038120 (ebook) | ISBN 9780367225155 (hardback) | ISBN 9780367225162 (paperback) | ISBN 9780429275272 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Europe—Politics and government—1918–1945. | Fascism—Europe—History—20th century. | Fascism—Social aspects— Europe—History—20th century. | Fascism—Europe—Historiography. Classification: LCC D727 .C59 2021 (print) | LCC D727 (ebook) | DDC 320.52094/09042—dc23 LC record available at LC ebook record available at ISBN: 978-0-367-22515-5 (hbk) ISBN: 978-0-367-22516-2 (pbk) ISBN: 978-0-429-27527-2 (ebk) Typeset in Bembo by codeMantra


Notes on contributors Acknowledgements

ix xi

Introduction Marco Bresciani


1 “Laboratory for world destruction”: the Habsburg Monarchy and fascism Steven Beller


2 Volksdeutsch revisionism: East Central Europe’s ethnic Germans and the order of Paris Gregor Thum


3 Conservative and radical dynamics of Italian Fascism: an (East) European perspective (1918–1938) Marco Bresciani


4 The crisis of legitimacy and the rise of the radical Right in interwar Yugoslavia (1918–1941) Mark Biondich


5 Integral nationalism in the absence of a nation-state: the case of Ukraine Oleksandr Zaitsev


viii Contents


Giulia Albanese is Associate Professor of Modern History at the University of

Padua, Italy. Her research focuses on Fascism, political violence and authoritarian cultures in the interwar years, and, more recently, citizenship in the same context. Steven Beller has taught at various institutes of higher learning in the United

States, the UK and Austria. He has published extensively in journals on topics related to Central European and Jewish history. He is currently an independent scholar living in Washington DC, USA. Mark Biondich  is Adjunct Research Professor at the Institute of European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at Carleton University, Canada. Here, since 2004, he has taught courses on the history of modern South-Eastern Europe and the region’s post-communist transition. Béla Bodó  is Associate Professor at the University of Bonn, Germany. Here,

since 2015, he has taught history. Marco Bresciani is Research Fellow in the Department of Political and Social Sciences at the University of Florence, Italy. His main research fields are the political and intellectual history of Italian and European socialism, antifascism and anti-totalitarianism, as well as the political and social history of the postHabsburg Northern Adriatic and of the post-war ascent of Fascism. Roland Clark is Senior Lecturer in Modern European History at the University

of Liverpool, UK. He has written on topics including nationalism and fascism in Romania.

x  Notes on contributors

Guido Franzinetti  is Research Fellow and Lecturer in History of European Territories and in Social and Economic History of Europe at the University of Eastern Piedmont, Italy. His research topics include national movements, national affiliations and electoral behaviours. Sean Kennedy is Professor of History at the University of New Brunswick in

Fredericton, Canada. He has written on topics including the French Right, notably the Croix de Feu and Parti Social Français. His current research focuses on the career of the French writer André Siegfried. Grzegorz Krzywiec  is Associate Professor at the Institute of History at the Polish Academy of Sciences. He has largely published on Polish antisemitism, Polish–Jewish relations and right-wing politics in Poland in the Central and East European context. Kiran Klaus Patel holds the chair of European History at Ludwig Maximilian

University Munich, Germany. His research focuses on the histories of Europe and the United States. Spyridon G. Ploumidis is Associate Professor in Modern Greek History at the

National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece, and a tutor at the Hellenic Open University, Greece. His recent publications concern peasant nationalism, agrarian politics and corporatist ideas and practices in interwar Greece. Giorgia Priorelli is Postdoctoral Fellow at the Autonomous University of Bar-

celona, Spain. Her academic interests include nationalism, interwar Europe and fascism in comparative and transnational perspectives, with a particular focus on Italy and Spain, racism and political repression in authoritarian regimes. Alejandro Quiroga is Reader in Spanish History at Newcastle University, UK.

He specialises in the study of national identities and nationalisms. Gregor Thum is Associate Professor of History at the University of Pittsburgh,

USA. He is a historian of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Central European history, with a particular interest in the German borderlands of East Central Europe, the history of forced migration and politics of the past. Oleksandr Zaitsev  is Professor of the Modern History of Ukraine at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv. His studies mainly deal with the political history of interwar Western Ukraine and intellectual history of Ukrainian ­integral nationalism.


This edited volume represents a ramification from my current research project, concerning the post-war crisis and the ascent of Fascism in the multinational borderlands of post-Habsburg Northern Adriatic. While working on this topic, I realised that a new historical approach to the problem of fascism should be the result of intersections between different historiographies, by shifting the focus to diverse forms of political Right in interwar Europe. Accordingly, the project of this book took shape. Nevertheless, it could have never been implemented without all the colleagues and friend who enthusiastically accepted my invitation to contribute to that. First of all, I thus want to thank all the contributors for their willingness to take part in this project. Their trust in the original idea is something which greatly encouraged me to achieve this work. Second, I want to thank colleagues and friends who generously provided me with comments and suggestions for the chapters of this book. I will not uncover their identities as peer-reviewers, but they know which great contribution they offered to improving this volume. I started thinking this book in 2018, when I had a research scholarship at the Department of History at the University of Verona. In 2019, while being committed to the project, I then became part of the academic community of the Department of Political and Social Sciences at the University of Florence, where I found a great place for research and teaching. I want to thank both the institutions and all the colleagues that supported this project. This book was completed in Spring 2020, at the time of the unexpected, shocking experience of the lockdown for the coronavirus emergency and it benefitted in many ways from the presence and support of Mila and our son Niko. I dedicate it to them, but no book can compare to the joyful vibrancy of our life together.

INTRODUCTION Marco Bresciani

Intersecting historiographies This volume begins by reconsidering the much-debated question of fascism. European history from 1918 onwards is generally perceived from the vantage point of 1945, and consequently the rise of right-wing forces during the interwar period is usually interpreted in the light of their defeat. However, Europe had taken a convoluted and contradictory path to reach that point, and it is only with the benefit of hindsight that we can view that path as linear. This volume focuses on the various aspects of that path, the spectrum of alternatives, the complexity of the forces, and the multiplicity of actors at play at the time. As such it constitutes a shift in focus towards the dynamics of disintegration and (re)integration which fuelled different forms of political radicalism under the specific conditions shaped by the Great War and its aftermath. At the same time, it emphasises the continuities linking the pre-1914 and post-1918 world, together with the legacies of the Great War, in order to better understand the new forms of conservatism that emerged in the interwar years and their relationship to right-wing and left-wing forms of radicalism. Current studies of fascism tend to constitute a rather isolated field – one that is partly engaged in typological classifications and theoretical discussions that often draw on over-simplified analyses of the contexts. The present volume, on the other hand, aims to help bridge the gap between fascist studies and the recent substantial revisionism of historical research in other related fields, namely: (1) World War I and its destabilising, violent aftershocks during the post-war years; (2) the disintegration of the continental European empires (Russian, German, Austro-Hungarian, and Ottoman) and their cultural, social, and administrative legacies; (3) the civil wars in the ex-Russian Empire, the violent establishment of the Bolshevik regime, the myths of world revolution, and the spread

2  Marco Bresciani

of anti-Bolshevism; (4) the pan-European spread of illiberal, anti-democratic, nationalist, populist, antisemitic and racist cultures; (5) the rise of the United States as a global power, the economic reconstruction of Europe in the 1920s, and the devastating socio-economic and political impact of the 1929–1931 depression. These studies are inspired by an integrated approach involving Western, East-Central, and South-Eastern Europe, with a shift in the focus of analysis and interpretation from the former to the latter. The present volume aims to draw a connection between this scholarship and the fascist studies.1

New contexts, new questions As Marc Bloch famously pointed out, not only does the past enable us to better understand the present, but the present also sheds new light on the past. In this regard, the series of current crises and changes in the European and transatlantic worlds represent both a political and an intellectual challenge, and lead us to question the mainstream conceptualisation of the twentieth century and its long-term legacies. Today’s (geo)political instability and social turmoil are often perceived in terms of analogy with those of the 1930s. This book, on the contrary, is going to adopt the opposite approach, and to ask what new questions can be addressed in regard to the interwar period, in the light of the ongoing transformations. Certain sharp analyses, while attempting to clarify aspects of the current critical transformations in politics and society, also call into question the established narratives and re-interpret the twentieth century as a whole. The Great Recession of 2007–2009 and the subsequent de-globalisation trends (up to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020) have forced us to rethink the critical relationship between politics and economics which has been in place since the mid-1970s.2 The crisis of the Eurozone in 2010–2012 and its political backlash (epitomised by Greece’s bankruptcy and by the Brexit process) have raised the possibility that the European project might in fact be reversible, and may have contributed towards the conceptualisation of new perspectives on the integration and the disintegration of Europe (drawing on the historical examples of Austria-Hungary, Yugoslavia, and the Soviet Union, in the latter case).3 Looming instability in the former Soviet sphere and East-Central and South-Eastern Europe, with the Russian neo-imperial project, the Russian–Ukrainian conflict, and the general illiberal, authoritarian drift, has dramatically called into question the legacies of 1989–1991.4 The rise of nationalist populism since 2015–2016 in the aftermath of the migration crisis has led to a rethinking of the consolidation and de-consolidation of democracy, of the ambiguous relations between conservative and radical-right forces and of their impact on the stability of liberal institutions, of the theoretical definition of populism and its morphological or historical comparison with fascism.5 Nevertheless, far from shedding light on the new nationalist and populist phenomena, comparative references to the historical experiences of fascism in

Introduction  3

the 1920s and 1930s remain controversial and once again raise the problem of the definition of fascism itself. Over time, many, often contradictory, answers to this question have been offered by historians. It is not the intention of this introduction to analyse the entire, complex, multilayered debate on the definitions of fascism dating back to the mid-1960s. Rather, it connects this volume to the broader debate by starting with a critical rethinking of two dominant, often closely intertwined, trends. Well-known scholars like George Mosse, Roger Griffin, Stanley Payne, and Roger Eatwell attempted to identify a common denominator of the different far-right experiences of interwar Europe, and accordingly elaborated views on a “general theory of fascism,” “generic fascism,” and a so-called “fascist minimum.”6 These definitions drew on previous pathbreaking analyses of “fascist culture” and “fascist ideology,” while claiming to provide conceptual instruments that could account for fascism in general, beyond specific concrete contexts.7 In recent decades, attempts have been made to go beyond the exclusively nationally focussed frameworks of much previous research. Historians such as António Costa Pinto, Aristotle Kallis, and Constantin Iordachi, among others, have formulated a new agenda based on transnational circulation, focussing on transfers, connections, and interrelations between different fascist and dictatorial experiments of the 1920s and 1930s. The scope of this new approach is to offer a dynamic reconstruction of the “fascistisation” of Europe, to make sense of the ruthless impact of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany on a continental scale, and to account for different forms of “corporatism” and “parafascism,” as well as their interactions and transformations in the interwar period.8 As path-breaking as they are, recent works tend to exclusively concentrate on fascism and its (self )definition.9 The prevailing, sometimes exclusive, focus on the transnational connections of fascist models and on the subsequent spread of fascist practices often pushes particular contexts out of the picture. A step backwards thus needs to be taken. A genuine scholarly interest in the interwar period as the “epoch of fascism” emerged in the early 1960s and intensified during the 1970s. Particular attention was devoted to the difficulties and instability of democracy as part and parcel of interwar European history, despite a typically Cold War emphasis on the “differences” between fascisms in Western and Eastern Europe.10 However, from the mid-1980s onwards the Historikerstreit in Western Germany sparked a new heated debate on Nazism and Soviet Communism, and shifted the focus of historiography towards the Holocaust, totalitarianism, and twentieth-century violence. Then, following the turning point of 1989–1991, the end of the Cold War, the transition to post-communist regimes, the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, and the civil wars in the Balkans, scholars recognised the need for a broader European interpretation of historical questions, including a greater focus on East Central Europe.11 Accordingly, Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands – which argued for the centrality of the Holocaust and of the Soviet famines, as well as of Hitler and Stalin’s policies of “double occupation” in Eastern Europe, to European history – aimed at providing a transnational understanding of Nazism and

4  Marco Bresciani

Stalinism.12 As influential as it is controversial, this narrative had a twofold side effect on the research agenda: on the one hand, it pushed the problem of local nationalisms in Eastern Europe after 1918 into the background; on the other hand, it shifted attention away from the crisis of liberal institutions and democratic parliaments in interwar Europe. A quite different approach, outlined in the specific study of the interwar crisis in a peripheral country like Greece, was put forward by Mark Mazower in his broader work Dark Continent. In a polemical criticism of the mainstream post–Cold War idea of Europe as a kind of natural seedbed of democracy, he addressed the problem of the institutional and cultural weakness of democracy itself. In Mazower’s opinion, “liberalism’s triumph proved short-lived”: by the late 1930s “there were dynamic non-democratic alternatives to meet the challenges of ­modernity.”13 Harsh criticism of democratic institutions and the violent challenge to the legitimacy of parliamentary representation had already gained popular resonance in the early 1920s. Accordingly, a whole range of scholarship ambiguously swinging between an aseptic denunciation of the “crisis of democracy” and the impassioned glorification of the principle of authority prompted different forms of conservatism and right-wing radicalism that aimed to either curb or overthrow liberal and parliamentary institutions in East-Central and South-Eastern Europe.14 As Zeev Sternhell showed in regard to the French case (but inclusive of more general claims), the intellectual roots of radicalism lay with both the far Right and the far Left, and in their early stages “fascist” movements might appear as “neither Right nor Left.” This volume allows us to place the still much-debated French case into a broader context.15 Looking eastwards, we can see that the interwar political sphere was increasingly shaped by either cooperation or competition, attraction or opposition, permeation or distinction between conservatism and right-wing radicalism. Certain members of the old European aristocracies, in their desperate attempt to restore the power of the ancien régime, unquestionably sympathised with, and indeed warmly supported, right-wing political organisations.16 Nevertheless, the severe political crisis and institutional instability of the 1920s and 1930s gave new vibrancy and energy to illiberal, anti-democratic cultures and to populist visions of regeneration, mobilising projects and forces, mainly rooted in the countryside, against modernisation and globalisation.17 Rather than being a mere consequence of the decline of liberal democracy, totalitarian regimes (and above all the Nazi dictatorship) were a product of the destruction of intermediate bodies and of the subsequent mass political apathy: this is a well-known argument put forward in The Origins of Totalitarianism, where Hannah Arendt argued that “social atomisation and extreme individualisation preceded the mass movements.”18 Nonetheless, according to William Allen (explicitly critical of Arendt’s argument), the Great War accelerated a process of “national disintegration” in Germany and Italy (in different forms and to different degrees), overturning the previous process of “pluralistic integration” and leading to the “proliferation of highly self-centred sub-communities, a sort of

Introduction  5

anti-national social explosion.” Thus fascism, and especially Nazism, had driven the violent “fusion” of individuals comprising tenacious intermediate groups and rigid social blocs, by providing “a form of integration consisting of the triumph of one sub-community over all others in a pathological society.”19 More recently, political science has started to question the positive role played by civil society in the process of democratisation, by critically rethinking the post-1989 democratic transitions. For instance, Dylan Riley, who criticises the aforesaid argument put forward by Hannah Arendt in his own terms, draws a connection between the astonishing associational growth in the pre- and post-1918 period with the rise of fascism, which rejected liberalism but not popular participation during times of political crisis. As controversial as his definition of fascism as an “authoritarian democracy” is, it is relevant that in his view the weakness and fragmentation of the conservative elites in rural countries such as Spain, Italy, and Romania brought about the disruption and disintegration of the political cohesiveness of democratic forces.20 On the other hand, Daniel Ziblatt has demonstrated that well-organised political parties representing conservative social forces and interests, despite being the most recalcitrant opponents of mass democracy, played a major role in the historical stabilisation of European democracies. Where conservative parties were able to organise economic and social interests, democratic institutions were consolidated, as in Britain. Otherwise, the fragmentation and disintegration of a nation’s conservative parties paved the way for the emergence of rightist radicalism and the subsequent crisis of liberal democracy, as in Weimar Germany.21 While there has been a significant focus on fascism over the years, interwar conservatism has been mostly neglected or considered almost exclusively as a function of right-wing radicalism. The long-established clear-cut opposition between the “old” Right (the conservative, traditional, authoritarian one) and the “new” Right (the fascist or Nazi one) has often resulted in an emphasis on the importance of the latter rather than on that of the former. However, there have been some notable exceptions offering different perspectives. Hannah Arendt had already noted that totalitarian movements exerted an “unquestionable attraction” “on the elite, and not only on the mob elements in society,” even creating a “temporary alliance” between the former and the latter.22 Then in 1965, a pioneering volume, edited by Hans Rogger and Eugen Weber, addressed the complex relations between “conservative and radical phenomena, of either Left or Right.” Thus it was possible to distinguish different attitudes in terms of three kinds of right-wing philosophy: reaction against the present in the name of an idealised past; resistance to change in the name of an established order; and radicalism in the name of revolutionary change. Yet Rogger and Weber recognised that the differences between reactionaries, conservatives, and right-wing radicals – in short, between the “old” and the “new” Right – might often be blurred, vague, and confused. A common ground between different forms of far Right (and far Left) was believed to consist in “the hope for a catastrophic regeneration.”23 The most significant attempt to analyse in greater

6  Marco Bresciani

depth the “complex, fluid and subtle” relationship between “fascist Right” and “conservative Right” was that made in a volume edited by Martin Blinkhorn in 1991. Unsurprisingly, he identified the “old” Right with traditional forms of authoritarianism, and the “new” Right with fascist movements and dictatorships. However, far from considering these categories as mutually exclusive and rigidly distinct, he pointed to the possible use of “fascist features” by the conservative and authoritarian Right.24 Kallis has recently called for the rethinking of relations between conservatism and rightist radicalism, or fascism, within the dynamic horizon of the new transnational history of interactions, intersections, entanglements, and hybridisations. What appeared to be traditional authoritarian regimes in the 1920s and 1930s increasingly drew on the selective appropriation and creative adaptation – the “reflexive recontextualisation” – of the Fascist and Nazi models of rule.25 This book aims to disentangle the dynamics of the interwar years from those of the Second World War, since the building of the New Nazi Order after 1940– 1941 disrupted relations between conservatives and rightist radicals. Whether movements and parties which claimed to be fascist or which took Fascist Italy or Nazi Germany as their model achieved consolidation either in power or in opposition, the combined dynamics of conservatism and rightist radicalism further challenged and destabilised (and often subverted) liberal and democratic institutions well before the outbreak of World War II, and in any case by 1938–1939. In assessing the competition between their different projects, this volume considers the problems and opportunities of the re-establishment of post-1918 orders against the backdrop of the persisting pre-1918, or even pre-1914, legacies. The overall approach adopted in this book revolves around post-1989–1991 historiography in particular, which has identified the comparative analysis of the different post-war periods (1917–1923, 1944–1949, 1989–1993) as the key to understanding caesuras and continuities of the entire European, if not global, twentieth century.26 In particular, this volume is going to frame the diverse variations and hybridisations of, and the differences between, conservatives and rightist radicals in the interwar contexts. Thus the next two sections explore some interrelated themes which can offer new ways of understanding the topics of this book: on the one hand, the violent aftershocks and heritage of the Great War, together with the interconnections and differences between nationalism and internationalism, in the reconstruction of international arrangements after 1918 and in their destruction after 1929; on the other hand, the lingering legacies of the multinational empires, the controversial definition of new (national) minority questions, the interconnections between social and geopolitical questions, the competing ideas of Europe and empire.

The dynamics of stabilisation and destabilisation If we are to better understand the conservative and radical forces and cultures of the Right during the interwar period, we need to look at the dynamics of

Introduction  7

destabilisation and stabilisation, destruction and reconstruction, disintegration and reintegration, that were triggered from World War I on and that unfolded up until the eve of World War II. Recent scholarship has in many ways furthered our understanding of the legacies of World War I and their ambivalent impact on the reconstruction of a new international order. Nevertheless, the narratives concerning the post-1918 period have long been dominated by Cold War ideological divisions as well as by the socio-economic gains of Golden Age capitalism. On the one hand, Arno Mayer believed that the “new diplomacy” of Lenin and Wilson paved the way for an “international civil war” which was to foster the clash between “revolution” and “counter-revolution”: in his view, in the making of the post-1918 “counter-revolutionary” settlement, the persistence of the ancien régime played a major role.27 On the other hand, what Charles Maier defined as “corporatism” – or the structure of the arrangements and agreements between classes, parties, and interests of post-1918 Italy, France, and Germany – represented “a new and precarious equilibrium,” which implied an idea of restoration of pre-1914 stability.28 Mayer’s view of fascism as a major driver of the remobilisation of the ancien régime, as well as Maier’s interpretation of fascism as a form of stabilisation of bourgeois society, was in tune with more traditional interpretations, based on the concept that fascism, in spite of its “revolutionary” claims, amounted to the most radical form of “reaction” or “counter-revolution.” However, historians Eugen Weber and Emilio Gentile (among others) have drawn attention to the “revolutionary” or “totalitarian” novelty of fascism. This volume understands the radical novelty of Italian Fascism and the transnational appeal of its model within the diverse spectrum of interwar right-wing movements, parties, and regimes against the backdrop of the “long Great War” (1911–1923).29 Historians have recently embarked on new research into the brutalising impact of World War I on European societies, and its violent legacies in the post-war period.30 Accordingly, the timescale and geography of that war have become far more complicated, and have even led to a questioning of the conventional idea of a “post-war” period. In particular, John Horne and Robert Gerwarth have adopted an innovative focus on post-1917 “paramilitary violence,” shifting their analysis from a Western to an East-Central and South-Eastern European focus well beyond the official end of military hostilities among regular armies in 1918. At the same time, they have critically reassessed Mosse’s idea of a “brutalisation” of European post-1918 societies, by emphasising the importance of the collapse of the state authorities, of the border contests, of the political and cultural backlashes of military defeat and victory.31 There has been a new focus on the “culture of defeat” and its deep resonance in post-war societies, which had made post-1918 demobilisation difficult and uncertain from the political, cultural, and social standpoints. Frustration and resentment over the military outcomes of the conflict, or regarding the territorial implications of the peace treaties, as well as the lingering economic uncertainty during the post-war period, created the right conditions for a remobilisation of radical political forces. Together with the culture of defeat, anti-Bolshevism, especially in

8  Marco Bresciani

the chaotic context of the collapse of the imperial authorities, is considered a key factor in the mobilisation of paramilitary movements and groups, as well as veterans’ associations.32 It helped to propagate conspiratorial visions, to exacerbate antisemitic impulses and aggression, and to undermine or destroy the newly established democratic institutions in Central and South-Eastern Europe, and beyond. The “fantasies” of Bolshevik revolution stirring obsession with “contagion” everywhere dramatically reshaped the political culture and imagination of paramilitary forces in the aftermath of World War I. Accordingly, the “myth of Judeo-Bolshevism” fuelled “counter-revolution” all over interwar Europe, and led people to collaborate with Nazi forces, even though such right-wing movements and regimes often paved the way for the discrimination and persecution of the Jews well before German occupation.33 In hindsight, this innovative emphasis on the persistent heritage of the “long Great War” in terms of violent cultures and practices would help to account for the unprecedented escalation of World War II and the Jewish genocide. However, if one wants to understand the role played by rightist radicals and conservatives during the cycles of stabilisation in the 1920s following the violent shockwaves of the 1911–1923 period, one needs to consider a historiography that in recent decades has shed new light on the global reconstruction of economic and diplomatic relations during the 1920s. Historians have not merely analysed the decisions taken in Paris between 1919 and 1920, but have investigated the overall re-establishment of the global post-war order and the redefinition of the concept of state sovereignty. Some scholars have emphasised the flaws and limits of the peace-making process, in keeping with historians’ accounts of the violent legacies of the Great War, by connecting the two world wars to form a longer continuum. Others, on the contrary, have sought to reassess the treaties of Versailles, and have emphasised the massive reconstruction efforts made under the banner of a new liberal global order, supported particularly by the main victors, namely the United States, the United Kingdom, and France.34 As Adam Tooze argues, Fascism and Nazism are better understood against the backdrop of the dramatic weakening of the European powers and the rise of American power. Far from marking the regression of globalisation, as John M. Keynes and others understood, the end of World War I paved the way for the renegotiation of a new global order. The onset of inflation, which began in the midst of the conflict and was triggered by the suspension of the “gold standard,” represented a genuine global revolution in the post-war world which was to sweep away ancient social hierarchies especially in rural areas.35 Over the course of the 1920s, the stabilisation of the economic and financial order through deflationary policies was accompanied by the restoration of the “gold standard” system. As Karl Polanyi argued, while this helped to consolidate the Weimar Republic (at least at first), monetary stabilisation also contributed towards the affirmation of illiberal, authoritarian regimes in the defeated countries of East Central Europe. Despite Italy being among the victors, the rise of the Fascist dictatorship was part of this broader authoritarian wave. What Polanyi

Introduction  9

famously described as the “great transformation” of the 1930s, stemming from the Great Depression of 1929–1931, definitively crushed the “gold standard” system: de-globalisation led to the fragmentation of the world economy into protectionist, autarkic realms, breeding new waves of nationalism and authoritarianism. According to recent scholarship, certain economic and diplomatic assumptions pertaining to the post-1929 crisis, which transformed Fascist Italy into a European model and led to the rise of Nazi Germany, in fact dated back to the post-1918 period. However, the years 1929–1931 marked a genuine turning point, as they paved the way for the collapse of globalisation, the radicalisation of political struggle, and the outbreak of a new total war.36 All over Europe, agricultural economies were dramatically affected, and the political implications of the economic depression in the countryside proved highly destabilising. The post-1918 democratic states tried to catalyse support among people in the countryside, in order to secure their own stability; but the economic depression of the late 1920s/early 1930s contributed towards delegitimising the role of the capitalist elites and fostering conservative, nationalist, and populist ideas and forces among the peasants.37 In sum, this volume argues that the divisions, differences, and conflicts between conservatives and rightist radicals played out differently in virtue of the contexts variously shaped by the violent legacies of the “long Great War”: while contributing in many ways to the stabilisation of the post-war order within the context of 1920s re-globalisation, they also represented major drivers for the disintegration of Europe within the context of 1930s de-globalisation.

Shadows of empire, ideas of Europe Many works emphasise the close connection between, or indeed the total equivalence of, fascism and nationalism. The historian Roger Griffin defined fascism as “a genus of political ideology whose mythic core in its various permutations is a palingenetic form of populist ultranationalism.”38 The sociologist Michael Mann called fascism “a distinctively paramilitary extreme version of nationstatism.”39 One recent work has aptly shifted the analysis towards “reactionary nationalism” and its relationship with fascism.40 However, this volume aims to take a further step forward. In general, far from identifying itself with fascism, nationalism constituted a political religion of the nation, a modern phenomenon which represented the driver for the sacralisation of politics since the nineteenth century.41 Especially in times of uncertainty and instability like the interwar period, it offered a common ground shared by both conservative and radical forces of the Right, although it might occasionally spark further divisions and conflicts among them. The role of Christian (especially Catholic, but not only) nationalism turned out to be in many respects decisive within still largely rural, predominantly traditional, societies, shaken by revolutionary threats and fears from leftist radicalism. Against the post-1917 backdrop, ideas of Christian (and especially Catholic) nation and

10  Marco Bresciani

Europe constituted the inspirational core of many conservative and radical rightist projects, from Portugal and Spain to Poland and Hungary.42 On the other hand, a broad range of interrelationships, hybridisations, and juxtapositions of conservatism and rightist radicalism with nationalism can be understood only within the context of the disruptive changes and underlying continuities that characterised Europe in 1918. In this regard, a contribution in interpretation can be offered by the scholarship on the history of continental Europe’s empires (i.e. the Austro-Hungarian, German, Russian, and Ottoman empires). Directly or indirectly inspired by the end of the East/West divide and the process of European integration, most of this scholarship critically reassessed the nation-centric narrative and analysed imperial multinational borderlands from new transnational perspectives.43 Since the 1980s, Habsburg studies have undertaken an innovative direction involving the radical revision of the successor states’ nationalist narrative based on the teleological pattern of long-term national conflict and the decline and subsequent collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. These new studies focus on the obstacles and resistances to the processes of nationalisation, on the multiple and situational vectors of identification, and on the multilayered forms of (municipal, regional, and imperial) loyalties.44 In his history of the Habsburg Empire, Pieter Judson focuses on the “radical state-building” which took place during the war and its immediate aftermath, arguing that the post-1918 selfstyled nation-states were actually “small empires,” which replicated the multicultural and multinational features of the Empire on smaller scale.45 In the aftermath of the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, imperial cultural, administrative, and economic legacies continued to shape post-Habsburg regions of Europe, fuelling ambivalent feelings of both hatred and nostalgia for the past, boosting diverse, sometimes conflicting, memories of the Great war, and complicating the institutional rationalisation and the process of nationalisation in the successor states.46 While nationalism had originally represented the major source of legitimacy for the new democratic states, it quickly became a means of delegitimising the principle of equality of all citizens before the law, and thus endangered minority rights.47 The more limits, obstacles, and resistances the nation-building processes encountered, the more radical nationalism became, not only in the former Habsburg regions, but also elsewhere in Europe.48 On the other hand, the chronic difficulty of associating territorial sovereignty with a homogeneous cultural space in the successor states of the Habsburg Empire – a product of Woodrow Wilson’s vision for peoples’ self-determination as the foundation for the new international settlement – paved the way for forms of revisionism based on new ideas of European orders and borders. Legitimised by the culture of defeat, both conservatives and right-wing radicals adopted different perspectives and heterogeneous means in an attempt to fill the power vacuum that had opened up in East-Central and South-Eastern Europe.49 Under increasing pressure from, or the influence of, Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany, far-right groups across Europe turned to projects that, despite being

Introduction  11

driven by radical nationalism, entailed or involved a reorganisation of Europe as a whole.50 However, the Great War had already marked a watershed in what Holly Case called the “age of questions”: after the treaties of 1918–1923 had reorganised international arrangements, the nationality question became the question of minorities, which catalysed the transformative energies of the losers who were dissatisfied with the post-war order and willing to overthrow it in different ways. More so than had been the case in the nineteenth century, it was now increasingly clear that a radical or definitive solution to the series of questions arising in the interwar period should involve the European order as a whole. In this regard, the “Jewish question” became a connecting thread for multiple social conflicts and geopolitical contests over sovereignty, and the Nazis, their sympathisers, and collaborators saw the “final solution” as part of an overarching solution to all of these problems.51 Reconsidering the relations between conservatives and rightist radicals from a historical perspective means rethinking the way in which they conceived the social, political, economic, and geopolitical “questions” of the interwar period, and for which they claimed to offer national “solutions” as part of a broader European “solution.” Political cultures, strategies, and imaginaries stemming from the pre-1914 period (from the “world of yesterday,” whether despised or regretted) had a major impact on the reconstruction of Europe in the 1920s. However, the caesura represented by the “long Great War” of 1911–1923, the persistence of violent practices and of imperial legacies, as well as a widespread, overwhelming culture of defeat, completely changed the forms, meanings, and implications of rightist radicalism and conservatism in interwar Europe. On the one hand, the forces of radicalism, by exploiting and exacerbating the dynamics of war and revolution seen in 1911–1923, aimed at building a new order, each from opposing perspectives (from the Left or from the Right). On the other hand, the forces of conservatism, with the purpose of “restoring” the previous order, had to undergo significant transformation, threatened as they were by the forces of radicalism, in order to stabilise the political, social, and economic systems. Despite the convergence of marginal extreme left-wing and right-wing currents, the conservative forces in play prevailed over the forces of the far Right in the 1920s, with the notable exception of the Fascist regime in Italy as from 1922. Over the course of the 1930s, following the crisis of 1929–1931 and the rise of the Nazi regime in Germany from 1933 onwards, competition and opposition between conservative forces and the far Right increased; this triggered further radicalisation, fuelled the disintegration of the post-1918 order, and severely tested the resilience of the conservative forces. With the notable exception of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, the conservative forces (sometimes under dictatorial regimes, sometimes under democratic ones) prevailed over radical rightist movements and parties up until 1938. Nonetheless, at that point there had been a growing hybridisation and contamination, and in some cases fascistisation, of both conservatives and rightist radicals throughout large parts of Europe, that is, from Portugal to Poland, from Romania to France, as well as in most of post-Habsburg Europe. Only the Nazi

12  Marco Bresciani

conquest of Austria and Czechoslovakia, and the outbreak of the Second World War, together with the concomitant expansion of Nazi Germany, opened the way to power for a number of groups on the far Right – some of which openly declared themselves to be fascist.

The map of the volume This volume changes the existing exclusive focus on fascism, and shifts attention towards the different forms of conservatism and right-wing radicalism, and their interconnections and differences, in the European and global contexts of the 1920s and 1930s. At the same time, it centres on marginal or peripheral perspectives as ways of superseding the mainstream interpretation of the interwar crises, and of focusing on intersections and interactions between case studies of right-wing radicalism and conservatism in different regions of Europe. As recent methodological approaches show, no “national” case-studies can be truly grasped and understood from an exclusively national perspective. Much of the above-mentioned scholarship shows how the self-defined “national” political and social dynamics were dependent on the international policies of reconstruction and re-globalisation after 1918, and on the collapse of globalisation after 1929–1931. Furthermore, the very concept of “national” was still in the making during the interwar period, with the result of a combination of diverse, multilayered local, regional, and imperial experiences, legacies, and loyalties. In this regard, national experiences cannot be exclusively framed in their own “national” terms, but must be placed within broader European and global contexts in which the interwar experiences of East-Central and South-Eastern Europe played a pivotal role. While traditional approaches to fascism (especially during the Cold War, but also later on) tended to overstress the differences between “East” and “West,” one of the novelties of this volume’s approach lies in the focus on interwar East Central Europe. In his chapter, Steven Beller outlines the ambivalences and ambiguities of the relationship between the multinational structure of the late Habsburg Empire and nationalism, its legacies in the “democratic” successor states, and the advent of those far-right regimes established before the emergence of the new Nazi order. The economic turmoil created by the break-up of the Monarchy, and the social and economic disruption caused by war, contributed towards an interwar political environment that was already prone to radical nationalist, authoritarian, and, ultimately, fascist, politics. On the other hand, focussing on the biographies of three significant Volksdeutsche activists, Gregor Thum draws attention to one of the major triggers of Nazism’s rise, namely the question of those German-speaking minorities in post-imperial East Central Europe who as a result of the “Order of Paris” had experienced a dramatic loss in their social status. While many of them adapted to the new political order, the enemies of the post-war order could draw on the general resentment felt by East Central Europe’s German-speaking communities.

Introduction  13

Traditionally framed within a Western European perspective, and understood as a product of the nation’s history, the rise and success of the Italian Fascist movement (and subsequently the Fascist regime) can be better understood from an East-Central and South-Eastern European perspective, according to Marco Bresciani. Such a perspective helps account for the Fascist understandings and uses of the social (peasant) question, that is, the post-war and interwar transformation of the countryside, and of the geopolitical (Adriatic) question, i.e. the search for a new national and imperial order. In the light of these two questions, Bresciani reassesses the process of hybridisation and contamination of nationalism and Fascism during the 1920s and 1930s. Whilst certain comprehensive works on fascism still tend to overlook “Eastern Europe,” or in any case tend to represent it as a monolithic, undifferentiated bloc, this volume sees the historical developments of the 1920s and 1930s as hinging on the complex experiences of interwar Yugoslavia, Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Greece, and of their various different regions. In all of these cases, nationalism played a pivotal role as a driver both of connections and interactions, and of divisions and conflicts, between conservatives and rightist radicals. Mark Biondich shows how parliamentary democracy in Yugoslavia degenerated into dysfunction followed by royal dictatorship after 1929, a process characterised by the growing clash of traditional conservatives with various radical right-wing groups. The Serbian and Croatian Right increasingly challenged the prevailing ideology of Yugoslavism, calling into question the very idea of an interwar state, and considered “revolutionary” solutions to buttress their conceptions of alternative nation-state models, economic revival, and social renewal. On a similar note, by focussing on forms of revolutionary integral nationalism in stateless conditions, Oleksandr Zaitsev deals with the ideology and practices of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists that emerged in Polishruled Galicia and Volhynia, and in various Ukrainian political exile circles, in the 1920s. In his view, the Ukrainian radical nationalism mixed both selected features of the fascist models (authoritarianism, antisemitism, violence) and the principles of national liberation aimed at the establishment of an independent authoritarian state. In the case of Poland, Grzegorz Krzywiec analyses the search for an alternative vision of modernity as an expression of European antiEnlightenment tradition and anti-bourgeois revolution. He focuses on the rise of native paramilitary political groups and violence, visions of a national culture, and various forms of everyday local right-wing activism, to demonstrate how, when, and to what extent right-wing student subcultures became mainstream. As for the Hungarian case, Béla Bodó addresses the transformation of conservatism from a conservative liberal ideology and political movement in the Dualist era, into a right-wing phenomenon in the interwar period. He first explains the temporary victory of the conservatives over both the revolutionary Left and the counter-revolutionary Right in the early 1920s; he then examines the gradual withdrawal of the conservatives’ positions in favour of the social and political programs and antisemitism of their radical rightist allies during the course of

14  Marco Bresciani

the 1930s. In the case of interwar Romania, Roland Clark explores the images of crisis circulating in the right-wing newspapers, pamphlets, and speeches. In order to stir up moral panic, they warned that the very existence of the Romanian nation was threatened by the spread of Communism, while encouraging hostility towards Jewish students. The Depression sparked a fascist panic over foreigners taking Romanians’ jobs, disadvantaged social groups, and corruption at the highest levels of government, as well as complaints that Freemasons were dictating international policy through the League of Nations. By contrast, the Greek case analysed by Spyridon Ploumidis shows that defeat in the Great War did not necessarily trigger right-wing radicalism. Although the Asia Minor Debacle fed an indigenous Dolchstosslegende over the 1920s, the political weakness of the veterans’ movement contributed to the conservative shift in Greek nationalism, and to a decisive end to Greek revanchism in relation to Turkey. By the time of Metaxas’ dictatorship in 1936, Greek nationalist thinking had become geopolitically inert, engaged mainly in the quest for authenticity and “Greekness.” Although the volume revolves around such regions generally conceived of peripheral importance, where the continental multinational empires had played a major role, this perspective on Central and South-Eastern Europe will shed new light on the West too. Notably, it will refresh traditional debate on the interwar developments of the Right in France, Spain, and Portugal, in which cultures, practices, and inheritances of nationalism, imperialism, and colonialism were intertwined in different ways. The case of the French Right during the interwar years has fuelled heated debate in recent decades. Sean Kennedy’s analysis focuses on the powerful legacy of 1914–1918, and on the efforts made to mobilise imperial and metropolitan politics. Ultranationalists increasingly accepted the Third Republic, while their views, even those of the monarchist Action Française, gained legitimacy. Their strident criticisms of the parliamentary regime, their admiration for Mussolini, and their paramilitarism offered a militant alternative to established right-wing parties; however, there were also overlapping memberships and efforts at cooperation. Alejandro Quiroga and Giorgia Priorelli explore the emergence, consolidation, and eventual victory of the far Right in Spain in the period 1919–1939. From the early 1920s onwards, different Spanish right-wing groups developed new nationalist ideas with Catholicism and militarism at their core. The establishment of the democratic Second Republic (1931–1936) led to the fragmentation of the Spanish Right, which nonetheless maintained Catholicism as a central ideological and mobilising feature, whilst undergoing a significant process of fascistisation. The Civil War (1936–1939) brought together the most radical sections of Spanish conservatism, under the leadership of General Francisco Franco. Giulia Albanese focuses on the circulation of Italian Fascist models from a “Mediterranean” perspective, and in particular on the impact of Italian Fascism on the conservative and radical Right in Portugal from the late 1910s to the early 1930s. She focuses in particular on the way in which conservative Catholicism and radical nationalism – two of the

Introduction  15

main ideological strands of Portuguese conservatism – viewed, and related to, the Italian experience at the time of the Portuguese Republic’s crisis and in the early years of Salazar’s regime, while also tracing the complex links between this regime and the various currents of Italian Fascism. Continental transformations are best observed from the other side of the ocean. Kiran K. Patel questions conventional narratives claiming that the United States represented a positive counterbalance to European right-wing (or leftwing) radicalism. He argues that the New Deal should be perceived in relation to the anti-democratic, authoritarian dynamics of interwar Europe, which also had a significant impact on American society and politics. In the last chapter, Guido Franzinetti argues that we need to go beyond interpretations with an exclusive focus on fascism. As a matter of fact, Italian Fascism represented an exception rather than a new European trend in the 1920s period of post-war reconstruction. Furthermore, far-right trends in Europe were unstable and uncertain, and were marked by the invariably unsuccessful attempts made at establishing new regimes, up until 1938, that is, just before the arrival of the Nazi troops. Nonetheless, the “fascist moment” bequeathed a number of important historical legacies, which were to transform nationalism and populism on the European and global scales, both after 1945 and after 1989, and right up to the present day. In conclusion, this set of case studies shows how the widespread (and often retrospective) reference to “fascism” as the catch-all key term of the 1920s and 1930s tends to obscure, rather than enlighten, the political and cultural dynamics of interwar Europe. Indeed, some movements, parties, and figures claimed to be fascists: they followed the example and model of the Italian Fascism within a horizon of transnational circulations and transfers, but interpreted them in their own terms, according to the different contexts. This volume explores across the old continent diverse forms of convergences and divergences, different grounds for cooperation and contention, within the spectrum of conservative and radical-right forces. In this sense, the interwar period may appear as a source of gloomy and cautionary “lessons” in the light of the present-day rise of the Right, but, if understood in its own terms, it can be seen as anything but a pathological or anomalous moment in European history.

Notes 1 Throughout this volume Fascism and Fascist/s are capitalised only in reference to Italian Fascism and Fascists. Right and Left are capitalised only when nouns. I would like to thank Holly Case, Guido Franzinetti, Aristotle Kallis, John Paul Newman, Niccolò Pianciola, and Guri Schwarz for their useful comments and suggestions on earlier versions of this Introduction. 2 See Philipp Ther, Europe after 1989: A History (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017) and Adam Tooze, Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crisis Changed the World (New York: Viking, 2018). 3 Ivan Krastev, After Europe (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017).

16  Marco Bresciani

Introduction  17

13 Mark Mazower, Dark Continent. Europe’s Twentieth Century (London: Allen Lane, 1998), p. 4. As Tony Judt puts it: “if you stopped the clock in 1941 it would have been hard to argue that history was self-evidently on the side of democracy”: Tony Judt, with Timothy Snyder, Thinking the Twentieth Century (London: Heinemann, 2012), p. 229. 14 Karl J. Newman, European Democracy between the Wars (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1971); Karl D. Bracher, The Age of Ideologies: A History of Political Thought in the Twentieth Century (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1984); Jan-Werner Müller, Contesting Democracy: Political Ideas in Twentieth-century Europe (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press 2011). 15 Zeev Sternhell, Ni droite ni gauche. L’idéologie fasciste en France (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1983); Zeev Sternhell (ed.), L’histoire réfoulée. La Roque, les Croix de feu, et la question du fascisme français (Paris: Les Editions du Cerf, 2019). The Sternhell controversy had considerable academic resonance: for more recent analyses criticising Sternhell’s research, see Serge Berstein and Michael Winock (eds.), Le fascisme français, la controverse (Paris: CNRS, 2014). 16 Karina Urbach (ed.), European Aristocracies and Far Right, 1918–1939 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007); for a biographical example of a Habsburg Archduke trying to cope with post-Habsburg nationalism, see Timothy Snyder, Red Prince. The Fall of a Dynasty and the Rise of a Modern Europe (London: The Bodley Head 2008). 17 Balász Trencsényi, “The Crisis of Modernity – Modernity as Crisis. Towards a Typology of Crisis Discourses in Interwar Europe,” in Poul Kjaer and Niklas Olsen (eds.), Critical Theories of Crisis in Europe. From Weimar to the Euro (New York: Rowman & Littlefield International, 2016), pp. 37–52; Balász Trencsényi, Michal Kopeček, Luka Lisjak Gabrijelčič, Maria Falina, Mónika Baár and Maciej Janowski (eds.), A History of Modern Political Thought in East Central Europe, vol. II: Negotiating Modernity in the “Short Twentieth Century” and Beyond, Part I: 1918–1968 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018), pp. 1–275 (Part 1: “Transcending Modernity: Interwar and Wartime Visions of Regeneration”). 18 Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, new ed. (New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1979), p. 316. 19 William S. Allen, “The Appeal of Fascism and the Problem of National Disintegration,” in Henry A. Turner Jr. (ed.), Reappraisals of Fascism (New York: New Viewpoints, 1975), pp. 44–68. His most famous work is William S. Allen, The Nazi Seizure of Power: The Experience of a Single German Town, 1930–1935 (Chicago, IL: Quadrangle Books, 1965). 20 Dylan Riley, The Civic Foundations of Fascism in Europe: Italy, Spain, and Romania, 1870–1945 (Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press, 2010). 21 Daniel Ziblatt, Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy (Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 2017). 22 Arendt, Origins of Totalitarianism, p. 326. 23 See Hans Rogger and Eugen Weber (eds.), European Right. A Historical Profile (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1965). 24 Martin Blinkhorn, “Introduction. Allies, Rivals, or Antagonists? Fascists and Conservatives in Modern Europe,” in Blinkhorn (ed.), Conservatives and Fascists: the Radical Right and the Establishment in the Twentieth Century (London: Unwin Hyman, 1990), pp. 1–13. 25 See Aristotle Kallis, “Fascism and the Right in Interwar Europe. Interaction, Entanglement, Hybridity,” in Nicholas Doumanis (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of European History, 1914–1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 301–322; but also Kallis, “Far Right ‘Contagion’ or Failing ‘Mainstream’?: How Dangerous Ideas Cross Borders and Blur Boundaries,” Democracy and Security, vol. 3, no. 9 (2013), pp. 221–246; Kallis, “When Fascism Became Mainstream: The Challenge of Extremism in Times of Crisis,” Fascism, vol. 4 (2015), pp. 1–24.

18  Marco Bresciani

Introduction  19

35 36


38 39 40


42 43




2013); Leonard Smith, Sovereignty at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018). See Adam Tooze, The Deluge. The Great War and the Remaking of Global Order, 1916– 1931 (London: Allen Lane, 2014); Tooze and Ted Fertik, “The World Economy and the Great War,” Geschichte und Gesellschaft 40 (2014), pp. 214–238. See Harold James, The End of Globalization (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2001); Zara Steiner, The Triumph of the Dark: European International History, 1933–1939 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011); Robert Boyce, The Great Interwar Crisis and the Collapse of Globalization (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012); Adam Tooze and James Martin, “The Economics of the War with Nazi Germany,” in Michael Geyer and Adam Tooze (eds.), Total War: Economy, Society, and Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), pp. 27–55. For some introductory, but insightful, remarks see Joseph Rothschild, East Central Europe between the Two World Wars (Seattle, WA and London: University of Washington Press, 1974), pp. 14–24; Adam Tooze, “The War of the Villages: The Interwar Agrarian Crisis and the Second World War,” in Geyer and Tooze (eds.), Total War, pp. 385–411. Roger Griffin, The Nature of Fascism (London: Routledge, 1991), p. 44. Michael Mann, Fascists (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), p. 2. Ismael Saz, Zira Box, Toni Morant and Julián Sanz (eds.), Reactionary Nationalists, Fascists and Dictatorships in the Twentieth Century. Against Democracy (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019). This volume is still mainly based on a “Western” perspective (that of Italy, Germany, France, Spain, and Portugal). The literature on the political religions and sacralisation of politics has recently expanded: see at least Emilio Gentile, Le religioni della politica. Fra democrazie e totalitarismi (Roma-Bari: Laterza, 2001); Gentile, “Fascism, totalitarianism and political religion: definitions and critical reflections on criticism of an interpretation,” Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions, vol. 5, no. 3 (2004), pp. 326–375; Renato Moro, “Religion and Politics in the Time of Secularization. The Sacralization of Politics and the Politicisation of Religion,” Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions, vol. 6, no. 1 (2006), pp. 71–86. Matthew Feldman, Marius Turda with Tudor Georgescu (eds.), Clerical Fascism in Interwar Europe (London: Routledge, 2007). Karen Barkey and Mark von Hagen (eds.), After Empires. Multiethnic Societies and Nation-Building: The Soviet Union and the Russian, Ottoman, Habsburg Empires (Boulder, ­ CO: Westview, 1997); Ariel Roshwald, Ethnic Nationalism and the Fall of Empires (London: Routledge, 2001); Omer Bartov and Eric Reitz (eds.), Shatterzone of Empires. Coexistence and Violence in the German, Habsburg, Russian and Ottoman Borderlands (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013). For the problems of imperial transitions and transformations, see Iryna Vushko, Emily Greble, Maté Rigó, in Marco Bresciani (ed.), “Transizioni e trasformazioni imperiali sulla scia della Grande guerra,” Passato e presente, vol. 1 (2019), pp. 18–47. For a recent summary see Laurence Cole, “Questions of Nationalization in the Habsburg Monarchy,” in Nico Wouters and Laurence Van Ypersele (eds.), Nations, Identities, and the First World War (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018), pp. 115–134. Pieter Judson, The Habsburg Empire: A New History (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2016); more particularly, Judson, “‘Where our commonality is necessary…’ Rethinking the End of the Habsburg Monarchy,” Austrian History Yearbook, vol. 48 (2017), pp. 1–21. Mark Cornwall and John Paul Newman (eds.), Sacrifice and Rebirth. The Legacy of the Last Habsburg War (New York: Berghahn Books, 2016); Paul Miller-Claire Morelon (eds.), Embers of Empire. Continuity and Rupture in the Habsburg Successor States after 1918 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2018).

20  Marco Bresciani

1 “LABORATORY FOR WORLD DESTRUCTION” The Habsburg Monarchy and fascism Steven Beller

The Habsburg Monarchy before 1918, and its successor states afterwards, played a central role in the origins and development of fascism. Normally, fascism is seen as a phenomenon that emerged in 1919, when the Habsburg Monarchy no longer existed. Italy and Germany, quite understandably, are at the centre of most studies of fascism. Yet the Habsburg Monarchy was never far from the action. A precursor of Mussolini’s Fascism, Gabriele d’Annunzio’s occupation of Fiume in 1919, took place on formerly Habsburg territory. The whole history of Italian nationalism was tied to much of Northern Italy being part of the Monarchy until 1860, Venetia until 1866 and “Italia irredenta” until 1918. The links with German National Socialism were even stronger. Arguably National Socialism originated among German nationalist ideologues and politicians in the Habsburg Monarchy. Many might regard it as hackneyed, yet there are good reasons for thinking that A.J.P. Taylor’s notorious assertion that Hitler was “Austria’s revenge for the defeat of 1866” has much merit to it, broadly understood.1 More generally, if we define fascism as “palingenetic ultranationalism,” then some of the strongest and most successful examples of this phenomenon, outside of Italy and Germany, were to be found in the Habsburg Monarchy’s successor states.2 The Monarchy had been a breeding ground for radical-right nationalisms before 1918. In the interwar period almost the entire region – with the partial exception of Czechoslovakia – fell under the rule of authoritarian, right-wing nationalist governments. This occurred in several cases long before the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, and the situation only darkened, and radicalised thereafter. The ground for Nazism’s expansion into East Central Europe was well prepared long before German troops and the SS arrived. It once seemed fairly obvious how this could have happened. With an older interpretation of the Habsburg Monarchy as a reactionary, atavistic regime, a “prison of the nations” with a retrograde, feudal and dynastic political culture,

22  Steven Beller

the right-wing, reactionary nature of the interwar regimes appears simply an extension of what went before. Yet more recent historiography on the Monarchy has revealed a much more optimistic picture of Habsburg Central Europe before 1914.3 Premodern in some respects perhaps, but in others quite modern, it represented a multinational and supranational alternative to the standard formula for modernisation through the nation-state, and as such is now seen as almost a precursor of the European Union. Why then did this supranational polity become such a nest for radical, exclusionary nationalisms? After 1918: why did the apparent dawn of democracy prove delusional; what role did the Habsburg legacy play in the fateful turn of the successor states toward right-wing, reactionary, nationalist regimes, and their openness to fascism and Nazism? Obversely, was the absence of the Monarchy after 1918 also a major factor in enabling the social and political situation to become more reactionary and more extreme; was the failure to replace it with a similar transnational polity not key in creating the space for German Nazi expansionism from 1938 on?

Hitler’s hero: Georg von Schönerer The most direct contribution to the development of fascism in the Habsburg Monarchy was the development of radical pan-German nationalism in the western half of the Monarchy after 1866, which has often been personified in the career and ideology of Georg von Schönerer, one of Hitler’s great heroes, according to Mein Kampf. Schönerer was far from being alone in his extreme German nationalist and racially antisemitic politics, and his career cannot be properly understood without the source of so much of his political inspiration, which was the radical German nationalist student movement in Austria’s universities, especially Vienna and Graz.4 This movement had many precursors, and a long, complex history. In the first half of the nineteenth century Austria had been both a vast Central European empire and the leading German power (and indeed the leading power in Italy). Once emperor of the “Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation,” the Habsburg ruler still presided over the German Confederation until 1866. While much of the Habsburg Monarchy was outside the German Confederation, its western half was within it. Most Austrian Germanspeakers thought of themselves as in some way nationally “German.” When revolution came to Vienna in March 1848, the initial impetus of the revolutionaries was German nationalist. Austrians took part in the elections to the German Frankfurt Parliament in the summer of 1848. A Habsburg, Archduke Johann, was chosen at Frankfurt as “imperial regent.” Yet most subjects of the Monarchy were not German-speakers, and many of those non-German-speakers also lived in the provinces within the German Confederation. Failure to reach an accommodation between German and Habsburg interests vitiated the attempt to establish a German nation-state in 1848–1849. Over the next two decades, Austrian German-speakers continued to think of themselves as Germans, and the Habsburg emperor, Franz Joseph, continued to think of himself as a “German prince.” Yet diplomatic and military defeats led to Austria’s expulsion from both

Habsburg Monarchy and fascism


Northern Italy and Germany, a process capped by the creation of the (Prussocentric) German Empire in 1871. For the German-speaking educated classes of the Monarchy, this produced a deeply alienating and disorienting loss of identity. Even the great, and most Austrian writer, Franz Grillparzer was driven in 1867 to ask of himself: “I was born a German. Am I one still?”5 The deepest impact appears, however, to have been on the newest generation of the Austrian German educated classes, the university students, especially in Vienna. The more radically disposed elements among them had continued to look to the 1848 revolution, in terms of both social justice and democratisation, as well as nationalist orientation to a Greater Germany, inclusive of Austria. The events of 1866, confirmed by those of 1870–1871, effectively excluded them from their national land, Germany, and for this exclusion they blamed the moderate liberal regime that took over power in Austria after 1867. The result was that from the late 1860s there developed on the bourgeois Left of student politics a radical, left-wing, irredentist pan-German nationalist movement that sought to undo the national “disaster” of 1866, and return the old “German” lands of the Monarchy to the German Empire. From very early on, there was a strong movement of “palingenetic ultranationalism” among Austria’s radical nationalist students.6 This extreme German nationalism was categorised in Austria as being on the extreme Left. The particular arrangements of parties in the multinational parliament meant non-German national representatives opposing the German-liberal bloc were seen as part of the Right, and hence all members of the German-liberal bloc as part of the Left, including the more nationalist fringe.7 Beyond this peculiarity, however, the student-led German nationalist movement did indeed advocate left-liberal, radical policies. The emphasis on the inclusion of all members of the German nation, regardless of class, education or wealth, evinced an egalitarianism that went beyond the liberal – exclusive – emphasis on “education and property.” The readiness of the nationalists to use the state to encourage and facilitate greater social justice for the lower classes positioned them as quite close to socialism. Several of the nationalist student leaders would end up leading the Austrian Social Democratic Party, most notably Victor Adler and Engelbert Pernerstorfer.8 Adler was of Jewish descent, as was one of the movement’s main spokesmen in the 1870s, Heinrich Friedjung. Given the emphasis on equality, social justice and inclusion in the national community, the attraction of the movement to young idealistic Jewish students was understandable. Fairly soon in the movement’s development, however, this influential group of Jewish members was excluded by the adoption of a racially antisemitic definition of who was, and was not, a member of the “German people.” The German Romantic influence on the movement had from the beginning meant that a certain “cultural antisemitism” had accompanied it, but Jewish individuals could be seen as having “overcome” their Jewish heritage, spiritually. In the course of the 1870s, however, the influence of the new, “scientific,” biological concepts of race meant that national identity was increasingly defined by “objective,” quasi-biological

24  Steven Beller

racial criteria. It is not entirely accidental that it was a medical professor, Theodor Billroth, who in 1875 published an essay decrying the immense gulf that lay between Jewish and German “blood.” On the basis of this insuperable Jewish “difference,” most of the non-Jewish leadership of the nationalist student movement adopted a racially antisemitic approach. Nationalist student fraternities, the Burschenschaften, began expelling their Jewish members, a process largely completed by the early 1880s.9 It was in 1876 that the leader of the student nationalist movement, Anton Haider, invited the young, left-liberal politician Georg von Schönerer to become a corresponding member of the movement’s core institution, the Reading Association of German Students.10 The politician and the students came to forge a close alliance. Their German Club became the voice of the German nationalist wing of the German Liberals, and in 1880 was prominent in the establishment of the German School Association, which became a major organ for promoting German national interests in Austria. In September 1882 Schönerer and his student allies agreed on their new policy platform, the Linz Program. This combined a nationalist effort to secure German hegemony within Austria with the quasi-socialist, left-liberal, democratic program of social justice discussed above, and largely drawn up by individuals of Jewish descent, such as Adler, Serafin Bondi, and the still influential Friedjung. They were still just about tolerated within the movement as part of the “moderate” wing, despite their descent. By 1883, however, Schönerer, with the agreement of much of the (non-Jewish) membership, insisted on excluding all Jewish members based on racial definition, to avoid the taint of “Semitic influence.” In a classically fascist manner, Schönerer was to justify his exclusion of Jews from a progressive, egalitarian perspective, as achieving unity through purity: “durch Reinheit zur Einheit.”11 Schönerer then went on in 1884 and 1885 to his most successful campaigns, attacking the government contract with the “Jewish” (Rothschild-controlled) Northern Railway Company. In 1885 he formed his own, extreme nationalist and antisemitic party, the German Nationalist Union. In itself this party only ever had a small presence (three MPs) in the Austrian parliament, but Schönerer’s extremism and his prestige among German nationalists enabled him to break up the more moderate German nationalist party, the German Club, in the wake of the “Chinese bill” of 1887 (a measure that, despite what its name suggests, was aimed at undermining the equal rights of Jews in Austria). On the cusp of once again becoming the leader of German nationalist politics in Austria, Schönerer then performed an act of political self-harm by attacking the offices of a “Jewish” newspaper, the Neues Wiener Tagblatt, in 1888 when it mistakenly reported the death of Wilhelm I of Prussia-Germany. This exercise in “direct action” resulted in a jail sentence of four months, but also was used by the authorities to exclude the extremist troublemaker Schönerer from political life for five years. Those five years proved crucial in the development of Austrian politics, for Karl Lueger, once a liberal Democrat, seized the opportunity

Habsburg Monarchy and fascism 25

presented by Schönerer’s absence to effect a coalition between anti-capitalist Catholic social reformers and German nationalist radicals, based solidly on their shared antisemitism, that became the Christian Social Party, the dominant political power in Viennese municipal politics from 1895 to 1918, and a major force in Austrian politics generally. Outside of Vienna, Otto Steinwender also used Schönerer’s absence to consolidate a more moderate German nationalist political party, the German People’s Party, founded in 1895. Yet Schönerer was not done. In 1897 he returned to the Austrian parliament as member for Eger (Cheb), a mainly German-speaking town in Western Bohemia, just in time for the outbreak of the Badeni Crisis, a conflict between Germans and Czechs over language rights. This apparent attack on the Germans’ “national property” was tailor-made for Schönerer’s nationalist paranoia and extreme political style. He immediately initiated a program of violent obstruction against the measure, ironically imitating the Young Czech politicians who had been using obstruction to further Czech rights. What made Schönerer’s protest significant was that he was joined in the resistance to Count Badeni’s compromise policy by most of the more moderate, liberal German parties, and once again he broke up the more moderate constellation of German nationalist politics. When his obstructive tactics were countered within the parliament, he and his followers took their protests to the streets, effectively forcing the more moderate parties to join their crusade. At the end of 1897 Austria appeared on the brink of revolution. Badeni’s policy was abandoned, leading to Czech obstruction and the effective end of functioning parliamentary government in Austria. Schönerer gained the status of a national hero and in the elections of 1901 saw his extreme nationalist party, the Pan-German Party, gain twenty one seats in the parliament. The comeback did not last, though. Schönerer argued with the more pragmatic Karl Hermann Wolf, and most of the party sided with Wolf. The Pan-Germans were not as successful in the 1907 elections, and Schönerer was not re-elected. He retired from politics in 1913, and died in 1921 in relative obscurity.12 Yet his career had a profound effect in pushing Austrian bourgeois politics in an antisemitic, nationalist direction. Schönerer and his followers were, further, direct contributors to the ideology of National Socialism. Schönerer had started as a champion of the (German) lower classes, the peasantry and artisans. He was anti-capitalist and supported workers’ rights against their employers. His disciple, Franz “Franjo” Stein, tried to establish a nationalist labour movement in the Habsburg industrial heartland of Bohemia. His efforts were stymied by his and Schönerer’s obsessive insistence on total obedience from their subordinates, who broke away to form their own party in 1903, the German Workers’ Party (DAP). With the increasing prospect of the Monarchy’s breakup, the DAP leadership decided in May 1918 to change the party’s name to the German National Socialist Workers’ Party (DNSAP), months before the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP) was founded in Germany. There was an Austrian priority here, and the Austrian DNSAP was the breeding ground of the ideology of Walter Riehl and Rudolf

26  Steven Beller

Jung, who were, as Michael Wladika convincingly argues, the main inspirers of the thinking of the young Hitler at the end of the First World War.13 A direct line extends from Schönerer and his student supporters to Adolf Hitler and German National Socialism. It is clear as well that Schönerer’s legacy to Hitler and Nazism was quite extensive. His emphasis on racial purity as a way to unity, and the racial antisemitism that this necessitated, were central to Hitler’s ideology too, as was Schönerer’s adoption of a completely dictatorial style that anticipated the Führerprinzip, and the emphasis on complete subordination to the leader. The fear of international conspiracies and the anti-clericalism of the Nazis were also anticipated by Schönerer. In 1897 he railed against the “yellow, red and black internationals” ( Jews, Socialists and Catholics). His failed Los von Rom movement from the turn of the century attempted to reduce Catholic influence over the German nation in Austria in ways very similar to Nazi policies forty years later. Schönerer’s disregard for democratic values, and the belief that a “trustworthy elite” and its use of “direct action” (violence) was the way to achieve dynamic, ideologically driven change, were also harbingers of the fascist and National Socialist playbooks.14 In the person of Schönerer there is a direct contribution from the Habsburg Monarchy to Hitler and German National Socialism, even before we might debate how much Hitler himself had imbibed of extremist German nationalist ideology and racial antisemitism before he left Austria in 1913.

Prison of the nations? Or nursery of (ultra)nationalism? As significant as the direct line, there is an indirect, contextual and structural contribution of the Monarchy to the development of ultranationalist movements in the decades after its collapse. The Monarchy’s supranational framework itself had an ambivalent effect on radical nationalisms in the region. The Habsburg authorities, embodied primarily in the Josephist and rationalist imperial central bureaucracy, played a restraining role on nationalist movements before 1867, and afterwards in Cisleithania, the Austrian half of the Dual Monarchy. (The other half, Hungary, was a different case.) Yet the supranational, multi-lingual structures of Cisleithania also came to encourage and foster nationalist politics. Regional particularism and the wish of local elites to preserve their powers in the face of the Viennese centre meant that most nationalist politics in the Monarchy began as provincial alliances between particularists in the noble elite and ideological nationalists from the educated sector of the local bourgeoisie. They allied against, first, the German-speaking bureaucracy and then the German liberal politicians in power at the centre. Nationalism grew as a revolt of the periphery against the centre, where the hegemonic German liberal politicians thought of themselves initially not so much as a nationalist movement as the state-nation, the “natural” group to manage the state in the interests of all. There were three distinct phases in Cisleithanian politics after 1867. The first

Habsburg Monarchy and fascism  27

phase saw a largely uncontested German liberal hegemony for a decade or more. This changed around 1879, when the emperor, Franz Joseph, turned instead to a coalition of “the rest” to govern Cisleithania. In this second phase, Taaffe’s “Iron Ring” ruled much more in favour of the non-German nationalities and more socially and culturally conservative interests. In the mid-1890s there was a crisis over the national issue which came to a boil in the Badeni Affair of 1897. In the resulting third phase, there was no clear direction in Austrian politics, except that nationalism made normal parliamentary politics untenable. Nonetheless, such obstructionist nationalist squabbling could continue in its extreme irresponsibility, because the state continued to function regardless. Austrian politics continued, but extra-parliamentarily, behind the scenes, in the bureaucracy’s offices. The end result was that a supranational state with a supposedly representative government ended up largely run on the basis of rivalry between nationalisms to gain state favour, and power, at the centre. The supranational Monarchy was thus a training ground for nationalist politics.15 There were two key structural factors in the Habsburg Cisleithanian state that  strongly worked in favour of a nationalist style in politics. The first was paragraph 19 of the December Constitution of 1867, the Law on Nationality Rights, which proclaimed the equality of all nationalities in Cisleithania, and guaranteed the rights of individuals to use their own national language. This could be seen as an idealistic solution to the nationality problem, but it actually stoked nationalistic politics. This was partly due to another major structural factor: the design of the census. Avoiding essentialist national identity, the census asked after a person’s “language of daily use,” a seemingly objective, neutral factor. Nonetheless, nationalist politicians turned the question of “language of daily use” into a referendum on national identity in many parts of the Monarchy, especially the Bohemian crownlands. In addition, a legal decision from 1884 ordained the provision of local public funds for minority-language schools. This created a major incentive for nationalist organisations to fund schools in their language that could then act as a magnet, attracting enough pupils to qualify for then handing over the school to public funding. German and Czech School Associations thus came to vie for the “kidnapped souls” of the region’s children. The census’s nationally neutral “language of daily use” and children’s education thus became weaponised as a major part of the nationalists’ arsenal.16 Political German nationalism in Austria did not exist on its own, but in a context of many competing nationalisms, of which the Czech variety was particularly noteworthy. A combination of noble provincial particularism and a historical revivalism promoted by middle-class intellectuals (inspired by German Romantic thought), Czech nationalism grew as the Bohemian lands modernised. In 1862, Sokol, a Czech-language gymnastics movement (following the German model), was founded. From the ranks of Sokol came the more radical Young Czechs who displaced the moderate liberal Old Czechs in the late 1880s. German and Czech nationalism developed in tandem; in Prague Czech  nationalism

28  Steven Beller

might even have preceded and provoked a more German nationalist approach from the previously hegemonic German elite.17 Czech nationalism was just as radical as German nationalism in the Monarchy. The periodic mass meeting of Sokol, the “slet,” entailed quasi-militaristic mass gymnastics displays, and the Young Czechs were willing to instigate violent demonstrations in Prague to further the national cause. Nor did Czech nationalists differ much from their German counterparts in their basically antisemitic approach to the region’s Jews. They remained unconvinced of Jews’ loyalty, suspecting them of still preferring German culture, and of not being “real” Czechs. In the notorious Hilsner Trial of 1899, most Czech nationalist leaders took the side of the mob and those who thought Hilsner guilty of ritual murder. Thomas Masaryk, the later president and “father” of Czechoslovakia, honourably opposed the antisemitic claims against Hilsner, yet one of the main provocateurs, who acted as lawyer for the accusers, was Karel Baxa, a prominent nationalist politician who went on to be mayor of Prague in the interwar years.18 The attitude of the government and more traditional conservatives to such radical nationalist movements was deeply ambivalent. It ranged from outright condemnation when rioting occurred, to accommodation or even covert support when it seemed there could be advantages to the government or reactionary interests. In the 1860s, for instance, the central government, whether under liberal or conservative control, were quite prepared to accommodate the conservative nationalism of the Polish noble elite in Galicia – as long as they supported the central government in the parliament in Vienna. Although Galicia was only minority Polish, it was run largely as a Polish province well into the early years of the twentieth century. The Habsburg authorities also attempted accommodation for mutual benefit with Czech nationalists. Most prominent was the episode of the Fundamental Articles in 1870–1871, when the emperor attempted to give the Bohemian lands, and Czechs, more autonomy and power (as well as restoring some of his). The plan failed in October 1871 because of German Liberal and Hungarian opposition, as well as from the new German Empire. When, however, the German Liberal leadership threatened his imperial prerogatives in the Bosnian Crisis of 1879, Franz Joseph put all his power and prestige behind a government of all the other parties – nationalist, federalist and conservative. Taaffe’s subsequent “Iron Ring” ministry ruled for over a decade and made several key concessions to the non-German nationalities in Cisleithania, especially, but not only, the Czechs. Measures such as the Stremayr Ordinances made sure that nationalist political support of the central government was rewarded with greater national rights in the provinces, particularly Bohemia. The authorities saw themselves as above nationalist politics, but they maintained their power by chipping away at German national privileges, so that politics became nationalised, a process in which even the representatives of the former “state people,” the Germans, came to give up their emphasis on liberal constitutional rights for a stress on defending their national interests.19

Habsburg Monarchy and fascism 29

Antisemitism – an Austrian peculiarity? The Taaffe government was also not averse to exploiting the rise of antisemitism to pressure the Jewish establishment in Vienna to give up their backing of the German Liberals. In Hungary, the Liberal government of Kálmán Tisza, intent on protecting its many Jewish political and financial supporters, used its powers to crack down on the nascent movement; Taaffe similarly offered to protect Jews against antisemitism, but only if they stopped supporting his German Liberal opponents. When the Jewish leadership refused, Taaffe did much less than Tisza to suppress the movement, which is partly why antisemitism began to be such a prominent feature of Austrian politics in the 1880s.20 By the late 1890s and early 1900s antisemitism had become an acceptable – hoffähig – part of Austrian politics. This was largely due to the meteoric rise of Hitler’s other Austrian hero in Mein Kampf, Karl Lueger. Lueger succeeded where Schönerer failed, in creating in Austrian politics a viable, anti-Liberal, “bourgeois” mass movement held together by the cement of antisemitism. The Christian Social Party was founded in 1891, largely as a coalition between German nationalist antisemites and political Catholic antisemites.21 It was a classic case of negative integration: usually these parties were at loggerheads, but they shared a hostility to the “Jewish” liberal establishment’s power in Vienna and elsewhere, which they effectively destroyed in Vienna in 1895. The Christian Socials, it should be noted, started off as rabble-rousing radicals, “conquering” City Hall with an electoral campaign which saw considerable violence, rhetorical but also physical. This was one of the reasons why Franz Joseph and the Habsburg authorities initially refused to recognise Lueger as Vienna’s mayor. However, after some months of stand-off, a form of accommodation was found with the leader of the antisemites, and Lueger eventually became mayor, and by 1900 was a staunch, conservative supporter of the Monarchy. He was helped in this remarkable transformation from poacher to gamekeeper by the fact that he was able to point to an apparently even greater threat to the social and political order, the rise of the Austrian Social Democratic Party.22 Not for the first time, the spectre of socialism was used by a radical, anti-liberal party to distract from its own radical, antisemitic, quasi-fascist ideology. Nonetheless, not all Christian Socials gave up their social radicalism, or their visceral antisemitism; many prominent Christian Social leaders retained both “qualities,” despite Lueger’s reassuring elegance and statesmanlike outer image as mayor. It was not just in the ranks of the Christian Socials that radical antisemitism became an acceptable part of Austrian politics. Whereas the younger Schönerer and his student supporters had been treated as outcasts by the German Liberal establishment in the 1880s, by the 1900s, what with the nationalist turn in politics generally, and the weakening of the German Liberal position, the mainstream German Liberal parties came to accept as allies the more radical German Nationalists – despite the latter’s often extreme antisemitic policies – and exclude Jewish candidates from the party slate.23

30  Steven Beller

There is no alternative – to nationalism? After the Badeni Crisis of 1897, there were many attempts to try and counter the divisive politics of nationalism, but none really succeeded. The leading national conflict in Cisleithania, the German–Czech conflict in Bohemia at the centre of the Badeni Crisis, was still without solution in 1914, and had in some ways become even worse, the political stand-off and constant obstruction leading to neither the Bohemian Diet nor the Austrian Parliament being in session when war was declared that summer. There were state-engineered compromises in some of the more marginal parts of the Monarchy: Moravia (1905), Bukovina (1910) and Galicia (1914 – never put in effect). However even these “solutions” to the respective national conflicts – largely through establishing nationally based electoral curia – effectively set national identities, and the privileging of nationalist politics, in stone, as they opened the way to fixing individuals in their national groups, prescriptively, whether they chose that national group or not. The “objective” measure of national identity after 1918, involving racial criteria, thus had its legal precedent in the pre-war Habsburg Monarchy.24 Another dramatic attempt to solve the nationalist problem in politics was the movement to bring about universal suffrage for parliamentary elections. A curious alliance between the emperor and the Austrian Social Democrats was crowned with success when universal male suffrage was enacted for parliamentary elections in 1907. The subsequent election that year did appear to be a success, as the largely middle-class, bourgeois nationalist parties lost seats to the more supranational, or at least non-nationalist, parties, primarily Lueger’s Christian Socials and the Social Democrats. Yet the denationalisation of politics did not go far enough; there were still more than enough nationalist parties represented to cause problems, and the “non-nationalist” parties were not problem-free. The Christian Socials were “Austrian” in being pro-Habsburg and increasingly a clerical party, but their “ecumenical” pluralism was clearly compromised by their antisemitism; and they never extended significantly beyond the German-speaking regions. The Social Democrats did have a multinational constituency and created some dynamic ways of understanding and tackling the nationalities problem, but they themselves were not immune to national conflict within their ranks, and in 1911 the Czech branch broke off to form its own, Czechoslavic Social Democratic Party. When the second general election under the new franchise was held in 1911 there was a resurgence of nationalist parties.25 Meanwhile, there were effective compromises that kept the Cisleithanian government going, behind the scenes. First Ernest von Koerber, later Max Beck, governed by deploying clause 14, the constitution’s emergency legislation provision, to pass necessary laws, with the informal agreement of the various political parties. Parliament was regularly obstructed, but negotiations between the government and the various national and non-national parties, greased by the prospect of large economic infrastructure expenditures, the “politics of the bazaar,” allowed the state to run, and quite effectively too. Plans for reform of

Habsburg Monarchy and fascism


the bureaucracy and solutions to nationalist conflicts abounded. The Belvedere Circle around the prospective heir to Franz Joseph, Franz Ferdinand, developed plans for a federalisation of the Monarchy, which purported to solve the nationalities problem. Not all was doomed by 1914. Yet Franz Ferdinand himself took a neo-absolutist, anti-democratic approach to these solutions, thinking that only a strong monarch could ram through the reforms necessary. He might have been open to supranational solutions to the Monarchy’s nationalisms, but he was also close to being proto-fascist, certainly “neo-authoritarian,” in how to enforce them. It is not at all clear that he would have been any more successful than Franz Joseph in bringing about positive, productive change to the Monarchy’s politics. There has been much made of the fact that, outside of politics, the Monarchy was actually quite an effective polity, with a strong economy, and with a population which, in everyday life, evinced a high degree of national indifference, with much of the population putting their Catholicism and dynastic loyalty above national issues.26 The problem was that within the political world, Cisleithania continued to 1914 to be riven by nationalist politics, with no real alternative in sight. The situation in the other half of the Monarchy, the Kingdom of Hungary, was also characterised by rampant nationalism, but in a diametrically opposite way. Once the Magyar political nation had achieved autonomy in the Compromise of 1867, its policies were mostly liberal, but it was always a very nationalistic liberalism. In Cisleithania, German political hegemony was severely curtailed by 1914; in Hungary, Magyar hegemony was never relinquished. Although by 1914 non-Magyar nationalities in the kingdom still constituted half the population, Hungary was run as if it were a Magyar nation-state, causing understandable resentment among the other nationalities. By 1914, István Tisza was maintaining the Magyar leadership’s national liberal hegemony through what amounted to “parliamentary autocracy.” The irony was that much of the opposition to his moderate-liberal government was from the radical Magyar nationalist Left that demanded more independence from Vienna. By 1914, antisemitism among Magyar nationalists was also on the rise, after decades of being effectively suppressed, as Magyar chauvinism – against Vienna as well as the minority nationalities and the socialist Left – hardened. In Hungary as well, nationalism, and increasingly a defensive, paranoid version, was the dominant style of politics.27

Nationalism and the First World War There were many causes of the First World War, but within the AustroHungarian context, from which the declaration of war in 1914 came, fear of the consequences of nationalism was a primary motivator, especially fear of a particular kind of nationalism: irredentism.28 By 1914 there were far too many parts of the Habsburg Monarchy that were being eyed by its neighbours as “irredenta,” as national territory that should be redeemed. Moreover, the fear was that the relevant national populations within the Monarchy were also looking to their

32  Steven Beller

national “homelands” for support, and possibly “reunion.” Romanian nationalists looked to Romania; Ruthenian nationalists looked to Ukrainians in the Russian Empire; Galician Poles, though largely satisfied with hegemony within the Monarchy, looked to a future reunited Poland. Schönerer’s pan- German nationalism was also a form of German irredentism, despite the German Empire’s disinterest. Italy, on the other hand, looked to the Adriatic Littoral and the Trentino as theirs by national right, and even though Trieste depended for its commercial existence on being a Habsburg port, Italian nationalist irredentism was growing there by 1914, in the face of the competing nationalism of the surrounding Slovenes and somewhat more distant Croats. It was South Slav irredentism that was by far the most threatening to the Habsburg authorities. To add further complications, the South Slav nationalities – Slovenes, Croats and Serbs – had large populations in both halves of the Monarchy, and South Slav solidarity meant that Hungary’s domineering treatment of Croats and Serbs in Croatia had echoes of unrest in Cisleithanian territories such as Dalmatia. Attempts to solve the problem through “trialism,” giving the South Slavs their own, joint autonomous territory in the southern third of the Monarchy, were always vetoed by Hungary. One of the most ambitious such plans, of the Foreign Minister Lexa von Aehrenthal, by which Bosnia-Herzegovina’s annexation would be the occasion of such a trialist reordering, only led to the diplomatic disaster that followed said annexation in 1908.29 After 1908 Habsburg foreign policy was dedicated to avoiding the ultimate irredentist nightmare, whereby an increasingly powerful Serbia would become a “Piedmont” to the South Slavs. A major reason why the Habsburg emperor declared war on Serbia in 1914 was to try and prevent it from claiming Habsburg South Slav territories in the Balkans in the same way that Piedmont had “redeemed” Lombardy-Venetia between 1859 and 1866.30 If the Monarchy started the First World War to combat irredentist nationalism, then it obviously proved to be a horrendous, tragic mistake. This was compounded by the authorities, especially the military authorities in the broadly defined war zones, cracking down most harshly on “treasonous” Slovene, Czech, Croat and other minority nationalists and their sympathisers. This was of little benefit to the war effort, and instead caused immense resentment and indeed hatred of the Habsburg state which had not been present on such a scale before 1914.31 When the new emperor, Charles, tried from the end of 1916 to reverse this oppressive approach, the damage to Habsburg legitimacy was already done, and his policy of liberalisation only made matters worse, empowering the nationalist parties to demand ever more national autonomy. The collapse of the Habsburg state in late 1918 was mainly due to a failure of logistics and organisation, but there was also a loss of legitimacy of the central government to nationalist organisations, who often exploited funds and resources that the central government had given them to care for the public to enhance their own legitimacy. This logic had been implicit in the relationship between the Habsburg centre and the national periphery for decades, but now the centre could no longer

Habsburg Monarchy and fascism


hold – it could neither suppress nor manage the various nationalisms of the Monarchy.32 Hence its collapse in November 1918, and with it a major instrument by which to constrain the more dangerous tendencies of nationalist politics.

The role of leftist (socialist) radicalism One reason often given for the success of reactionary, right-wing, authoritarian and nationalist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe was the success (actual or feared) of leftist radicalism in the immediate post-war period. On further inspection, however, this was not decisive; what was decisive in creating the crisis was the failure of the respective states to wage war without destroying the home front, something in which the Monarchy was among the worst. It is true that the main party of the socialist Left, the Austrian Social Democrats, had adopted a revolutionary, Marxist ideology, and their emergence as a mass party in the late 1880s sowed deep fear among the bourgeois, propertied classes. The Social Democrats also pioneered much of the aesthetics of mass politics in Austria, as in the May Day marches, something that might perhaps be linked to the German nationalist background (as a student) of their leader, Victor Adler.33 Emphasising the “threat” of the Social Democrats to property and order was one of the main means by which Lueger turned the Christian Socials from radical interlopers to establishment protectors. In actuality, though, the Social Democrats were remarkably moderate in practice. They became a pillar of the supranational state, effectively, in their cooperation with the imperial government over economic issues, and with the emperor himself, virtually, in the campaign for universal suffrage from 1905 to 1907. Their main ideologues, the Austromarxists, came up with some of the most imaginative schemes by which to take the sting out of nationalism, as in Karl Renner’s “personal autonomy.” During the war they had become even more cooperative and integrated into the war effort and the Habsburg state, and their leader, Victor Adler, was foreign minister in the last Habsburg government in 1918. His successor as foreign minister and as leader of the Social Democrats, Otto Bauer, contributed immensely in preventing Austria from succumbing to Bolshevik revolution in 1918–1919.34 There were, clearly, radical elements on the Left at the time, inspired by the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, and there was also the nearby success of Béla Kun in Budapest. This no doubt stoked immense fear in many in the propertied classes, but the Kun government was over in a matter of months (March–August 1919), and overall the mainstream Social Democrats, despite their revolutionary rhetoric and ideology, wanted order and material progress.35 If they were in power in much of Central Europe at the end of the war it was not so much because they seized it as it was that it was handed to them, or they picked it up after the collapse of the previous regime. Yet the right-wing parties, whether traditional or more extreme, took advantage of the Left’s prominence at the moment of defeat to cast blame for defeat on them. Whether for their supposed defeatism, their “stab in the back,” or their Bolshevik threat to order, the political Left were

34  Steven Beller

made a scapegoat by the Right, who used their “guilt” as an excuse to crush them where possible, not only radicals but often moderates. Yet the real problem in 1918 was not the threat of the Left, but rather the crisis caused by: the depredations of war, and the economic and social exhaustion and disintegration which that caused; the breakup of the Habsburg Monarchy as a political and economic unit; and the destruction, and disappearance, of traditional political authority and legitimacy.

Après nous… The last half century of the Habsburg Monarchy’s existence had provided a breeding ground for nationalism, often in radical forms, and its starting of the First World War and the behaviour of the Habsburg authorities during it had only made the problems of nationalism worse and led to further radicalisation in many instances. Yet the disappearance of the Monarchy did nothing to assuage the situation, made matters even worse, indeed took away one of the main anchors of Central European society that had until then been restraining nationalism’s worst instincts. The physical effects of war in the region were horrendous. This was not only a question of the human suffering at the front. Deaths and casualties there were high, especially in the catastrophic start to the Russian campaign in 1914, and, given that the Eastern Front with Russia was much more dynamic than its Western counterpart, the territory affected was much greater, as was the civilian toll in casualties and displacement. Austria’s loss of its Galician “breadbasket” at the beginning of the war, and the large refugee flows to the hinterland, especially Vienna, were the cause of major disruption. The Home Front, however, was also a site of major logistical failure and the exhaustion of human and material resources. The dislocations of transport infrastructure and the disruption of peacetime trade and supply patterns within the Monarchy meant that at war’s end disease, famine and destitution were widespread.36 Nor, unlike the Western Front perhaps, was there a decisive transition from war to peace, when war’s destructive impact suddenly ceased. For large tranches of the former Monarchy, especially in the east, war did not end on 11 November, or even 3 November 1918, but rather continued into 1919. The exit of Hungary from the Monarchy on 1 November 1918 did not bring it peace, but rather a continuation of hostilities, involving a Romanian invasion, a communist revolution, a “white” counter-revolution, and eventual surrender to the Romanians in August 1919.37 In what had been the Monarchy’s eastern borderlands, Eastern Galicia and Bukovina, now Western Ukraine, hostilities continued until 1921. Even in the relatively pacific Czechoslovakia, there was still major unrest well after 1918, with antisemitic violence in Slovakia into 1919, and a major antisemitic riot in Prague as late as 1920. To the south, as a reminder of where we began, d’Annunzio’s attempt to establish the Italian Regency of Carnaro in Fiume in 1919 was only ended in late December 1920 by Italian naval bombardment.

Habsburg Monarchy and fascism


On top of the continuing violence, the breakup of the Monarchy into separate, and often mutually hostile “nation-states,” disrupted the long-established economic ties and networks by which the region had operated before 1914. Vienna had been supplied with most of its coal from the Bohemian lands; it received much of its food supply from Hungary. Now both energy and food lay beyond national frontiers, under the control of hostile governments. Eventually some sort of modus vivendi was re-established in many instances, but overall these disruptions proved very bad for economic growth, hence prosperity and social peace. Whereas most of the states in Western Europe, including Germany, had achieved real economic recovery by the mid-1920s, most of the states in Central and Eastern Europe, with the exception of Czechoslovakia, were still struggling to regain their pre-war levels of prosperity and employment. Austria, cut off from its former markets and resources, was among those that had not done so, until it became part of the Third Reich.38 The new states that replaced the Habsburg Monarchy in the region were, according to the leading principles of the Versailles settlement, based on the principle of national self-determination, and initially there had been a hope that there might be an overarching relationship, some sort of Danubian Federation, that would serve as a looser functional replacement for the Monarchy, but this never went very far. Instead most of the successor states themselves tended to replicate the imperial, multinational character of the Monarchy they had supplanted.39 Czechoslovakia contained not only Czechs and Slovaks, but also Germans, Magyars, Jews, Roma, some Poles and Ruthenes. Poland had a large Ukrainian minority, among many other minorities. The new, much enlarged Romania had acquired Magyars, Seklers, Germans and Jews, in Transylvania alone. Yugoslavia was not even Yugoslavia, but the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, but that was just the start of the many national minorities within its borders. It was easy to predict, therefore, that the national conflicts of before 1914 would simply begin again, if in transformed, sometimes reversed relationships, in the post-war period. Had there been trust, authority and legitimacy in these successor states, then perhaps some of the subsequent national conflicts and controversies could have been more easily smoothed over, managed and ameliorated. Almost by definition, however, this legitimacy was lacking – because there was no longer the political institution that had governed most of the region for centuries, the Habsburg Monarchy, and the dynasty that had provided the monarch. There were attempts to fill the void. In Hungary, the regime that replaced the communist government of Kun, crushing “red terror” with “white terror,” was that of Admiral Horthy, who governed as Regent for the absent king. The ambivalence of this restoration of the ancient constitution of the kingdom of St. Stephen after the radical interregnum of communist rule was that the said absent monarch, the duly sworn in and anointed King Charles IV twice attempted in 1921 to resume his throne, but on both occasions was rebuffed by Horthy, officially his regent, and forced into exile on Madeira, where he died

36  Steven Beller

in 1922.40 In other words the authoritarian conservative-liberal regime headed by Horthy attempted to keep the legitimacy of a monarchy, but without the monarch. In Czechoslovakia as well, Thomas Masaryk ruled from the Hradschin, “the castle” in Prague, which the Habsburgs had once occupied (as had the Luxemburgs before them), and his anciennity and gravitas made him in many respects a suitable, substitute father figure for the old emperor Franz Joseph. The similarities in the head of state were also symbolic of deeper continuities. Key to understanding the relative success of the transition from the Monarchy to Czechoslovakia was that the laws and structures of the state changed very little between the two. The existing acquis of Habsburg law and administrative order was simply taken over hook, line, and sinker.41 The same was true for the new Austrian Republic, where the legal system continued as before, but with a new constitution imposed atop it in 1920. Austrians, especially on the Left, tried to present the new republic as one of the successor states that had broken away from the Monarchy, but most regarded it, in Clemenceau’s words, as “that which is left over,” and it ended up fulfilling that role. Initially it adopted as its emblem a single-headed eagle, with a red-whitered flag signalling the reclaiming of the medieval Babenberg heritage over that of the Habsburgs. Yet many elements of the conservative Right in Austria were unhappy with this, and it is noteworthy that when the Austrofascist Ständestaat was founded in 1934, the imperial and Habsburg double-headed eagle returned as the national emblem, trying to tap into the Habsburg legacy once again.42 Yet in this instance, as in the Hungarian one (not so much with the Czechoslovak one), there was an air of ersatz fakery. For liberals and progressives this was not so difficult, given their belief in a rational order, but for authoritarian conservatives, as most of the leaders in interwar Central Europe claimed to be, this was a problem, and a large one. They emphasised order and authority, but had no good answer as to whose they were going by. The new dispensation solved few, if any, of the nationalist problems of before. The old grudges, resentments and conflicts still existed, if now often with the shoe on the other foot. Germans now demanded language rights from Czechs, and autonomy for their quasi-“province,” German Bohemia or the Sudetenland as it came to be known. Magyars, who had largely ignored the rights of minority nationalities, now found themselves in an almost entirely Magyar Hungary, but with large populations of Magyars living as minority nationalities in Czechoslovakia, Romania and Yugoslavia, having now to fight for their rights against hegemonic national groups uninterested in listening to the complaints of minorities.43 Both the previously hegemonic national groups, Austrian Germans and Magyars, now lived in largely mono-national states, ironically, but both had immense grudges against the post-1918 settlement. Austrian Germans, and not only extreme nationalists but probably a large majority of the population of “German Austria,” had wanted to join the

Habsburg Monarchy and fascism


German Republic in late 1918 and 1919. Among the main champions of this merging of the German lands of the Monarchy – including German Bohemia – with Germany were the leaders of the Social Democrats, including the Foreign Minister and socialist chief, Otto Bauer. In hindsight this might appear strange, but then this union with Germany had been a left-wing goal in 1848, and with the “reactionary” Monarchy gone uniting up with the more modern, more progressive and democratic Weimar Republic appeared the best option for German Austrian workers to have a socialist, prosperous and progressive future. Yet the prospect of Germany emerging bigger from the war meant that the Western powers vetoed this move. The result was the “Republic Austria,” but the unrequited Anschluss with Germany continued to rankle for many “Austrians” and explains to some extent the course of events twenty years later, in March 1938.44 The Magyar political nation, similarly, never got over the loss of two thirds of the territory of the Kingdom of St. Stephen (historical Hungary), deeply resented that Magyars now found themselves as “persecuted” minorities in bordering lands, and remained determined throughout the interwar period, and into the Second World War, to restore the boundaries of the kingdom to those of 1914, even if it meant allying with German National Socialists and Italian Fascists to do so.45 Other nationalities, whose nationalist leaders had thought themselves well shot of the oppression of the Habsburg Monarchy, found themselves still functionally where they had been before. Croats exchanged being subordinate to, and interfered with by, the Magyar central government in Budapest, to a similar position and treatment from the mainly Serb central government in Belgrade. Slovaks cast off Hungarian hegemony only to fall under Czech hegemony.46 As for the Czechs, the dominant parties pursued fairly liberal and progressive policies, but from a centralist perspective. Hence they more or less repeated the same combination of policies pursued by the German Liberals, whom they had once detested for their suppression of local autonomy. The nationality problems in Czechoslovakia were characterised by almost exactly the same tension between centre and periphery that had marked Cisleithania. If the Germans in the Sudetenland were now the minority in Czechoslovakia that the Czechs had once been in Cisleithania, they could play the game of perennially dissatisfied, obstructionist nationalist minority just as well as the Czechs had once done. Attempts at putting aside national conflicts for the greater good followed in the 1920s, and German national rights, concerning schools for instance, were treated more or less exactly as Czech national rights had been in the Monarchy.47 Yet a working accommodation did not last; in the 1930s “negativist” German nationalists came to the fore, with Konrad Henlein becoming the Sudeten German leader. It is characteristic of the relationship of German and Czech nationalisms that Henlein, who came up through the ranks of the Sudeten German gymnastics association in the 1920s, had been inspired in his drive for discipline and uniformity by his experiencing Sokol’s Slet of 1926.48

38  Steven Beller

There was, however, also a major difference between the situation of the Czechs in the Monarchy and the Germans in Czechoslovakia. Under the Monarchy, the Czechs had at times looked to pan-Slavism and Russia as a source of foreign support, but had never had all that much hope of being “redeemed” by their external Slav brothers. Instead, most Czechs had put their faith in Austroslavism, which saw Austria as potentially a majority Slav state, run by and for Slavs. Irredentism had never been a serious option. Not so for the Germans in Czechoslovakia. The Sudeten Germans could make a direct appeal to the irredentist version of nationalism that had so threatened the Monarchy. German Bohemians had once appealed to Vienna under the Monarchy, but there had always been the pan-German option in the background. When the Monarchy collapsed it looked for a moment as though union with Germany was indeed going to be realised, until the Czechs, and their Western allied patrons, vetoed this. Now, after the Nazi seizure of power in Germany in 1933, the Sudetenländer (German Bohemians) could appeal directly to the German national homeland of Hitler’s Third Reich.49 The creators of the Versailles settlement had supposed the new situation in Central Europe after 1918 to be about the spread of democracy under the banner of national self-determination, but other ideologies undermined this prospect. Not only was there the threat from the radical Left that unsettled many, but also old ideologies of the Right found an easy translation into the more nationalised and disrupted world. Most dangerous of all, the dislocations and disorientations experienced by many led to a great increase in antisemitism, in terms of violence against Jews, political campaign rhetoric and also in policy. Hungary introduced a numerus clausus for higher education institutions in 1920 aimed directly at restricting the number of Jews at Hungarian universities.50 In Austria the attempt to exclude Galician Jews from claiming Austrian citizenship (to which they were entitled as German-speaking Habsburg subjects) saw court decisions that used the ascriptive, racial definition of nationality (as discussed above for the Moravian Compromise) to make Jews not racially “German” and hence not “German-Austrian.”51 Nationalists of almost all stripes adopted a quasi-racialised definition of the national community which effectively used racial antisemitism to exclude Jews from that community. It was not only radical “bourgeois” nationalism, but also the by now more conservative, established, one might think more moderate, nationalism associated with Christian Social ideology, that pursued antisemitic policies. Christian Socials had always been antisemitic, from the party’s inception in Vienna, but under the Monarchy they had pursued a sort of supranationality appealing to Roman Catholic teaching on this topic. Catholicism claimed to be a universal religion, after all, and most Catholic hostility to Jews and the “Jewish spirit” claimed to be of a religious, not racial, form. Nevertheless, even in Austria itself the Christian Social legacy was deeply ambivalent when it came to antisemitism, nationalism and the state. While it remained a purportedly conservative, bourgeois – and clerical – party, it still had radical

Habsburg Monarchy and fascism


elements and was not above appealing to violence and overturning the rule of law to get its way. 52 Interwar Austrian politics, after a brief lull of emergency comity, turned into a struggle between the two main camps, Social Democrats and Christian Socials, which had started in the final decades of the Monarchy. In the interwar era, the Social Democrats had their base in “Red Vienna” which was detested not only as socialist by the Christian Socials, but also as the nest of “Jewish” modern culture; the Christian Socials, in contrast, held the rest of the largely underdeveloped Catholic and conservative provinces. Both sides had private armed forces, the socialists with their Schutzbund, and the Christian Socials with their allies in the various parts of the Heimwehr. The latter was theoretically independent of the Christian Socials, and at times operated as a separate political force, but as the main quasi-military force of the anti-Marxist Right, it was normally allied with the Christian Socials, who were the dominant party of government in Austria after 1920, usually in coalition with the much smaller, but nonetheless influential, German National camp. The Korneuburg Oath taken by members of the Heimwehr in 1930 was explicitly fascist in its approach. Although both the Social Democrats and the Christian Socials purported to be upholders of parliamentary democracy after 1918, only the Social Democrats stood by these principles. The main Christian Social leader, Ignaz Seipel, made it clear by 1929 that he was sceptical of “parliamentarism” and saw a form of Catholic corporatism as preferable, if it could be implemented. It was the Christian Social government of his successor, Engelbert Dollfuss, that took advantage of a constitutional accident to end parliamentary rule in Austria and replace it with a form of authoritarian, “Austrofascist” dictatorship in March 1933. He did so purportedly to strengthen Austria’s position in the shadow of the Nazi seizure of power in neighbouring Germany, and part of Dollfuss’s strategy in 1933 was to try and suppress the surge of National Socialist support in Austria, but the other part was to impose a very conservative Catholic shape on Austrian politics and society, and suppress the Austrian Left. In September 1933, Dollfuss had already declared a Ständestaat (corporate state). The brief civil war in February 1934, which saw final resistance by the Social Democrats crushed, was just the confirmation of a coup that had started almost a year earlier. The attempt to save Austrian independence from a German Nazi takeover thus ended up destroying the socialist Left, with the help of the fascist Heimwehr.53 The irony was that the Christian Socials themselves, going back to the days of the Monarchy, remained ambivalent about their national identity. The Ständestaat might wrap itself in a pseudo-Habsburg double-eagled flag, the Vaterlandsfront might attempt to erase all other forms of cultural association, but Christian Social leaders, including Dollfuss’s successor, Kurt Schuschnigg, still saw their national identity as German. The word “national” in interwar Austrian politics had referred to German National politicians, not Christian Socials. It was just that, for Christian Socials, now Austrofascists, Austria was the better German state (because more Catholic and conservative). As such, Austrofascism put up some

40  Steven Beller

resistance to the German pressure for Anschluss after 1933, but not very much. Instead of consolidating political resistance across the spectrum, it chose to settle old ideological scores from the Monarchy first, thus hollowing out its own authority and legitimacy.54 It was a very-low-hanging fruit for Hitler when the German troops did “invade” Austria in March 1938. Christian Social ideology in its country of origin showed itself to be quite ready to adopt radical forms, exploit antisemitic prejudices, appeal to fascist allies, and use violence, in order to reshape Austria in a conservative, authoritarian manner, even if the Achilles heel of its national ambivalence led to its demise in 1938. When its influence spread to the other nationalities of the former Monarchy, it could prove there as well to be a heady mixture of Catholic anti-modernism, anti-Judaism, anti-communism and anti-Other, a form of conservative ideology that nonetheless tolerated radical, racial antisemitism and exclusionary, fascist ultranationalism, under a pseudo-Catholic guise, as in the example of Jozef Tiso. Much of Tiso’s political and social thought, as a Roman Catholic priest, came from being influenced by Christian Social ideology during his time in Vienna.55 He nonetheless became the leader of fascist Slovakia and an ally of the Nazis. The Christian Social cocktail of antisemitic prejudice, association by negative integration, and ersatz pseudo-nationalism, a legacy of the Monarchy, thus opened the way, once unleashed on a society without the previous limits of legitimacy and authority, to genocidal “palingenetic ultranationalism.” It is clear that the adoption of Catholic identity by ultranationalist (fascist) movements was often a product of historically based national self-understanding, and did not necessarily have all that much to do with Catholicism as a religion. Sometimes this could even lead to inclusive approaches. The Croatian Ustaša leadership made much of Croats’ devotion to Catholicism, as part of their national identity (much as Poles have done in many instances), but their definition of who was Croat was more anti-Orthodox than it was pro- Catholic. Indeed the Ustaša units in Bosnia, for obvious reasons, found it more convenient to include both Catholics and Muslims in the fold, as long as they were against Serbs.56 There were thus ultranationalists whose tradition stemmed from anti-Catholic anti-clericalism, such as the heirs to Schönerer, and there were also ultranationalist allies of the Nazis who defined their national identity through their Catholic heritage, albeit in a quite warped form. The relationship between religious establishments and ultranationalism was not always a positive one, but it was also not always an adversarial one either. In Central Europe at least, Catholicism lent its name and prestige to far too many ultranationalist movements who also practised a racial antisemitism against their nation’s Jewish members. One can say much the same thing about the broader question of the relationship between conservative authoritarians and radical, fascist, ultranationalists in the former lands of the Habsburg Monarchy. In some respects, when it came to fighting over who should have power in a regime, or indeed just where the limits

Habsburg Monarchy and fascism


lay on acceptable oppression of minority religious and ethnic groups (whether this extended to extirpation), there could be serious divisions between the two camps. At the same time, when it served their purposes, the two camps were more than happy to collaborate, conservatives happy to accommodate ultranationalist radicalism and violence, as had been the initial formula behind the success of Lueger’s Christian Social movement. Even if they might differ in detail over who was a member of the nation, whether it was a question of biological race, or a result of religious and cultural values organically uniting the members of the nation, there was little disagreement in the essentially völkisch (organically populist) ideology that most conservatives and ultranationalists ultimately shared.57 There were clearly definable “peoples” who should live in exclusive communities, discreetly separate from other “peoples,” and not mixed. There might be tolerated minorities in these nations, but they were only tolerated and not to be seen as equal members of the “people.” These “peoples” might be able to co-operate with each other, on an international level, but Völker (nations/peoples) should do this only as collective entities, if one wanted to avoid the risk of miscegenation and internationalist and cosmopolitan bad influence. This was an utter parody of the actuality of the region, whether as the Habsburg Monarchy or its successor states, with its complex, interwoven relationships of the various ethnic, linguistic and religious groups. Tragically, and to a great degree because of what transpired under this nationalist ideology in the decades of the mid-twentieth century, it is far less of a parody of the region today. Conservatives bought into this quite unrealistic ideology almost as much as radical ultranationalists. No wonder they proved relatively easy pickings for the Nazis, the conservative authoritarian regimes almost more than the radical ultranationalists.

Notes 1 Alan J. P. Taylor, The Habsburg Monarchy 1809–1918 (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1981), p. 279. 2 For the definition, see Kevin Passmore, Fascism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 23. 3 The difference in approach is nicely seen in two articles from the Austrian History Yearbook, vol. 29, no. 1 (1998). A sophisticated and balanced essay, but from the more traditional perspective, is George Barany, “Political Culture in the Lands of the Former Habsburg Empire: Authoritarian and Parliamentary Traditions,” pp. 195–248; a worthy representation of the more revisionist approach is Gary B. Cohen, “Neither Absolutism nor Anarchy: New Narratives on Society and Government in Late Imperial Austria,” pp. 37–61. 4 For the following, see Steven Beller, “Hitler’s Hero: Georg von Schönerer and the Origins of Nazism,” in Rebecca Haynes and Martyn Rady (eds.), In the Shadow of Hitler: Personalities of the Right in Central and Eastern Europe (London: I. B. Tauris, 2011), pp. 38–54. 5 Steven Beller, The Habsburg Monarchy, 1815–1918 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), p. 128, and passim.

42  Steven Beller

Habsburg Monarchy and fascism


33 McGrath, Dionysian Art and Populist Politics, pp. 219–237. 34 Tim Kirk, “Ideology and Politics in the State that Nobody Wanted: AustroMarxism, Austrofascism and the First Austrian Republic,” in Gustav Bischof, Fritz Plasser, Anton Pelinka and Alexander Smith (eds.), Global Austria: Austria’s Place in Europe and the World: Contemporary Austrian Studies, vol. 20 (New Orleans: University of New Orleans Press, 2011), pp. 87–89; Steven Beller, A Concise History of Austria (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), pp. 203–205. 35 Hoensch, Modern Hungary, pp. 84–97. 36 Beller, Habsburg Monarchy, pp. 248–271; Maureen Healy, Vienna and the Fall of the Habsburg Empire: Total War and Everyday Life in World War I (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004). 37 Hoensch, Modern Hungary, pp. 84–98. 38 Beller, Austria, pp. 198–204, 210–211. 39 Judson, Habsburg Empire, pp. 442–452. 40 Hoensch, Modern Hungary, pp. 100, 109–110. 41 Judson, Habsburg Empire, pp. 433–436. 42 Beller, Austria, pp. 200–201, 224. 43 Hoensch, Modern Hungary, pp. 102–104. 44 Beller, Austria, pp. 200–201. 45 Hoensch, Modern Hungary, pp. 103–105, 139–144. 46 Goran Miljan, “‘The Brotherhood of Youths’: A Case Study of the Ustaša and Hlinka Youth Connections and Exchanges,” in Arnd Bauerkämper and Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe (eds.), Fascism without Borders: Transnational Connections and Cooperation between Movements and Regimes in Europe from 1918 to 1945 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2017), p. 124. 47 Tara Zahra, Kidnapped Souls: National Indifference and the Battle for Children in the Bohemian Lands, 1900–1948 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2008), pp. 106–141. 48 Mark Cornwall, “The Czechoslovak Sphinx: ‘Moderate and Reasonable’ Konrad Henlein,” in Haynes and Rady, In the Shadow of Hitler, pp. 210–211. 49 Cornwall, “The Czechoslovak Sphinx,” pp. 206–226. 50 Mária M. Kovács, Liberal Professions and Illiberal Politics: Hungary from the Habsburgs to the Holocaust, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), pp. 54–62. 51 Bruce F. Pauley, From Prejudice to Persecution: A History of Austrian Antisemitism (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992), pp. 86–88; Stourzh, “Ethnic Attribution,” in Robertson, Timms, Habsburg Legacy, pp. 78–81. 52 Robert Nemes and Daniel Unowsky (eds.), Sites of European Antisemitism in the Age of Mass Politics, 1880–1918 (Waltham: Brandeis University Press, 2014), pp. 1–75. 53 Beller, Austria, pp. 218–224. 54 Beller, Austria, pp. 224–229; Kirk, “Ideology and Politics in the State that Nobody Wanted,” pp. 92–93. 55 Thomas Anselm Lorman, “The Christian Social Roots of Jozef Tiso’s Radicalism, 1887–1939,” in Haynes and Rady, In the Shadow of Hitler, pp. 245–260. 56 Rory Yeomans, “‘For Us, Beloved Commander, You Will Never Die!’ Mourning Jure Franceti. Ustasha Death Squad Leader,” in Haynes and Rady, In the Shadow of Hitler, pp. 194–195. 57 Johannes Dafinger, “The Nazi ‘New Europe’: Transnational Concepts of a Fascist and Völkisch Order for the Continent,” in Bauerkämper and Rossoliński-Liebe, Fascism without Borders, pp. 264–287.

2 VOLKSDEUTSCH REVISIONISM East Central Europe’s ethnic Germans and the order of Paris Gregor Thum

In 1926, Carl Uhlig, the newly appointed rector of the University of Tübingen in South-West Germany, delivered an inaugural lecture in which he called on his colleagues to make the study of the German people and its expansion across the globe a focus of the university’s academic and political work. “No other people on earth,” Uhlig claimed, “can match in nature and size the expanse of Germandom abroad.” Its global migration and the “hard and difficult struggle for the preservation of its own culture” offers “a picture of great colourfulness and gripping strength.” Tübingen would be well positioned to make itself a name in this new, interdisciplinary field of study. The university already attracted a fair number of students from the German-speaking communities of South-Eastern and Eastern Europe. They could not only serve as excellent source of information but also provide an opportunity to train future leaders of these German communities abroad.1 As incoming rector, Uhlig surely took into account that the German governments took an increasing political interest in the German communities abroad and were willing to provide funding for the kind of activities Uhlig suggested.2 But Uhlig spoke also out of conviction. He was a geographer and East Africa specialist who lost access to his object of study because of the Treaty of Versailles, which forced Germany to cede its colonies, among them German East Africa, where Uhlig had spent many years of his life. In response, Uhlig had begun to develop a scholarly and political interest in the German communities of South-Eastern Europe.3 He belonged to those Germans who embraced the völkisch movement, a specific form of radical German nationalism that emerged in the late nineteenth century but experienced a boom after 1918. Its central feature was the focus on the German volk, the people, understood as a community defined by “blood and soil,” i.e. common descent and a particularly close connection to land it settled. Apart from this, the movement was inherently

Volksdeutsch revisionism  45

antisemitic, in most parts also anti-Slavic. Its supporters tended to be critical of the social and cultural consequences of industrialisation and urbanisation, glorify peasant life, and oppose both liberalism and Marxism.4 The attractiveness of völkisch thought after 1918 had a lot to do with the concept of volk as an organism that was imagined to exist independently of statehood. The focus on the German people in its European and global expanse offered a new political orientation and source of national pride at a time when many felt that German statehood was discredited by military defeat, a humiliating peace, arbitrary state borders and the shift towards parliamentary democracy in 1918 that allowed left-wing political parties to seize power. For those who subscribed to völkisch thought the German state was no longer the primary object of political loyalty, especially not in its current territorial shape and political orientation. That belonged to the German people. For völkisch activists at universities and other research institutions, it meant moving beyond the state towards a völkisch-inspired social science.5 When Uhlig referred to the training of future leaders of Germandom abroad, he surely thought of his own student Karl Stumpp. Stumpp grew up in a community of German colonists near Odessa in Southern Russia. In 1918, when the armies of the Central Powers occupied the region, he had volunteered with a group of other Black Sea Germans for German military service. Yet when the group arrived in Germany for training, the war was over. Unwilling to return to Russia, which at that time sank into the chaos of civil war, Stumpp enrolled as a student at the University of Tübingen. After graduating in 1922 with a dissertation on the Black Sea Germans he wrote under Uhlig’s supervision, Stumpp accepted a teaching position at a German high school in Bessarabia, Romania. The position allowed him to continue his research and support the work of his former advisor with ethnographic material about Bessarabia’s Germans. Around the time Hitler was appointed chancellor in January 1933, Stumpp would return to Germany, assume with Uhlig’s help a leading position in the government-funded Society of Germandom Abroad (VDA), and from now on put his expertise to the service of the Nazi government. Among others, he helped gain political control of Bessarabia’s German communities, served as expert during the mass resettlement of ethnic Germans from East Central Europe 1939/1940, and led the “Special Command Dr. Stumpp,” a paramilitary unit that conducted ethnographic and racial research in Ukraine during the war against the Soviet Union.6 Stumpp was no exception. Many so-called Volksdeutsche, as German authorities since 1939 labelled ethnic Germans from abroad in distinction from Reichsdeutsche, Germans with German citizenship,7 played an important role in the German right-wing political networks that were established after 1918 to fight against the post-war order that destroyed the German imperial dreams and scattered Germandom across many states in Central Europe, an order that was associated with the treaties of Versailles, St. Germain and Trianon, concluded during the Paris Peace Conference 1919/1920.

46  Gregor Thum

Among the most prominent figures were the Baltic Germans and former Russian citizens Paul Rohrbach, Max Erwin von Scheubner-Richter and Alfred Rosenberg. Rohrbach (1869–1956) was a prominent writer and colonial enthusiast who can be counted among the most influential revisionists of the Weimar Republic. Scheubner-Richter (1884–1923), a particularly colourful figure on the radical Right, acted as early fundraiser and intellectual inspirator for the Nazi Party before the police shot him during the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923, while walking arm in arm with Hitler. Rosenberg (1893–1946) served as long-time editor-in-chief of the Nazi Party newspaper Völkischer Beobachter before taking over the Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories after Germany’s attack on the Soviet Union in 1941.8 But there was also Konrad Henlein (1898–1945), a Czechoslovak citizen and founder of the Sudeten German Party, who played the key role during the “Sudeten Crisis” of 1938 and headed the civil administration of the Sudetenland after the German annexation.9 Suffices to add to the list of examples Arthur Greiser (1897–1946), a militant völkisch activist who had grown up in the Polish–German borderlands and made political career in the Free City of Danzig. In 1939, he was entrusted with heading the civil administration of the Wartheland in German-occupied Poland, where he made himself a name as a particularly zealous executioner of Hitler’s lebensraum program.10 This chapter explores Volksdeutsch revisionism, the political activism against the political order established at the Paris Peace Conference among those who belonged to, or grew up in, the German ethnic communities outside of Germany and Austria in their borders of 1919. It sheds light on the specific experience and motivation of so-called Volksdeutsche to join forces with the radical-right political circles in Germany that hoped for a revision of the post-war order and, after the Nazis assumed power in Berlin, pushed the world into another devastating war. It is also an attempt to explore to what degree the political views of Volksdeutsch revisionists differed from activists in Germany who did not share their experience of being socialised into the ethnically mixed territories of Central Europe. Exploring Volksdeutsch revisionism poses some methodological challenges. How to avoid the impression that the ethnic German communities abroad were particularly prone to supporting the Nazis, thus fuelling the stereotype of Hitler’s “fifth column” that was instrumentalised at the end of the Second World War to expropriate and expel millions of ethnic Germans from East Central Europe? After all, the Nazis found collaborators wherever they searched for, not only among ethnic Germans. Also, what the Nazi authorities labelled as Volksdeutsche was a highly heterogeneous group of more than eight million people in Europe alone. Spread across Denmark, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Italy, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Romania and the Soviet Union, the socio-economic, cultural, religious and linguistic differences between the individual German-speaking communities were significant, as were the differences between individuals and their political attitudes within those groups.11

Volksdeutsch revisionism


To capture some of this diversity, this chapter uses the approach of a biographical sample. A sample large enough to do full justice to this diversity is beyond its scope, though. But the juxtaposition of two right-wing radicals and opponents of the post-war order, the Sudeten German political activist Karl Hermann Frank, who came to define Nazi Germany’s wartime politics with respect to the Czechs, and the Baltic German Max Hildebert Boehm, whom his biographer called “one of the most active right-wing intellectual ideologues of the interwar years,”12 showcases both the range and the common patterns of the Volksdeutsch experience and contribution. With these two examples this chapter presents two right-wing radicals that might be less known than their peers Konrad Henlein or Alfred Rosenberg. But they were hardly less influential. Frank and Boehm are chosen because Germans from Bohemia and the Baltics played a particularly prominent role among the right-wing revisionists of the interwar years. This had to do with biographical experiences that led them perceive the dramatic political change of 1918 as culmination of a long-term development rather than a bolt out of the blue. In a sense, they were better prepared than their peers in Germany to make sense of the new situation. Apart from this, Boehm’s story allows to shed light on the fact that the distinction between Volksdeutsche and Reichsdeutsche is not always straightforward. Boehm grew up in Russia’s Baltic provinces but emigrated to Germany when he was still young. He was thus shaped by a dual socialisation into a Volksdeutsch and Reichsdeutsch milieu, an experience he shared with other right-wing activists, such as the aforementioned Karl Stumpp. A third biographical sketch is thrown into the mix to highlight the range of political attitudes among those Volksdeutsche, regardless of the fact they tended to experience the changes of 1918 in a similar way. Paul Schiemann was Baltic German liberal and international minority activist who warned of the instrumentalisation of the minority question by nationalists and irredentists. But Schiemann too was critical of the order of Paris, in a sense a revisionist who fought against the discrimination of ethnic minorities in Europe’s post-war nation-states. However, unlike Frank and Boehm, Schiemann wanted to reform, rather than overthrow, the post-war order. He too was no exception.13 But Volksdeutsch activists engaged in building bridges across national and ethnic division lines were increasingly on the defence after the Great Depression and the surge of nationalism.

Karl Hermann Frank Karl Hermann Frank (1898–1946) was born into a German nationalist milieu in the Austrian spa town of Karlsbad (Karlovy Vary) in North-Western Bohemia.14 Bohemia was among the hotspots of the nationality conflicts before 1914. Since the mid-nineteenth century, the region saw growing tensions between the highly developed national movements of Czechs and Germans. If Czechs initially feared the province’s Germanisation, the tables turned with the far-reaching political reforms in the Habsburg Monarchy after the humiliating

48  Gregor Thum

defeat in the Austrian–Prussian War of 1866. From now on Vienna followed a course of neutrality and search for compromise between the nationalities in the Austrian part of Austria-Hungary. The policy tended to work in favour of the Czechs, as they constituted the majority of the population in the Bohemian Lands and its capital Prague. It was now the Germans who feared the provinces’ Czechisation.15 Many Bohemian Germans responded by joining the German nationalist and völkisch organisations, like the Pan-Germans, a völkisch, antisemitic and Slavophob Pan-German movement that insisted on Bohemia’s historically German character and opposed any concessions to the Czechs. The activities of the German nationalist organisations were mirrored by similar organisations on the Czech side, which made it increasingly difficult for the government to navigate the ethnic tensions. The conflict escalated in 1897, when the government of Count Casimir Felix Badeni passed a language law that put German and Czech speakers on an equal footing in Bohemia. Yet the protests among German speakers throughout the province and the monarchy at large caused a national crisis that led to a dismissal of the Badeni government and a repeal of the new language laws. Frank’s father, a primary school teacher, was an ardent supporter of the Pan-Germans. He named his son, born just a few months after Badeni affair, after Karl Hermann Wolf, a leading protagonist of the German protest movement against Badeni’s language laws. In this case, nomen est omen. Karl Hermann embraced his father’s views and joined already in his youth various nationalist organisations, among them the German gymnastics movement, and refused to ever learn Czech.16 When the war broke out and he reached military age, he was eager to serve but was declared unfit for service because of having lost his right eye during childhood. He enrolled instead as a law student in Prague in 1916 but dropped out after a few semesters. By the war’s end, he just completed a one-year certificate at Prague’s Trade Academy. Like many young, nationalist-minded men of his time, Frank considered the lack of combat experience a serious personal deficit. He compensated by joining the German paramilitary groups that mushroomed after the war and got involved in the territorial conflicts that unfolded during the formation of the new nation-states of Central Europe. While the skirmishes along the borders of the new state of Czechoslovakia were relatively minor, Frank claimed that he also participated in the storming of St. Anne Mountain (Góra Świętej Anny) in Upper Silesia in 1921, one of the major clashes between German and Polish militias.17 The paramilitary activities had little impact on the decision-making processes at the Paris Peace Conference. In September 1919, the Allied and Associate Powers signed the Treaty of St. Germain with Austria. The treaty determined that the Bohemian Lands would become part of Czechoslovakia in their entirety, including the predominantly German-speaking border regions that became known as the Sudetenland in the 1930s. Together with more than three million ethnic Germans, Frank became a Czechoslovak citizen.

Volksdeutsch revisionism  49

Like many of Czechoslovakia’s German citizens, who constituted close to a quarter of the overall population, Frank perceived the consequences of WWI as national humiliation, loss of status and a violation of the right to national selfdetermination for the Germans. Since 1918, he no longer belonged to a privileged nationality in monarchy headed by a German dynasty but was now member of a national minority in a nation-state that favoured the titular nation of Czechs and Slovaks. While Czechoslovakia’s constitution guaranteed the equality of all citizens, regardless of ethnicity, and while the government pursued a policy that tended to be more tolerant of the country’s ethnic minorities than this was the case in some of the other nation-states of East Central Europe, curbing the influence of the Germans in the Bohemian Lands was part of the nation-building project. Czechoslovakia’s Germans too had thus reason to feel like the “orphans of Versailles,” to use the words with which historian Richard Blanke described the prevailing sentiment with the German minority of Western Poland.18 If Czechoslovakia’s Germans had difficulties accepting the legitimacy of the new state, Frank went further than that. He in 1919 joined the German Nationalist Socialist Workers’ Party (DNSAP), a radical völkisch party that categorically refused to cooperate with the Czechoslovak state and demanded a far-reaching autonomy for the predominantly German border regions, if not their secession. With such demands, the DNSAP targeted a pillar of the post-war order. Czechoslovakia was the strongest national economy in East Central Europe. It was also a significant military power supplied by a modern domestic defence industry. A weakening of Czechoslovakia, let alone the secession of the strategically important border regions with Austria and Germany, would have compromised the entire post-war order. For the proponents of this order it was thus a sign of hope that the radical völkisch parties in Czechoslovakia held only limited appeal in the 1920s. As long as Czechoslovakia prospered economically and provided a sense of political stability after the turmoil of war and civil war, its German citizens came to accept the new realities and voted mostly for parties that were willing to cooperate with the government in Prague.19 Frank remained steadfast in his opposition. Typical for the German völkisch activists in East Central Europe, he entertained close relations to Germany. In 1923, he relocated to Saxony to complete a bookseller apprenticeship. Upon his return to Czechoslovakia in 1926, he opened a publishing house and bookstore in Karlsbad, specialising in völkisch literature.20 When the Great Depression reached the country, Frank’s business went down but his political career took off. The economic crisis hit the outdated consumer industries in the predominantly German border regions particularly hard, and the economic recovery took longer than in the predominantly Czech-inhabited parts of the country, fuelling conspiracy theories that the government in Prague deliberately discriminated the Germans. When then in January 1933 the Nazis took over the government in Germany and implemented an economic program that pulled the country out of the recession faster than any nation in the world, the political attitude among Czechoslovakia’s Germans began to change. They increasingly turned to parties that called for a

50  Gregor Thum

close cooperation with Nazi Germany and demanded regional autonomy for the Sudetenland, as Czechoslovakia’s predominantly German-inhabited borderlands came now increasingly known.21 In the fall of 1933, Konrad Henlein, the leader of the German gymnastics movement in Czechoslovakia, founded the Sudeten German Home Front, later renamed Sudeten German Party (SdP). The party tried to unite the country’s Germans and strove for a rhetoric more moderate than the radical völkisch parties, such as the soon-to-be-banned DNSAP. But it absorbed many of their members and functionaries. Among them was Frank, who soon became Henlein’s closest political ally. Put in charge of party propaganda, he could take some of the credit for the SdP’s spectacular success during the national elections of 1935. The party gained 63% of the vote cast for all German parties and more than 15% of the national vote, making it the second largest party in parliament.22 Frank assumed the position of speaker of the SdP faction. He was not interested in constructive parliamentary work but used his position to relentlessly attack Czechoslovakia’s domestic order and foreign policy.23 Unlike Henlein, who in 1937 might have been pressured into becoming an executioner of Hitler’s foreign policy, Frank was from the outset an ideologically committed collaborator. He travelled back and forth between Czechoslovakia and Germany, served as a liaison between SdP and the German government, and accepted the clandestine funding with which Berlin supported the SdP. As Frank declared in a speech in 1936, he aimed at “a fundamental reorganisation of Europe beyond capitalism and Bolshevism,” now that “the old ideologies of the West and their post-war creations have completely failed.”24 The destruction of Czechoslovakia through a secession of the Sudetenland was a critical part of this reorganisation. After the Munich Conference in the fall of 1938, when France and Britain conceded to the immediate German annexation of the Sudetenland, Hitler appointed Henlein as head of the civil administration there. But Henlein never gained much influence in Berlin. Frank, on the other hand, entered the inner circle of power of the Nazi leadership. Hitler and Himmler saw in him the hardliner they thought they needed in the Bohemian Lands. When Hitler proclaimed the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia after the invasion of the remaining Czech territories in March 1939, Frank was appointed head of the SS and Police in the Protectorate and state secretary to Reich Protector Konstantin von Neurath, who was placed at the helm of the protectorate’s civil administration. Frank did not disappoint his patrons. When Czech students rioted in Prague in the fall of 1939, Frank did not wait for orders from Berlin but responded immediately with drastic repression and brutality, including summary executions. Joseph Goebbels commented in his diary a few months later: “Neurath is sometimes a bit too soft. But Frank in Prague has the necessary toughness. If push comes to shove, he will become Reich Protector.”25 It is important to note, though, that Frank was not just Hitler’s henchman in Prague. He had his own political vision for the Bohemian Lands, and he was remarkably successful in making this vision Berlin’s policy. In the fall of 1940 he

Volksdeutsch revisionism


submitted a full-fledged program for the region’s Germanisation. Interestingly enough, it was more moderate than other plans circulating at that time. Frank did not share the usually indiscriminatingly anti-Slavic rhetoric of the Nazi leadership but argued for a pragmatic approach that would keep the strategically important Bohemian defence industry running by avoiding alienating, let alone deporting, the skilled Czech labour force. Frank went even further and claimed that the Czechs, unlike other Slavic people, had absorbed over centuries so much German blood that their racial value came close to that of the Germans. This would allow to keep half of the Czech population in place to undergo a gradual Germanisation process, whereas the other half, consisting of the racially undesirable and political hostile elements, would need to be deported and subjected to “special treatment.”26 We do not know if Frank actually believed in his racial theories regarding the Germanised Czech blood, but Hitler and Himmler appreciated the combination of völkisch radicalism and economic pragmatism. They from now on trusted Frank’s leadership in defining the policy in the Bohemian Lands. This did not even change with the arrival of the ambitious Reinhard Heydrich, who assumed the office as Deputy Protector of Bohemia and Moravia in the fall of 1941. As much as Heydrich liked to brag about his “innovative approach” in the protectorate, he largely followed Frank’s recommendations from 1940. Frank himself was wise enough to not point this out and leave the stage to Heydrich. This allowed Frank to remain the figure who pulled the strings in Prague – until the very end of the war.27 Frank thus bore primary responsibility for the brutality of a German occupation regime that killed several hundred thousand Czechoslovak citizens, most of them Jews. At the same time, his pragmatism on the nationality question allowed for a regime that was significantly less destructive and produced far fewer victims than the German occupation regimes in the Polish, Soviet or Yugoslav territories.

Max Hildebert Boehm The biography of Max Hildebert Boehm (1891–1968) shows similarities with that of Karl Hermann Frank, in particular the childhood experience of a gradually eroding status of a German borderland community, even though the Baltic and the Bohemian German communities were different. Boehm was born in Wenden (Cēsis), a small town in the Russian province of Livland, where his father taught at the Alexander II Gymnasium, a prestigious secondary school with German as language of instruction. His mother Emilie Schulz had grown in up as a foster child of Baroness von Stackelberg, one of the old Baltic aristocratic families. Boehm was thus socialised into to the upper stratum of Baltic German society, a very specific social formation in Russia’s north-western provinces of Estonia, Livland and Courland. While the Germans did not count much more than 5% of the provinces’ overall population, with a significant larger share in towns and cities, they dominated the provinces’ political, social, economic and

52  Gregor Thum

cultural life, based on centuries-long privileges and a far-reaching provincial autonomy.28 Into the late nineteenth century, German speakers constituted the bulk of both the provincial aristocracy and the educated middle class. Most of the priests and teachers, the civil servants and municipal employees, the merchants and shopkeepers, as well as the free professions considered themselves Germans. The Baltic Germans ran the three provinces like German Protestant cultural enclaves within the Russian Empire, supported by a full-fledged German-language educational system that was crowned by the University of Dorpat. Apart from this, the Baltic Germans enjoyed enormous influence throughout the empire’s administration, diplomatic corps and military leadership. However, change was in the air in the second half of the nineteenth century, not unlike in the Bohemian Lands. If the share of Russian speakers within the upper social stratum of the Baltic provinces remained small, it grew steadily, so did the share of Jews, who leaned towards either German or Russian culture. The overwhelming majority of the provinces’ population, however, consisted of Estonian speakers in the north, and Latvian speakers in the south. Most were peasants or belonged to the cities’ and towns’ lower social strata. Yet the Estonian and Latvian middle classes were on the rise, and Estonian and Latvian national activists were increasingly assertive in calling for political participation and ending the regional dominance of the Germans. With the latter demand they could count on certain sympathies in St. Petersburg. The Russian government had been pursuing a policy of centralisation throughout the nineteenth century that aimed at reducing the special status and the privileges of certain provinces and social groups. It also included promoting a better knowledge of Russian throughout the empire. The Baltic Germans were quite successful in defending their traditional rights and their German-language school system, but their position came increasingly under attack not only by Estonian and Latvian political aspirations but also by a growing Russian nationalist lobby that took issue with the special status of the Baltic provinces and disproportional influence of the Baltic Germans. During the reign of Emperor Alexander III between 1881 and 1894, the push for the empire’s centralisation and Russification intensified. A Baltic educational system based on German as the principal language of instruction seemed no longer acceptable.29 Boehm’s family experienced these political changes first-hand. In 1892, Boehm’s father lost his job, as the Alexander II Gymnasium closed in response to Russification policies. The family moved to Dorpat, where Boehm’s father found employment at a private high school where German continued to be the language of instruction. Yet in 1902, following the path many Baltic Germans took in response to the Russification policy, the Boehms emigrated to Germany. Their children were supposed to grow up in a German cultural environment. It was an irony, though, that Boehm’s father found a teaching position in Alsace-Lorraine, the strongly French-oriented province in the south-west that Germany annexed in 1871 and would have to cede with the Treaty of Versailles. “The strangely

Volksdeutsch revisionism  53

fateful path of my life,” Boehm later wrote, “took me from the borderland in the north-east, located outside of Bismarck’s empire, to the imperial land in the south-west, to Alsace-Lorraine, which was to become the second home I lost.”30 The German borderlands would become Boehm’s life-long passion. After studying at various German universities, Boehm defended a dissertation in philosophy in Berlin on 4 August 1914, the day Britain declared war on Germany. Like Frank, he was eager to be sent to the front right away, but again like Frank, he was to his embarrassment declared unfit for service – in this case because of “short-sightedness and general physical weakness.”31 Boehm went on to fight the war with other means, as wartime political commentator with some of Germany’s leading journals. He was well connected, partly owing to his Baltic background. Already as a student he got in contact with leading figures of German academic and public life, among them the Baltic Germans Adolf von Harnack and Paul Rohrbach, but also Hans Delbrück, Georg Simmel and Friedrich Naumann.32 Most of them were liberals, as was Boehm until 1914. But with the outbreak of the war, he moved to the political Right. He began to write about the unification of the German people through the common battlefield experience and the formation of a new kind and enlarged German Empire that would break with the old world, with Western liberalism in particular, and lead the continent into a new future.33 Boehm’s move to the political Right, his hypernationalism and the glorification of the battle experience (he himself lacked) were not unusual for a German citizen of his generation and social background. By 1916, Germany’s need for new recruits had become urgent enough to draft also Boehm. After serving first as librarian at the General Staff in Berlin, he in February 1917 managed to be sent to the Baltics, where he worked as clerk in the German military administration of the provincial capital of Mitau ( Jelgava). In March 1918, only a few weeks after the new Soviet government had to sign the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk that brought large parts of Western Russia under control of the Central Powers, Boehm was transferred to the press office of the 8th Army in Riga. There he worked under the command of Max Erwin von Scheubner-Richter, the Baltic German who would become a towering figure of the radical Right.34 Like in the case of Frank, the experience of defeat in 1918 was not the politically transformative moment for Boehm. Boehm broke with his hitherto liberal views already by 1915, by subscribing to an extreme imperialist agenda akin to the ideas of the Pan-Germans, combined with a publicly uttered view on German–Jewish relations that came as a surprise to many. Reviewing a book by the eminent German Jewish philosopher Hermann Cohen in the Preussische Jahrbücher in 1915, Boehm rejected Cohen’s idea of a cultural convergence between Germans and Jews. He instead claimed a mutual “antipathy of the blood,” a “racial opposition” between “Aryans” and Jews that existed regardless of sometimes friendly individual relations and even happy marriages.35 Boehm’s antisemitism was völkisch oriented. He stayed clear of conspiracy theories but advocated for a separation between what he thought were two different

54  Gregor Thum

peoples. Jews, he suggested, should enjoy the right to hospitality in Germany but not full citizenship. With these remarks Boehm questioned the very principles of liberalism and Germany’s constitution of 1871 that did not make a difference between citizens of various religious and ethnic backgrounds. He alienated many of his liberal friends and mentors, such as Georg Simmel, who broke off all contact. But they were welcomed by antisemites as well as some Zionists, who took them as support in their fight against Jewish assimilation into German culture. In 1933, Boehm would step forward with another widely discussed article on German–Jewish relations, this time in response to the anti-Jewish laws the new Nazi government just passed. Boehm defended these laws as an overdue policy of “dissimilation” that would finally remove the Jews “from the close, often parasitic community with the German people.”36 In the same year he published his Cohen review, Boehm warned of taking too liberal an approach in the territories the German armies conquered in the east. In particular, he polemicised against “the sentimental view that it would be Germany’s sacred duty to feed the arrogance of miniature nations of a foreign tongue.”37 Boehm advocated for the German annexation of Russia’s Baltic provinces. He also wanted the allegedly “colonial character” of the land be maintained. It was to remain a place where the more adventurous, youthful natures would find the opportunities to live out their energy in a way no longer possible in the densely populated and overly ordered world of Western Europe.38 It was the projection of Frederick Jackson Turner’s American frontier thesis onto Germany’s eastern borderlands – just deprived of Turner’s liberal argument. In 1917, Boehm further elaborated on these frontier ideas by suggesting that the German imperial drive knew since the Middle Ages only two principal directions. On the one hand, the Germans were pulled southward, driven by the idea of renewing the Roman Empire; on the other, they went east to colonise Slavic land. Whereas the first had played a disastrous role in German history, as it accomplished little while weakening the core German territories, the latter laid “a firm foundation for future German greatness on which we still stand today, especially today.”39 The war would now provide the opportunity to return to the Baltics their “splendid mission, defiantly and firmly standing as the German Reich’s eastern march, the face turned toward the east.”40 With this vision, Boehm formulated a core element of Hitler’s imperialist program. In 1924, Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf: “We stop the eternal Germanic drive to the south and west of Europe and direct the gaze toward the land in the east.”41 Given that Boehm published these thoughts in a booklet produced in a large print run for soldiers at the front, it is quite possible that it was here where Hitler found the inspiration for his often quoted statement. With the hopes for German imperial greatness crushed in 1918, and after witnessing that also the activities of German militias against the Polish statebuilding activities in Germany’s eastern territories were to no avail, Boehm joined in Berlin the networks of mostly young radical nationalist intellectuals who opposed the post-war political order. These intellectuals, who historians

Volksdeutsch revisionism  55

later labelled “conservative revolutionaries,” rejected the conservatism of the old days and shared with the radical Left the belief that revolution was necessary “to lift out of the saddle the liberal-capitalist bourgeoisie, the bearer of world reaction,” as Boehm formulated it.42 Apart from his engagement with the “Conservative Revolution,” Boehm became a leading theoretician of the völkisch movement. He found employment with the Political College (Politisches Kolleg) in Berlin, a research and teaching institution with a right-wing political bent founded in 1920. Boehm took over the nationalities section, which in 1926 was turned into a separate and partly government-funded Institute for Frontier and Foreign Germandom (Institut für Grenz- und Auslanddeutschtum). Boehm described as its main goal the academic training of future borderland activists, which meant cadres for a transnational German revisionist movement in Central Europe.43 All this would have made Boehm a perfect candidate for the Nazi Party. People with a Volksdeutsch background were in demand, as they were able to provide the regional expertise needed for the implementation of Hitler’s lebensraum program. However, it was this very biographical experience that made Boehm also keep a certain distance to the concept of the racially pure German people that informed Nazi rhetoric and ideology. In fact, Boehm uttered his concern that too narrow a definition of the German volk by descent could not be reconciled with the project of German empire-building. After all, territorial expansion required integrating peoples of various ethnic backgrounds and linguistic traditions. Boehm spoke here as former citizen of the multi-ethnic Russian Empire. He could probably not imagine in the 1920 that Nazi Germany’s eastward expansion would be accompanied by large-scale resettlements, expulsions and mass extermination. In his book The German Borderlands, published in 1925, Boehm expressed the hope that the German people, fragmented more than ever, could be mentally reconstituted as “a community of fate.” Boehm wanted that community to welcome inhabitants of the borderlands who identified with the German nation, even though they were of non-German descent and spoke different languages. He considered this inclusiveness a precondition for the creation of a true German empire. “The nation-state in the Western sense is not the last word of German history (…) The Greater German goal cannot at all be the centralised state of the West but only an empire.”44 It was the same distance from pure völkisch doctrine that shaped the politics of Karl Hermann Frank, a certain pragmatism in nationality questions that was typical for many Volksdeutsch activists. Unlike the Hitlers, Himmlers and Heydrichs, whose experience did not go beyond the ethnically homogenous world of central Germany, the Boehms and Franks experienced the complexity, ambiguity and fluidity of ethnic and national orientations in the borderlands. Boehm in particular knew that the Baltic German community was to a significant degree the product of voluntary assimilation of people of various ethnic background. This consciousness did not make him a better person. But it made him more inclined to advocate a pragmatic course in the politics of race and nationality.

56  Gregor Thum

In the fall of 1933, a year after he published his opus magnum The Independent People, an attempt to put ethnopolitics and völkisch humanities on a sound theoretical foundation, Boehm reached the pinnacle of his academic career. With the help of Carl August Emge, the first university curator in Germany with Nazi party membership, Boehm was appointed professor at the University of Jena. The position, dedicated to the study of volk theory and volk sociology, was created for Boehm personally, without him meeting the formal prerequisites for a professorship in Germany.45 But Boehm was mistaken if he expected that this would be the beginning of an even greater academic and political career. While the new Nazi leadership appreciated Boehm’s expertise in nationality questions and his public defence of the anti-Jewish laws, Boehm was never offered a political office. Not even his application for admission into the Nazi Party in 1937 succeeded. Boehm had not only friends but also enemies within the Nazi hierarchy. It probably did not help that had ridiculed Alfred Rosenberg’s concept of race in 1932. More importantly, not everybody was convinced that Boehm’s ethnopolitical theories were in line with Nazi ideology. Boehm was repeatedly criticised for what was called a lack of clarity on race issues.46 He responded by retreating into his academic work. Also, he shifted his interest more towards the less contested western borderlands and the peaceful interactions between borderland populations, a move that would help him after 1945.47

Paul Schiemann In terms of personality and political convictions, Paul Schiemann (1876–1944) could hardly be any more different than Max Hildebert Boehm. Both grew up in the same world of the Baltic German educated middle class, experienced the same Russification policy, and worried about the prospects of the Baltic German community. But unlike Boehm, Schiemann remained a liberal. The fact that he was fifteen years older than Boehm was a factor. The right-wing radicalism of the interwar was a movement of mostly young people.48 Schiemann was born in Mitau ( Jelgava), the provincial capital of Courland, as son of Nadine and Julius Schiemann, a lawyer and city councillor.49 Paul and his brother Oscar received private lessons, as their parents wanted to ensure their children got a German-language education at a time when the Baltic school system began to feel the Russification policy. In 1893, Paul and Oscar were sent to Germany to attend high school there. They stayed for their university studies. Oscar became eventually a professor of medicine in Berlin, the second Professor Schiemann at that time in the German capital. The other was their uncle Theodor, who since 1892 held Germany’s first professorship in East European History at the University of Berlin and was known as conservative public intellectual with close ties to Emperor Wilhelm II.50 Paul studied law in Berlin, Marburg, Munich and Bonn, interrupted by a year of military service in Russia. In 1902, he defended a dissertation at the

Volksdeutsch revisionism  57

university of Greifswald. As a Russian citizen he was not allowed to practice law in Germany, and his request to be released from Russian citizenship and naturalise in Germany was denied. The Russian authorities did not want to let go a trained reserve officer.51 Paul thus returned to Russia in 1903 and embarked on a career as a theatre critic with the Revalsche Zeitung, the leading newspapers in the provincial capital of Estonia, the northernmost of the three Baltic provinces. He made himself soon a name with progressive views on theatre and liberal political opinions, at a time when Baltic German society was overwhelmingly conservative and convinced that only the defence of the old order could secure the community’s survival. Schiemann too cared about the future of the Baltic Germans. But the eruption of violence during the Russian Revolution of 1905, when the German nobility saw many of their land estates go up in flames, confirmed his belief that the social and ethnic tensions in the region need to be defused by searching for compromise and making significant concessions to the national aspirations of Latvians and Estonians. In 1907, he took a position as leading political commentator with the Rigasche Rundschau, then the only liberal German newspaper in the Baltics, which gave him ample opportunity to promote his views. He made many enemies among his peers but established good relations with many Latvian and Estonian political activists. When the First World War broke out, Schiemann reported for military service and fought loyally in the Russian army like most Baltic Germans, was wounded once and decorated twice. In Schiemann’s case, this loyalty was maybe less self-evident. Not only had he established close friendships in Germany but in 1914 he had also married Charlotte Symone, an actress with German citizenship. His brother Oscar served in the German army. To make matters worse, the Russian authorities deported their mother Anna to Siberia, together with hundreds of thousands of other Russian citizens, mostly Germans and Jews, that they deemed untrustworthy to remain in proximity to the front line, after German troops began conquering Russian territory in 1915.52 Paul kept honouring his oath to the tsar, reflecting a political attitude he maintained throughout his life. He never thought in völkisch terms, at least not to the degree that he would put ethnic orientation above citizenship. This did not even change with the abolition of the Russian monarchy during the February Revolution of 1917, when many Baltic Germans began to shift their allegiance to German Emperor Wilhelm II, whose troops advanced farther and farther on Baltic territory, making a German annexation a realistic possibility. Schiemann continued to serve in the Russian army even after the October Revolution, when this army fell apart and many officers joined the emerging anti-Bolshevik forces. Only after a Bolshevik commissar wrongly accused him of theft and threatened with a people’s tribunal did he flee across the frontline to German-occupied Riga in March 1918. But liberal Schiemann was not welcome there. It was the time when the region’s conservative elite, supported by the imperialist lobby in Germany, prepared for the creation of a separate Baltic state under German military

58  Gregor Thum

protection that would restore the old social order and suppress the Estonian and Latvian national movements.53 After enduring a temporary arrest by German military authorities in Riga because of a denunciation, Schiemann relocated in the summer of 1918 to Berlin, where the liberal circles around Max and Alfred Weber, Friedrich Naumann and Hans Delbrück showed great interest in hearing his views on the Baltic question. On Delbrück’s invitation, Schiemann published an article, “On the Prospects of the Baltic State,” in the Preussische Jahrbücher. Schiemann considered a unified Baltic state possible, provided it met also Estonian and Latvian national aspirations, guaranteed parity between all national groups, and avoided any attempt at Germanisation. Already the slightest suspicion in this direction would turn Latvians and Estonians into bitter enemies. Building on the ideas of Karl Renner and Otto Bauer for Austria-Hungary, Schiemann recommended electing the Baltic state parliament through separate national curiae for Estonians, Latvians and Germans, and additional Jewish curiae for city parliaments.54 Schiemann returned to Riga in the summer 1919 to take over the editorship of the Rigasche Rundschau. By that time, the city had become the capital of a new Republic of Latvia, and Schiemann happily accepted Latvian citizenship. He founded the liberal German Balt Democratic Party, was elected into the national parliament in 1920, and led until 1933 the German parliamentary faction. As journalist and parliamentarian, Schiemann fought for the rights of the Baltic German minority and opposed all forms of extreme nationalism. It was an uphill battle, though, he would eventually lose. He faced the opposition of German conservatives who were unwilling to accept the new political realities and of Latvian nationalists who saw little reason to make concessions to the tiny group of ethnic Germans now that the tables had turned. The battle over Riga’s street signs in 1923 was symptomatic of this situation. Schiemann’s advocacy for replacing Latvian-only street signs with the trilingual signs in Latvian, Russian and German that had already existed between 1901 and 1920 triggered a heated debate in the city parliament and the local newspapers. But in the end, the city parliament rejected the proposal. Schiemann commented with disappointment in the Rigasche Rundschau in 1924 that the rejection of trilingual street signs will have the effect “that a coming German generation (…) would not be able to name their own place of residence in their own language.”55 Schiemann faced similar challenges in his fight for minority rights on the international stage. He was co-founder and Latvian representative of the Association of German Minorities in Europe, established in 1923, and served as vice-president of the Congress of European Nationalities, founded at the seat of the League of Nations in Geneva in 1925. In the words of Josip Wilfan, president of the Congress, Schiemann was “the thinker of the minorities movement.”56 Yet the European minority institutions led to the encounter of people with very different political agendas. It was also the place where Schiemann got into close

Volksdeutsch revisionism


contact with the German völkisch movement and the attempts of the German government to instrumentalise the “minority question.” Since Germany was willing to generously fund the international minority organisations, Berlin’s influence grew steadily.57 Schiemann faced the same problem at home. The Rigasche Rundschau, Schiemann’s most important mouthpiece in Latvia, would not have survived without the financial support from Berlin. He thus accepted that Concordia, a covert institution of the German Foreign Office, bought the newspaper by 1924. He could only secure a guarantee that he would enjoy full freedom as editor-in-chief, plus a lifelong pension for him and his wife should he be fired.58 Schiemann remained firm in his opposition to radical nationalism and Germany’s revisionist politics. But he found common ground with völkisch activists in as much as he shared the critique of the Western nation-state model and its implementation in East Central Europe. He understood that the region’s new nation-states were in most cases multi-ethnic states that aspired to become nation-states only through the assimilation of their minorities – with the tacit approval of the Western powers who too considered ethnic minorities a potential source of friction and political instability. They were therefore not opposed to measured assimilationist policies if they promised to gradually solve the “minority problem” without causing serious conflicts. Also, they had little interest in preserving the large German ethnic communities throughout East Central Europe that provided Germany and Austria with significant influence in the region and could be instrumentalised for irredentist politics.59 Schiemann hoped to safeguard the German minorities from the politics of assimilation. Like Boehm and other völkisch activists, he advocated the introduction of corporate nationality rights that would complement the existing international system of minority protection based largely on individual rights. But here is where the commonalities ended. Schiemann and his allies argued for “minority” rights, whereas the völkisch activists promoted volksgruppen rights, ethnic group rights. The semantic difference mattered, as it came to mark opposing political agendas. Schiemann was committed to the principle of equality between all nationalities and began to advocate for the representation of Jews in the European Nationality Congress as soon as Hitler’s government passed the first anti-Jewish laws in 1933.60 The promotion of volksgruppen rights, on the other hand, tended to come with a hidden agenda of replacing the order of Paris with a German-dominated völkisch continental order.61 In one of his most influential texts, titled “National Community and State Community,” Schiemann promoted the concept of the “a-national state,” a state committed to the well-being of all its citizens, regardless of their nationality. That state would accept that culture and education were the domains of the nationalities, who for that purpose form national corporations, free associations of citizens according to a self-declared nationality. Schools would be publicly funded but run by these corporations, which would assure that they would never become institutions used to assimilate national minorities.62

60  Gregor Thum

Schiemann realised that the Great Depression ruined the prospects for the realisation of such ideas. Radical nationalist parties were now on the rise everywhere in Europe, with Germany’s Nazi Party taking the lead. In what would become his final address to the Association of German Minorities in Europe in June 1932, Schiemann condemned “the new nationalist wave” and the concept of the ethnically pure nation. He also warned of the dangers of German nationalism and concluded his speech with a call to curb state power in the interest of the people.63 In the summer of 1933, while suffered increasingly from poor health, Schiemann stepped down as editor of the Rigasche Rundschau. The German Foreign Office, now controlled by the Nazis, agreed to honour the existing pension agreement under the condition that Schiemann would never publish again in Riga’s German press. In the fall of same year, Schiemann gave up his mandate in the Latvian parliament, half a year before the Latvian nationalist Kārlis Ulmanis toppled the government, closed the parliament, and established a popular rightwing dictatorship under the slogan “Latvia for the Latvians.” Schiemann’s retreat from the international minority organisations, now largely controlled by Berlin, followed in 1935.64 After spending a few years in Austrian exile, Schiemann spent the last years of this life together with his wife Charlotte in Riga, retreated to their small wooden house in one of the city’s green suburbs. From there the couple witnessed first Latvia’s Soviet and then German wartime occupation. Their last bold act of political resistance against völkisch nationalism was the protection of Valentina Freimane, a young Latvian Jewess who the Schiemanns hid in their house for a year and half and thus helped her to survive the Holocaust. It was Freimane to whom Schiemann dictated his memoirs before he passed in June 1944.65 Karl Herrmann Frank remained in office until the day of Germany’s surrender. He left Prague the next day to submit himself to the US forces but was extradited to Czechoslovakia a few months later. In May 1946, the National Court in Prague sentenced Frank under much fanfare to death and hung him publicly.66 Max Hildebert Boehm witnessed the war’s end in Jena. Convinced that he had little to fear from the new authorities, as he could claim to have been criticised by the Nazis and denied entry into the party, he resumed his academic work. But the Soviet administration deprived him of his professorship in Jena. He relocated to the British zone of occupation, passed the denazification procedure as “exonerated” in 1948, and built a second academic career as a historian of Eastern Europe in West Germany, albeit outside the university.67

Conclusion The biographies of Frank, Boehm and Schiemann, however limited the conclusions are one can draw from such a small sample, allow for some insights and considerations regarding the Volksdeutsch engagement with the right-wing revisionist movement of the interwar years. To begin with, there was no typical path from the experience of German ethnic minorities in East Central Europe

Volksdeutsch revisionism


to embracing Nazi Germany’s political agenda, even though many Volksdeutsche felt to have been wronged by the decisions made at the Paris Peace Conference, or at least that the post-war order did not sufficiently secure the interests of national minorities. But this did not mean that all Volksdeutsche became active opponents of the new political order. Most acquiesced in the new realities and went on with their lives, however grudgingly. Those who became political activists did not necessarily join right-wing radical organisations. There were also many convinced liberals and social democrats among the ethnic Germans abroad. While they too were usually not happy with the post-war order and could at times find some common ground with the völkisch movement, they were willing to work within the existing domestic and international political order towards gradually improving the situation of the German minorities, as Schiemann’s case shows. As far as those Volksdeutsche are concerned who can be labelled right-wing radicals, actively fighting against the order of Paris, three conclusions can be drawn. They concern the moment of radicalisation, the relationship with Germany, and a specific Volksdeutsch approach to nationality questions informed by the lived experience in the ethnically mixed borderlands. Recent historical studies provide important evidence that it was not so much the experience of the First World War itself that radicalised young men especially in Germany, Austria and Hungary and created the militant subculture out of which the right-wing and fascist movements of the interwar years arose, but the experience of defeat, revolution, territorial loss and civil war between the paramilitary formations that mushroomed in Central Europe after 1918.68 To a degree, the biographies of Karl Hermann Frank and Max Hildebert Boehm provide further evidence for this thesis. Both Frank and Boehm experienced the defeat of the Central Powers as national catastrophe, and while neither of them saw much combat during the war, they were at least to a degree involved in the post-war paramilitary activities. At the same time, their biographies complicate the thesis of post-war radicalisation. Frank and Boehm entered the turmoil in 1918 with the fundamentals of their political convictions in place. Their opposition against the post-war order was largely informed by their pre-war experience. Frank and Boehm witnessed the erosion of a once strong German position in the eastern borderlands of German settlement already during their childhood around 1900. From their perspective, which can be generalised for many ethnic German communities in East Central Europe, the national catastrophe of 1918 appeared as culmination of a long-term development. Also, they had learned long before 1918 that ethnic Germans could not always rely on the state to defend German national interests against competing national movements. They were thus better prepared than many of their peers in Germany to organise themselves by engaging in transnational völkisch networks that began to spread and thicken after 1918. It is thus no wonder that Volksdeutsch activists, most prominently Max Erwin von Scheubner-Richter, but also people like Boehm, took leading roles in the

62  Gregor Thum

emerging revisionist circles. Interestingly enough, Paul Schiemann, whose politics stood in stark contrast to these circles, chose similar means. He too did not rely on the state to improve the situation of national minorities but built a transnational European network of minority organisations to serve as a counterweight to state power. Second, the Volksdeutsch right-wing radicals cannot be separated from the organisational structures they found and helped developing in Germany, as already the opening example of Karl Stumpp indicated. The activists from the German minority communities in East Central Europe did not need to be told by their peers in post-war Germany what to do. But the organisational and financial support they received through nationalist networks and organisations as well as government institutions in Germany was critical for their political activities. In general, it is important to keep in mind the back and forth between Germany and the German ethnic communities abroad. These transnational interactions shaped the lives of Frank and Boehm, and also of Schiemann. We should therefore think of a transnational German intellectual space in Central Europe with various centres rather than a one-directional centre-periphery relation between Germany and the German communities abroad. Historians did not sufficiently explore the role of Austria in this context. It is probably more significant than usually assumed. Third, while the borderland experience had often a radicalising effect on ethnic Germans who felt the need for drastic political action to defend or regain the lost status of their communities, there is also evidence that the ethnically heterogeneous milieu of the borderlands could immunise against too ideological an understanding of race and nationality. Boehm and Frank were radical nationalists and imperialists, and Frank in particular did not shy away from promoting deportation and genocide to realise the envisioned greater German empire. But neither of them fully subscribed to the Nazi doctrine that “blood” defined who was German and who was not. They knew out of their own experience that assimilation processes were a reality of life in ethnically mixed territories, and that one’s ethnic heritage did not necessarily define one’s national identification. In this regard, they departed from a critical element of Nazi ideology and rhetoric. Boehm did so openly, Frank might have simply used Nazi rhetoric regarding the Czechs’ German blood to shield the urgently needed Czech labour force from deportation and extermination. Historians of Nazi Germany have recently pointed out that the concept of the “racial state” needs to be taken with a grain of salt. After all, there was a significant discrepancy between Nazi rhetoric and political practice, between the claim of building a “racially pure” Germanic empire and the sometimes surprisingly pragmatic policy of assimilating populations that were obviously not of German ethnic heritage if that helped closing the gap between the size of the annexed territories and the lack of settlers of “pure German blood,” or if it allowed meeting the growing demand of soldiers towards the end of the war. With Frank’s and Boehm’s examples in mind, it would be worth exploring more systematically

Volksdeutsch revisionism


to what degree it was the influence of Volksdeutsch activists that pushed the Nazi authorities towards a more flexible, more traditionally imperial approach to the nationality question, even though this pragmatism did not have any significant impact on the policies regarding the Jews.69

Notes 1 I would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments. Carl Uhlig, “Auslanddeutschtum und deutsche Hochschularbeit. Rede des neuen Rektors,” in Ludwig von Köhler, Carl Uhlig (eds.), Reden bei der Rektoratsübergabe am 29. April 1926 im Festsaal der Universität (Tübingen: Mohr, 1926), pp. 12–30; for the quote, p. 12. 2 Norbert Spannenberger. “The Ethnic Policy of the Third Reich toward the Volksdeutsche in Central and Eastern Europe,” in Marina Cattaruzza, Stefan Dyroff and Dieter Langewiesche (eds.), Territorial Revisionism and the Allies of Germany in the Second World War: Goals, Expectations, Practices (New York: Berghahn Books, 2012), pp. 56–71. 3 On Uhlig’s biography, see Fritz Jaeger, “Carl Uhlig zum Gedächtnis,” Geographische Zeitschrift, vol. 44 (1938), pp. 401–408. 4 Stefan Breuer, Die Völkischen in Deutschland: Kaiserreich und Weimarer Republik (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2008); for a definition of the völkisch movement, see pp. 7–22; see also Uwe Puschner, Die völkische Bewegung im wilhelminischen Kaiserreich: Sprache - Rasse - Religion (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2000). 5 See among others, Willi Oberkrome, “Volksgeschichte:” Methodische Innovation und völkische Ideologisierung der deutschen Geschichtswissenschaft 1918–1945 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1993); Michael Fahlbusch (eds.), Handbuch der völkischen Wissenschaften: Akteure, Netzwerke, Forschungsprogramme. 2nd fully revised and expanded ed. (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2017). 6 Hans-Christian Petersen, “The Making of Russlanddeutschtum. Karl Stumpp oder die Mobilisierung einer ‘Volksgruppen’ in der Zwischenkriegszeit,” in Cornelia Eisler and Silke Göttsch-Elten (eds.), Minderheiten im Europa der Zwischenkriegszeit. Wissenschaftliche Konzeptionen, mediale Vermittlung, politische Funktion (Münster: Waxmann, 2017), pp. 163–190. See also Hans-Christian Petersen, “Homogenität statt Vielfalt. Bildungseinrichtungen und die Schaffung ‘auslandsdeutscher’ Volksgruppen: Das Beispiel der Russland- und Bessarabiendeutschen” (Unpublished manuscript). I am grateful to the author for sharing this text. 7 Cornelia Schmitz-Berning, Vokabular des Nationalsozialismus (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1998), pp. 650–652. 8 Michael Kellogg, The Russian Roots of Nazism: White Émigrés and the Making of National Socialism, 1917–1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005). 9 Ralf Gebel, “Heim ins Reich”: Konrad Henlein und der Reichsgau Sudetenland 1938–1945 (München: Oldenbourg, 1999). 10 Catherine Epstein, Model Nazi: Arthur Greiser and the Occupation of Western Poland (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010). 11 Jerzy Kochanowski, Die “Volksdeutschen” in Polen, Frankreich, Ungarn und der Tschechoslowakei. Mythos und Realität (Osnabrück: fibre, 2006); Hans-Christian Petersen and Tobias Weger, “Neue Begriffe, alte Eindeutigkeiten? Zur Konstruktion von ‘deutschen Volksgruppen’ im östlichen Europa,” Jahrbuch des Bundesinstituts für Kultur und Geschichte der Deutschen im östlichen Europa, vol. 25 (2017), pp. 177–198. The literature on German communities abroad is large. For an excellent recent study of a particular community and its relationship with Germany, see John C. Swanson, Tangible Belonging. Negotiating Germanness in Twentieth-Century Hungary (Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh

64  Gregor Thum

12 13 14 15

16 17



20 21 22 23 24


University Press, 2017). On the need to need to take the diversity of minority groups and their political attitudes into account, see Franz Sz. Horváth, “Minorities into Majorities. Sudeten German and Transylvanian Hungarian Political Elites as Actors of Revisionism before and during the Second World War,” in Cattaruzza, Dyroff and Langewiesche (eds.), Territorial Revisionism, pp. 30–55. Ulrich Prehn. Max Hildebert Boehm. Radikales Ordnungsdenken vom Ersten Weltkrieg bis in die Bundesrepublik (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2013), p. 467. See for instance, Martyn Housden, On Their Own Behalf: Ewald Ammende, Europe’s National Minorities and the Campaign for Cultural Autonomy 1920–1936 (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2014). René Küpper, Karl Hermann Frank (1898–1946). Politische Biographie eines sudetendeutschen Nationalsozialisten (München: Oldenbourg, 2010). Václav Houžvička. Czechs and Germans, 1848–2004: The Sudeten Question and the Transformation of Central Europe. Translated by Anna Clare Bryson-Gustová (Prague: Karolinum Press, 2015), pp. 13–72; Pieter M. Judson, The Habsburg Empire: A New History (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2016), pp. 269–332; Arnold Suppan, Hitler - Beneš - Tito: National Conflicts, World Wars, Genocides, Expulsions, and Divided Remembrance in East-Central and Southeastern Europe, 1848–2018 (Wien: Austrian Academy of Sciences, 2019), pp. 103–166. Küpper, Frank, pp. 25–26. Küpper, Frank, pp. 30–37. Küpper offers little solid information on Frank’s combat experiences, mostly based on his own accounts that need to be taken with a grain of salt. For the broader context, see Robert Gerwarth and John Horne (eds.), War in Peace: Paramilitary Violence in Europe after the Great War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012); Robert Gerwarth, The Vanquished. Why the First World War Failed to End (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016). Richard Blanke, Orphans of Versailles: The Germans in Western Poland, 1918–1939 (Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1993). On the problem of national loyalty in Czechoslovakia: Martin Schulze Wessel (ed.), Loyalitäten in der Tschechoslowakischen Republik 1918–1938 (München: Oldenbourg, 2004). Houžvička, Czechs and Germans, pp. 146–148. Birgit Vierling, Kommunikation als Mittel politischer Mobilisierung: Die Sudetendeutsche Partei (SdP) auf ihrem Weg zur Einheitsbewegung in der Ersten Tschechoslowakischen Republik (1933–1938) (Marburg: Herder-Institut, 2014), pp. 31–43. On the political connections of Czechoslovakia’s Germans to Germany, see Marek Jaworski. Vorposten oder Minderheit? Der sudetendeutsche Volkstumskampf in den Beziehungen zwischen der Weimarer Republik und der ČSR (Stuttgart: DVA, 1977). Küpper, Frank, pp. 46–49. Detlef Brandes. Die Sudetendeutschen im Krisenjahr 1938 (München: Oldenbourg, 2008). On the concepts of “Sudetenland” and “Sudeten Germans,” Vierling, Kommunikation, pp. 27–29. For the Frank’s carrier in the SdP, see Küpper, Frank, pp. 51–60; for the history of the SdP, see Vierling, Kommunikation; for a discussion of the election results of 1935, pp. 378–389. Küpper, Frank, pp. 70–76. Karl Hermann Frank, “Der Kampf des Sudetendeutschtums und die Neuordnung Europas.” Speech in Eger on 19 June 1936, quoted in Küpper, Frank, p. 80. On Konrad Henlein, see Ralf Gebel,“Heim ins Reich”: Konrad Henlein und der Reichsgau Sudetenland 1938–1945 (München: Oldenbourg, 1999). Joseph Goebbels, Die Tagebücher, edited by Elke Fröhlich on behalf of the Institut für Zeitgeschichte. 15 vols. (Munich 1993–1998), I/7, p. 345 (12 March 1940), quoted in Küpper, Frank, p. 136. For the student unrests in Prague in the fall of 1939 and the German reactions, see Küpper, Frank, pp. 212–221. On the history of the Bohemian Lands within the Nazi state, see Chad Bryant. Prague in Black: Nazi Rule and Czech Nationalism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007).

Volksdeutsch revisionism  65

26 Küpper, Frank, pp. 164–167. For Frank’s position regarding the Jewish population, which did not depart from the politics followed in Berlin, see Küpper, Frank, pp. 178–189. 27 Küpper, Frank, p. 224. 28 Prehn, Boehm. On the Baltic Germans, see Anders Henriksson, Vassals and Citizens: The Baltic Germans in Constitutional Russia, 1905–1914 (Marburg: Herder-Institut, 2009); Heide W. Whelan, Adapting to Modernity: Family, Caste and Capitalism among the Baltic German Nobility (Wien: Böhlau, 1999). See also Karsten Brüggemann and Katja Wezel, “Nationally Indifferent or Ardent Nationalists? On the Options of Being German in Russia’s Baltic Provinces, 1905–1917,” Kritika. Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History, vol. 20, no. 1 (2019), pp. 39–62. 29 Theodore R. Weeks, Nation and State in Late Imperial Russia: Nationalism and Russification on the Western Frontier, 1863–1914 (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2008); see also Malte Rolf, “Russifizierung, Depolonisierung oder innerer Staatsauf bau? Konzepte imperialer Herrschaft im Königreich Polen (1863–1915),” in Zaur Gasimov (ed.), Kampf um Wort und Schrift. Russifizierung in Osteuropa im 19.–20. Jahrhundert (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012), pp. 51–87. 30 Max Hildebert Boehm, “Mein Weg zur Volkslehre. Versuch einer baltischen Rechenschaft,” Der Deutsche im Osten, vol. 2 (1940), pp. 27–34, quoted in Prehn, Boehm, p. 28. 31 Prehn, Boehm, p. 68. 32 Prehn, Boehm, pp. 48–58. 33 Prehn, Boehm, pp. 62–81. 34 Prehn, Boehm, pp. 90–91. 35 Max Hildebert Boehm, “Vom deutsch-jüdischen Geist,” Preussische Jahrbücher, vol. 162 (1915), pp. 404–420. 36 Max Hildebert Boehm, “Minderheiten, Judenfrage und das neue Deutschland,” Der Ring, vol. 6 (1933), pp. 270–271; see also Prehn, Boehm, pp. 283–284. For a detailed discussion of Boehm’s antisemitism, see Prehn, Boehm, pp. 273–294. 37 Prehn, Boehm, p. 19. 38 Max Hildebert Boehm, Die Krisis des deutschbaltischen Menschen: Eine Studie zum Kulturproblem der Ostseeprovinzen Rußlands (Berlin: Verlag der Grenzboten, 1915), p. 16. 39 Max Hildebert Boehm, Die deutschen Balten in Liv-, Est- und Kurland (Berlin: Siegismund, 1917), pp. 5–6. 40 Boehm, Die deutschen Balten, p. 47. 41 Quoted in Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius. The German Myth of the East: 1800 to the Present (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), p. 175. For the German original, see Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, 405–409. ed. in two vols. (Munich 1939), p. 733. 42 Letter to the historian Georg von below, possibly from 22 October 1920, quoted in Prehn, Boehm, p. 141. See Stefan Breuer, Anatomie der Konservativen Revolution (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1995). 43 Prehn, Boehm, pp. 181–210. 44 Boehm, Grenzlande, p. 273. 45 Prehn, Boehm, pp. 294–295. 46 Prehn, Boehm, pp. 294–311. On Boehm’s critique of Rosenberg, Prehn, Boehm, p. 335. 47 Prehn, Boehm, pp. 354–375. 48 Horváth, Minorities, pp. 39–40. 49 John Hiden, Defender of Nationalities: Paul Schiemann, 1876–1944 (London: Hurst, 2004); Michael Garleff, “Schiemann, Carl Christian Paul,” in Neue Deutsche Biographie (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 2005), pp. 743–744. See also the unfinished autobiography, Paul Schiemann, Zwischen zwei Zeitaltern. Erinnerungen 1903–1919 (Lüneburg: Nordland Druck, 1979); Michael Garleff, “The Historiography of Paul Schiemann,” in Martyn Housden and David J. Smith (eds.), Forgotten Pages in Baltic History. Diversity and Inclusion (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2011), pp. 117–146. For Theodor

66  Gregor Thum

50 51 52 53 54




58 59

60 61

62 63

Schiemann as public intellectual, see Klaus Meyer, Theodor Schiemann als politischer Publizist (Frankfurt: Rütten & Loening, 1956). Klaus Meyer. Theodor Schiemann als politischer Publizist (Frankfurt: Rütten & Loening, 1956). Hiden, Defender, pp. 4–6. Eric Lohr. Nationalizing the Russian Empire: The Campaign against Enemy Aliens during World War I (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003). Hiden, Defender, pp. 24–27. Paul Schiemann, “Über die Aussichten des baltischen Staates,” Preussische Jahrbücher, vol. 173 (1918), pp. 305–319. For his time in Berlin, see Hiden, Defender, pp. 28–30. For the context of Renner’s and Bauer’s ideas, see Judson, Habsburg Empire, pp. 373–374. Adam Brode, “Pride of Place: Interethnic Relations and Urban Space in Riga 1918– 1939,” Unpublished dissertation, University of Pittsburgh, 2019, pp. 194–209; for the quote, Brode, “Pride of Place,” p. 209. Beyond discussing the street sign debate, Brode’s study provides important insights into the uphill battle Schiemann and his allies fought in the 1920s and 1930s for a fair representation of all nationalities in Riga’s public space. See also Adam Brode, “National Activism and Symbolic Space. The Struggle for Riga’s Cathedral Church in 1931,” Journal of Baltic Studies, vol. 48, no. 1 (2017), pp. 67–82. Hiden, Defender, p. 127; on his international activism, see Hiden, Defender, pp. 127– 148. See also Martyn Housden, “National Minorities as Peace Builders? How Three Baltic Germans Responded to the First World War,” Peace & Change, vol. 43 (2018), pp. 5–31. Sabine Bamberger-Stemmann. Der Europäische Nationalitätenkongress 1925 bis 1938. Nationale Minderheiten zwischen Lobbyistentum und Großmachtinteressen (Herder-Institut: Marburg, 2000); Smith, David J., Marina Germane and Martyn Housden, “‘Forgotten Europeans’: Transnational Minority Activism in the Age of European Integration,” Nations and Nationalism, vol. 25, no. 2 (2019), pp. 523–543. Hiden, Defender, p. 99. Carole Fink, “The Minorities Question at the Paris Peace Conference: The Polish Minority Treaty, June 28, 1919,” in Manfred F. Boemeke, Gerald D. Feldman and Elisabeth Glaser (eds.), The Treaty of Versailles: A Reassessment after 75 Years (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 249–274; Erwin Vief haus, Die Minderheitenfrage und die Entstehung der Minderheitenschutzverträge auf der Pariser Friedenskonferenz 1919 (Würzburg: Holzner, 1960). For the broader context, see Michael Schwartz, Ethnische “Säuberungen” in der Moderne: Globale Wechselwirkungen nationalistischer und rassistischer Gewaltpolitik im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert (München: Oldenbourg, 2013), especially pp. 325–361. Hiden, Defender, pp. 213–217. Ulrich Prehn, “‘Volksgruppen Rights’ versus ‘Minorities Protection’: The Evaluation of German and Austrian Political Order Paradigms from the 1920s to 1945,” in Johannes Dafinger and Dieter Pohl (eds.), A New Nationalist Europe under Hitler. Concepts of Europe and Transnational Networks in the National Socialist Sphere of Influence, 1933– 1945 (London: Routledge, 2018), pp. 28–42. On the grey zone between volksgruppen and minority rights, see Housden, “National Minorities.” Paul Schiemann, “Volksgemeinschaft und Staatsgemeinschaft,” Nation und Staat, vol. 1 (1927), pp. 21–41. For a detailed discussion of this concept and its intellectual roots, see Hiden, Defender, pp. 127–148. A version of this speech was published: Paul Schiemann, “Die neue nationalistische Welle,” Nation und Staat, vol. 5 (1932), pp. 799–811. For context, see Hiden, Defender, pp. 191–195. See also Tammo Luther, Volkstumspolitik des Deutschen Reiches, 1933–1938: Die Auslanddeutschen im Spannungsfeld zwischen Traditionalisten und Nationalsozialisten (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 2004).

Volksdeutsch revisionism


64 Hiden, Defender, pp. 208–209. See also Helmut Kause, “Der publizistische Widerstand Paul Schiemanns gegen den Nationalsozialismus in den deutschen Volksgruppen,” in Michael Garleff (ed.), Deutschbalten, Weimarer Republik und Drittes Reich (Köln, Wien: Böhlau, 2001), pp. 197–217. 65 Hiden, Defender, pp. 240–246. Valentina Freimane, “Remembering Paul Schiemann (1876–1944),” Journal of Baltic Studies, vol. 31, no. 4 (2007), pp. 432–437. 66 Küpper, Frank, pp. 398–402; see also Benjamin Frommer, National Cleansing: Retribution against Nazi Collaborators in Postwar Czechoslovakia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 233–236. 67 Regarding Boehm’s post-war career, see Prehn, Boehm, pp. 405–440. 68 Robert Gerwarth, The Vanquished. Why the First World War Failed to End (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016); Robert Gerwarth and John Horne (eds.), War in Peace: Paramilitary Violence in Europe after the Great War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012). 69 Devin O. Pendas, Mark Roseman and Richard F. Wetzell (eds.), Beyond the Racial State: Rethinking Nazi Germany (Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, 2017).

3 CONSERVATIVE AND RADICAL DYNAMICS OF ITALIAN FASCISM An (East) European perspective (1918–1938) Marco Bresciani

Modern Italian history is usually observed from a “Western” viewpoint, but several reasons would suggest the need to adopt a different interpretative perspective. First of all, the process of integration of the Italian Kingdom (like the German Empire) into one nation-state was the result of conflict with a Habsburg Empire that represented both an insurmountable limit to Italy’s territorial expansion and a negative source of symbolic legitimacy.1 The project for an Italian nation-state was conceived and propagandised in contrast to “Austria,” which was seen as a “prison of peoples” where different nationalities (above all the Italian-speaking population) were oppressed by the state. The wars of the 1850s and 1860s were followed by a series of treaties from the 1880s onwards (the Triple Alliance agreements); but this conflict, open or latent as it might be, waned only after three-and-a-half-year war, in 1918, with the disintegration of the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy. Second, Italy had crucially contributed towards setting in motion the international dynamic that was to lead Europe into the “long Great War” from October 1911 onwards. As a matter of fact, what is often described as the “war of Libya” constituted a severe blow to the Ottoman Empire, paving the way for the “Balkan wars” of 1912–1913 and creating the pre-conditions for the crisis of July 1914.2 Third, while the interpretation of the history of early twentieth-century Italy from a Western perspective is entirely appropriate when trying to explain the rise of urban and industrial society and the nation- and state-building processes, it fails to account for the persistent rural conflicts and the aggressive imperial claims on post-Habsburg Danubian and Balkan Europe.3 Within a framework based on “Western” historical and normative models, the history of post-Risorgimento Italy is perceived as a sequence of political and social anomalies which, in a more or less deterministic mode, resulted in the rise of Fascism.4 The present chapter would argue, on the contrary, that the

Italian Fascism in European perspective  69

post-1918 Italian crisis, and the rise and consolidation of Fascism and its impact on European politics and society, can be better analysed within a truly European perspective that includes Central and South-Eastern Europe as well.5 My main argument is that the rise of Fascism was not based on a series of “anomalies,” but on social and geopolitical questions especially rooted in Central and South-Eastern European contexts. This chapter thus follows two separate, yet complementary, constantly interweaving trajectories; for reasons of space, it will especially deal with the 1920s, but include also some important developments of the 1930s. First, it focuses on the complex relationship between nationalism and Fascism in order to shed new light on the radical and conservative dynamics operating both during the crisis that followed WWI, and within Mussolini’s movement and subsequent regime. Second, in order to better understand these dynamics, it pays attention to the nationalist and Fascist strategies and projects drawn on the transformations of the post-1918 Italian countryside and on the backlashes of the collapse of the Habsburg Empire. In this regard, the peasant and the Adriatic questions, which were dynamically related to social and geopolitical questions interconnecting the “West” and the “East,” contributed to the ascent and consolidation of Mussolini’s dictatorship in the 1920s as well as to its radicalisation in the 1930s.6

Hybridisation between nationalism and fascism There is no doubt that a strong link generally exists between nationalism and Fascism. In February 1923, following Mussolini’s coming to power in October 1922, the Associazione Nazionalista Italiana (Italian Nationalist Association) merged, at the organisational and personal level, with the Partito Nazionale Fascista (National Fascist Party), already established in November 1920. As early as 1923, the journalist and historian Luigi Salvatorelli spoke of “National-Fascism,” as he believed that nationalism had won over Fascism with its ideas, and had identified Fascism as the mass organisation by means of which it could impose its own ideas. Thanks in particular to Emilio Gentile, the focus has then recently shifted to the ways and forms in which Fascism appropriated the values, symbols and myths of “national radicalism.” This chapter will look at the political projects of Italian nationalism and Fascism, and investigate the subsequent tensions between conservative and revolutionary ideas and impulses, whilst admitting their largely common cultural roots, together with the exchange of language and perspectives from one to the other.7 No conservative force had been successfully established in liberal Italy. First of all, the structural limits of the national-building processes together with the persistence of a fragmented, mostly local “bourgeoisie,” had long prevented the organisation of a politically coherent conservative party.8 All the while, several governments from the liberal Left had sought to build a broad parliamentary majority going beyond mere electoral programs, in an attempt to curb left-wing and right-wing radicalism. Their attempts had permitted the mediation of the

70  Marco Bresciani

diverse interests of the ruling class, but had also stoked criticism of parliamentarianism.9 After the crisis that emerged at the end of the nineteenth century, the prospect of a pure and simple “return to the Statute” (i.e. an interpretation of the Constitutional Charter aimed at restoring the prerogatives of the sovereign) embodied by the conservative Sidney Sonnino vanished: the conservatives, in fact, had been unable to organise themselves into a unified political entity. During the first decade of the twentieth century, the process of democratisation accelerated under Prime Minister Giovanni Giolitti, but provoked a deep fracture within the liberal ruling class. The conservatives’ alternative was reduced to either accepting or opposing Giolitti’s government. While the mechanisms for the mediation of interests and conflicts put in place by Giolitti had worn thin, despite growing Catholic participation in the political life in an attempt to stabilise that system, conditions were ripe for the aggregation of a new right-wing force rallying around nationalism. In fact, in 1910 the Italian Nationalist Association was established in Florence. Its main representatives (Enrico Corradini, Francesco Coppola, Roberto Forges Davanzati, Maurizio Maraviglia, Luigi Federzoni and Alfredo Rocco) contributed to the formation of a revolutionary Right eager to counter the socialist threat and to call for war as a means of achieving national power. Most of these right-wing activists contributed to the magazine L’Idea Nazionale and actively cultivated the “myth of the new state.”10 The cycle of wars fought against the Ottoman Empire in 1911–1912, and subsequently against the Habsburg Empire in 1915–1918, ended up destabilising Giolitti’s power system and Italy’s liberal institutions as a whole. In November 1918, after three and a half years of war, and despite the military victory, nationalists and conservatives had to cope with a much more uncertain situation than that faced four years earlier. Even a conservative like Antonio Salandra (Italy’s Prime Minister between 1914 and 1916), who was an advocate of the need to “return to the Statute,” was convinced that the mere restoration of pre-war conditions was simply out of the question: The war is a revolution, yes, a very great revolution. Let no one think that after the storm it will be possible to make a peaceful return to the old order. Let no one think that the old habits of leisurely life can be resumed.11 Over the course of 1919, the lack of radical reforms fed expectations of “revolution” (whatever that meant). Resentment and dissatisfaction with the new order resulted in highly disruptive political and social conflict at local level. In this context of feverish transformations, the Nationalist Congress, officially tasked with dealing with the problems of employment and education, was held in Rome between 16 and 17 March 1919. On that occasion, Rocco advocated a vision of the new, illiberal, organic, corporatist state based on active cooperation with those unions subordinated to public authority; whereas Federzoni sketched a more conservative authoritarian vision, hostile to the working-class world and inclined towards traditional spiritual values and the consequent openness to the Catholic world.12 A few days later, on 23 March 1919, the Fascio di Combattimento

Italian Fascism in European perspective  71

was founded in Milan; at that time this organisation constituted only a fragment of the vast, multifarious constellation of nationalist and veteran groups and associations. The Fascio’s founder and leader, Benito Mussolini, claimed to give voice to the needs of “soldiers and producers,” through a blend of left-wing and right-wing radicalism, and of socialist and nationalist discourse. In an editorial published after the assault on the Milan headquarters of the socialist newspaper Avanti!, perpetrated on 15 April 1919, Mussolini argued: We do not oppose the nascent movement of the working masses; we do not oppose that magnificently bloodless workers’ revolution that is taking place and which has already, even in Italy, accomplished splendid achievements; we fight openly and fiercely, together with the majority of socialists all over the world, that dark phenomenon of regression, counter-revolution and impotence that is called Bolshevism.13 Mussolini aimed to reconcile its radical antisocialism with a project to mobilise the masses, and his agenda was based on a varied and contradictory ideological horizon of anti-system renewal. On a different note, one of the leading figures of Northern Adriatic nationalism, Attilio Tamaro, argued that the anti-socialist forces had to oppose the dictatorship of the proletariat through a national dictatorship, supported by men of the most diverse origins and social conditions, and based on hierarchies of antisocialists, that is, believers in the social function of property and in the prevailing right of intelligence over the brute force of numbers.14 Mussolini shared with nationalism the will to build a “Greater Italy,” to fight its “internal enemies” (especially socialists and communists), and to glorify the sacrifice of those soldiers who had fought and fallen in battle. In this sense, nationalists and Fascists were likewise convinced of the impossibility of “restoring” the pre-1914 world order. However, there was no lack of objective differences and mutual mistrust to fuel political rivalry within the context of post-war radicalisation. A nationalist like Corradini did not hide his reservations about the Fascists, who he saw as “youth of renewed, refreshed race,” “the product of the soul and body of the school of hard knocks and the spirit of victory”: a “militia” yes, but not “a political body.” As a result, “only the government, the state, [could] turn into political values that fiery raw material that the generous Italian youth of the Fasci di Combattimento offer.”15 For its part, some Fascists claimed to differ from the authoritarian, hierarchical model of nationalists in particular with regard to winning over the masses. In 1922, the Fascist leader (ras) from Bologna, Dino Grandi, offered the Fascists a stark choice, that of: either remaining as it is today, a solitary group of aristocrats governing and safeguarding the traditional economic and political arrangements, or of devoting considerable time to considering the Italian problem as a problem

72  Marco Bresciani

of the education of the masses who, despite their mistakes, prejudices and excesses, operate, through the parties, in order to take over the state.16 Nevertheless, this position was contrasted by Mussolini’s post-war interpretation as an era dominated by “new aristocracies,” in which the masses would not be the “protagonists,” but the “instruments of history.” In his key essay, “Dove va il mondo?” [“Where is the world going?”], published in Gerarchia in February 1922, he claimed for the common historical destiny of Russia, Germany and Italy, all of which were driven by a “social and spiritual movement” that was oriented “to the Right.” In Mussolini’s view, revolution tended to identify itself with reaction: “Revolution lies in this reaction. The revolution of salvation, because it saves Europe from the miserable end that awaits it if democracy continues to rage.”17 In this regard, Mussolini set out premises for a growing entanglement between Fascist and nationalist perspectives – one that bred a new idea of Italian and European post-war order.

Cycles of violence, from East to West, from the peripheries to the centre The Italian post-war crisis was characterised by uncertainty, instability and violence. Although Italy was one of the victorious powers in 1918, its chaotic sortie de guerre in many ways can be better understood in a comparative context including the experiences of the defeated countries of Central and South-Eastern Europe.18 Revolutionary socialism, in virtue of the brutal nature of the war experience, and of the powerful influence exercised by the Soviet myth, drove the working-class masses, and especially the peasants, to take action. This gave new scale and dynamism to the pre-1914 tradition of social conflicts. Between 1919 and 1920, an almost uninterrupted sequence of strikes in factories and public services for better working conditions, protests against the high cost of living, land occupations and unrest in the countryside helped fuel the perception of an imminent revolution. Moreover, this seemed substantiated by the Socialist Party’s electoral successes, both nationally and locally, between November 1919 and November 1920: as a result it became the leading parliamentary party and the governing party in numerous municipal boroughs. However, the revolutionary rhetoric, while fuelling and legitimising a vast range of militant, even violent actions, did not reflect a “Bolshevik” desire to seize power. On the other hand, the liberal state revealed its highly repressive side, which in turn tended to exacerbate the cycles of political and social conflict.19 In this context, with state authorities appearing increasingly powerless to control and guarantee public order, and with parliamentary institutions gradually losing their legitimacy, the Fasci di combattimento organised a genuine private paramilitary force. The first setting where the Fascist squads went into action was the post-Habsburg Northern Adriatic region; occupied by Italian forces in November 1918, this multilinguistic and multicultural borderland was contested

Italian Fascism in European perspective  73

between the Kingdom of Italy and the nascent Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians. Social and political conflicts had escalated here, especially after the transition from military to civil rule, with the civil government immediately implementing nationalisation policies, while opposing nationalist groups tried to polarise the clash within the local society. On the other hand, the radicalisation of the Socialist Party, which in the name of revolutionary internationalism considered itself as above any form of nationalist division, further exacerbated tensions and unrest. In this tense context the Fascists sought to eradicate all traces of “Austria” which, from the Italian nationalist perspective, had guaranteed “Slavic” supremacy in the Littoral and was now fuelling the “Bolshevik” threat.20 Faced with the presence of the Socialist Party (considered to be “antiItalian and Austrian par excellence”) and the “Yugoslav Austrians,” Mussolini called for the “vigorous cleansing of Trieste.”21 After the assault on the Narodni Dom (the “people’s house” of Trieste’s “Slavic” communities), on 13 July 1920, the following weeks witnessed a myriad of violent episodes mainly aimed at the socialists and their offices or members’ circles, but also at minorities’ prominent nationalist activists. Organised violence was a key factor in post-war transition within the postHabsburg Northern Adriatic area, as in other “shatter zones” of Central and South-Eastern Europe, where borders were highly contested. Paramilitary groups, irregular armed gangs, militias and armies of volunteers often operated in contexts of severe decline of public monopoly of violence or even of nearcomplete state power vacuum, from the Adriatic to the Baltic and the Black Sea (e.g. Freikorps in the Baltic and Upper Silesia, Heimwehr in Austria, Rongyos Gárda in Hungary, Orjuna in Dalmatia, “White Guards” in the ex-Russian Empire).22 In the Northern Adriatic the borders were quite soon settled by the Rapallo Treaty (November 1920), but the Italian state authorities were considered weak and contested. Fascists thus used violence to neutralise, repress or destroy the alleged “national enemy,” to threaten and then seize local government, to implement their own political plan for the takeover of power. In early September 1920, during a general strike in Trieste marked by violent clashes and several casualties, the leader of the Fasci claimed: It is of enormous importance, for national and social purposes, that there is a formidable grouping in Trieste which is capable of opposing the anti-national currents. Trieste, a large city not that far from the border where the extreme offshoots of the Slavic world are concentrated, must be carefully guarded and looked after. When the authorities are weak and disjointed, the town’s citizens have the right and duty to act on said authorities’ behalf.23 To be sure, Fascist squads – non-state actors largely supported by segments of the Italian state (the armed forces, law enforcement bodies, the judiciary, local government) – furthered the decline of the state’s monopoly on legitimate

74  Marco Bresciani

violence and fed a form of “privatisation” of the instruments of public coercion. A sequence of assaults, ambushes and targeted murders, in which private reasons and political justifications tended to intertwine and overlap, provoked a mixture of uncertainty and fear that swept through society and helped crystallise a feeling that civil war was about to break out.24 As Francesco Giunta, leader of Triestine Fascio di Combattimento, wrote in a letter to Mussolini, “Don’t forget that the home of Fascism is here, and that it is here that the move to bring the country around to our ideas could start.”25 In late September 1920, during his stay in Trieste, Mussolini announced that he had made arrangements to “intensify and strengthen the movement” that in the Julian March had found “very favourable terrain for its development,” and which promised to “spark a great movement for the renewal of the nation.”26 A few months later in January 1921, Pietro Belli, one of the leaders of the Triestine Fascists, claimed that it was the Julian March “that marked the start of the battle, which gradually was to conquer all of Italy. Here Fascism – perhaps because it was helped by the special conditions of place and time – emerged in a more spontaneous and vigorous manner.” 27 In fact, the techniques and models of Fascist action developed in the Northern Adriatic region from June to July 1920 onwards were soon to be emulated in other regions of North-Central Italy (starting with Emilia), where the Socialist Party was considered an “anti-national enemy.” Obviously, the practices of the Fascist squads had their local roots in the pre-war violence directed against strikers, with the cooperation of teams of strike-breakers and with the complicity of the public authorities.28 However, after the socialists won the local elections of early November 1920, Bologna, Ferrara and Modena were hit by a Fascist offensive that overthrew the socialist municipalities and destroyed a solid network of people’s homes, labour unions, socialist newspaper offices, trade union circles and recreational facilities that had been gradually established between the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. From this area of Emilia, the Fascist attacks then targeted Polesine, Oltrepo Pavese, Lomellina, as well as the Tuscany, Umbria and Apulia regions. The systematic use of violence to terrorise and murder leaders and militants of the factory workers’ and peasant movements, and to weaken or destroy their organisations, was described by the revolutionary socialist leader Giacinto Menotti Serrati in a letter to the French socialist Jacques Mesnil in April 1921: What already worries us is the unpredictability of the reaction, because this is not of the state’s making, it does not start with the public authorities, but emerges from below, and manifests itself according to the arbitrary acts, criminality and brutality of different environments. The slum- dwellers have armed themselves with revolvers and daggers, muskets and hand grenades, and have been hired at twenty, thirty lira a day to hunt for socialists. The people from the slums have been joined by young students, imbued with warlike romanticism, full of patriotic illusions, who see us as the “Germans,” the enemy of the homeland, and come after us with the energy

Italian Fascism in European perspective   75

and conviction of those who are now fighting for their homeland just as their elders fought in the trenches years ago.29 No wonder that in the regions where radical socialism had been particularly strong, the Fascist radicalism was stronger. More surprisingly, there was a shift of some socialist activists and unions to the Fascist ranks. The revolutionary socialist cause had been fought with energy, and not infrequently with violence, on a local scale, but had failed to overturn the existing political and social order. In addition to working people’s disappointment and frustration with such failure, the labour market was characterised by massive unemployment after the war. These factors paved the way, through Fascist squads’ violent practices, for the constitution of “national” (Fascist) unions, to the detriment of the labour and socialist unions and peasant leagues. First of all, Mussolini claimed that in the port areas of Trieste and the Julian March, “thousands and thousands of ‘authentic’ workers” had joined the “national unions.”30 Over the following two years, according to Mussolini’s reconstruction of events, “socialist strongholds fell one after the other: the Red Army disbanded” and Fascism “proselytised among the rural population and from a minority force became a mass movement.”31 This quantum shift was there for all to see, but hardly anyone was willing to admit it publicly. In summer 1922, the democrat Gaetano Salvemini characterised the political disaster that was unfolding, particularly in Emilia, as the “conversion en bloc of large proletarian groups to the Fascist cause.”32 Giovanni Zibordi, a reformist socialist, tried in vain to draw Socialist Party’s attention to the ranks of “extremists who had largely transmigrated to the Fasci,” and he denounced the “excesses and insanities” of the “ex-extremists” who had become “neo-Fascists.”33 When the Socialist Party’s various attempts to contain and fight the Fascist movement failed, culminating in the aborted general strike of August 1922, Mussolini strove to take over power directly, resulting in the “March on Rome.” However, while the nationalists proposed a Salandra cabinet to work in conjunction with Mussolini, the latter claimed power exclusively for himself. In this sense, the “March on Rome” of 28 October 1922 was also a showdown with the nationalists: the latter had their own social and ideal capital, especially in the city of Rome, the stronghold of the main groups of “blue shirts,” the nationalist paramilitary formation; the nationalists would not be brought down to the provincial, plebeian radicalism of the Fascists, despite their profound ideological similarities. King Vittorio Emanuele III refused to sign the state of siege, proposed by the outgoing premier Luigi Facta, and this in fact paved the way for the Fascists’ takeover of power, although initially Mussolini opted for the formation of a coalition government with conservatives, nationalists and members of the (Catholic) People’s Party. After October 1922, Federzoni, Minister of the Colonies, became the point of reference for the authoritarian, nationalist, promonarchist and pro-Catholic Right. Then, as we have already seen, in February 1923, the Nationalist Association merged with the National Fascist Party. While

76  Marco Bresciani

nationalists such as Rocco and Forges Davanzati moved closer to Mussolini or even to the Fascist-squad leader Roberto Farinacci, within the context of the crisis following the murder of Giacomo Matteotti, the young secretary of the Partito Socialista Unitario (Unified Socialist Party) in June 1924, the conservative push was largely channelled through Federzoni’s nationalism, which echoed the watchword of the “return to the Statute” (as adapted to the new situation). After the crisis triggered by the murder of Matteotti, a number of alternatives seemed to emerge, seemingly reducible to either a “second revolutionary wave” as claimed by the Fascist squads, or a process of “normalisation” aimed at restoring the previous order. In the end, Mussolini, in his famous speech of 3 January 1925, chose his own path to dictatorship by eliminating all residual features of the liberal state, while at the same time reining in the Fascist squads’ violence and assigning Farinacci the secretariat of the PNF (1925–1926). At that stage, the nationalists Federzoni, Minister of the Interior (1924–1926), and Rocco, Minister of Justice (1925–1929), made a decisive contribution to the passing of authoritarian legislation in 1925–1926.34 As described by Renzo De Felice, the relationship between “movement” and “regime” appeared to be the expression of a dialectic between radicalism and conservatism, even if the idea of an excessively mechanical succession ended up echoing a kind of mythical “Fascism of the origins” or “of the first hour.”35 Instead, the two aspects and moments tended to constantly overlap, hybridise and intertwine; these dynamics were sometimes contradictory, but still intrinsic to the Fascist experiment and functional to the affirmation of Mussolini’s charismatic power. According to Giuseppe Bottai, the Fascists embodied “the reactionary spirit” of the “revolutionary-conservatives.” The ambiguity of these definitions revealed how difficult it was to untangle the conservative and radical dynamics under the Fascist regime.36 In fact, the provincial Fascist leaders (ras) and their acolytes claimed to represent the uncompromising spirit of Fascism, spilling over with localist energy and rebellious vibrancy. The holistic image that Fascist propaganda tried to convey did not reflect the regime’s multiple conflicting impulses that tended to mobilise a pre-existing anti-political substrate, in the search for a new policy.37 On the other hand, squadrismo, far from being limited to the early phase of Fascism, was a weapon permanently at Mussolini’s disposal – one that fed the threat (and sometimes the reality) of violent disorder, and at the same time legitimised the regime’s authoritarian order.38 The Fascist National Party attempted to mediate between society and the state, and this occasionally appeared to fulfil its totalitarian aspirations.39 A key role in the construction of the new Fascist state was played by the nationalist jurist Rocco, who believed that the recognition of trade unions (or corporazioni) was a means of subordinating the masses to the state’s will.40 To better understand the relations between nationalism and Fascism, and accordingly between conservative and radical dynamics, they may be seen in relation to the social and geopolitical processes inherited from longer process of state- and nation-building, but dramatically reshaped by the Great War.

Italian Fascism in European perspective  77

The crucial importance of the resulting social and geopolitical questions for the ascent and consolidation of the Italian Fascism clearly emerge in a European context including central and south-eastern regions as well. Notably, the Fascists appropriated the peasant and Adriatic questions and used them as tools for their own success, by both cooperating and competing with the nationalists.

From peasants to Fascists In early twentieth-century Italy, which was still of a largely rural character, the land question, however understood, had certainly not been resolved. Despite the traditional historiographical focus on the factory occupations taking place in Northern Italy in September 1920, the epicentre of the post-war crisis was that of the Italian countryside. Social struggle had already shaken the rural world before the First World War, where it had mainly involved the masses of labourers (mostly seasonal workers) in the Po Plain, one of the most advanced agricultural areas in the world. However, after the war there was unrest and conflict on an unprecedented scale.41 The peasant masses who had formed the bulk of the Italian army were eager to receive land as a material and symbolic reward for their key contribution to the war effort. A large number of veterans’ associations were established to represent and protect their demands and interests, the largest of which was the Associazione Nazionale Combattenti (National Association of Former Fighters). In the face of the spontaneous occupation that took place in Central and Southern Italy (in particular, in Lazio and Sicily), in September 1919 the Italian Parliament passed the Visocchi Law governing the possession of uncultivated land, followed by the Falcioni and Micheli Laws relating to poorly cultivated land. However, a deeper, more understated change was underway. Inflation resulting from the suspension of the gold standard during the First World War had constituted a genuinely global revolution, wiping out ancient social hierarchies and feeding strong demands for the redistribution of incomes and property – first of all, land.42 In Italy, out of a total of 3,800,000 heads of peasant families, more than 500,000 – most of them soldiers returning from the front – were involved in a process of redistribution of about 950,000 hectares of land (5.7% of Italy’s total cultivatable land). Each of these family heads was granted about two hectares of land, resulting in 125,000 new small landowners and 375,000 existing farmers who consequently increased the size of their land-holdings. This essentially legal process, conducted on the basis of specific deeds of sale, especially affected the northern regions. Inflation led to the devaluation of the existing farmers’ incomes and a rise in agricultural prices, which enabled former settlers, sharecroppers, wage earners or very small landowners to gain access to, or expand, land ownership. The creation of this new or extended smallholdings was possible thanks to the savings accumulated in previous years by the peasants, which in turn had been possible thanks to state subsidies and the freezing of rents during

78  Marco Bresciani

the war. Furthermore, while the war had radicalised peasants’ expectations in terms of land reform, post-war rural unrest reshaped the traditional reluctance of owners to sell their land, which now appeared increasingly less profitable. This process was accelerated by a slowdown in emigration – a traditional escape route for unemployed rural workers – which had been interrupted during and after the war.43 This process of change was the subject of a key 17-volume study entitled Inchiesta sulla piccola proprietà coltivatrice [A survey of smallholdings] carried out between 1928 and 1937. This study was edited by Giovanni Lorenzoni, a scholar of agricultural issues from the Habsburg Tyrol, who had studied at the Universities of Graz and Berlin, and who was specialised in agricultural issues in Italy and in East Central Europe. The Inchiesta was commissioned by the National Institute of Agricultural Economics, founded in 1928 by the agronomist Arrigo Serpieri.44 In his Relazione finale: l’ascesa del contadino italiano nel dopoguerra [Final report: the rise of the Italian peasantry during the post-war years], Lorenzoni summed up the meaning of this “great episode” in which the watchword “land for the peasants” had exercised “extraordinary evocative power.” “Firstly,” Lorenzoni explained, “the transition took place under the political pressure of the time; second, it took place as a result of the economic factor, that is, of prices; but always as the result of a tremendous struggle.” He then specified: With the advent and consolidation of Fascism, the owners’ political concerns no longer lead them to sell for fear of Bolshevism; nevertheless, the transfer of land from one class to another continues, because the renewed feeling of security, together with the abandonment of any communist illusions, encourages the best of the peasants to buy.45 While Lorenzoni had a certain sympathy for the heroic effort of the peasants who had laid the social foundations of Mussolini’s regime, the liberal economist Luigi Einaudi also emphasised the historical importance of this “very impressive transfer of land […] from one social class to another,” of this “‘spontaneous’ revolution that silently took place.” In the years from 1920 to 1930 – Einaudi continued – an agrarian revolution took place in Italy. The newspapers wrote about it at the beginning when, provoked by the passions stirred by the war and by the myth of Russian Communism, this revolution was called “occupation of the land” and was violent and ephemeral; they then talked about it again when it was referred to as “integral reclamation” by the state, designed to transform the bare, malarial lands that the peasants alone could not bring under their control. The revolution carried out in between times was of another nature, and was the work of individual peasants, who one by one too over cultivated land or land close to cultivated land, which the “aristocracy” had previously been entitled to.46

Italian Fascism in European perspective  79

This theme was subsequently taken up by Manlio Rossi Doria, an agronomist who had been involved in the clandestine communist network. In a review of Lorenzoni’s research published in Bonifica e Colonizzazione in November 1939 he explained that this phenomenon was a much broader sign of the transformation of the rural classes, of a real revolution that the Italian peasants, after starting along radical, subversive lines, [had accomplished], thanks also to the particular economic and monetary situation, on bourgeois and conservative lines.47 However, the specificities of the profound transformations in rural Italy need to be compared with those that took place in East Central Europe, as argued by Lorenzoni’s Inchiesta and summarised by Einaudi: While encouraging the peasants to forcefully take over the land, the war created at the same time the conditions for its peaceful conquest. While in Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Czechoslovakia, the three Baltic republics and Finland this was mainly achieved through the expulsion of foreign landowners and the dispossession of national ones, in Italy it followed monetary devaluation.48 This “massive movement of transformation of the agricultural economy in much of the continent” had already been at the centre of Giacomo Acerbo’s work. In his view, Italy was to be compared to the countries of East Central Europe, although its post-war agricultural laws possessed “entirely peculiar and original characteristics”: “Here, too, attempts at reform with the purpose of fragmenting rural property, similar to those carried out in East Central Europe, only concerned, necessarily, those areas of the country characterised by the presence of large landed estates.”49 Lorenzoni confirmed that, unlike in East Central Europe (where land reforms had been adopted in order “to give land to the peasants, removing it more or less forcibly from bourgeois owners who were only partially compensated for their losses, if at all”50), in Italy, “the land was, and is, freely transferred between parties, without any privileges afforded to one or other party,” that is, without any expropriation or state intervention.51 Italian agronomists between the two world wars were clearly aware that they could understand the true scale and nature of the Italian agrarian transformation only by comparing it with what had happened, or was happening, in Central and South-Eastern Europe. Obviously, the agricultural structures, rural practices and traditions in place, and the composition of the various figures present, in the Italian countryside, and in the different Italian regions, differed from that of the various regions of Central and South-Eastern Europe, where, moreover, social issues were often intertwined with national ones. However, in the Baltic countries, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Yugoslavia, post-1918 land reforms of varying degrees of radicalism promoted the redistribution of land

80  Marco Bresciani

with the aim of drawing peasants away from their fixation with the revolutionary (“Bolshevik”) myth, and of stabilising the post-war political and social order.52 As Lewis Namier and David Mitrany, scholars of social and national questions, explained, what had initially begun as an agrarian revolution, in terms of its violence and radical development, had soon become a source of conservatism.53 The most consistent and significant case was the vast agrarian reform that was adopted in Romania in two stages (in December 1918 and July 1921). Under the strong influence of the Russian revolutionary myth, the reform created an army of small peasant farmers through the distribution of 3,630,000 hectares among 1,370,000 landless peasants or small landowners, with the aim of forging the unity of the new state and of displacing the national minorities present in the new provinces of Greater Romania. According to Mitrany, it was “an enormous legal change, but only a very moderate economic change.”54 As in Romania, albeit on a lesser scale, in Italy the wartime and post-war formation of smallholdings constituted a crucial process. However, unlike Romania, Italy did not experience an agrarian reform as such planned from above, but rather a spontaneous grass-roots process. Whereas in Romania, thanks to the introduction of universal male suffrage in 1919, the National Peasant Party was the main beneficiary of the increased number of small landholders, in Italy, where the first elections with universal male suffrage had taken place already before the war (1913) the process in question mainly benefitted the growing Fascist movement. Yet it had to violently struggle with the two mass parties which had won the election of November 1919: the Socialist Party and the Catholic People’s Party. In order to oppose the socialist project for the collectivisation of land, and to rival the Catholic project for the establishment of small farms, Mussolini, who recognised “the enormous economic, historical and moral importance of the agrarian problem in Italy,” announced that he would create a “great rural democracy” with the aim of “starting and completing a peaceful Italian agricultural revolution.”55 In May 1922, Mussolini claimed the “rural” character of Fascism, which aspired to representing the interests of “sharecroppers, tenant farmers, small owners, day labourers” against those of “strongly conservative” “gentleman farmers.” In his opinion, the sharecropper or the tenant farmer tries with all his might to become a landowner, and has managed to do so on a large scale in the last ten years […]. Peasants are conquering the land through their efforts: it is clear that these multitudes of new small landowners cannot but hate socialism […]. Fascism, on the other hand, offers them hope and nothing to fear […]. Fascism is now transforming this rural passiveness […] into the active sharing of the reality and sanctity of the nation.56 Agriculture was thus at the very heart of the Fascist vision of production and nation. In February 1924, in a speech given to representatives of the Corporazione nazionale dell’agricoltura (National Farmers’ Association) and of the Federazione

Italian Fascism in European perspective  81

italiana dei sindacati agricoltori (Italian Federation of Agricultural Trade Unions), Mussolini argued that despite industrial development, “the wealth of Italy, and the stability and future of the nation” were “strictly linked to the fate and future of Italian agriculture”: “Solid, stable nations are those that are grounded in the land; these are the ones with the largest number of smallholders.”57 The gradual formation of peasant smallholdings in Italy continued under the Fascist regime up until 1926–1927, when the process was halted almost completely and then began to be reversed. In fact, the relentless rise in agricultural prices and the favourable economic situation suffered a sharp slowdown during that short period. The stabilisation of the international economic and financial order in the 1920s, based on deflationary policies, was intertwined with the restoration of the gold standard system. With Pesaro’s speech of August 1926, Mussolini initiated a policy of stabilisation and revaluation of the lira (the famous “quota ninety” policy), the deflationary effects of which mainly affected peasant smallholdings. From late 1926 to the beginning of the 1929 Great Depression, the considerable fall in agricultural prices (by an average of 20%) crippled the small farmers, many of whom had placed their faith in a future rise in prices, had become heavily indebted. According to Lorenzoni, “all of them disappeared in the aftermath of the crisis. Their lands returned to the old owners or were cheaply sold at auction.”58 From the late 1920s onwards, the Fascists adopted an increasingly critical attitude towards small peasant farmers. The official rhetoric of the regime was now inspired by a sort of demographic panic intertwined with radical forms of rural populism. In his Ascension Speech (discorso dell’Ascensione) given in May 1927, Mussolini drew attention to the importance of demographic policies as a prerequisite for a policy of power, by correlating the fall in the birth rate with the experience of the modern city and with the spread of small peasant properties. In October 1928, at the ceremony held to announce the winners of the “Battle for Grain,” which had been launched in June 1925 with the aim of increasing national food self-sufficiency, Mussolini declared: “we need to ruralise Italy”: “The time of predominantly urban politics is over: […] now it is time […] to devote billions to the countryside, if we want to avoid the economic crises and demographic decline that already seriously concern other peoples.”59 The words of the Duce were backed up by economists and statisticians such as Gino Arias and Corrado Gini, who ascribed the demographic decline to the fragmentation of land ownership, and who therefore favoured sharecropping as the ideal form of agricultural production. The nationalists, on the other hand, who were firm advocates of the value of social stability, continued to sustain the need for a stable class of peasant landowners. In particular, Rocco’s plan to establish a hereditary and indivisible form of peasant property had significant similarities with Nazi legislation on Erbhof (the hereditary farmer’s fund).60 Land reclamation was another major tool of social and economic transformation in the countryside. Far from being a mere top-down project, the work of draining the marshlands and rendering them farmable was carried out in response

82  Marco Bresciani

to the strong, spontaneous momentum of civil society encouraged by the high prices of farm produce.61 In May 1924 the first law on “full land-reclamation” was adopted by the agronomist Arrigo Serpieri, vice-secretary of the Ministry of the Economy, also thanks to the support of Giacomo Acerbo, an agrarian scholar and vice-secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office (1922–1924). This law aimed to achieve, through a series of incisive hydraulic, hygienic and agricultural operations, not only the reclamation of hitherto uncultivated areas such as the Pontine Marshes near Rome, but also to replace extensive forms of farming with intensive ones, so as to give regular employment to the large number of day labourers. The policies then adopted by the Ministry of Agriculture led by Acerbo between 1929 and 1934 encouraged not only the “Battle for Grain,” but also “full land-reclamation” for the purpose of colonising the new land reclaimed from the marshes, in order for it to be farmed or built on. It was not only about freeing the “Italian people” from the “servitude of foreign bread,” but also about forging a “living, powerful instrument of rural redemption and of the country’s economic and social reinforcement.”62 In the interwar period, and especially in the 1930s, obsession with the population’s decline, rejection of the modern social conflict and of the liberal parliamentary system as sources of contention within the national body, dedication to the rural life as seedbed of the nation itself were the key elements of a cultural and political constellation stretching from Poland to Hungary, from Romania to Latvia.63 In keeping with a rural populism that from certain points of view mirrored that of many Central and South-Eastern European countries, Fascist propaganda increasingly focused on the importance of rural civilisation and portrayed the farmer as the true cornerstone of the Italian nation.64 At the same time, long-standing representatives of the nationalist movement such as Federzoni continued to stress what they perceived as an indissoluble relationship between Catholicism and the peasant world.65 The agrarian and demographic policies of Fascism were inspired by the belief that only a ruralisation of Italian society would enable the chronic limits of the nation-building implemented by the liberal state to be overcome. Most of the peasants, especially after the agreements with the Catholic Church, supported the regime, even if only passively. In fact, the Italian countryside was less affected by the processes of nationalisation, than by the fascistisation of the rural population, that is, the mobilisation of diversified sectors on the basis of their adherence to Mussolini’s regime, with the Duce emphatically announcing that: “It is only thanks to Fascism that the peasants have become an integral part of the history of the Fatherland.”66 In sum, the rise and stabilisation of the Fascist dictatorship can be hardly understood if it is not put also in relation to the massive wartime and interwar transformations in the Italian countryside. As we have seen, it may be helpful to have a synoptic look at synchronic agrarian conflicts and reforms, as well as political cultures of nationalist rural populism in East-Central and South-Eastern Europe. While economic, social and cultural policies responded to Mussolini’s spasmodic will to be “long-lasting” in time, in the international sphere the Duce

Italian Fascism in European perspective  83

moved inexorably towards a logic of “daring” with the aim of building a new order in Europe.

Fascist Italy and post-Habsburg Europe Recent re-thinking of the relationship between nationalism and Fascism, and its analysis of transnational circulation, have placed the emphasis on the ideological transmission of nationalist, radical and conservative cultures, on the French roots of Italian nationalism or on the selective appropriation of elements of French nationalism by the latter.67 Whilst admitting the importance of this Italian– French connection, the present study is going to focus on the interconnections between nationalism in early twentieth-century Italy and in late Habsburg/ post-Habsburg Northern Adriatic, as well as between nationalism and Fascism in regard to the geopolitical “Eastern” question. In fact, the disintegration of the Habsburg Empire had a more profound impact on Italy’s geopolitical position and on the nationalist political imagination than has been acknowledged to date, calling as it did for a process of radicalisation which bred the ascent of and expansion of Fascism.68 Since the start of the century, the nationalists had promoted a policy of national unity and border security, and had called for Italian rule over the Adriatic and the Mediterranean, and economic and political expansion to the east.69 However, especially the Austro-Hungarian annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in October 1908 had inflamed Italian anti-Habsburg emotions, as a nationalist leaflet claimed: But Austria is not our enemy by tradition alone. Its future lies in the Adriatic area and the Balkans. And this fatally clashes with the direction of our own future. Austria wants to strengthen its rule over the Adriatic and gain hegemony over the Balkans. We need hegemony over the Adriatic, together with expansion in the Balkans, at least in commercial and moral terms.70 However, no nationalist, not even the most radical irredentist and imperialist like Ruggero Fauro (alias Timeus) from Trieste, had dared to hope that the conquest of Trieste and the entire Northern Adriatic would coincide with the collapse of the Habsburg Empire, which they considered impossible. Benito Mussolini, at the time a revolutionary socialist, who in 1909 had stayed in the then Habsburg Trento and who in 1911 wrote Il Trentino visto da un socialista, argued that the Tyrol, like the Adriatic Littoral under Austria-Hungary, represented a space of contention between “Germany” and “Italy,” between the “equilibrium” of Central Europe and the “dissolution” of Mediterranean Europe. However, Mussolini predicted that the “future European unity” would have “a German seal.” 71 After the collapse of Austria-Hungary, the Fascist project implied both a national and imperial mission linked to the experiences of the former Austrian Littoral which was renamed Venezia Giulia ( Julian March) in 1918. As we

84  Marco Bresciani

have already seen, Trieste and the Northern Adriatic area played a decisive role in the development of early Fascism, its worldview, projects and political practices. It was no coincidence that Mussolini’s most important speeches concerning Fascist foreign policy were delivered in Trieste, Pola and Fiume between 1919 and 1922. In Pola, on 21 September 1920, Mussolini explained Fascism’s imperial mission rooted in the privileged position of the Northern-Adriatic region in the Mediterranean, and of Italy in Europe: Italy, as the most compact centre after Russia and Germany, due to its population of fifty million, will be the power tasked with governing all European politics from the Mediterranean area. The axis of power will shift from London, Paris and Berlin to Rome. Italy will act as the bridge between east and west. Italy is driven by its demographics to expand in the Mediterranean area and the east. Our country is too small for such an exuberant people. But in order to achieve this Mediterranean dream, the Adriatic, which is our gulf, must be in our hands. Faced with an inferior and barbaric race such as the Slavic race, we cannot adopt a policy offering them sweeteners, but a carrot and stick policy instead.72 These ideas – far from being original or exclusive to Mussolini – commonly circulated among radical nationalist and early Fascist circles in and around Trieste. Local nationalists and Fascists associated the conquest of the Adriatic area to the construction of a Mediterranean Empire, and in doing so lay the foundations for the new imperial policy of Fascist Italy. For example, Tamaro argued that the question of Dalmatia, far from being a mere problem of irredentism or nationality, was “a vast strategic problem, which extended from the Adriatic into the Mediterranean,” and “on which the global political independence and freedom of Italy itself depended.” 73 Fascist discourse echoed the anti-Habsburg discourse of pre-war nationalism which had aimed at firmly establishing Italy’s imperial power through the conquest of Trento and Trieste and the surrounding territories (such as Istria and Dalmatia), or even further afield (as far as Anatolia). However, in a situation of international instability and the redrawing of state borders in post-Habsburg Europe, there was a growing likelihood that the territorial aspirations of Italy’s nationalists and Fascists would be achieved in the near future.74 In a speech given in Trieste on 6 February 1921, Mussolini stated that Fascist expansionism implied the comprehensive reorganisation of the European order on the ground there had been a shift in the global post-war balance of power: In the shift of the axis of civilisation from London to New York (which already has seven million inhabitants and which will soon be the largest human agglomeration on Earth), and from the Atlantic to the Pacific, there are those who foresee a gradual economic and spiritual decline of our old Europe, of our small and marvellous continent which up to only yesterday was a guiding light for all peoples. Will we be party to this darkening

Italian Fascism in European perspective  85

and eclipsing of the “role” of Europe in the history of the world? To this disturbing and troubling question we reply: it is possible. The “life” of Europe, especially in the area of Central Europe, is at the mercy of the Americans. Moreover, Europe presents us with a tormented political and economic landscape, a thorny tangle of national questions and of social questions, and at times communism masks nationalism, or vice versa. A “united” Europe does not seem likely to come about in the near future.75 The collapse of Italy’s historical enemy, Austria-Hungary, transformed the geopolitical and economic structure of post-war Italy as well and had destabilising effects on public opinion in the country. In fact, it had to come to grips with the enormous power vacuum that had opened up in the centre of the old continent, and the Adriatic question represented a crucial aspect of this post-war crisis.76 In fact, the fragmentation of the former Habsburg hinterland, caused by the proclamation of the new successor states, contributed to the post-war decline of the port of Trieste, the main outlet to the sea of the unitary economic space of Austria-Hungary. In turn, the acute sense of loss of its imperial status fed the need for the reconfiguration of post-Habsburg Central Europe. This need resulted in intense diplomatic relations with WWI’s vanquished countries (Austria and Hungary above all), and in the formulation of new imperial projects. Trieste’s nationalist culture made a significant contribution to such projects: according to Tamaro, Trieste was “more than a port,” “a powerful political base,” from which trade routes had to move “as vectors of political influence and civilisation towards Balkan-Danubian Europe and to the east.” 77 On a different note, certain radical currents of Fascist culture, convinced of the inexorable decline of the nation-state, became the incubator for Fascist Europeanism and universalism. These currents comprised Critica fascista led by Giuseppe Bottai, Anti-Europa led by Asvero Gravelli, Impero led by Mario Carli and Emilio Settimelli, and Berto Ricci’s L’Universale; all of which aimed to subvert Versailles Europe, against competition from American power and the Soviet experiment, by proposing Fascism as the alternative model destined to leave its mark on the twentieth century. In an important article written in 1937 Mussolini clarified his own conception of Italian Fascism as a European model: there is not, and there never will be, a Fascism that can be exported in any standardised format, but instead a series of doctrines, methods, experiences, achievements, especially achievements, which are gradually sweeping across all of the states in the European community and which represent the ‘new’ fact in the history of human civilisation.78 But what did the Fascist ideas of a new European order imply in that geopolitical context? At the turn of the 1920s and the beginning of the 1930s, territorial revisionism was the essential core of Fascist foreign policy. In fact, Mussolini considered the

86  Marco Bresciani

revision of the 1919–1920 peace treaties to be not “a predominantly Italian interest, but a European, global one.” 79 Italy therefore sought to catalyse frustration and dissatisfaction with the “order of Versailles” by opposing the Little Entente formed by Yugoslavia, Romania and Czechoslovakia and supported by France. It then established a diplomatic agreement with Hungary, and offered political and organisational support to the Austrian nationalist paramilitary group Heimwehr led by Ernst Rüdiger, prince of Starhemberg, and to the Croatian radical nationalist movement, the Ustaša led by Ante Pavelić. Dino Grandi, Italy’s Foreign Minister from 1929 to 1932, despite being aware of the importance of international balances of power, supported Mussolini’s Balkan goals. During a Council of Ministers’ meeting held in November 1929, Grandi pledged to “make Croatia.”80 In 1932, Mussolini removed Grandi from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs because the latter’s diplomatic approach in the League of Nations was deemed inadequate in the face of radicalising tensions within Central Europe. Following Hitler’s rise to power, in June 1933 the Four-Power Pact was signed between Italy, Germany, France and England: at the core of Mussolini’s project lay the idea of cooperation with all other states, large and small, European and non-European, in particular with the United States, without whose valid and practical contribution, a stable and constructive process of political pacification and world economic restoration [was] not possible.81 However, according to Mussolini, “all the European peoples” faced “an awful alternative”: “Either they find a minimum of political unity, economic cooperation and moral understanding, or the fate of Europe will be irrevocably marked.”82 Mussolini’s concerns were compounded by Hitler’s resolute will to resume the revisionist and expansionist project regarding Austria, by openly embracing the prospect of the Anschluss which had been raised by German and Austrian nationalists since November 1918, and which had been rejected by WWI’s victorious powers. In an effort to preserve the balance of power in Danubian Europe, Mussolini strengthened Italy’s policy of close cooperation with Austria and Hungary (especially after 1932, with the establishment of the conservative and authoritarian governments of Engelbert Dollfuss and Gyula Gömbös), while strongly rejecting the prospect of a restoration of the Habsburg monarchy. In July 1934, following a failed Nazi coup d’état against Dollfuss, it was this very question of Austrian independence that brought Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany to the verge of diplomatic conflict, although the situation was temporarily resolved in Italy’s favour. According to Mussolini, there were two historical tasks by means of which an independent Austria could provide “a great service to European civilisation,” by establishing “the most suitable means of contact between the nascent cultures of the Danube basin and the Germanic world.” These two tasks were to: “preserve the values of a Germanic culture, humanised by contact with Latin culture in particular, and to hold on as an advanced sentinel of Catholicism in North-Eastern and Central Europe.”83 Thus, Trieste’s political

Italian Fascism in European perspective  87

culture continued to exert a pervasive, albeit mostly behind the scenes, influence on the Fascist regime during the 1930s.84 In particular, Fulvio Suvich, a former Triestine irredentist who was by then among the leaders of Fascism in the Northern Adriatic area, and was Vice-Secretary for Foreign Affairs between 1932 and 1936, supported Italy’s diplomatic and economic relations with the successor states of Austria-Hungary, and offered his determined opposition to Nazi Germany’s interest in the Adriatic and the Balkans: It would be dangerous to believe that Germany, having reached the Brenner Pass and Tarvisio, would stop there and not try to go beyond. […] It would be to ignore German history and the mentality of the German people, to think that Germany will not do everything it can to move those one hundred kilometres that would then separate it from the Adriatic. […] All of Italy’s policy of expansion towards the Balkans would be irretrievably compromised. This is the true essence of Anschluss.85 Mussolini’s imperial revisionism and his war policies (ranging from Ethiopia to Spain) were a powerful driver of cumulative radicalisation, legitimised under the banner of a radical anti-Bolshevism that brought Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany closer together.86 In March 1938, the Anschluss marked a real turning point in the competition between Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany for hegemony over post-Habsburg Europe, by subordinating Mussolini to Hitler and pushing the Fascist search for a new imperial order in the direction of the Balkans and the Mediterranean area. Mussolini gave in in the face of the claim that the Anschluss responded to a “deep yearning of the people” that they transformed into “a national revolution.” At this point, Italy and Germany, two nations that had been created at the same time and in similar ways, united as they are by a similar understanding of the politics of life, can march together to give our troubled continent a new balance, which will finally allow the peaceful and fruitful cooperation of all peoples.87 However, the following September, Europe was shaken by a new crisis regarding the German move to annex the Sudetenland and German Bohemia, predominantly German-speaking regions of Czechoslovakia. Mussolini was willing to find an agreed solution which would ward off the threat of a new continental war, although he in fact seconded Hitler’s expansionist claims. On 18 September 1938, the Duce delivered a crucial speech in Trieste, the Northern Adriatic city that was most exposed to the brutal transformation of post-Habsburg Europe, in which he set out his position regarding the on-going crisis: What I am about to tell you is dictated by a sense of conscience which I consider European rather than simply Italian. When the problems raised by history became excessively complicated, there is only one solution, that is,

88  Marco Bresciani

the simplest, the most logical, the most radical solution which we Fascists call totalitarian. With regard to the problem that is now affecting Europe, there is only one possible: plebiscites.88 It is noteworthy that Mussolini referred to Wilsonism while at the same time subverting its meaning by claiming peoples’ rights to self-determination against the spirit of the “order of Versailles,” which had been established with the decisive contribution of the US President Woodrow Wilson.89 In a subsequent speech delivered in Verona on the eve of the Munich Agreement, the Duce stated that: The Europe that was built in Versailles, often through a total ignorance of geography and history, this Versailles is in its agony throws. […] It is this week that a new Europe can arise: the Europe of justice for all and reconciliation between peoples.90 This was a kind of Fascist version of the “Wilsonian moment,” one which was delayed and reversed. Paradoxically, in that same period, the Fascist regime adopted racial and antisemitic legislation. In his speech of 18 September 1938, the Duce also announced the promulgation of specific legislation “for the defence of the race,” linking the “conquest of the empire” to “a clear, strong racial consciousness establishing not only certain differences, but also certain very clear superiorities.”91 It was significant that the announcement of the legislation curbing or erasing the Jews’ civil rights and dismissing them from the schools of every degree, the public and military administration and the Fascist Party, was made in Trieste. As a matter of fact, since the early 1920s in Northern Adriatic Fascism had appropriated the Italian-speaking anti-Slavic tradition of the Habsburg times and then implemented the repressive provisions against the Slovenian- and ­Croatian-speaking minorities.92 The Fascist breakthrough of 1938 gave forceful impetus to the disintegration of the “order of Versailles” in the name of a new Europe, through the brutal redefinition of the Italian national-imperial community based on racist and antisemitic traditions rooted in Catholicism, nationalism and socialism. In fact, the growing convergence between Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany gave rise to the idea of a “living space” (spazio vitale) as evoked by Mussolini in a speech he gave in Rome in March 1939, linking the desire for political and military domination of the Adriatic area to the plan for a Mediterranean Empire.93 A few weeks later, on 22 May 1939, the Italian and German ministers of foreign affairs, Ciano and Ribbentrop, signed the Steel Pact laying the basis for closer cooperation between Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany in order to “fulfil their task of securing the foundations of European civilisation.”94 On the other hand, the journal Geopolitica, set up in 1939 at the Institute of Economic Geography of the University of Trieste, stated that the Mediterranean Sea and the Balkans represented Italy’s “living space.” In Italian geopolitics, this term, borrowed from German geopolitics, was used more

Italian Fascism in European perspective  89

in reference to economics and politics than in a demographic and racial sense, although there was significant overlapping of the two spheres.95

Conclusion As this chapter has tried to show, a shift in focus allows to frame the post-1918 crisis in Italy, as well as the rise and success of Fascism within a European historical perspective that includes also Central and South-Eastern Europe. Since 1911 onwards, the “long Great War” constituted the trigger or accelerator for social and geopolitical transformations which particularly affected the Central and South-Eastern Europe and the Fascists selectively appropriated and incorporated in their own political projects. Notably, Fascists, alongside the Italian nationalists, understood the peasant question and the Adriatic question as tools for establishing new balances of power respectively in the Italian countryside and in post-Habsburg Europe. As Italian nationalism increasingly merged with Fascism, twines and tensions, contradictions and conflicts between conservatives and radicals thus became an integral part of the political dynamic within Mussolini’s dictatorship. As a result, while presenting itself as a force for social stabilisation rooted mainly in the name of the “peasant nation,” Fascism aimed to build a “Greater Italy” in post-Habsburg Central Europe and in the Balkans, in the Adriatic and in the Mediterranean Sea. This search for a new national and imperial order fuelled a spiral of international crises that were to finally contribute to the catastrophic outbreak of World War II.

Notes 1 Timothy Snyder, “Introduction,” in Timothy Snyder and Katherine Younger (eds.), Balkans as Europe, 1821–1914 (Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2018), pp. 1–2. I would like to thank Giulia Albanese, Béla Bodó, Roland Clark, Paul Corner, Guido Franzinetti, Andrea Graziosi, Matteo Millan and Adriano Roccucci for their useful comments and suggestions on earlier versions of this chapter. 2 See Alan Kramer, Dynamic of Destruction. Culture and Mass Killing in the First World War (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 115–120; Cristopher Clark, The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War (London: Allen Lane, 2012), pp. 242–251, but also the classical interpretation by Elie Halévy (The World Crisis of 1914–1918: An Interpretation), analysed in Marco Bresciani, “From ‘East to West,’ the Origins and Outcomes of the ‘World Crisis’ (1904–1920). A Re-reading of Elie Halévy,” First World War Studies, vol. 9, no. 3 (2018), pp. 275–295. 3 Maria Todorova, “The Trap of Backwardness: Modernity, Temporality and the Study of Eastern European Nationalism,” Slavic Review, vol. 1 (2005), pp. 140–164. 4 See, for example, Denis Mack Smith, Storia d’Italia dal 1861 al 1958 (Bari: Laterza, 1959); and Roberto Vivarelli, Storia delle origini del fascismo, 3 vols. (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2012). 5 For a different, but stimulating comparative approach see Dylan Riley, The Civic Foundations of Fascism in Europe : Italy, Spain, and Romania, 1870–1945 (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010).

90  Marco Bresciani

Italian Fascism in European perspective  91

92  Marco Bresciani

42 43

44 45 46


48 49 50 51 52


1901–1926 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1982); Vivarelli, Storia delle origini del fascismo, vol. 2; Guido Crainz, Padania: il mondo dei braccianti da fine Ottocento alla fuga dalle campagne (Roma: Donzelli, 1994). More in general, see Silvio Lanaro, “Da contadini a italiani,” in Piero Bevilacqua (ed.), Storia dell’agricoltura italiana in età contemporanea, III, Mercati e istituzioni (Venezia: Marsilio, 1991), pp. 937–968. See Adam Tooze, “The War of the Villages: The Interwar Agrarian Crisis and the Second World War,” in Michael Geyer and Adam Tooze (eds.), Total War: Economy, Society, and Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), pp. 385–411. References to this social process can be found in a number of works on Fascism, even though its crucial importance and principal implications have yet to be acknowledged: see Emilio Gentile, Storia del partito fascista. 1919–1922. Movimento e milizia (Roma-Bari: Laterza, 1989), pp. 80–81, 86; Paolo Nello, “Massimalismo socialista e avvento del fascismo: il caso dell’Emilia,” Nuova storia contemporanea, vol. 14, no. 6 (2010), pp. 101–118. See Stefano Lepre, “Giovanni Lorenzoni e i problemi della piccola proprietà contadina nel primo dopoguerra in Italia,” Rivista di storia economica, vol. XX, no. 1 (April 2004), pp. 3–38. Giovanni Lorenzoni, “Relazione finale: l’ascesa del contadino italiano nel dopoguerra,” in Lorenzoni (ed.), Inchiesta sulla piccola proprietà coltivatrice formatasi nel dopoguerra (Roma: Istituto nazionale di economia agraria, 1938), p. 237. Luigi Einaudi, “I contadini alla conquista della terra italiana, 1920–1930,” Rivista di storia economica, vol. IV, no 4 (December 1939), pp. 276–308; Einaudi, La condotta economica e gli effetti sociali della guerra italiana (Bari, Laterza, 1933); Arrigo Serpieri, La guerra e le classi rurali italiane (Bari: Laterza 1930); Serpieri, “La guerra e la lotta per la terra con speciale riguardo per l’Italia e la Germania,” in Gino Borgatta (ed.), Ricostruzione dell’economia nel dopoguerra (Padova: CEDAM, 1942), pp. 203–238. Manlio Rossi Doria, “La formazione di piccola proprietà coltivatrice nel dopoguerra,” Bonifica e colonizzazione (November 1939), then in Rossi Doria, Note di economia e politica agraria (Bologna: Il Mulino, 1992), pp. 21–31. Rossi Doria emphasised the crucial importance of this “underground land reform” as a key factor in understanding the success of fascism: see Rossi Doria, “L’agricoltura italiana, il dopoguerra e il fascismo” in Carlo Casucci (ed.), Il fascismo: antologia di scritti critici (Bologna: Il Mulino 1961), pp. 307–311; and Rossi Doria, “Breve storia dei contadini dall’inizio del secolo ad oggi,” Inchiesta, March–June 1979, pp. 24–33. Einaudi, I contadini alla conquista della terra italiana, p. 283. To be sure, Einaudi’s observation is not entirely accurate, as Serbia and Bulgaria were societies marked by smallholdings well before the Great War. Giacomo Acerbo, Le riforme agrarie del dopoguerra in Europa (Firenze: R. Bemporad & figlio, 1931), p. 18. Lorenzoni, Relazione finale, p. 217. Giovanni Lorenzoni, Introduzione e guida all’inchiesta sulla piccola proprietà coltivatrice postbellica in Italia (Roma: Stabilimento poligrafico, 1929), p. 27. For a comprehensive overview of the land reforms in Central and South-Eastern Europe see Olindo Gorni, Les réformes foncières en Europe orientale et centrale. Leurs causes économiques et sociales, “Annales d’histoire économique et sociale” (3, 10, 1931), pp. 207–226; Doreen Warriner, Economics of Peasant Farming (London: Oxford University Press, 1939); Wojciech Roszkowski, Land Reforms in East Central Europe after World War One (Warsaw: Institute of Political Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences, 1995). Cfr. Lewis Namier, “Agrarian Revolution,” Manchester Guardian Commercial, 22 August 1923, pp. 366–367, then in Namier, The Skyscrapers and Other Essays (Freeport: Books for Libraries Press, 1968 [1931]), pp. 145–155. For the political implications of the post-war reforms see Joseph Rothschild, East Central Europe between the Two World Wars (Seattle, WA and London: University of Washington Press, 1990 [1974]).

Italian Fascism in European perspective  93

54 David Mitrany, The Land and the Peasant in Rumania: War and Agrarian Reform, 1917– 1921 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1930), pp. 282–283; see also Henry Roberts, Rumania: Political Problems of an Agrarian State (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1951). For a recent reassessment see Roland Clark, “Interwar Romania: Enshrining Ethnic Privilege,” in Sabrina P. Ramet (ed.), Interwar East and Central Europe (London: Routledge, 2020), pp. 144–177. 55 Benito Mussolini, “Fascismo e terra,” Popolo d’Italia, 19 February 1921; also see the report by Gaetano Polverelli, “Il Fascismo e la questione agraria,” Popolo di Trieste, 29 January 1921. 56 Mussolini, “Il fascismo e i rurali.” 57 Benito Mussolini, “Corporativismo agricolo,” Popolo d’Italia, 22 February 1924. 58 Lorenzoni, Relazione finale, p. 255. 59 Benito Mussolini, “Ai veliti del grano,” Popolo d’Italia, 16 October 1928. In 1928 Mussolini wrote the preface to the Italian edition of Regresso delle nascite: morte dei popoli by R. Korherr. 60 Gustavo Corni, La politica agraria del nazionalsocialismo, 1930–1939 (Milano: F. Angeli 1989), pp. 183–198; the comparison with the Fascist agrarian policy set out on pages 333–342 is also of interest. 61 Piero Bevilacqua and Manlio Rossi Doria (eds.), Le bonifiche in Italia dal ‘700 a oggi (Rome-Bari: Laterza 1984), specifically pp. 57–64. 62 Arrigo Serpieri and Nallo Mazzocchi Alemanni, Lo Stato fascista e i rurali (Milano: Mondadori, 1935), pp. 83, 98. In general, see Carl T. Schmidt, The Sword and the Plough: Labour, Land, and Property in Fascist Italy (New York: Columbia University Press, 1938); Mauro Stampacchia, Ruralizzare l’Italia: agricoltura e bonifiche tra Mussolini e Serpieri, 1928–1943 (Milano: Franco Angeli, 2000). 63 Balász Trencsényi, Michal Kopeček, Luka Lisjak Gabrijelčič, Maria Falina, Mónika Baár and Maciej Janowski (eds.), A History of Modern Political Thought in East Central Europe, vol. II: Negotiating Modernity in the “Short Twentieth Century” and Beyond, Part I: 1918–1968 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018), pp. 1–275 (Part 1: “Transcending Modernity: Interwar and Wartime Visions of Regeneration”). 64 The Duce intervened several times on the agrarian issues in those years: see Benito Mussolini, L’agricoltura e i rurali: discorsi e scritti (Roma: Libreria del Littorio, 1931); Mussolini, Agricoltura e bonifiche, edited and with a foreword by Paolo Orano (Roma: Pinciana, 1937); also Alfredo Bajocco, Il fascismo, la terra e i contadini (Torino: Paravia, 1936); Luigi Federzoni, I problemi attuali dell’agricoltura italiana, collected writings of Luigi Federzoni, prefaced by Benito Mussolini (Bologna: Zanichelli, 1933). 65 See Renato Moro, “Nazionalismo e cattolicesimo,” in Coccia and Gentiloni Silveri (eds.), Federzoni, pp. 49–112. 66 Benito Mussolini, “All’assemblea quinquennale del regime,” Il Popolo d’Italia, 12 March 1929. See, in general, Adrian Lyttelton, La conquista del potere. Il fascismo dal 1919 al 1929 (Rome-Bari: Laterza, 1974), pp. 568–671. 67 See Zeev Sternhell, Mario Sznajder and Maia Asheri, Nascita dell’ideologia fascista (Milano: Baldini & Castoldi, 1993), and more recently, regarding the influence of Action française, Roberto Pertici, Nazionalismo francese e nazionalismo italiano: la mediazione di Francesco Coppola (1910–1916), in Salvatori (ed.), Nazione e anti-nazione, 2, pp. 63–88. 68 Marina Cattaruzza, L’Italia e il confine orientale, 1866–2006 (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2007). 69 Richard Webster, L’imperialismo industriale italiano, 1908–1915. Studi sul prefascismo (Torino: Einaudi, 1974): notably, Conclusione. Uno sguardo da Trieste. 70 Franco Gaeta (ed.), La stampa nazionalista (Bologna: Cappelli, 1965), p. XXXVIII. 71 Benito Mussolini, Il Trentino visto da un socialista [original edition 1911], in Idem, Opera omnia, 33. Opere giovanili (1904–1913), edited by Edoardo and Duilio Susmel (Firenze: La Fenice, 1961), p. 157.

94  Marco Bresciani

Italian Fascism in European perspective  95

90 91 92 93 94 95

Idea during World War II (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009), pp. 1–7; 9–66. As for the “battle of ideologies” in the interwar international sphere, see Mark Mazower, Governing the World. The History of an Idea (London: Penguin Press, 2012), pp. 155–188. Benito Mussolini, “Discorso di Verona,” Popolo d’Italia, 27 September 1938. Benito Mussolini, “Discorso di Trieste,” Popolo d’Italia, 19 September 1938. Most recently, see Giulia Albanese, “Italianità fascista. Il regime e la trasformazione dei confini della cittadinanza, 1922–1938,” Italia contemporanea, vol. 290 (August 2019), pp. 95–125. Benito Mussolini, “Alla vecchia guardia,” speech delivered in Roma on 26 March 1939, Popolo d’Italia, 27 March 1939. Reported by Popolo d’Italia, 23 May 1939. Anna Vinci, “Geopolitica e Balcani: l’esperienza di un gruppo di intellettuali in un Ateneo di confine,” Storia e Società, no. 47 (1990), pp. 87–127. More in general, see Nicola Bassoni, Haushofer e l’Asse Roma-Berlino. La geopolitica tedesca nella politica culturale nazifascista (Roma: Viella, 2020).


The drift towards authoritarianism in the interwar was confirmed across most of Europe well before the start of the Second World War, and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1918–1941)1 was certainly no exception. As parliamentary democracy became increasingly dysfunctional and then gave way to royal dictatorship in January 1929, Yugoslavia experienced a clash between traditional conservatives on the one hand and variegated radical-right and fascist groups on the other. The political order and discourse became more illiberal; Yugoslavia’s governing elite was harangued by Serb and Croat critics who either contested or completely rejected the prevailing ideology of integral Yugoslavism, thereby calling into question the very conception and character of the interwar state. In this manner, the twin crises of liberal democracy and the Yugoslav state generated various projects on the fascist and radical Right which, although united by their anticommunism, antisemitism, corporatism and prevailing sense of crisis, were simply too divided by religion, nationality and nationalism to make common cause. Some of these groups also contemplated “revolutionary” solutions, including the use of political violence, to buttress their conceptions of nation-state, national revival and socio-economic regeneration. Yugoslavia’s traditional conservative elite, understood here as the Karađorđević monarchy and political class grouped primarily around the interwar National Radical Party, had little vested interest in democracy. Given the early suppression or marginalisation of the Left, and its exclusion from the political process, interwar Yugoslavia’s political dynamics were defined by a contest between a modernising but conservative political elite and nationalist (as well as radical-right and fascist) movements that adopted the banner of populism and national (understood as Croat or Serb, rather than Yugoslav) rejuvenation. This chapter examines the evolution of the Croat and Serb Right in interwar Yugoslavia, charting their metastasis or migration to the extreme Right. Although most studies of interwar

Radical Right in Yugoslavia  97

Yugoslavia focus on the Croat fascist Ustaša movement, among broad sections of Serb intellectual opinion the post-1918 “culture of victory” gave way to disillusionment with the prevailing conceptions of state and identity politics. For many Yugoslav veterans of the Great War, their initial hopes of a great future went unrealised. As a result, groups like Dimitrije Ljotić’s fascist “Zbor” movement – but also more mainstream entities like the Serb Cultural Club – reflected a growing disenchantment with the country’s official ideology of integral Yugoslavism, the conservative elites promoting it, and the nature of the state they had hailed only years earlier.

The Yugoslav context: from parliamentary democracy to royal dictatorship, 1918–1934 The Kingdom of Yugoslavia was undoubtedly the most complex state in interwar South-Eastern Europe.2 It comprised historically distinct lands, including the Slovene lands (Carniola, parts of Styria and Carinthia), Croatia-Slavonia, Dalmatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Vojvodina, all formerly part of the Habsburg monarchy, in addition to Montenegro and Serbia, which included Kosovo (“Old Serbia”) and Vardar Macedonia (“Southern Serbia”). These lands were ethnically heterogeneous, with Orthodox Serbs (together with Montenegrins) likely comprising 43% of the population, while Croats (23%), Slovenes (8.5%), Bosnian Muslims (6%) and Macedonians (5%) comprised the remaining South Slav population. The remaining 14.5% of the population consisted of non-Slavs, the most numerous of whom were Albanian and Turkish Muslims, Germans, Magyars and Jews.3 In addition to this complex nationality structure, the new state faced the daunting task of constructing a unified government structure from among the numerous, diverse pre-war administrative systems. In the former Habsburg regions, the Slovene lands and Dalmatia had been under Austrian administration whereas Croatia-Slavonia and Vojvodina had been in the Hungarian half of the monarchy, while Bosnia-Herzegovina had a separate administration altogether. These distinct administrations, with their own histories, legal systems and political cultures and traditions, were now suddenly amalgamated with the independent Serbian and Montenegrin administrations, which had less than a decade earlier, during the Balkan Wars (1912–1913), incorporated former Ottoman territories (e.g. Macedonia, Kosovo) that had equally distinct legal and political histories. The Kingdom of Yugoslavia adopted a highly centralised political system, as the dominant Serb political establishment saw centralism as vital to both modernity and the new state’s survival. Although the new kingdom was regarded as the state of the trinomial Yugoslav nation, in which Serbs, Croats and Slovenes were deemed to be “tribes” (plemena, pl. of pleme) of a unitary nation, in actual fact the state was built around pre-war Serbian institutions, as Serbs almost universally supported Yugoslav unification of 1 December 1918. The Yugoslav political elite was drawn largely from pre-war Serbia’s Radical Party, which now became for

98  Mark Biondich

all intents and purposes the country’s governing party; this elite enforced centralisation and nationalisation in politics, in culture and in socio-economic life, adopting policies designed to achieve homogeneity. The two leading Serbian political parties of the interwar era were the National Radical Party of Nikola Pašić and the Democratic Party of Ljubomir (Ljuba) Davidović, although the latter was supported by many non-Serbs who supported integral Yugoslavism.4 The Radicals were the party of the Serbian establishment (middle class, state bureaucracy and military) and pursued a policy that can legitimately be characterised as Great Serbian. While they acknowledged that the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was a new state, they believed that Serbia’s tradition of statehood, its heroic struggles during the Balkan Wars and Great War, and the pivotal role of the Karađorđevićes in the making of the new state entitled Serbia to a central role in state-building. State centralism was seen as the most effective way of achieving homogeneity and of preserving the unity of all Serbs that was achieved in December 1918. The Radicals’ national ideology was rooted in the notion of linguistic Serbianism and possessed a powerful assimilationist strain, which assumed that state centralism would eventually result in the cultural Serbianisation of other linguistically kindred South Slavs. The Democrats by contrast were a party of narodno jedinstvo (national oneness)5 who believed that there was only one, trinomial Yugoslav nation comprising the Serb, Croat and Slovene “tribes.” Their Yugoslavist unitarism convinced them that the end result of state centralism would be a new Yugoslav nationality. They rejected the preservation of Yugoslavia’s historical provinces, which only heightened the “tribal” divisions in the new state. In the immediate post-war period, the Democrats’ leaders supported state centralism and, together with the Radicals, formed a coalition government in the state’s formative period, from January 1921 to December 1922. The main non-Serb party was Stjepan Radić’s Croat Peasant Party, which emerged after 1918 as both a peasant social and a Croat national movement. It believed that Yugoslavia’s creation was unconstitutional and undemocratic. By 1920, when Radić realised that the Paris Peace Conference would not recognise the Croats’ national rights, the party abandoned independence in favour of federalism. However, it pursued a policy of abstention from the Constituent Assembly (1920–1921) and National Parliament (1921–1924) in Belgrade.6 The other Croat political parties, the Croat Union and Croat Party of Right, were gravely debilitated by the introduction of universal manhood suffrage and in 1921 formed, together with the Croat Peasant Party, the “Croat Bloc,” a united front against Belgrade. The Croat Peasant Party remained the only significant political party in Croatia until the Second World War. The leading interwar Slovene and Bosnian Muslim political parties were Anton Korošec’s Catholic clericalist Slovene People’s Party and Mehmed Spaho’s Yugoslav Muslim Organisation. Both were initially autonomist parties but by the late 1920s became de facto supporters of the state system and participated in various Radical-led governments. In the early years of the royal dictatorship, both parties courted the opposition but again entered government after 1935.7

Radical Right in Yugoslavia  99

With the suppression of the Communists (1921) and abstention of the Croat Peasant Party, the centralist parties enacted the Vidovdan Constitution (1921) by a small majority. The constitution confirmed state centralism and afforded far-reaching powers to the Yugoslav monarch. The new kingdom was a parliamentary monarchy, but King Aleksandar I (1921–1934) was not required to name ministers from the National Parliament or even to respect the will of parliamentary majorities; both the king and National Parliament shared legislative authority. In actual fact, the king was the more important factor, possessing the right to sanction or reject parliamentary bills and to call to session or dissolve the National Parliament at any time. Moreover, he controlled the army, conducted foreign policy, made administrative appointments and wielded considerable authority over the judiciary. Between 1921 and 1928 governments were formed not in the National Parliament but at the court, as the king brought down governments possessing parliamentary majorities and sustained those lacking them. Throughout this period the Radicals dominated government. They governed in coalition with the Democrats (1921–1922), alone (1923–1924), or with the Independent Democrats (1924–1925). In July 1925, when Radić finally recognised the Vidovdan system, the Radicals led a coalition government with the Croat Peasant Party (1925–1927). Between early 1927 and 1928, the Radicals dominated a series of cabinets which enjoyed the backing of the Democrats, Slovene People’s Party and Yugoslav Muslim Organisation. In short, from January 1921 to December 1928, the Radicals were out of government only for a few months in 1924. They constituted the state’s governing political elite, although by the mid-1920s the Radicals too became ever more factionalised. Apart from the vexing national question, the most salient trait characterising Yugoslav political life by the late 1920s was the growing involvement of King Aleksandar in political life.8 Following the 20 June 1928 attempted assassination of the Croat leader Radić in the National Parliament – two Croat deputies died immediately, Radić would die of his wounds on 8 August – the Yugoslav state reached a crossroads. The Peasant Democratic Coalition, an alliance of the Croat Peasant Party and its Croatian Serb ally the Independent Democrats, withdrew to Zagreb and demanded sweeping changes to the state system. Although the king entrusted a new government in July 1928 to the Slovene Populist, Anton Korošec, on 6 January 1929, Aleksandar proclaimed the imposition of a royal dictatorship. Parliamentary democracy failed in Yugoslavia not only because it was handicapped by a strong monarchical authority but also because of the national question. Substantial segments of the population did not accept either the premise of a Yugoslav state or the constitutional basis on which the new state was founded; parliamentary politics seemingly failed to offer viable solutions to the problems afflicting the centralised state order, eroding faith in both democratic standards and the state’s feasibility. Aleksandar used the political and constitutional crises to establish a dictatorship, evidently concluding that he had no alternative but to govern by decree. As Christian Axboe Nielsen has shown, the dictatorship

100  Mark Biondich

reinforced state centralism and systematically laboured to indoctrinate the populace into an abandonment of their old “tribal” identities in favour of a new Yugoslav identity; the ideology of integral Yugoslavism was promoted with renewed vigour.9 The local administration was reformed into nine large provinces (banovine), named after geographical features rather than historic and cultural entities, and their governors were appointed by royal decree. In October 1929 the state’s name was officially changed to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and in September 1931 the king issued his octroyed Constitution, which ostensibly guaranteed personal liberties but simultaneously forbade most forms of political activity. The state apparatus, army and judiciary remained in Serb hands. In May 1932, the new government party, the Yugoslav Radical Peasant Democracy (after June 1933, the Yugoslav National Party), was constituted by pro-dictatorship elements from among the National Radicals, Democrats and Slovene People’s Party. Aleksandar’s regime also relied on the support of veterans’ and patriotic associations such as the Association of Reserve Officers and Warriors, the Association of Chetniks for the Freedom and Honour of the Fatherland, the Union of Volunteers and National Defence, which saw in the dictatorship a means of achieving the values for which they had fought during the Great War.10 They viewed his integral Yugoslavism, state centralism and abandonment of party politics as positive steps towards the consolidation of the Yugoslav state. In the same period, many of the moderate opposition leaders were detained; the new leader of the Croat Peasant Party, Vladko Maček, spent much of 1931 and the better part of 1933–1934 in prison. The radical Croat opposition, represented after 1929 by the émigré Ante Pavelić and his fascist Ustaša movement, enlisted Fascist Italy’s support and worked for Yugoslavia’s destruction. King Aleksandar’s authoritarian project began unravelling even before his assassination in October 1934. His political experiment in dictatorship and integral Yugoslavism resulted in the construction of an elaborate and repressive police state that undermined the project of establishing a widely shared Yugoslav identity, which was one of his stated objectives. Some states, like Poland and Albania, had turned to dictatorship before Yugoslavia, but only Aleksandar’s dictatorship devoted a central place to ideology, insisting that past identities be replaced by a new, state-sponsored identity.11 Although the regime seemingly attempted to reduce interethnic distrust, its methods resulted in widespread alienation and further resentment. What is more, there was a perceptible and nearly universal shift to the political Right among all the Yugoslav peoples in this period.

The regency and the rise of the “New” Right, 1934–1941 After October 1934 a Regency Council was established under Prince Pavle Karađorđević, the late king’s cousin, which lasted until March 1941. Much of Aleksandar’s system, like the 1931 Constitution, was retained, although the reins of dictatorship were loosened under a diluted form of authoritarianism. While

Radical Right in Yugoslavia  101

Prince Paul likely saw himself as a caretaker, domestic and international circumstances forced him to make decisive decisions impacting both the country’s internal development and foreign relations. He combined a reactionary attitude towards parliamentary pluralism and socio-economic reform with a desire to reach a political compromise with the Croats. His agenda was reflected broadly in the new government party, the Yugoslav Radical Union, under Premiers Bogoljub Jevtić (1934–1935) and Milan Stojadinović (1935–1939). The latter had concluded the Concordat (1935) to assuage Catholic (Croat and Slovene) opposition to the Yugoslav state, but the subsequent crisis surrounding its abortive ratification (1937) dashed this plan. The next premier Dragiša Cvetković (1939– 1941) negotiated the Sporazum (Agreement) with Maček in August 1939,12 which created a semi-autonomous Croatian banovina that included pre-war CroatiaSlavonia, Dalmatia and those parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina with a Croat plurality. The Croat Peasant Party entered a coalition government led by Cvetković, with Maček as deputy premier. The timing of the Sporazum was undoubtedly linked to the looming European crisis but was contested domestically on all sides. For the Croat nationalist Right, the Sporazum was “too little, too late,” while in Serb nationalist circles it was widely rejected for weakening the state and jeopardising Serb rights. These heated domestic debates occurred as Yugoslavia steadily drifted, much like the other states of the region, into the Third Reich’s economic orbit and quit its alliances with France and the Little Entente. During the royal dictatorship and the Regency broad sections of political society rejected parliamentary democracy and the liberal order more broadly. For supporters of Aleksandar’s dictatorship, party politics had only aggravated the country’s problems and weakened the state. The hard opposition, which in the early years of the dictatorship consisted mainly of Pavelić’s Ustaša movement, also rejected the “sham” of parliamentary democracy and sought to mobilise mass support to achieve Croatian independence through revolutionary violence. But as the political and socio-economic crises of the Yugoslav state intensified during the Great Depression, and, as the European political crisis deepened, other radical-right and fascist parties soon emerged. Almost all of these groups in the Yugoslav context had an obsessive preoccupation with community decline and the lack of national unity; they aspired to mobilise their peoples in pursuit of national redemption. As the ensuing discussion will demonstrate, in some cases, as with the Serbian Zbor, some political groups and prominent intellectuals emerged from the existing political parties and worked in an uneasy alliance with traditional political elites and the military even as they began progressively to voice their opposition to the political, constitutional and ideological bases of the interwar Yugoslav state. The most overtly fascist group to emerge in the post-Aleksandar period in Serbia was Dimitrije Ljotić’s Zbor. A former Radical and Minister of Justice (1931) during the dictatorship, Ljotić participated in a number of integral Yugoslavist organisations before forming, in January 1935, the “Yugoslav People’s Movement ZBOR,” whose acronym stood for the “United Militant Organisation of

102  Mark Biondich

Labor.”13 Even before Aleksandar’s assassination, Ljotić likely began to gather around himself a coterie of sympathisers who saw constitutional mechanisms and party politics as malevolent influences on the state. Unitarist in political orientation but increasingly Serb in deportment, Zbor advocated a corporatist system and adopted a populist rhetoric, calling for the election of peasants and workers, the prosecution of corrupt officials and greater respect for “justice” and “honesty” in public administration and society. Zbor also claimed to be a national movement promoting the values of Serb war veterans.14 As John Paul Newman has argued, the preponderance of veterans in Zbor accorded with both Italian Fascism’s valorisation of the military and Ljotić’s admiration for the transformative power of the war experience. Indeed, given the fact that he was a veteran of Serbia’s wars between 1912 and 1918, Ljotić presented himself as the embodiment of the fascist warrior and emphasised his personal spiritual epiphany in combat.15 The Zbor movement was generally far clearer on what it opposed than what it stood for as it remained to some degree ideologically incoherent. It certainly wanted political transformation and an end to divisive parliamentary politics, was anti-communist, antisemitic, corporatist and generally anti-modernist, given its veneration of rural values and deference to Orthodoxy. But it was not particularly anti-conservative. It emphasised Orthodox religious exclusivism in its political doctrine, giving the group an Orthodox clerical fascist tenor. In addition to his putative mobilisation of veterans, Ljotić maintained contact with the Serbian officer corps, including more than a dozen senior officers and General Milan Nedić, who served as the Minister of Army and Navy (1939–1940); following the latter’s dismissal in November 1940, Ljotić was placed under house arrest in light of the authorities’ fears of a potential military coup.16 Zbor’s religious component stemmed largely from the influence of Ljotić’s ecclesiastical mentors Bishop Nikolaj Velimirović and Justin Popović, and was rooted in the ideology of svetosavlje (Orthodoxy of Saint Sava), a term derived from the first autocephalous archbishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church and coined in the 1930s by ecclesiastics in Velimirović’s circle. Svetosavlje was a response to the variegated threats (cultural, ideological and political) perceived to be confronting the contemporary Orthodox Church and Serb nation. These threats were ostensibly rooted in religious difference but framed in supposedly profound cultural terms and wedded to Serb nationalism.17 Velimirović was a significant figure in this regard and a leading personality in the interwar revival of Orthodox thought. Although originally an admirer of the West who was interested in ecumenism and Protestant theology, by the 1930s Velimirović became increasingly ascetic, disillusioned with Western secularism and underscored the special place of Orthodoxy in Serb nationalism. This gave way to an antipathy towards individualism, religious toleration and equality, and other products of modernity. He also became disillusioned with Yugoslavia, which he had evidently hoped would be built on Christian principles; he began to see

Radical Right in Yugoslavia  103

Serbs as a unique cultural type and national entity that embodied the authentic Orthodox Christian spirit.18 In a June 1939 speech commemorating the 550th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo, he referred to Serbs as “God’s children and people of the Aryan race,” and as the main pillar of Christianity. His broader anti-Western and anti-modernist views were infused, in the years immediately before the Second World War, with antisemitic slurs rooted primarily in Christian teachings.19 Like Ljotić, Velimirović was an admirer of Hitler but unlike his protégé he never supported the Nazi occupation. Ljotić was deeply religious – one of his nicknames was “Mita Bogomoljac” (Devotionalist Mita) – and had originally intended to become a monk.20 As a result, Zbor’s program was shaped by Velimirović’s views on nationalism, culture and history. On Velimirović’s advice, many young theologians like Dimitrije Najdanović joined Zbor and became leading party ideologues. The Orthodox priest Aleksa Todorović, the editor of the Orthodox journal Christian Community, joined the movement and later became the chaplain of Ljotić’s Volunteer Corps under German military occupation. The affiliation and sympathy of many young Orthodox clerics for Zbor suggest that the latter established a special relationship with the so-called “Devotionalist” (or National Christian Community) movement after 1935; Velimirović was at first an ardent sympathiser and then informal leader of the Devotionalists.21 At the end of the Second World War, Velimirović eulogised Ljotić as “an ideologue of religious nationalism,” a pupil and faithful follower in Christ.22 Both believed in a sinister anti-Serbian conspiracy and were antisemitic. The underpinning of their program was the belief that the Serb nation had to return to its religious and cultural roots; the centrality of Orthodoxy was unmistakable, as it would rescue the Serbs (and presumably the other South Slavs) from the perils of communism and Western materialism. Ljotić’s critique of the West undoubtedly appealed to some intellectuals; Zbor gained the support of a few Serbian writers (Velibor Jonić, Vladimir Velmar-Janković and others23) who shared its concerns about Western materialism and a desire to revitalise a native spiritualism based on Orthodoxy.24 This broad program surely raised fundamental questions about the viability of a multi-ethnic and politically pluralist Yugoslav state. Zbor never achieved a significant following, however. In the May 1935 and December 1938 elections, Zbor won only 0.84 and 1.01% of the vote, respectively, handicapped in part by repeated government harassment and the fact that Ljotić focused more attention on ideological matters than on the structure and membership of his putative movement. On the eve of the war, Zbor likely had no more than 5,000–6,000 members.25 In late October 1938 Ljotić and thirty party activists were briefly detained, and then again in fall 1940. Subverted by the authorities, Ljotić and his followers became openly critical of the Regency and Prince Paul. A Zbor leaflet condemned the Concordat and Stojadinović, whose government “was formed to liquidate Yugoslavia.”26 The Sporazum was condemned for allegedly opening the door both to federalism and to Yugoslavia’s “bolshevisation.” In late October 1940 the authorities banned Zbor and

104  Mark Biondich

detained hundreds of its members. Zbor’s anti-Communism, glorification of the Nazi model and general trajectory since 1935 invariably led it to collaborate with the German occupation authorities after April 1941. Ljotić believed that Yugoslavia needed a firm leadership that would anchor the country to Hitler’s New Order to save it from the communist menace and nearly certain destruction.27 Many of the veterans’ groups to which Zbor originally appealed did not support the group’s foray into party politics, however, while Ljotić’s infatuation with the Third Reich undermined his appeal in Zbor’s presumed Serb constituency, which continued to regard Germany as a wartime foe. Apart from Zbor, the political Right in Serbia coalesced around several groups but never had a single leader or powerful figurehead. The foremost body of Serb nationalist dissidence was the Serb Cultural Club, which was formed in February 1937 and brought together intellectual luminaries such as Slobodan Jovanović, Vladimir Čorović, Vaso Čubrilović, Miloš Crnjanski and Dragiša Vasić, among others. Although originally supportive of the Yugoslav state-building project, the intellectuals around the Serb Cultural Club became progressively disenchanted with the prevailing discourse of integral Yugoslavism, the interwar state’s political evolution and the political elite directing state policy under the Regency. The contentious debate surrounding the Concordat (1937), but especially the Sporazum (1939), proved to be focal points in rallying the Serb nationalist Right. This movement, which was to a considerable degree encouraged by the Serbian Orthodox Church, operated under the moniker “Serbs, rally together!” 28 It is equally noteworthy that some formerly earnest supporters of Aleksandar’s dictatorship, like the leader of the paramilitary National Defence, Ilija Trifunović-Birčanin, were already by 1937 in open opposition to the Regency. In Birčanin’s case, the rupture was caused by the Concordat crisis and the vocal opposition of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Following the sudden death of Patriarch Varnava in July 1937, at the height of the Concordat crisis, many Serbs blamed the regime for his death.29 Birčanin considered the Concordat a reprehensible act of capitulation to the domestic forces of revisionism, who had been working since 1918 to subvert the state, and as an affront to Orthodoxy. National Defence’s overt opposition to the Regency was a manifestation of the increasing alienation of Serb nationalist opinion from the regime. 30 The Serb Cultural Club did not articulate a fascist program but definitely belonged to the nationalist Right, as its ideology was integral nationalist and increasingly intolerant, emphasising Orthodoxy and Serb identity to the exclusion of others. Some of its influential members, like its vice president Vasić and the head of its Banja Luka (Bosnia) chapter, Stevan Moljević, became leading ideologues of the Chetnik movement during the Second World War, which espoused a Great Serbian national program. In 1937 one of its secretaries, Vaso Čubrilović, advocated the coerced expulsion of Albanians from the country.31 Already by 1935, Miloš Crnjanski, Serbia’s leading interwar poet, began expressing an overwhelming sense of crisis and saw Yugoslavia as a danger to Serbia; he

Radical Right in Yugoslavia  105

saw few differences between Serbia’s foreign and domestic enemies, and rejected political pluralism and cultural diversity in favour of authoritarian solutions to save the Serbs and their state.32 The Serb Cultural Club’s primary preoccupation, particularly after August 1939, was the “Serb Question” and the lack of Serb unity. It advocated on behalf of a Serbian banovina, encompassing most of Yugoslavia’s territory;33 its official mouthpiece, Srpski glas (Serb Voice), recurrently railed against the policies of the autonomous Croatian banovina and questioned the legitimacy of its borders. More importantly, it questioned the legitimacy of the Cvetković–Maček government. The Sporazum also infuriated many Serb veterans who were affiliated with National Defence and the Serb Cultural Club, not least because they believed it undermined their mission to unify Serbdom. Both Vasić and Stevan Moljević called the Sporazum the “Serbian Munich,”34 confirming the widespread Serb nationalist view that it represented a capitulation to domestic revisionism. The broader implication of the Serb Cultural Club’s discourse was that the Serb nation was disadvantaged and even imperilled within Yugoslavia. Although the Serb Cultural Club framed the Serb Question in terms of the Yugoslav state’s preservation – based on the proposition that a strong Serbdom was synonymous with a strong Yugoslavia – it betrayed a growing disillusionment with integral Yugoslavism and the governing political elite, which had seemingly jeopardised Serb rights by making concessions to Croats and undermining state unity. Insofar as the Club possessed a political program, it was centred on the creation of a Serbian territorial unit, a call for Serb political unity and a concomitant end to party political bickering. The slogan “Serbs, rally together!” was in fact a riposte to the national front in Croatia under the leadership of the Croat Peasant Party. The Serb Cultural Club bemoaned a similar lack of Serb unity and inability to form a Serb national front. Integral Yugoslavism had given way to the rhetoric of Serb unity and a return to supposedly old “Serbian” values. Unity was meaningless unless, as Srpski glas argued, “the old spirit does not wake up inside the Serbs, the same spirit which used to inspire their strength and greatness in the past,” the same faith in the national ideals and “manly decisiveness to sacrifice everything else for the sake of those ideals.”35 In short, the Club called for “a moral revival,” which evoked the victories of the pre-war era and the Great War during which, as a result of Serbia’s presumed political unity and national vitality, it had prevailed against its enemies to achieve unification. 36 These views reflected a profound loss of faith in integral Yugoslavism and the state’s leadership. The Serb radical Right and fascists emerged largely from the conservative establishment (notably the Radical Party) but, after Aleksandar’s assassination, increasingly rejected the multi-ethnic state and its official Yugoslavist ideology. Not all of these groups and intellectuals openly embraced fascism or wartime collaboration after 1941, but they shared a profound sense of crisis and saw in political pluralism and cultural diversity threats to the Serb nation; many of them came to regard Yugoslavia as a danger to Serbdom. What all groups on

106  Mark Biondich

the Serb far Right clamoured for was political unity rooted in supposedly traditional Serb values (reflected mainly in Orthodoxy), but there was no consensus on who would lead Serbs to this elusive unity or the redemptive power of either the Italian or German fascist models. In Croatia, native fascism was represented by Pavelić’s Ustaša movement which had openly rejected integral Yugoslavism at the time of its creation.37 The Ustaše were an outgrowth of the Croat Party of Right, which in the 1920s never polled more than 2% of the Croat vote; its social base was the small middle class, nationalist intelligentsia and some Catholic clergy. It believed that Croats were engaged in a struggle against a Great Serbian policy that was working to destroy the Croat nation. Radić’s role in mobilising the peasantry to the national cause was acclaimed, but his political capabilities and pacifism were summarily dismissed. The Croat Party of Right stood for the affirmation of the historic Croat nation. After January 1929, Pavelić believed that a new movement was needed to lead an uncompromising and revolutionary struggle against Belgrade. After the imposition of the royal dictatorship, Pavelić fled the country to fight for the independence of a Great Croatian state. He emerged as the Poglavnik (Leader) of the Ustaša movement, known officially as “Ustaša: Croat Revolutionary Organisation.” The defining characteristics of the Ustaša movement were anti-Serbianism, anti-Communism and its cult of Croatian statehood. From the middle of the 1930s, antisemitism became more pronounced in party rhetoric and documents. Croatian independence was the goal and was to be achieved through revolution; from the beginning the Ustaše made clear their predilection for revolutionary violence. One prominent Ustaša activist called on Croats to “give vent to their protest”; bombs and revolvers were “an imperative of the times.” Only with revolutionary violence could the Ustaše bring down “the shaky walls of the bloody dungeon that is called ‘Yugoslavia’.” The Ustaše combined revolutionary violence with an integral nationalism that was generally exclusionary and intolerant but with a muted assimilationist strain; these often contradictory tendencies were never completely resolved in Ustaša ideology. They recognised only one nation on the territory of Greater Croatia, leaving no room for separate Serb or Bosnian Muslim nations, although their attitude towards the latter remained relatively benign. The denial of Serb existence was normally expressed in one of two ways. The Orthodox of Greater Croatia (Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina) were either “Croats” who had adopted a Serb consciousness in the nineteenth century because of the assimilationist work of the Serbian Orthodox Church, or they were a foreign element in Great Croatia, different by blood and distinct from the autochthonous “Croat” (i.e. Catholic-Muslim) population. Ustaša ideology continued to vacillate between exclusion and assimilation, as both tendencies existed within the movement, although the former, which argued that Serbs in Great Croatia were colonists, “a tumour in a foreign body,”38 remained stronger. During the Second World War, this view was manifested in the genocidal practices of the Ustaša regime.

Radical Right in Yugoslavia  107

One of the noteworthy characteristics of the Ustaša leadership and cadre, which undoubtedly contributed to its revolutionary militancy, was its remarkable youth. Apart from Pavelić and a few senior figures (notably Mile Budak, Andrija Artuković and Slavko Kvaternik), who were in their fifties or older at the time of the Axis invasion in April 1941, the group’s broader leadership circle and rank and file were remarkably young. Many important Ustaša ministers and party officials were only in their late twenties or early thirties in 1941. Pavelić’s trusted wartime inner circle consisted of the so-called rasovi – the term was an adaptation of the Italian Fascist ras (“bosses”), the powerful provincial party chiefs – who were in Italian exile with the Ustaša leader and formed after 1941 his trusted military-party cadre; these men were mostly young militants born on the eve or during the Great War, with no memory of that conflagration. Their personal loyalty to Pavelić was undisputed and gave them considerable operational latitude; they would become the young militants who were the architects of Ustaša Croatia between 1941 and 1945. Upon joining the movement, they swore a lifetime oath of allegiance to Pavelić personally as the group’s undisputed leader (Poglavnik). The Ustaše modelled themselves after Italian Fascism, hoping to utilise Italian sponsorship to achieve independence, and by 1941 had become a developed fascist movement.39 The Ustaša movement’s early programmatic documents were not corporatist in nature, as its socio-economic program generally remained poorly developed. In the course of the 1930s, however, the Ustaše adapted the Italian Fascist model to Croatian conditions, melding it with social rhetoric borrowed heavily from the Croat peasant movement. In his monograph Errori e orrori (Errors and Horrors, 1938),40 Pavelić identified international communism as the gravest threat confronting European civilisation and glorified Italian Fascism as the only program capable of counteracting the Bolshevik menace. In the end, the Ustaše opted not merely for an authoritarian model but one that was totalitarian. Although they eventually co-opted the Croat Catholic clericalist movement and its mass institutions, the Ustaše never evolved into a mass movement, remaining on the social margins as a result of the Croat Peasant Party’s continued dominance. By 1941 the movement likely had approximately 10,000 sworn members. The abortive Ustaša insurrection in Croatia (1931) demonstrated their limited capabilities and, as a result, their violence took the form of assassination of Yugoslav officials, by far the most important of whom was King Aleksandar (1934). Thereafter Fascist Italy constrained Ustaša activities and confined their leadership. Pavelić might well have ended up in relative obscurity were it not for the Axis invasion of Yugoslavia, which catapulted his movement to power. The other major group on the Croat radical Right was the Catholic clericalist (or “radical Catholic”) movement, which in its antecedents and social constituency was quite distinct from the Ustaša movement. In the late interwar period, the proponents of “radical Catholicism” articulated an ideology and program that were similar to “Ustašism.” The Croat Catholic movement had emerged in May 1919 as the Croat People’s Party (or Populists) but never made significant

108  Mark Biondich

electoral inroads in Croatia or Bosnia-Herzegovina because of the Croat Peasant Party’s political dominance.41 What is noteworthy is that the Croat Populists originally supported the creation of Yugoslavia, even though they resisted state centralism as implemented by the National Radicals and Democrats. While they acknowledged narodno jedinstvo in principle, the Croat Populists denied its unitarist implications. They supported the gradual elimination of existing “tribal” and historical differences within the trinomial nation but believed that strict state centralism would undermine the Yugoslav state-building project. The Croat Populists, together with their mentor, the politically stronger and more influential Slovene People’s Party, pursued an autonomist platform that situated them in the ranks of the moderate opposition to state centralism, between the Serb centralists and predominantly Croat federalist hard opposition. Already in the 1920s, the Populists’ rhetoric was noticeably anti-Communist and anti-liberal. Although sensitive to the importance of the social question, they rejected class warfare in principle as detrimental to the national community and instead promoted class cooperation, social harmony and protection of private property and personal liberties. This included support for an extensive land reform in which the existing landed elite – including the Catholic Church – would be compensated by the state rather than by peasants, who would then pool their resources through cooperatives and, with state assistance, and determine their own socio-economic future. In short, the Croat Populists supported a corporatist system. However, their political fortunes waned as Radić’s anti-clericalist party became a Croat national movement.42 Following the imposition of the royal dictatorship, and with the dissolution of the Croat Populists, the Catholic movement became more heterogeneous and politically divided. Many Croat Catholic activists were readily prepared to abandon parliamentary democracy in principle, in favour of a more assertive national policy. After all, the decade of parliamentary government in Yugoslavia had not brought about the ascendancy of the Catholic movement. The Catholic youth who came to maturity in the late 1920s and early 1930s had experienced only dysfunctional parliamentary democracy or dictatorship, as a result of which their own commitment to democracy was frail. What is more, Aleksandar’s dictatorship, with its strict state centralism and ideology of integral Yugoslavism, was perceived to be Serbian Orthodox and inimical to Catholic rights. Catholics in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany might, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, accommodate themselves to these regimes, in the interests of the nation and with the blessing of the Vatican, but this was impossible in Yugoslavia. There was no Concordat between the Vatican and Belgrade and therefore no tacit or overt blessing on the part of the former to submit to the latter. Although a Concordat was finally concluded in 1935, its abortive ratification in 1937 provoked a political crisis and invalidated the agreement. In May 1938, the Croatian Catholic Bishops issued a Pastoral Letter expressing their deep disappointment over the government’s failure to ratify the Concordat, as well as listing some of the alleged injustices suffered by the church.43 The Concordat crisis fuelled the Catholic

Radical Right in Yugoslavia  109

movement’s belief that Catholic and Croat interests could not be accommodated within Yugoslavia. It was within this context that the Catholic movement developed its youth organisation, the “Great Crusader Fraternity and Sorority” (hereafter, Crusaders), which was formed in 1931 and by 1938 had an estimated following of 40,000.44 The Crusaders’ mission was to confront the threats posed by liberalism, communism and Serb nationalism with a radical brand of redemptive Catholic ideology. The nationalist component became ever more pronounced in the Crusaders’ ideology, as integral Yugoslavism gave way to an integral Croat national ideology that envisaged (Greater) Croatia not just as pre-war Croatia-Slavonia and Dalmatia, but also Bosnia-Herzegovina and those parts of Vojvodina with a Catholic plurality. The earlier ties to the Slovene Catholic movement also disappeared, as the Crusaders sought to separate their membership from Yugoslavist and nonCroat influences. Yugoslavia was rarely mentioned in Crusader publications, nor was there much discussion of non-Catholic citizens. Instead, the emphasis was on the “homeland,” understood as Greater Croatia and its history, represented through symbols and narratives commemorating medieval Croatian monarchs and Croatia’s relations with the Papacy. The Crusaders’ slogan of “God, Church, Homeland” blended radical Catholicism and integral Croat nationalism.45 While some within the broader Catholic movement may have still been prepared to defer politically to the Croat Peasant Party, a majority of Crusaders were not. The Spanish Civil War and Slovak independence were both used to highlight the Croat Peasant Party’s flawed commitment to democracy and a negotiated solution to Croat rights within Yugoslavia. More and more the only viable solution to the “Croat Question” was seen as independence and an authoritarian political system based loosely on the fascist model of social corporatism and economic autarky. While many Crusaders had serious misgivings about Nazi ideology – the fate of Catholic Poland was bemoaned in the Croat Catholic press – they were convinced that Axis support was the sine qua non of Croatian independence. It is therefore not surprising that many turned to Pavelić’s Ustaše even before April 1941, while a sizeable segment of the Catholic movement sided with the wartime Ustaša regime after April 1941.

Conclusion Native fascism in interwar Yugoslavia was not the product of a structural crisis of a rapidly modernising society; the country was still overwhelmingly rural with a weak bourgeoisie and working class, socio-economic change was perceptible but slow, and there was little genuine risk of communist revolution. The fascist and radical-right movements that emerged in the 1930s – and indeed the overall rightward shift of society in this decade – were a by-product of Yugoslavia’s vexing national question, which generated a multitude of dissonant responses. Both the Croat and Serb fascist and radical Right addressed the consequences of communities living in a multi-ethnic society where the question of identity

110  Mark Biondich

was remarkably intricate. After all, Yugoslavia was the putative nation-state of the trinomial Yugoslav nation. But in remarkably short order, given the trajectory of the state’s development, nationalist opinion (first Croat, then increasingly Serb) rejected the ideology of integral Yugoslavism and the nature of the state. As interwar Yugoslavia was a modernising society in transition, caught as it were between tradition and modernity, the local varieties of fascism may be viewed as a provisional response to the developmental crisis of the modern nation-state. In other words, the primary problems that these fascist and radical-right movements addressed were related to identity and statehood, which encompassed associated questions of status and perceptions of national decline. In the Ustaša case, this meant Yugoslavia’s outright destruction and creation of Greater Croatian nation-state, while Zbor sought Serb moral rebirth through Orthodoxy and corporatism as well as the strengthening of the unitary Yugoslav state. The domestic political crisis prompted a search for new solutions, some of which appeared to be on offer from advancing revisionist states like Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. The domestic crisis was filtered through the prism of wider European developments. Determining which parties and movements deserve to be labelled genuinely fascist is problematic, not least of all because there is still no widely agreed-upon definition of fascism. But fascism almost certainly cannot simply be grouped with traditional conservatism or nationalist elites, in Yugoslavia or elsewhere, as fascist movements were often radical and violently opposed to their domestic political orders. Here too, however, there is no widely acknowledged line clearly demarcating fascist movements from traditional conservative elites or authoritarian nationalist movements which constituted the interwar “establishment.” Indeed, in the Yugoslav context, many conservative groups, including paramilitary and veteran associations in addition to the governing Yugoslav Radical Union’s “green shirts,” had para-fascist trappings. (As previously noted, already in the 1920s, the Yugoslav authorities and centralist parties (Radicals, Democrats) had promoted various paramilitary associations (e.g. ORJUNA, SRNAO, Chetnik associations) that outwardly reinforced the authority of the state.) This problem is accentuated by the fact that many fascist movements produced a unique synthesis of the old and the new; they often possessed an antiestablishment bias and called for a new order while remaining firmly fixed in a specific national cultural matrix. Both the Ustaše and Zbor borrowed from European fascist movements (i.e. corporatism, anti-liberalism, anti-communism) and adapted these ideas to national traditions, which were repeatedly invoked and heralded. But Zbor was certainly not anti-conservative as such, in light of its ties to the Serbian Orthodox Church and military, whereas the Ustaše were opposed to the existing political order. Neither the Ustaše nor Zbor achieved a mass following, however. The former failed to penetrate the socially dominant countryside, which remained the preserve of the Croat Peasant Party. Zbor’s emphasis on Orthodoxy and moral rebirth, and its harsh criticism of the Regency (over the Concordat and Sporazum), did not set it apart in any meaningful

Radical Right in Yugoslavia  111

way from the Serb nationalist conservative mainstream, whether represented by the Serb Cultural Club, veterans’ groups or paramilitary associations. As a consequence, both the Ustaše and Zbor remained vocal but marginal entities in Yugoslavia. There is little doubt, however, that in terms of leadership style, the use of political violence against the existing order, organisational structure and nationalist rhetoric the Ustaša movement was the most “genuinely” fascist movement in interwar Yugoslavia. It was prepared to work to a degree with traditional elites, such as the Catholic Church, but otherwise was unyielding towards both the Yugoslav state and the Croat Peasant Party, which by 1939 formed to all intents and purposes Croatia’s political establishment. Pavelić’s Ustaša movement consciously modelled itself on Italian Fascism, evolved a cult of leadership around the Poglavnik, and both glorified and resorted to political violence in the name of the nation. By April 1941 it had evolved into a developed fascist movement and co-opted Croatia’s Catholic movement, which had migrated from Yugoslavia’s political centre to the radical Right. The Catholic movement was nationalist, ideologically militant and had aspired to recruit a mass youth movement but was hardly anti-conservative. Nor did the movement have a powerful and charismatic leadership figure that was able to dominate the movement and embody its ideals. For the Catholic movement, Pavelić would become this figure in April 1941. Two areas of ideological convergence among radical-right and fascist groups in Yugoslavia were corporatism and the prominence of religion. With regard to the former, both the Croat radical Right and Zbor expected that a strong national state would promote modernisation, based on protective tariffs and intervention in the market, and a corporatist ideology that supported an ethos of work, class collaboration and sacrifice in the name of the national community. This model would supposedly contain social conflict, promote unity and neutralise the threat of socialism, and was in many respects essentially conservative. The other area of convergence was religion, which is hardly surprising. After all, the fascist and radical-right discourse of “rebirth” and national “resurrection” was undeniably religiously evocative. In the Yugoslav case, however, the association between faith and nation gave religion an even greater political salience. Furthermore, ecclesiastical institutions (whether Catholic or Serbian Orthodox) still exerted considerable influence over broad segments of traditional (especially rural) society. It was scarcely unexpected therefore that, in a multi-ethnic climate of growing political paralysis, nationalist tension and economic stasis, many would turn to religion for both succour and political inspiration. This was certainly the case with Zbor and the Croat Catholic movement. Religion was invoked in the name of moral rejuvenation, but religious differences were increasingly used to frame national divisions in terms of unbridgeable cultural chasms. In its dealings with the country’s various churches and religious communities, the Yugoslav authorities had to contend with the fact that these communities had previously, in the pre-war era, functioned under distinct legal

112  Mark Biondich

systems and political regimes and thus operated within dissimilar regulatory environments. In light of the royal dictatorship’s project of promoting integral Yugoslavism, and the fact that religious elites exercised considerable influence in rural society and consequently could potentially assist this project, between 1929 and 1931 the Yugoslav authorities issued a series of laws and regulations governing the status of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Islamic Religious Community, the Jewish Communities and the Reformed and Evangelical Churches. The major exception was the Catholic Church; Yugoslavia and the Vatican initiated talks on a Concordat in the 1920s and concluded an agreement in July 1935,46 but it was never ratified. The relationship between the state and religious communities evolved in an increasingly authoritarian environment and was shaped to a significant degree by Serbo-Croat political relations; religion was deliberately exploited by nationalist leaders both in the defence of but more often than not against the state. In the end, the Yugoslav authorities never quite managed to dominate religious communities to the degree that they hoped or to win their collective loyalty to integral Yugoslavism. On the contrary, the authorities alienated them almost without exception which necessarily made religion a powerful mobilising vehicle. The case of fascism in interwar Yugoslavia, and specifically the relationship between radical-right and conservative groups in the country, highlights an important point made by Constantin Iordachi in his comparative study of the Ustaše and Romanian Iron Guard. Iordachi is undoubtedly correct when he claims that fascist movements and regimes need to be better contextualised, by inserting them into the larger spectrum of extreme right-wing politics and exploring their features against the background of the existing political systems. In their effort to provide accurate definitions of fascism, ideal-typical approaches tend to neatly differentiate and thus isolate fascist movements from the non-fascist radical Right. The historical reality was far more complex and convoluted, with fascist movements and the non-fascist radical Right developing “in a tight entanglement marked by both cooperation and conflict,” as nationalist movements were “in a permanent political flux.”47 The evolution of many Croat and Serb groups, such as the Croat Catholic movement and some Serb unitarists, from the Yugoslavist political centre to the radical Right in just over a decade demonstrated the fluidity of ideas as political currents shifted markedly. One cannot merely ascribe these shifts to post-war cultures of “victory” and “defeat,” that is, to defenders and opponents of the post-war status quo. As John Paul Newman has shown, one of the most characteristic aspects of war culture in interwar Yugoslavia “is the way in which these various meanings of the war years, defeat and victory, interacted with one another to undermine postwar consolidation and to generate authoritarian potential within the state.”48 This war culture fractured over time, with fascist and radical-right alternatives appearing among perceived victors and

Radical Right in Yugoslavia  113

vanquished alike, as political society and conservatives in Yugoslavia also shifted further to the Right. In short, the history of interwar Yugoslavia exemplifies the many challenges confronting the student of fascism. While the Ustaša movement evolved into a “mature” fascist group by 1941, the surfeit of other nationalist and rightist movements in interwar Yugoslavia – many of them linked to the conservative establishment and its parties, such as veterans’ groups, paramilitary associations and even Stojadinović’s Yugoslav Radical Union with its “green shirts” and leadership principle – promoting competing ideological projects that relied heavily on national traditions and cultural patterns, serves not only as a reminder of the complexities of the subject but also of the need for more comparative research of the groups within the former Yugoslavia and between them and their European counterparts.

Notes 1 The interwar state was officially known as the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes from December 1918 until October 1929, and thereafter as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. For simplicity’s sake, Yugoslavia will be used throughout this text. 2 On interwar Yugoslavia, see Ivo Banac, The National Question in Yugoslavia: Origins, History, Politics (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1984); John R. Lampe, Yugoslavia as History: Twice There Was a Country (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996); and, the essays in Dejan Djokić, Yugoslavism: Histories of a Failed Idea, 1918–1992 (London: C. Hurst & Co., 2003). On the cultural aspects of Yugoslavism, see Andrew Baruch Wachtel, Making a Nation, Breaking a Nation: Literature and Cultural Politics in Yugoslavia (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998). 3 Banac, The National Question in Yugoslavia, p. 58. 4 On the leading Serbian political groups, see Branislav Gligorijević, Parlament i političke stranke u Jugoslaviji (1919–1929) (Belgrade: Institut za savremenu istoriju, 1979); and, Branko Petranović, Istorija Jugoslavije: knjiga I – Kraljevina Jugoslavija (Belgrade: Nolit, 1988). On the Democrats, see Branislav Gligorijević, Demokratska stranka i politički odnosi u Kraljevini Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca (Belgrade: Institut za savremenu istoriju, 1970); Hrvoje Matković, Svetozar Pribićević i Samostalna demokratska stranka do šestojanuarske diktature (Zagreb: Institut za hrvatsku povijest, 1972); and Ljubo Boban, Svetozar Pribićević u opoziciji, 1928–1936 (Zagreb: Institut za hrvatsku povijest, 1973). 5 Although narodno jedinstvo may also be translated as “national unity,” the term “national oneness” captures the original meaning of the term more faithfully. Since the proponents of narodno jedinstvo argued that Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes were “one” ( jedno) or “one nation” ( jedan narod), in promoting their political unity after 1918 they were advocating on behalf of their cultural “oneness” as a single community or people. 6 On the Croat Peasant Party, see Mark Biondich, Stjepan Radić, the Croat Peasant Party and the Politics of Mass Mobilization, 1904–1928 (Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press, 2000); and Ljubo Boban, Maček i politika HSS, 1928–1941: Iz povijesti hrvatskog pitanja, 2 vols. (Zagreb: Institut za hrvatsku povijest, 1974). 7 It is not this author’s intent to trivialise the importance of the non-Serb and nonCroat political parties of this period or to suggest that they did not influence political life, but this chapter focuses on the political Right among the Serbs and Croats as the two largest state people in interwar Yugoslavia. For works on the Slovene and Bosnian Muslim parties, see Atif Purivatra, Jugoslavenska muslimanska organizacija u političkom životu Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca (Sarajevo: Svjetlost, 1974); and Andrej Rahten, Slovenska

114  Mark Biondich


9 10

11 12 13

ljudska stranka v beograjski skupščini: jugoslovanski klub v parlamentarnem življenju Kraljevine SHS 1919–1929 (Ljubljana: SAZU, 2002). The Radicals had to contend with factionalism from the first years of the Yugoslav state. For example, one of the party’s founders and intellectual luminaries, Stojan Protić, who served as Yugoslavia’s first premier (December 1918–August 1919), supported a decentralised state system but came to blows with Pašić over this issue. Protić lost the internal party debate and subsequently left the party. By the time of Pašić’s death in 1926, there were at least three distinct factions within the Radical Party. On factionalism and Aleksandar’s role in politics, see Gligorijević, Parlament i političke stranke u Jugoslaviji, pp. 204–210, 245–247; and Nadežda Jovanović, Politički sukobi u Jugoslaviji (Belgrade: Institut za savremenu istoriju, 1974), pp. 121–131, 142–155, 171–180. See Christian Axboe Nielsen, Making Yugoslavs: Identity in King Aleksandar’s Yugoslavia (Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press, 2014). Many of the right-wing extra-parliamentary opposition groups operating in Yugoslavia in the 1930s may have drawn varying degrees of inspiration from European fascist movements but in most cases their organisational patterns and structures had indigenous progenitors. The Yugoslav kingdom had, in the 1920s and the first years of the dictatorship, sanctioned the proliferation of various societies with paramilitary wings to buttress domestic political support for and to counteract perceived enemies of the state. These groups included the Organisation of Yugoslav Nationalists (ORJUNA, 1921–1929), centred primarily in Dalmatia; the Association of Fighters of Yugoslavia (aka “Boj,” 1929–1935), which was based mainly in Slovenia; and, the Serb National Youth (SRNAO, 1926–1929) and “Yugoslav Action” ( JA, 1930– 1935), both of which had close ties to King Aleksandar’s court and subsequently the royal dictatorship. Similarly, the Serb Chetnik movement was aligned with the centralist parties of the interwar era and included the Democratic Party–aligned Association of Chetniks for the Freedom and Honour of the Fatherland (1921–1929) and the Radical-aligned Association of Serbian Chetniks for King and Fatherland and Association of Serbian Chetniks “Petar Mrkonjić” (1924–1925). On the rise and evolution of these groups, see the important study of John Paul Newman, Yugoslavia in the Shadow of War: Veterans and the Limits of State Building, 1903–1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015); and his shorter “War Veterans, Fascism, and Para-Fascist Departures in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, 1918–1941,” Fascism, vol. 6 (2017), pp. 42–74, which examines the link between war veterans and fascist movements in Yugoslavia. Nielsen, Making Yugoslavs, p. 249. On the Sporazum, see Ljubo Boban, Sporazum Cvetković-Maček (Belgrade: Institut društvenih nauka, 1965). On Ljotić and Zbor, see Branislav Gligorijević, “Politički pokreti i grupe sa ­nacional-socijalističkom. ideologijom i njihova fuzija u Ljotićevom Zboru,” Istorijski glasnik, vol. 4 (1965), pp. 35–83; Mladen Stefanović, Zbor Dimitrija Ljotića 1934–1945 (Belgrade: Narodna knjiga, 1984); Dragan Subotić, Zatomljena misao. O političkim idejama Dimitrija Ljotića (Belgrade: Clio, 1994); Mirko Bojic,́ Jugoslavenski narodni pokret “Zbor,” 1935–1945: Jedan kriticki ̌ prilaz (Belgrade: Narodna knjiga-Alfa, 1996); Zoran Janjetović, “Pokret Zbor u posljednjoj fazi Drugoga svjetskog rata,” Časopis za suvremenu povijest, vol. 48, no. 3 (2016), pp. 673–685; and, Christian Kurzydlowski, “The early ideological influences of Dimitrije Ljotić: the makings of a fascist and traitor?” in Dragan Aleksić (ed.), Srbi i rat u Jugoslaviji 1941 godine: Tematski zbornik radova (Belgrade: Institut za noviju istoriju Srbije, 2014), pp. 31–57. On Zbor and wartime collaboration, see Jovan Byford, “Willing Bystanders: Dimitrije Ljotić “Shield Collaboration” and the Destruction of Serbia’s Jews,” in Rebecca Haynes and Martyn Rady (eds.), In the Shadow of Hitler: Personalities of the Right in Central and Eastern Europe (London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2011), pp. 295–312.

Radical Right in Yugoslavia  115

116  Mark Biondich

30 31 32

33 34

35 36 37

38 39


41 42

i pravni aspekti konkordata izmedju Svete Stolice i Kraljevine Jugoslavije (Split: Crkva u svijetu, 1978). Newman, Yugoslavia in the Shadow of War, p. 236. Tim Judah, The Serbs: History, Myth and the Destruction of Yugoslavia, 2nd ed. (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2000), p. 149. See John K. Cox, “Violence, Vienna, Versailles, and Venezuela: The Effects of World War I on the Nationalist Thought of Miloš Crnjanski,” in Alessandro Salvador and Anders G. Kjǿstvedt (eds.), New Political Ideas in the Aftermath of the Great War (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), pp. 25–36. In the late 1930s, Crnjanski served as a foreign correspondent (first in Berlin, then Rome) of the Yugoslav Government Central Press Bureau. In this capacity, and notwithstanding his relatively junior civil service rank, Crnjanski reported directly to Stojadinović and became a supporter. He maintained the relationship after 1945, when both were political emigres. See Marko Bulatović, “Pisac i njegov ministar: Crnjanski i Stojadinović – o jednom neobičnom odnosu,” Godišnjak za društvenu istoriju, vol. 4, no. 1 (1997), pp. 65–74. Dragan Subotić, Srpske političke stranke i pokreti u 19 i 20 veku: Političke stranke i pokreti u političkom životu međuratne Srbije (i Jugoslavije) (1918–1941). Primeri iz političke istorije, kulture i sociologije političkih partija (Belgrade: Institut za politicke studije, 1998), p. 310. Newman, Yugoslavia in the Shadow of War, p. 239; and Petranović, Srbija u Drugom svetskom ratu, p. 35. Some army officers, who sympathised with the Serb Cultural Club, were prepared to support a coup against Prince Paul. See Slobodan Nešović, Jugoslavija i Ujedinjeni narodi 1941–1945 (Belgrade: Narodna knjiga, 1985), p. 52. Djokić, “National Mobilization in the 1930s,” p. 75. Djokić, “National Mobilization in the 1930s,” p. 75. For recent studies of the Ustaša movement see Jozo Tomasevich, War and Revolution in Yugoslavia, 1941–1945: Occupation and Collaboration (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001), pp. 233–302; Rory Yeomans, Visions of Annihilation: The Ustasha Regime and the Cultural Politics of Fascism, 1941–1945 (Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh University Press, 2013); Alexander Korb, Im Schatten des Weltkriegs: Massengewalt der Ustasa gegen Serben, Juden und Roma in Kroatien 1941–1945 (Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, 2013); Goran Miljan, Croatia and the Rise of Fascism: The Youth Movement and the Ustasha During WWII (London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018); and, the comparative study by Constantin Iordachi, “Fascism in Southeastern Europe: A Comparison between Romania’s Legion of the Archangel Michael and Croatia’s Ustaša,” in Roumen Daskalov and Diana Mishkova (eds.), Entangled Histories of the Balkans – Volume Two: Transfers of Political Ideologies and Institutions (Leiden: Brill, 2014), pp. 355–468. “Zahtjevi nekih doseljenika vukovarskog kotare,” Hrvatski narod, 17 November 1939, p. 1. The relationship between the Ustaše and Fascist Italy is discussed most recently in Pino Adriano and Giorgio Cingolani, Nationalism and Terror: Ante Pavelić and Ustasha Terrorism from Fascism to the Cold War (Budapest and New York: Central European Press, 2018), pp. 57–168. Pavelić published the book in Italian in Siena under the pseudonym A. S. Mrzlodolski, see Errori e orrori: comunismo e bolscevismo in Russia e nel mondo (Siena: Combattenti, 1938). It was published in Croatian as Strahote zabluda (Zagreb: Matica Hrvatska, 1941). See Mark Biondich, “Radical Catholicism and Fascism in Croatia, 1918–1945,” Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions, vol. 8, no. 2 ( June 2007), pp. 383–399. In the 1927 elections the Populists elected only one deputy to the National Parliament, their party leader Stjepan Barić. Following the assassination attempt against Radić and other Croat deputies, in late July 1928 the Croat Populists entered a caretaker government led by Korošec’s Slovene People’s Party; Barić became Minister of Social Policy. The Populists now found themselves at odds with Croat public opinion

Radical Right in Yugoslavia  117

43 44



47 48

as Korosec government resigned in late December 1928 and gave way to Aleksandar’s dictatorship. See Biondich, “Radical Catholicism and Fascism in Croatia,” p. 387. Biondich, “Radical Catholicism and Fascism in Croatia,” p. 391. See Sandra Prlenda, “Young, Religious, and Radical: The Croat Catholic Youth Organizations, 1922–1945,” in John Lampe and Mark Mazower (eds.), Ideologies and National Identities: The Case of Twentieth-Century Southeastern Europe (New York and Budapest: Central European University Press, 2004), pp. 82–109. Already by 1933, several leading Catholic intellectuals, including Ivan Oršanić, Kerubin Šegvić and others previously associated with the Crusaders, left the organisation. By the late 1930s, most of them had become sworn members of the Ustaša movement, which they saw as the only group fighting for independence. See Bonifacije Perović, Hrvatski katolički pokret: Moje uspomene (Rome: ZIRAL, 1976), p. 67; and, Ivan Oršanić, Vizija slobode (Buenos Aires: Hrvatska revija, 1979). On the legal decrees governing the various religious communities, see Dragan Novaković, “Versko zakonodavstvo Kraljevine Jugoslavije,” Zbornik Pravnog fakulteta Sveučilišta u Rijeci, vol. 33, no. 2 (1991), pp. 939–965; and Pieter Troch, Nationalism and Yugoslavia: Education, Yugoslavism and the Balkans before World War II (London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 2015), p. 114, and especially Chapters 7 and 8. Iordachi, “Fascism in Southeastern Europe,” p. 466. Newman, “War Veterans, Fascism, and Para-Fascist Departures in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia,” p. 46.


In 1935, one of the main ideologues of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), Mykola Stsiborskyi, wrote that the example of fascism should be a guide for enslaved peoples. For those of them who fearfully turn away from the imperative precepts of fascism because of their blind, uncritical attachment to the narcosis of demo-socialist prejudices about ‘peace, harmony, prosperity,’ and Internationals – they will never have true peace and freedom. The destiny of such peoples is to be manure for others!1 Ukrainian radical nationalists of the 1930s did not turn away from “the imperative precepts of fascism.” On the contrary, they readily accepted them. Had they become fascists themselves, following this “guide”? Two contradictory and almost mutually exclusive positions still compete in the historiography of the interwar and wartime Ukrainian Nationalist2 movement: one exposes its extremist, totalitarian, “genocidal” and “fascist” nature, denying it any liberation and democratic elements;3 the other emphasises the liberation character of its struggle for an independent state, rejecting or ignoring totalitarian and fascistic elements in its ideology and practice altogether.4 These positions in historiography are closely linked to contemporary public discussions, which are structured around two dominant discourses. The first, condemnatory, discourse has focused on the OUN’s attitude toward Nazi Germany before its invasion of the USSR, the role of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) in the Polish–Ukrainian conflict and the supposed involvement of both organisations in the Holocaust. The second, apologetic and heroic, discourse has celebrated the OUN and UPA for their contribution to the Ukrainian national

Integral nationalism in Ukraine  119

liberation struggle.5 There is also a third, “balanced,” position in historiography that is much more focused on comprehensive research than on accusations or glorification.6 In this chapter, I try to move beyond the confrontation of “fascist” and “national-liberationist” interpretations of the Ukrainian radical nationalism. My basic assumption is that the struggle for independence of Ukraine and the “epoch of fascism” in Europe are historical contexts equally important for an adequate understanding of Ukrainian integral nationalism of the interwar period.

Ukrainian integral nationalism The concept of integral nationalism7 describes well the ideological content and practice of the political movement that emerged in Western Ukraine (or South-Eastern Poland), and in various Ukrainian political exile circles in the 1920s and 1930s. It comprised three main trends: the “active nationalism” of Dmytro Dontsov and his followers, “organised nationalism” of the OUN, and “creative nationalism” of the Front of National Unity led by Dmytro Paliiv.8 Here I define integral nationalism as a form of authoritarian nationalism9 that posits the nation as an organic whole, and demands the unreserved subordination of an individual to the interests of his or her nation, which are placed above the interests of any social group, other nations and humanity as a whole. The term “integral nationalism” is very close to “ultranationalism.” According to Roger Griffin, ultranationalism is based on a concept of the nation as a living organism that can thrive, die, or regenerate, a suprapersonal community with a life history and destiny of its own that predates and survives ‘mere’ individuals and imparts a higher purpose to their lives.10 One can use the terms “integral nationalism” and “ultranationalism” interchangeably, as Griffin sometimes did.11 Carlton J. H. Hayes, who introduced the term “integral nationalism” into academic usage as a generic concept, believed that it had to do “not with ‘oppressed’ or ‘subject’ nationalities, but rather with nationalities which have already gained their political unity and independence.”12 Similarly, according to Peter Alter, integral nationalism develops when the goal of Risorgimento nationalism – the creation of its own nation-state – is reached.13 However, referring to Ukrainian nationalism and later on other examples, John A. Armstrong demonstrated that integral nationalism could also develop in the absence of nation-state.14 Of course, such nationalism had to have significant differences from the integral nationalism in nation-states, combining authoritarianism and the tendency to absorb a person by the nation with the desire to liberate that nation.

120  Oleksandr Zaitsev

Before the First World War, the integral nationalist movements were already in place in most European countries, but the Ukrainian national movement was still predominantly democratic, partly liberal and partly socialist.15 It also remained democratic during the Ukrainian Revolution, which unfolded amid the collapse of the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires. Just in the 1920s, some Ukrainian ideologues, first of all, Dmytro Dontsov, borrowed and transplanted to the Ukrainian soil the ideas of integral nationalism that have been spreading in Europe since the late 19th century. However, in the history of intellectual movements, as Marc Bloch rightly observed, the mere fact of borrowing “foreign formulae” can hardly explain anything. For the problem is still to know why the transference of ideas took place when it did – no sooner and no later. A contagion supposes two things: microbe multiplication and, at the moment when the disease strikes, a favourable breeding-ground.16 Besides, not all ideas of the Ukrainian Nationalists had foreign origins. According to Alexander Motyl, “the historical and ideological origins of the Nationalist ideology are to be found first and foremost in the Ukrainian conservative parties and ideologies.”17 The emergence of integral nationalism is usually preceded by a crisis of national self-confidence, supposed extraordinary dangers from outside and real or perceived threats to the nation’s continued existence. This is especially noticeable when a nation has suffered a crushing military or political defeat, damaging its collective sense of self-esteem.18 All these preconditions existed in Ukraine after the defeat of the Ukrainian War for Independence (1917–1921). The defeat weighed upon the Nationalists’ ideological quests in the interwar period, forcing them to choose paths other than those followed by their predecessors. Dontsov proposed another path, rejecting the democratic, socialist and cosmopolitan ideas of the leaders of the Revolution and affirming reckless national egoism, and a cult of power and struggle. In the 1920s, integral nationalism of the Dontsov type competed in Western Ukraine and in the circles of Ukrainian emigration with Sovietophilism. After the Entente’s recognition of Poland’s sovereignty over Eastern Galicia (March 1923) and the beginning of Ukrainisation in Soviet Ukraine, some nationalists began to view the latter as a Ukrainian national state being created under the Soviet aegis, and the Bolsheviks strongly supported these moods.19 However, since the late 1920s, the traumatic experiences of communist totalitarianism, terror and the suppression of national culture in Soviet Ukraine influenced the evolution of Ukrainian nationalism outside the USSR. The perception of a threat to the very physical existence of the Ukrainian people gave the Nationalist movement the radical form perceived as necessary to save the nation from communism. The discriminatory policy of the Polish state towards the Ukrainians

Integral nationalism in Ukraine  121

also pushed them toward radicalisation. The Polish historian Grzegorz Motyka sums up the interwar period of Ukrainian life in Poland as follows: One should recognise that it did not bring too many good experiences to the Ukrainians. Compared to the years of the Habsburg rule, the socio-cultural circumstances of their lives had obviously deteriorated, and the career path was almost completely closed for the Ukrainian intelligentsia; failure to keep the promise of introducing self-government in Galicia or creating a Ukrainian university had led the Ukrainians to a great deal of distrust of all sorts of Polish assurances.20 Motyka notes that paradoxically, those Polish politicians who tried to solve national problems of the Second Republic with the use of force appeared to be allies of Ukrainian Nationalists.21 The violence of the Polish authorities justified the violent actions of the Ukrainian underground in the eyes of Ukrainians. The journalist Dmytro Dontsov became the most important ideologue of Ukrainian integral nationalism. Starting as a Marxist, a social democrat and an enemy of nationalism, Dontsov, during 1912–1923, underwent a complex evolution through the ideas of political separatism and a kind of conservative nationalism to militant integral nationalism. In 1926, Dontsov published his main ideological work, Nationalism,22 which became a political gospel for his adherents and helped further distinguish the new, authoritarian Ukrainian nationalism from the democratic current of the national movement. Reflecting on the causes of the defeat of the independence struggle, Dontsov came to the conclusion that the democratic and socialist ideological baggage of the leaders of the Ukrainian Revolution should be discarded and replaced by pure national egoism and a belief in the historical mission of the nation. Another impetus for his transformation of values was the Fascist Revolution in Italy. Dontsov saw in Fascism a model for the movement that he sought to create  – an energetic, uncompromising, authoritarian movement of an active minority imbued with a fanatical belief in its ideals and capable of mobilising and leading a nation. This revaluation of values required new intellectual sources. The attempts to derive “active nationalism” directly from the Ukrainian tradition, in particular from the poetry of Taras Shevchenko – from which Dontsov allegedly made historiosophical and “natiosophical” conclusions and only later found confirmations of them in the works of Western thinkers23 – are unconvincing. Rather, Dontsov sought and found in Shevchenko’s poems confirmations of the ideas he read in the writings by Friedrich Nietzsche, Rudyard Kipling, Oswald Spengler, Vilfredo Pareto and his other idols. Among the intellectual sources of “active nationalism,” the most important were the philosophical ideas of Arthur Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Spengler and Henri Bergson, social Darwinism, Maurice Barrès and Charles Maurras’s French integral nationalism, George Sorel’s theory

122  Oleksandr Zaitsev

of social myths and revolutionary violence, Gustave Le Bon’s crowd psychology and the elite theories of Viacheslav Lypynskyi and Vilfredo Pareto. According to Roman Wysocki, “active nationalism” also contains clear traces of the influence of Polish integral nationalist thinkers, especially Roman Dmowski.24 The influence of Russian thinkers on Dontsov is not quite clear. He categorically denied any Russian influence on his worldview, but Trevor Erlacher thinks otherwise: However much he hated Russian hegemony, his ideology owed a sizable intellectual debt to Russian thinkers – particularly to the Slavophiles and Pan-Slavists with their attacks on Western civilisation, materialism, science, democracy, liberalism, socialism, and modernity. Well before Benito Mussolini or the French integral nationalist Maurice Barrès appeared in Dontsov’s writing, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Konstantin Leontiev, Nikolai Danilevsky, Dmitry Merezhkovsky, and Vasilii Rozanov exerted a key influence on his worldview.25 Dontsov indeed quoted these thinkers, especially in his Foundations of Our Politics,26 but used their quotes to expose Russian messianism and its hostility to the West. Did he really master their philosophy, turning it against the country of origin as Erlacher believes? So far, this is only a hypothesis, the verification of which requires a deeper study of Dontsov’s intellectual biography before 1922. Dontsov’s ideology in its complete form can be seen as a paradigmatic model of integral nationalism, even more than the primary integral nationalism of Charles Maurras who coined the term. Dontsov was a perfect integral nationalist, regarding the nation as a collective personality. He endowed it with the will to life and power; demanded the complete subordination of an individual to his nation; rejected universal values and morality in the name of national egoism; believed that relations between nations were subject to the law of the struggle for survival; and rejected the liberal model of democracy as one which reduced the national elite – the carrier of national will – to the level of mass. Dontsov’s works influenced the formation of the OUN, which emerged in Western Ukraine and emigrant circles from two main sources – the paramilitary underground and youth groups inspired by the ideas of “active nationalism.” Stepan Lenkavskyi, the OUN’s leader in 1959–1968, remembered that the young Nationalists in 1920s, seeking theoretical justifications for their views, turned to the works of the conservative thinker Viacheslav Lypynskyi27 and Dmytro Dontsov, although the latter’s influence on them was much greater. Young Ukrainians were impressed by his desire to form by his works “a healthy and battleworthy type of Ukrainian man, depriving him of his traditional toothlessness, shakiness, softness and spinelessness.” They fully accepted Dontsov’s voluntarism and cult of power, his rejection of internationalism, federalism and autonomy, and his criticism of the weakness of Ukrainian political thought.28 This influence was not hampered by the lack of a system and consistent argumentation,

Integral nationalism in Ukraine  123

which was overcompensated by Dontsov’s journalistic talent, while Lypynskyi’s theoretical constructs proved to be difficult for many young readers. It is unknown how many young Nationalists actually read Dontsov’s works, but a more educated part of them did read. Daria Rebet, who in 1929 became a member of the OUN Youth, later remembered: “We studied Dontsov very carefully.” Of course, nobody went with Dontsov’s writings to the rural youth who had only a rural school behind them, but high school students (members of the OUN Youth) had to read his Nationalism chapter by chapter. If someone did not read Dontsov, it meant that he was “not ours.”29 The constituent Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists in Vienna in 1929 approved the main foundations of the OUN’s ideology: it declared the Ukrainian nation “the starting point for all activity and the end goal of every undertaking by a Ukrainian nationalist,”30 and proclaimed that the main goal of the nation in the situation of its political subjugation was an independent united state to be acquired through the national revolution. The apparent successes of totalitarian political movements and regimes in the 1930s gave rise to the belief that Ukrainian nationalism must follow a similar path in order to survive and win. In 1935, the OUN’s ideologist Mykola Stsiborskyi published his Natiocracy (Natsiokratiia), which was, in fact, an attempt to design a Ukrainian model of totalitarianism with a one-party system, ideological monopoly of the OUN, almost unlimited power of the “Leader of the Nation,” etc.31 The OUN socio-economic platform was, in essence, a project of an alternative, non-liberal and non-communist, modernisation of society through the establishment of a corporate state and a nationalist developmental dictatorship, modelled on Fascist Italy. The OUN’s political strategy was aimed primarily at preparing the national revolution. Members of the OUN in the 1930s formulated the concept of a “permanent revolution,” according to which continuous fighting was intended to provoke revolutionary ferment, drawing large masses of people into the revolutionary ranks.32 In part, this succeeded: on the eve of the Second World War, the OUN had 8,000–9,000 full members, surrounded by a large number of members of the OUN Youth and an even larger group of sympathisers of the organisation.33 The view of the nation as a collective personality led logically to the belief that the enemies of the Ukrainian people are not only the governments and ruling classes of the invading states but the whole “enemy nations.” The brochure Our Struggle: Its Purposes, Ways, and Methods (1931), published on behalf of the Regional Executive of the OUN, emphasised that the national enemies of the Ukrainians, who destroy them and prevent them from creating an independent state, are not only governments but also peoples at will of which the governments exist and rule – the Poles, the Russians and so on.34 Jews were not initially considered a “hostile element.” Although some members of the OUN did not hide their negative attitude towards them, a conciliatory

124  Oleksandr Zaitsev

position was dominant. In 1930, OUN’s official journal Rozbudova Natsii (Nation Building) featured an article by Stsiborskyi, who called Ukrainians and Jews to come to an agreement and argued that the task of the future Ukrainian government would be “to grant Jews an equal status and opportunity to appear in every sphere of social, cultural, and other activity.”35 Such a policy, the author hoped, would promote the Ukrainian patriotism in the Jewish masses. However, Stsiborskyi’s appeal remained unanswered. Neither the OUN nor the Jewish political organisations made any real steps towards mutual understanding. Moreover, very soon (especially after 1933) the OUN strategy placed Jews among the “enemy nations” alongside Russians and Poles. The core myth of Ukrainian integral nationalism was that of national regeneration (palingenesis) in a post-liberal new order based on the domination of strong nations and races. According to it, the nationalist revolution will not only destroy the external enemies of the nation, but also cleanse it of the alien, poisonous, hostile elements that decompose the nation from within, and revive it for a new life. Like other integral nationalist movements in Europe, the Ukrainian Nationalists tended to sacralise politics and create a kind of secular religion. To emphasise that the OUN was not just a party, but a “separate faith in the political sphere,” Stepan Lenkavskyi in 1929 wrote “The Ten Commandments of a Ukrainian Nationalist,” better known as the “Decalogue.” In the original version of the “Decalogue,” some precepts were formulated in the spirit of Dontsov’s demands of “amorality” and “imperialism”: 7 You will not hesitate to commit the greatest crime if the good of the cause requires it. 8 With hatred and guile you will meet the enemies of your Nation. […] 10 You will strive for expansion of power, space and wealth of the Ukrainian state even by enslavement of foreigners.36 However, these commandments elicited negative reactions even among some Nationalists. Therefore, in 1933–1934, the OUN discussed the new version of the “Decalogue,” which was finally adopted between 1934 and 1936. In it, the most odious sentences were edited: the words “the greatest crime” were replaced with “the most dangerous act,” “guile” with “reckless struggle,” and the phrase “enslavement of foreigners” was completely deleted.37 The desire to create a “religion of nationalism” inevitably led to a conflict with the traditional religion – Christianity. “Nationalism requires faith in the nation, not in God,”38 – wrote one of the OUN ideologists Dmytro Shtykalo. The Nationalists applied different strategies concerning Christianity: from attempts to discredit it as a religion of the weak in the spirit of Nietzschean criticism to destructive mimicry (filling religious symbolism with new, nationalistic content). However, in the case of the OUN, it more likely points to a tendency to create a “religion of nationalism” rather than a completed process.

Integral nationalism in Ukraine  125

Of course, it would be a mistake to believe that all members of the OUN cared about its ideology or at least knew it. The OUN activist Mykhailo Seleshko expressed the opinion of many in a letter to Mykhailo Kolodzinskyi in 1937: I have no desire to run into ideological chats. I know what I want, and that is enough for me. I want the Ukrainian state, I want to create a strong Ukrainian army to beat the enemy, and then let the politicians do what they want.39 The struggle for the Ukrainian state was the only “ideology” for many Nationalists.

Nationalists and conservatives Ukrainian integral nationalists opposed not only the states that owned Ukrainian territories, and “enemy nations,” but political opponents within Ukrainian society, regarding Ukrainian communists, socialists and liberals as their greatest enemies. Their relations with conservatives were more complex. They shared some conservative doctrines, but to attract people with right-wing views, they had to push the traditional conservatives aside. The Ukrainian conservative camp was represented by the Ukrainian Hetmanite and Catholic movements. Hetmanites (het’mantsi) were Ukrainian monarchists, supporters of Pavlo Skoropadskyi (1873–1945), Hetman of Ukraine in 1918 (nominally until his death). They had relative success in recruiting supporters among emigrés in Europe and especially in the United States and Canada. However, the monarchists failed to attract as many followers among the Ukrainians of Poland. Under conditions of discrimination against Ukrainians, the Hetmanites there lost the competition to the Nationalists. Ukrainian Catholic parties and organisations affiliated with the Greek-Catholic Church had greater support in Poland’s Eastern Galicia. The Ukrainian Catholic Union and the Ukrainian Catholic People’s Party (later known as the Ukrainian People’s Renewal) were the most important among them in the 1930s. They operated under the care of, respectively, the Metropolitan of Halych Andrei Sheptytsky and the Bishop of Stanyslaviv Hryhorii Khomyshyn. Dontsov’s relationship with the conservative camp was especially complicated. Departing from the Hetmanites at the end of 1918, he increasingly attacked them and their main ideologist Viacheslav Lypynskyi. Like Marxist critics of Ukrainian conservatism, Dontsov accused the members of the Ukrainian Union of Agrarians-Statists40 that they were guided not by national state ideals but by the class interests of the landed aristocracy for which they were willing to sacrifice Ukraine’s independence. According to him, the aristocracy could come to power in Ukraine only like in France during the Bourbon Restoration: with the help of alien bayonets and for a short time only.41

126  Oleksandr Zaitsev

The second Achilles’ heel of the Agrarians-Statists’ ideology in the eyes of Dontsov was the rejection of the role of “Napoleonism” or “Caesarism” in favour of legitimism. Legitimism was dangerous for Ukraine because, on its basis, the Russian Romanovs dynasty had far more grounds to claim power in Ukraine than Hetman Skoropadskyi’s family. Dontsov agreed with Lypynskyi that forming a nation with a “conscious national soul” would require personification of the innate irrational national sentiment in the person of the ruler. However, such personification could not be provided by a “legitimate monarch” who did not exist in Ukraine, but by a dictator who would emerge from the revolution like Cromwell, Napoleon, Mussolini or Bohdan Khmelnytsky.42 Despite this controversy, the sociopolitical doctrines of Lypynskyi and Dontsov contain many elements in common: the ruthless criticism of the Ukrainian leftist intelligentsia and its democratic views, authoritarianism, voluntarism, elitism, imperialism and messianism. In part, these common features can be explained by Lypynskyi’s influence on Dontsov’s conception of the social and political organisation of the nation.43 Dontsov rejected not only the ideology of the Agrarians-Statists but also the conservatism of the Ukrainian Catholic camp, which he called “koltun conservatism” (from the word koltun (Polish plait), used figuratively in Poland and Eastern Galicia to denote an uneducated person with an old-fashioned mindset). He criticised the Galician conservatives for allegedly seeing greater danger in the West, namely in Western democracy, than in the Bolshevik East, for readiness even to form a close alliance with non-Bolshevik Russia, for demanding blind obedience to “authoritative national figures” and treating criticism as anarchy. Dontsov ironically dismissed the Catholic politicians’ religiosity: “If people were allowed into paradise, depending on how many times they uttered the words ‘God’ and ‘faith,’ the conservatives would occupy the paradise parterre.” However, this “pious exhibitionism” did not prevent “koltun conservatism” from using shameful methods to combat those who did not share their “Pharisee morality.”44 This did not mean that Dontsov was an enemy of conservatism in principle. To the “koltun” Ukrainian conservatism, he opposed active and militant English conservatism, which elevated honesty in life over ostentatious religiosity, respected freedom of religious beliefs and encouraged the free exchange of views, in particular between representatives of different generations. Dontsov regarded Winston Churchill, whom he deeply respected as a strong personality, as the exemplar of a true conservative.45 It is worth noting, however, that while accusing his conservative opponents of suppressing the free exchange of views, Dontsov himself was extremely intolerant of dissent among the authors of his journal Vistnyk.46 Criticising Ukrainian conservatism, Dontsov shared some of its concepts, including elitism and especially traditionalism. Some researchers of his works consider him an ideologue of conservatism. This is correct to some extent, provided

Integral nationalism in Ukraine  127

that Dontsov was an ideologue of “revolutionary conservatism,” or, in his own words, “right-wing revolutionism.” His ideology had much in common with the “conservative revolution” – ideological trend born in Germany, whose ideologues were Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, Carl Schmitt, Oswald Spengler, Edgar Julius Jung, Ernst Jünger and others.47 In the 1930s and early 1940s, Dontsov most closely approached the ideological course of the “conservative revolution,” one of the defining features of which is contrasting the myth of a perfect past to the myth of a rational future. Like other “conservative revolutionaries,” he sought to return to the order that preceded the emergence of the “world subversion” (democracy, rationalism, liberalism, Freemasonry, socialism, cosmopolitanism, etc.).48 Conservative Revolution, as Peter Osborne put it, is a form of revolutionary reaction. It understands that what it would ‘conserve’ is already lost (if indeed it ever existed, which is doubtful), and hence it must be created anew. […] The fact that the past in question is primarily imaginary is thus no impediment to its political force, but rather its very condition (myth).49 According to the “conservative revolutionaries,” to overcome the ever-widening gulf between modernity and the ideal (imaginary) world of the Tradition, it was not conservatism and preservation of the old that were needed, but the allencompassing revolution aimed in a direction opposite to the revolution of the Left.50 Hence the oxymoron “Conservative Revolution.” The ideology of Dontsov was exactly of this kind. He called for a return to the idealised world of the princely and Cossack-Hetmanian Ukrainian traditions, to a hierarchical social system and the rule of the caste of “better people.” As the gulf between modernity and those ideal times became ever-widening, it was possible to return to them only through a total national revolution. These ideas were most fully set out in his book The Spirit of Our Olden Days.51 The efforts of Dontsov and the OUN to create a “religion of nationalism” inevitably led to conflict not only with the Catholic political camp but also with the Greek-Catholic Church. The struggle between the Church and Nationalists for control of the symbolic universe of the Ukrainians reached its climax during the “Ukrainian Youth for Christ” festival, organised by the Church in 1933. In the eyes of young members of the OUN, participation in the celebration was equal to the recognition of the highest authority of the Church in identifying the key symbols around which the youth should unite. The Nationalists disagreed with this, so the OUN Regional Executive decided to boycott the event. The purpose of the boycott was formulated quite frankly: “We will not give up possession of the young people’s souls to anyone!”52 Commenting on the resolutions of the Nationalist students’ meeting on the attitudes to the festival, the Catholic newspaper Meta noted that they

128  Oleksandr Zaitsev

coincided with the kind of nationalism called ‘integral.’ […] As is well known, it is nationalism that makes its attitude to any religion dependent on whether or not this religion obeys nationalist principles. From the Catholic Church’s point of view, this is a certain heresy.53 Thus, Meta saw the causes of the conflict in the incompatibility of integral nationalism (but not nationalism in general) with the teaching of the Church. However, the boycott failed because of the traditional religiosity of Ukrainian rural youth in Galicia. According to different estimates, from 40,000 to 100,000 young people participated in the festival “Ukrainian Youth for Christ” in Lviv. The Church used the festival for the creation of the Catholic Action of Ukrainian Youth, reorganised in 1936 into the Catholic Association of Ukrainian Youth “Eagles” which had about 5,000 members in 1939.54 After the “Ukrainian Youth for Christ” festival, the confrontation between the Nationalist and Catholic camps resulted in a heated debate in the press. Catholic conservatives saw the greatest danger of integral nationalism in its tendency to turn into a political religion that would displace Christianity. As a rule, they did not reject nationalism as a whole, opposing Christian, or Catholic, nationalism with the allegedly atheistic nationalism of Dontsov’s young followers. However, some representatives of both camps sought compromise, considering the union of Catholicism and nationalism as possible and desirable. On the part of the Church, this idea was most consistently presented by Fr. Mykola Konrad, professor at the Lviv Theological Academy, in his pamphlet Nationalism and Catholicism (1934).55 Like other Catholic ideologists, Konrad opposed nationalism “in the older sense,” which was in agreement with Catholic ethics, to “modern nationalism,” which, so far, was not.56 At the same time, he condemned such features of pre– world war nationalism as “exaggerated national egoism (chauvinism),” “spirit of imperialism,” and the desire to conquer foreign territories and assimilate other peoples. Konrad argued that “Ukrainian modern nationalism” (but not Ukrainian nationalism “in the older sense”) belongs to the same kind of movements as Italian Fascism and German National Socialism. Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe presents Fr. Konrad as a great admirer of Dontsov and his concept of “amorality”: Dontsov was for Konrad not only a thinker who applied Nietzsche’s theory to the Ukrainian reality, but also an intellectual who was as great as the eccentric German philosopher. The Lviv theologian praised the leading Ukrainian ideologist of fascism for his uncompromising, aggressive, and stirring writings […]. Similarly, Konrad admired Dontsov’s concept of amorality and agreed that the nation is a living organism.57 However, if one does not take quotations out of context and reads Konrad’s brochure carefully, it becomes clear that, although the theologian retold Dontsov’s

Integral nationalism in Ukraine  129

views, he did not admire him at all but rather considered him an ideological enemy. The priest hardly could agree with Dontsov’s morality that was “alien to the concepts of justice and love for one’s neighbour” and his “nationalist mentality” that “clearly condemns Christianism, led by Jesus Christ, and treats it with hostility.”58 How far Konrad was from “admiration” for Dontsov is evident from his rhetoric question: “Are the principles that Mr. Dontsov presents in his Nationalism … not poisoned by the spirit of the most villainous zoological materialism?”59 Konrad’s goal was quite clear: to pull Ukrainian modern nationalism out of Dontsov’s influence and to encourage it to ally with Catholicism. Konrad called for a joint crusade of nationalism and Catholicism against liberalism and socialism, “the rotten spirit of capitalism and Satanic communism.” However, the union of “the cross and the sword” would be possible only if nationalism purified itself from Nietzschean atheist perversions, and recognised the authority of the Church.60 Two years later, the member of the OUN Regional Executive, Dmytro Shtykalo, responded to Fr. Konrad in the pamphlet The Cross of the Sword Shines Over the World. Shtykalo argued that “no tone of the Christian religion is completely alien to the religion of modern nationalism,” and therefore the Nationalists do not need to adapt their worldview to the requirements of the church. On the contrary, the church must adapt to nationalism and find common ground with it. An alliance between them is possible “on one condition: that the church will consciously seek to bring itself closer to nationalism.” To prove the possibility of such an approach, Shtykalo rethought the main Christian symbols in the nationalist spirit. Even Jesus Christ appears in his pamphlet as a warlike and uncompromising leader, moreover – a nationalist leader who puts the good of his people above all else. Shtykalo was willing to admit the Christian religion, but only to the extent it does not contradict the “religion of nationalism”: “The religion of nationalism can have nothing against the possibility that its professors (nationalists) recognise the dogmas of another religion as far as these alien dogmas harmonise and coincide with its own dogmas.”61 As a result, Nationalist Shtykalo, like theologian Konrad, comes to the need for a synthesis of Christianity and nationalism, the symbol of which will be “the cross of the sword”: “Cross and sword – symbols of church and nation! The cross is the sword, the sword is the cross! The cross of the sword is the harmony and synthesis of Christianity and nationalism!”62 For all the similarities of the rhetorics of Konrad and Shtykalo there was an important difference between them: for Konrad, in the union of the cross and the sword the former was superior, and for Shtykalo – the latter. In general, the Ukrainian conservative, in particular the Catholic, camp had taken a negative view of integral nationalism, and especially of Dontsov’s version because its particular morality was incompatible, according to critics, with Christian ethics. The greatest concern for the Church and Catholic politicians was the tendency to transform nationalism into a secular religion, which threatened to reject or absorb traditional Christianity. Therefore, the main motive for

130  Oleksandr Zaitsev

Catholic criticism of “neo-nationalism” was the condemnation of the “neopagan” deification of a nation and the nationalist ethic independent of Christianity. Another common motive was the rejection of immoral methods of political activity, in particular terrorism, to which members of the OUN attracted inexperienced youth. The Catholic conservatives were confident that the Ukrainians would have no chance to win state independence by an armed rebellion in the near future and that the realisation of the OUN’s concept of a “permanent revolution” would provoke only permanent repressions by the authorities. They advocated a legal way of protecting the national interests of Galician Ukrainians within the political system of Poland and sought opportunities for ethnic reconciliation of Poles and Ukrainians. However, there were significant differences within this common platform. The followers of Bishop Hryhorii Khomyshyn underlined their loyalty to the Polish authorities, the absence of any separatist tendencies, and, accordingly, a ruthless critique of nationalism, and not only of the integral one. Instead, the Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky’s adherents combined Christian values with a moderate nationalism. They criticised only the radical form of nationalism, nevertheless, considering it a lesser evil than communism. Some of them went even further, believing that a union of Catholicism with “modern nationalism” against communism, socialism and liberalism was possible and desirable. One of the reasons for this was the myth of social palingenesis, an important component of both integral nationalism and political Catholicism. To the integral nationalists, it meant the rebirth or rather a new birth of the nation in a new order based on the domination of strong and healthy nations. To the Catholics, it meant a Christian rebirth of the person, society and nation through the restoration of the ideals of “noble medieval Catholicism” and the establishment of pax Christi in Regno Christi.63 In the late 1930s, the sense of the inevitability of dangerous and fateful events contributed to the rapprochement of clergy and Catholic activists with the Nationalists. In 1939, the Polish Ministry of Internal Affairs noted with alarm “the active involvement of the clergy in the nationalist movement and the conscious tendency to impart political manifestations to religious activities.”64 However, the idea of an alliance between the Ukrainian Catholicism and radical nationalism was never fully realised. The Nationalists had rivals in the Catholic camp, but not among Orthodox politicians, as there was no specifically Orthodox Ukrainian political movement. The OUN considered the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate, as detached from Ukrainian Orthodox Cossack tradition, but welcomed the idea of creating the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church independent of foreign patriarchates. The Constitution, drafted by Stsiborskyi in 1939, stated: “The Ukrainian Orthodox Autocephalous Church with the Patriarch in Kyiv and the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church with the Metropolitan in Lviv are recognised as National Churches in

Integral nationalism in Ukraine  131

the State.” In the future, the Nationalists hoped to create a united Ukrainian national church.65 In general, the Nationalists’ approach to the church had always been instrumental: the church was valuable not in itself, but as one of the pillars of the nation, and insofar as it did not limit the ideological monopoly of nationalism.

Ukrainian nationalism and fascism Italian Fascism had a powerful influence on the Ukrainian Nationalist thought and, to a certain extent, political practice. This is not surprising: the movement and regime of Benito Mussolini aroused great interest around the world, spawned epigones and an intellectual fashion for Fascism. Ukrainians had their own reasons to be interested in Fascism. After their defeat in the War for Independence of 1917–1921, the Ukrainian nationalist movement was in deep crisis and looked for new directions. The “Fascist Revolution” in Italy seemed to point the way. Many Ukrainians saw in Fascism an example of a victorious nationalist movement that saved its country from the threat of communism, united the nation under a single strong leadership and gave a new impetus to its revival. As the Ukrainian Nationalists were faced with similar tasks, it is logical that Fascism became their model. Dontsov’s ideology in the interwar period increasingly approached fascism. The pro-fascist tendencies in Dontsov’s writings became especially pronounced after 1933. He enthusiastically welcomed the victory of National Socialism in Germany, seeing it as a force capable of destroying Bolshevism by its own methods. He was convinced that Ukraine also needed fascism: They ask: why do we need fascism? To dispel the dope of Drahomanovism66 of the “love for all Slavs,” the dope of socialism, the dope of fraternity with all peoples in the II or III International, to exterminate Freemasonry, to destroy the servile Judeophilism of the “good-natured” people, who curse Hitler when he does not allow several Levenbergs to work as physicians or lawyers – and shyly keep silent when Trotskys physically exterminate millions of our peasantry. Why fascism? To protect the society from the invasion of foreign ideas from the outside and from the inside, to carry out a selection, because only a select minority can lead the society.67 As we can see, fascism meant for Dontsov the implementation of a primarily negative program – the purification of society from the “dope” of alien and harmful ideas. The only constructive element in this program was the selection of the elite that would lead society – the idea later developed in the Spirit of Our Olden Days. In the 1930s, some direct borrowing from the arsenal of Italian Fascism was approved in the ideological discourse of the OUN, the most important of which

132  Oleksandr Zaitsev

were the concepts of the corporate state and totalitarianism. To some extent, the OUN also imitated the organisational principles of hierarchy and leadership inherent in Fascism. The Fascists’ symbols and rituals influenced the formation of OUN’s “cult of heroism.” However, adopting some ideas and methods of the Fascists, OUN members did not forget to emphasise the originality of Ukrainian nationalism, denying the fascist nature of the organisation.68 The ambivalent attitude to fascism was also reflected in the OUN’s reaction to attempts of creating the “Fascist International.”69 The OUN did not participate in the Montreux Fascist Conference (Fascist International Congress) in December 1934, but not because it did not want to. On the contrary, after the conference, a member of PUN, Volodymyr Martynets, reproached the OUN representative in Italy, Yevhen Onatskyi, that he had “failed to inform in time about the congress of ‘universal fascism,’ to which we should send someone as an observer.” 70 In justification, Onatskyi wrote to Martynets: As for the congress, I also found out about it after the fact for the reason that I stopped maintaining contact with those people, seeing that the idea of “universal fascism” has a very unfavourable attitude among us. Have you not decidedly opposed this kind of “universalism” in Rozbudova Natsii? And has my report at the Berlin conference (of the OUN in 1934 – O. Z.) not been met very sceptically?71 Onatskyi further noted that in any case, the OUN was unlikely to be able to participate in the congress, as Eugenio Coselschi, the director of the Action Committees for the Universality of Rome (CAUR), regarded the OUN as a terrorist organisation fighting Poland. In a letter to Onatskyi, the OUN leader Yevhen Konovalets approached the case pragmatically: Regarding the inclusion of our Organisation into the so-called Universal Fascism, I doubt if we could officially implement it. In my opinion, only the nation states can officially participate in this action. Instead, I am in favour of trying to get closer to that action informally. […] Certainly, it was a bad thing that you could not go to Montreux: there, on the spot, you could find out, on the one hand, whether there was anything you could do in this case, and on the other hand, you could make appropriate propaganda to our benefit. […] In the end, I also have doubts whether we should be too involved in the action, at least until the policy of your neighbours (the Italian Fascists – O. Z.) toward the east in general and toward our problem, in particular, is finally clarified. So I doubt whether your neighbours would want to get in touch with us too much at the moment (obviously, I mean official ties).72 Indeed, the “neighbours” did not want to get in touch with the OUN officially. Coselschi left Onatskyi’s letter requesting a meeting unanswered, and the OUN had not established contact with the CAUR.73

Integral nationalism in Ukraine  133

The German version of fascism – National Socialism – attracted the attention of the Ukrainian Nationalists in the autumn of 1930, when the NSDAP achieved its first major success in the Reichstag elections. Nazism was interesting to the OUN not only as a potential ally in the fight for a change of the international order but also as a successful example of revolutionary nationalism, so the OUN Regional Executive circulated among the members of the organisation a translation of some sections of Hitler’s My Struggle called The National-Socialist Movement. In the foreword, the OUN regional leader Stepan Okhrymovych wrote that “Mein Kampf is a work of invaluable world value for every politician or public figure.” At the same time, he expressed reservations about the racist component of Hitlerism: The attempt, which is the concept of racism, to carry out the world peace through destroying all less valuable races by the victorious sword of the ruling people that would force the whole world to serve the higher culture… has the features of the same ‘artificiality’ and unnaturalness as Marx’s idea.74 The OUN leaders were well aware of the attitude of the Nazis to the Slavs as a lower race, and of Hitler’s aggressive intentions to gain “living space” for the Germans in the east, but saw no way out for the Ukrainians, except for an alliance with Germany, the single state capable of destroying the status quo in Europe. They knew that the Nazis respected only power, and hoped that Hitler would reckon with the Ukrainian Nationalist movement if it shows its strength and determination. It seems that such calculations determined the actions of the OUN led by Stepan Bandera in 1941, including the proclamation of the Ukrainian State. Was Ukrainian integral nationalism a form of fascism? There can be no definitive answer to this question. In principle, both interpretations of Ukrainian integral nationalism – as a variety of fascism or as a non-fascist radical Right – are possible. The question is not which of them is “correct,” but which of them has greater heuristic value. Both Dontsov’s “active nationalism” and OUN’s “organised nationalism” meet some influential definitions of fascism.75 Undoubtedly, at the heart of the political mythology of both was the myth of national palingenesis, which Roger Griffin considers to be a core element of fascism.76 Like fascists, Dontsov and the OUN sought to create not just a new ideology, but a political religion. Some features of Dontsov’s ideology – antisemitism, the theory of racial inequality and the superiority of the Nordic race, and traditionalism – brought him closer (especially since the late 1930s) to German National Socialism than to Italian Fascism. However, there were significant differences. According to Stanley Payne, the goal of fascism is to create “a new nationalist authoritarian state not based on traditional principles or models.” 77 Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany fall under this definition, but this cannot be said about the future nationalist state, as Dontsov imagined it. The author of Nationalism vacillated between the various models

134  Oleksandr Zaitsev

available, from American presidential democracy to “Napoleonism,” and from the late 1930s called for a return to the traditional order of princely and Cossack Ukraine. However, the tradition he wanted to revive was invented rather than genuine. Dontsov did not attach much importance to the state system; he was more interested in the general principles of hierarchical social order. Dontsov was even less interested in the future economic order, and never wrote in favour of a state-controlled economic system such as corporatism, national socialism or national syndicalism – on the contrary, he called for the fight against extreme statism. The main issue for Dontsov was the problem of ways to gain an independent state while for fascism, this problem did not exist (unless we consider the movement of the Croatian Ustašas before 1941 as a kind of fascism78). Despite the similarity of some themes and motives, Dontsov cannot be considered an ideologist of the Nazi style. Racism did not play as important a role in his outlook as it did in National Socialism. Dontsov’s antisemitism was not racist at its core. Rather, it was based on historical and economic arguments, in particular on accusing Jews of seeking to exploit Ukrainians economically, and most of all on the belief in the decisive role of Jewry as a mainstay of Russian and world communism. One cannot ignore the pragmatic considerations: if Dontsov wanted to connect the Ukrainian cause to Nazi Germany’s policy, peddling an antisemitic theme could only have helped. Dontsov belonged to the ultranationalist ideologues, whose palingenetic visions of a new society were close to fascism, but who did not attempt to become political activists to implement their ideas. Griffin considers such “literary fascists” (Giovanni Papini, Pierre Drieu de La Rochelle, Julius Evola and Alain Benoist) as proto-fascists in terms of their elitism and indirect impact on events.79 In this sense, Dontsov, especially between 1933 and 1944, also could be classified as a proto-fascist. The OUN, despite its authoritarian and revolutionary character, initially had no clear fascist features. However, the circumstances of the 1930s – the terror in Soviet Ukraine, the rise of authoritarianism and fascism in Europe, the intensification of repressions and fascist tendencies in Poland – contributed to the radicalisation and “fascistisation” of the Ukrainian Nationalist movement. People with democratic views lost influence or left the OUN. Mykola Stsiborskyi became the leading theorist of the future political order of Ukraine. The Military Doctrine of Ukrainian Nationalists by Mykhailo Kolodzinskyi80 (1938) and the antisemitic journalism by Volodymyr Martynets81 became a clear testimony to the “fascistisation” of the part of the OUN at that time. The OUN was no exception to the rule in interwar Europe. Aristotle Kallis notes that the spread of fascist discourse and praxis in the 1920s and 1930s “resulted in a growing fascistisation of large sectors of the European conservative-authoritarian and nationalist-minded Right. More and more rightist groups started appearing, sounding, and acting like fascists.”82 The ideology, organisational foundations and political style of the OUN were markedly influenced by fascism, especially Italian, and from 1929 to 1939 this influence steadily increased. The ideology and goals of the OUN were most

Integral nationalism in Ukraine  135

influenced by the fascist concepts of the corporate state and totalitarianism, the organisational principles – by the leader principle and model of hierarchical political organisation, the political style – by the cult of heroism and military virtues. Under the influence of National Socialism, antisemitic sentiment intensified in the Ukrainian Nationalist discourse in the late 1930s. Moreover, evolving within the framework of intellectual discourse shared with fascism, Ukrainian “organised nationalism” more or less independently developed traits that also brought them closer together: a voluntarist outlook, cultivating a palingenetic myth, a hostility to communism and “demoliberalism,” emphasising the conflict of the generations. However, just before the creation of the OUN, the Nationalist journalist Yevhen Onatskyi pointed out a fundamental difference between Ukrainian nationalism and fascism: Many Ukrainian nationalists have enthusiastically begun to call themselves Ukrainian fascists and seek support from the Italian Fascists. They have not noticed that between Ukrainian nationalism and Italian Fascism yawns an impassable abyss that only time and tenacious effort can perhaps bridge. […] Fascism is the nationalism of a state nation that is hostile to all irredenta and ready to make any sacrifice to the cult of its own already created state. Ukrainian nationalism is, on the contrary, the nationalism of a non-state nation that lives only by irredentism and is ready to make any sacrifice to destroy the cult of those states that do not allow it to live.83 The distinction was even more clearly outlined in the editorial preface to the article “Fascism” by Professor Oleksandr Mytsiuk, in Rozbudova Natsii, in 1929: For our part, we emphasise an irrelevance of the name “fascism,” by which Ukrainian nationalists have been branded by their opponents. Fascism is a movement of a state people, a trend, born on a social ground, which fought for power in its own state. Ukrainian nationalism is a national liberation movement with the task of a struggle for statehood, to which it ought to lead the broadest masses of the Ukrainian people. Therefore, Ukrainian nationalism not only cannot be identified with Italian Fascism but even cannot be compared to it.84 Thus, copying some features of fascism, the Ukrainian Nationalists were aware of the differences that emerged from the stateless status of the Ukrainian people. The future state and social system was a minor problem for them compared to gaining independence. I have never made a fetish from the state system, – wrote Dontsov in 1925. – This is a relative thing, which must be subordinated to the categorical

136  Oleksandr Zaitsev

imperative of the nation’s independence: it is not a good system that is good ‘in principle,’ but one that better secures independence.85 Onatskyi in the letter to Konovalets in 1933 wrote similarly: “After all, we are indifferent to the form of the state. The main thing is its independence from foreigners. When our country is free, then the organised people will show their will.”86 This position distinguished integral nationalism in a stateless nation from fascism, for which the form of state was always a central issue.87 The ultranationalist organisations of stateless peoples like the OUN and Ustaša constitute a separate genus of political movements and respective ideologies, different both from fascism and from the democratic trend in national liberation movements.88 The Independent State of Croatia of 1941–1945 is a good model of what a Ukrainian state under the aegis of the Third Reich might have been like had the Nazis agreed to its creation. The Croatian experience shows that, under such conditions, proto-fascist integral nationalism soon turns into full-fledged fascism. By breaking up the Ukrainian government that the OUN had created in Lviv in 1941, the Nazis saved Ukrainian nationalism from such a fate. The Banderites’ conflict with the Nazis gradually pushed them away from proto-fascist ultranationalism and toward a more democratic ideology, but this evolution was still incomplete when the Soviet regime finally suppressed the Ukrainian Nationalist underground in the early 1950s.

Conclusion In the 1920s and 1930s, a significant part of the Ukrainian nationalist movement embraced an ideology of integral nationalism. Dmytro Dontsov’s “active nationalism” and OUN’s “organised nationalism” were the main Ukrainian varieties of this pan-European phenomenon. The differences between them were not about fundamental issues, but rather priorities: for Dontsov they were the cultivation of the nation’s spontaneous will to life and power as well as the education of a new strong-willed Ukrainian man; for the OUN – a hierarchical disciplined organisation capable of revolutionising the nation and establishing a national dictatorship. Ukrainian integral nationalism was a radical ideology of national liberation. Its main objectives were to overcome the conditions perceived as national oppression, and to establish an independent and powerful nation-state that would cover at least all ethnic Ukrainian lands and become a regional leader in Eastern Europe. The radicalism of this ideology and practice developed in the context of the tragic situation in which Ukrainian society found itself as a result of communist terror in the USSR, and discrimination in the Polish and Romanian states. This also created a favourable ground for the “fascistisation” of Ukrainian integral nationalism. Like other ultranationalist movements in Europe (including the fascist ones), Ukrainian integral nationalists tended to sacralise the nation. They attempted

Integral nationalism in Ukraine  137

to create a political religion of nationalism that was to embrace the cult of a nation, Ukrainianised militant Christianity, as well as the main cultural and political symbols of Ukrainianness. Ukrainian integral nationalism created its own symbolic universe with a developed system of symbols, myths and rituals, at the core of which was a palingenetic myth – the myth of the nation’s rebirth or regeneration in a nationalist revolution and a new world order based on the domination of strong and healthy nations and races. However, due to some institutional and ideological obstacles, Ukrainian integral nationalism did not turn into a political religion to the same extent as Italian Fascism or German National Socialism, let alone Soviet Communism. The main obstacles were the absence of the national state, and the deep-rootedness of traditional religion in Western Ukrainian society. The Ukrainian radical nationalists had a complicated relationship with the conservatives – the Hetmanites and Catholic political camp. The tendency towards a nationalist religion was strong enough to provoke sharp criticism from the Greek-Catholic Church. However, some Ukrainian Catholic activists felt that militant nationalism could play an important role in the fight against the main threat – communism. From this stemmed the idea of an alliance between Catholicism and radical nationalism in the common struggle with communism and other ideologies that were considered hostile to the Church and nation. Ukrainian integral nationalism was strongly influenced by fascism. Although the Ukrainian Nationalists, with few exceptions, did not identify with fascism, clear parallels did exist between the two ideological movements. Considering Ukrainian integral nationalism as a variety of fascism is not without foundation (especially within the framework of the history of ideas). However, the fascist model has limited heuristic value for the Ukrainian case. The following interpretation seems more appropriate: fascism (including Nazism) and the radical current of Ukrainian nationalism (along with other similar movements of non-state nations) belonged to different types of one social phenomenon – integral nationalism (ultranationalism). Fascism was a form of ultranationalism that arose in nation-states, and its energy was channelled into the totalitarian reorganisation of existing states and the subjugation of other nations. Ukrainian integral nationalism developed in the absence of own nation-state and was, above all, a radical national-liberation movement. Yet, its national-liberation character did not preclude its hybridisation with fascist models. For Dontsov, his followers and the OUN, national liberation and independence were the main goals, while fascist ideas and methods were the tools to achieve them or preferable (but not exclusive) means of state-building after independence. During the 1930s, they experienced an intense “fascistisation,” which resulted in a hybrid ideology with a mixture of national-liberationist and fascist elements. The most appropriate designation for such an ideological movement is proto-fascist integral nationalism in the absence of nation-state.

138  Oleksandr Zaitsev

Notes 1 Mykola Stsibors’kyi, Natsiokratiia (Paris; n.p., 1935), p. 58. 2 In this chapter, the word “Nationalist” is capitalised when related to the organised Ukrainian nationalist movement, especially the OUN. 3 See e.g. John-Paul Himka, “Debates in Ukraine over Nationalist Involvement in the Holocaust, 2004–2008,” Nationalities Papers, vol. 39, no. 3 (May 2011), pp. 353–370; Per Anders Rudling, The OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust: A Study in the Manufacturing of Historical Myths (Pittsburgh: Center for Russian and East European Studies, University of Pittsburgh, 2011) (=The Carl Beck Papers in Russian and East European Studies, no. 2017); Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe, Stepan Bandera: The Life and Afterlife of a Ukrainian Nationalist: Fascism, Genocide, and Cult (Stuttgart: ibidem-Verlag, 2014); Rossoliński-Liebe, The Fascist Kernel of Ukrainian Genocidal Nationalism (Pittsburgh: Center for Russian and East European Studies, University of Pittsburgh, 2015) (=The Carl Beck Papers in Russian and East European Studies, no. 2402). 4 See e.g. Volodymyr V’iatrovych, Druha pol’s’ko-ukrains’ka viina. 1942–1947 (Kyiv: Vydavnychyi dim “Kyievo-Mohylians’ka akademiia,” 2012); Ivan Patryliak, “Vstan’ i borys’, slukhai i vir…”: ukrains’ke natsionalistychne pidpillia ta povstans’kyi rukh (1939–1960 rr.) (Lviv: Chasopys, 2012); Serhii Kvit, Dmytro Dontsov: ideolohichnyi portret (Lviv: Halyts’ka vydavnycha spilka, 2013). 5 For the survey of recent “memory wars” around Ukrainian nationalist movement of the 1940s, see Myroslav Shkandrij, Revolutionary Ukraine, 1917–2017: History’s Flashpoints and Today’s Memory Wars (London: Routledge, 2020), pp. 112–131. 6 Alexander J. Motyl’s monograph was one of the first to set up the discussion about Ukrainian nationalism between the two world wars in a scholarly way: Alexander J. Motyl, The Turn to the Right: The Ideological Origins and Development of Ukrainian Nationalism, 1919–1929 (Boulder, CO and New York: Distributed by Columbia University Press, 1980) (=East European Monographs, no. 65). Among the recent publications, the works by Myroslav Shkandrij and Trevor Erlacher are especially worth mentioning: Myroslav Shkandrij, Ukrainian Nationalism: Politics, Ideology, and Literature, 1929–1956 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2015); Trevor Erlacher, Ukrainian Nationalism in the Age of Extremes: An Intellectual Biography of Dmytro Dontsov (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, 2020) (forthcoming). 7 The term was coined by the French royalist and leader of Action Française, Charles Maurras, in 1900: William Curt Buthman, The Rise of Integral Nationalism in France: With Special Reference to the Ideas and Activities of Charles Maurras (New York: Columbia University Press, 1939), p. 111. 8 In this chapter, I will not specifically address the FNU, which was of much less importance than the OUN or Dontsov with his followers. 9 On authoritarian nationalism and its different “faces,” see Stanley G. Payne, A History of Fascism, 1914–1945 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1995), pp. 14–19. 10 Roger Griffin, “Introduction,” in Cyprian P. Blamires (ed.), with Paul Jackson, World Fascism: A Historical Encyclopedia, vol. 1: A–K (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2006), p. 2; see also Griffin, Fascism: An Introduction to Comparative Fascist Studies (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2018), pp. 41–45. 11 “Fascism is a term for a singularly protean genus of modern politics … expressing itself ideologically in a revolutionary form of integral nationalism (ultra-nationalism)”: Roger Griffin, “Fascism,” in Griffin (ed.), International Fascism: Theories, Causes and the New Consensus (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), pp. 35–36. 12 Carlton J. H. Hayes, The Historical Evolution of Modern Nationalism (New York: R. R. Smith, Inc., 1931), p. 165. 13 Peter Alter, Nationalism, 2nd ed. (London: Edward Arnold, 1994), p. 27. 14 John A. Armstrong, Ukrainian Nationalism, 3rd. ed. (Englewood, CO: Ukrainian Academic Press, 1990); Armstrong, “Collaborationism in World War II: The

Integral nationalism in Ukraine  139


16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37

Integral Nationalist Variant in Eastern Europe,” The Journal of Modern History, vol. 40, no. 3 (September 1968), pp. 396–410. See also Zeev Sternhell, The Founding Myths of Israel: Nationalism, Socialism, and the Making of the Jewish State (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998); Aviel Roshwald, Ethnic Nationalism and the Fall of Empires: Central Europe, Russia and the Middle East, 1914–1923 (London: Routledge, 2001). For overviews of the development of the Ukrainian national movement in Austria-Hungary and the Russian Empire before and during the First World War, see Motyl, The Turn to the Right, pp. 5–22; Paul R. Magocsi, A History of Ukraine: The Land and Its Peoples, 2nd ed. (Toronto, ON; Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 2010), Chapters 30, 35–37; Serhii Plokhy, The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine (New York: Basic Books, 2015), Chapters 17–18. Marc Bloch, The Historian’s Craft, translated from the French by Peter Putnam (New York: Knopf, 1954), p. 29. Motyl, The Turn to the Right, p. 169. Quoted in Alter, Nationalism, p. 32. See Christopher Gilley, The “Change of Signposts” in the Ukrainian Emigration: A Contribution to the History of Sovietophilism in the 1920s (Stuttgart: ibidem-Verlag, 2014). Grzegorz Motyka, Od rzezi wołyńskiej do akcji “Wisła:” Konflikt polsko-ukraiński 1943– 1947 (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 2011), p. 36. Motyka, Od rzezi wołyńskiej do akcji “Wisła,” p. 36. Dmytro Dontsov, Natsionalizm (Lviv, 1926). See e.g. Oleh Bahan, “Dzherela svitohliadnoho natsionalizmu Dmytra Dontsova,” in Dmytro Dontsov, Vybrani tvory u desiaty tomakh, vol. 1 (Drohobych: Vidrodzhennia, 2011), p. 12. Roman Wysocki, W kręgu nacjonalizmu integralnego. Czynny nacjonalizm Dmytra Doncowa na tle myśli nowoczesnych Romana Dmowskiego: studium porównawcze (Lublin: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej, 2014), p. 459. Trevor Erlacher, The Furies of Nationalism: Dmytro Dontsov, the Ukrainian Idea, and Europe’s Twentieth Century: A dissertation … of Doctor of Philosophy… (Chapel Hill, NC: ProQuest LLC, 2017), p. 34. Dmytro Dontsov, Pidstavy nashoi polityky (Viden: Vydavnytstvo Dontsovykh, 1921). On Lypynskyi and his ideology, see Alexander J. Motyl, “Viacheslav Lypyns’kyi and the Ideology and Politics of Ukrainian Monarchism,” Canadian Slavonic Papers, vol. 27, no. 1 (1985), pp. 31–48. Stepan Lenkavs’kyi, Ukrains’kyi natsionalizm: Tvory, vol. 1 (Ivano-Frankivs’k: Lileia-NV, 2002), p. 70. Dariia Rebet, Spohady (Lviv: Manuskrypt-Lviv, 2018), p. 74. Quoted in Ivan Lysiak-Rudnytsky, “Nationalism,” in Danylo Husar Struk (ed.), Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (Toronto, ON and Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 1993), p. 553. Stsibors’kyi, Natsiokratiia (especially Chapter VI). “Permanentna revoliutsiia,” in Viktor Roh (upor.), Ukrains’kyi natsionalizm: Antolohiia, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (Kyiv: FOP Stebeliak O. M., 2010), pp. 99–112. Roman Wysocki, Organizacja Ukraińskich Nacjonalistów w Polsce w latach 1929–1939: geneza, struktura, program, ideologia (Lublin: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Marii ­Curie-Skłodowskiej, 2003), p. 337. Archiwum Akt Nowych w Warszawie, Ministerstwo Spraw Zewnęntrznych, 2347, p. 72. Quoted in Marko Carynnyk, “Foes of Our Rebirth: Ukrainian Nationalist Discussions about Jews, 1929–1947,” Nationalities Papers, vol. 39, no. 3 (May 2011), p. 320. Quoted in Lenkavs’kyi, Ukrains’kyi natsionalizm, vol. 1, p. 458. Petro Mirchuk, Narys istorii OUN: 1920–1939 roky, 3rd ed. (Kyiv: Ukrains’ka vydavnycha spilka, 2007), pp. 106, 125–126; Lenkavs’kyi, Ukrains’kyi natsionalizm, vol. 1, pp. 454–458.

140  Oleksandr Zaitsev

38 Dmytro Shtykalo, Nad svitom siaie khrest mecha (Lviv: Nakladom Olhy Hrozovs’koi, 1936), p. 43. 39 Arkhiv OUN u Kyievi, f. 1, op. 1, spr. 93, ark. 114. 40 Ukrainian Union of Agrarians-Statists (Ukrains’kyi Soiuz Khliborobiv Derzhavnykiv, or USKhD) – a conservative émigré monarchist organisation founded in Vienna in 1920 by Viacheslav Lypynskyi. 41 D. D[ontsov], “Pans’ko-muzhyts’kyi tsentavr i neomonarkhizm,” Literaturno-Naukovyi ­ Vistnyk, vol. 86, no. 4 (April 1925), pp. 357–359. 42 D. D[ontsov], “Pans’ko-muzhyts’kyi tsentavr i neomonarkhizm,” pp. 362–365. 43 We can agree with Mykhailo Sosnovskyi that Dontsov’s ideas were based on the ideas of Lypynskyi (interpreted in integral-nationalist spirit): Mykhailo Sosnovs’kyi, Dmytro Dontsov: politychnyi portret. Z istorii rozvytku ideolohii ukrains’koho natsionalizmu (New York; Toronto: Trident International, 1974), p. 301. 44 Dmytro Dontsov, “Koltuns’kyi konservatyzm (Vidpovid’ zhyvym trupam),” Vistnyk, vol. 1, no. 3 (March 1933), pp. 222–230. 45 Dontsov, “Koltuns’kyi konservatyzm,” pp. 222, 225–226. 46 See details in Oleksandr Zaitsev, Natsionalist u dobi fashyzmu: Lvivs’kyi period Dmytra Dontsova, 1922–1939 roky: Nacherk intelektual’noi biohrafii (Kyiv: Krytyka, 2019), pp. 247, 255–263, 270–272. 47 See Roger Woods, The Conservative Revolution in the Weimar Republic (Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Macmillan Press and New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996); Martin Travers, Critics of Modernity: The Literature of the Conservative Revolution in Germany, 1890–1933 (New York: Peter Lang, 2001) (=German Life and Civilization, vol. 35). 48 See Julius Evola, Men among the Ruins: Post-war Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist, translated by G. Stucco (Rochester, Vermont: Inner Tradition, 2002). 49 Peter Osborne, The Politics of Time: Modernity and Avant-Garde (New York: Verso, 1995), p. 164. Contrary to other scholars, such as Richard Wolin, who conflate the ideology of the conservative revolution with “the entrenched antimodernism of the German mandarin intelligentsia,” Osborne views it as a manifestation of reactionary modernism: Osborne, The Politics of Time; see Richard Wolin, The Politics of Being: The Political Thought of Martin Heidegger (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990), p. 23. See also Jeffrey Herf, Reactionary Modernism: Technology, Culture, and Politics in Weimar and the Third Reich (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984). 50 Aleksandr Dugin, Konservativnaia revoliutsiia (Moskva: Arktoheia, 1994), p. 11. 51 Dmytro Dontsov, Dukh nashoi davnyny (Praha: Vydavnytstvo Yu. Tyshchenka, 1944). 52 O. Vitkovs’kyi, “Volodinnia nad dushamy molodi nikomu ne vidstupymo! Z pryvodu rezoliutsii Vsestudents’koi Ankety v spravi sviata ‘Ukrains’ka Molod’ Khrystovi’,” Nash Klych, 9 April 1933, pp. 1–2. 53 “Borot’ba z neistnuiuchymy nebezpekamy. Z pryvodu rezoliutsii students’koi ankety,” Meta, 26 March 1933, p. 1. 54 Oleksandr Zaitsev, Oleh Behen, Vasyl Stefaniv, Natsionalizm i relihiia: HrekoKatolyts’ka Tserkva ta ukrains’kyi natsionalistychnyi rukh u Halychyni (1920–1930-ti roky) (Lviv: Vydavnytstvo Ukrains’koho Katolyts’koho Universytetu, 2011), pp. 275, 284; V. I. Pryluts’kyi, “Orly,” Entsyklopediia istorii Ukrainy, edited by V. A. Smolii et al., vol. 7 (Kyiv: Naukova dumka, 2010), p. 635. 55 Mykola Konrad, Natsionalizm i Katolytsyzm (Ivano-Frankivs’k: Hran’, 2003). Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe commented the pamphlet in detail but, unfortunately, presented the views of Fr. Konrad in a distorted light. See Rossoliński-Liebe, The Fascist Kernel of Ukrainian Genocidal Nationalism, pp. 31–34. 56 This opposition has completely disappeared in Rossoliński-Liebe’s account. 57 Rossoliński-Liebe, The Fascist Kernel of Ukrainian Genocidal Nationalism, p. 33. 58 Konrad, Natsionalizm i Katolytsyzm, p. 21. 59 Konrad, Natsionalizm i Katolytsyzm, pp. 29–30.

Integral nationalism in Ukraine  141

60 61 62 63

64 65

66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75

76 77 78


Konrad, Natsionalizm i Katolytsyzm, pp. 24–37. Shtykalo, Nad svitom siaie khrest mecha, pp. 25, 43. Shtykalo, Nad svitom siaie khrest mecha, p. 47. See Oleksandr Zaitsev, “Ukrainian Integral Nationalism and the Greek-Catholic Church in 1920–30s,” in Jan Nelis, Anne Morelli and Danny Praet (eds.), Catholicism and Fascism in Europe, 1918–1945 (Hildesheim, Zurich and New York: George Olms Verlag, 2015), pp. 389–401. Archiwum Akt Nowych w Warszawie, Ambasada RP w Berlinie, 3935, p. 129. Volodymyr Muravs’kyi (ed.), Kongres Ukrains’kykh Natsionalistiv 1929 r.: Dokumenty i materialy (Lviv: LNB im. V. Stefanyka; Tsentr doslidzhen’ vyzvol’noho rukhu, 2006), pp. 195–197, 291; Oleksandr Kucheruk and Yurii Cherchenko (eds.), Dokumenty i materialy z istorii Orhanizatsii Ukrains’kykh Natsionalistiv, vol. 7, (Kyiv: Vydavnytstvo imeni Oleny Telihy, 2002), p. 9. From Mykhailo Drahomanov (1841–1895), a Ukrainian socialist thinker. Dmytro Dontsov, “Vony i my,” Vistnyk, vol. 4, no. 5 (May 1936), p. 382. See Oleksandr Zaitsev, Ukrains’kyi integral’nyi natsionalizm (1920–1930-ti roky): Narysy intelektual’noi istorii (Kyiv: Krytyka, 2013), pp. 308–326. See Michael Arthur Leeden, Universal Fascism: The Theory and Practice of the Fascist International, 1928–1936 (New York: H. Fertig, 1972). Shevchenko Scientific Society Archives, Ievhen Onats’kyi Papers, box 1, folder 8 (Diaries, 1936), p. 47. Shevchenko Scientific Society Archives, Ievhen Onats’kyi Papers, box 1, folder 8 (Diaries, 1936), p. 47. Shevchenko Scientific Society Archives, Ievhen Onats’kyi Papers, box 1, folder 8 (Diaries, 1936), p. 53. Shevchenko Scientific Society Archives, Ievhen Onats’kyi Papers, box 1, folder 8 (Diaries, 1936), p. 60. Tsentral’nyi derzhavnyi arkhiv vyshchykh orhaniv vlady ta upravlinnia Ukrainy, f. 3833, op. 2, spr. 40, ark. 3. See e.g. Stanley G. Payne, “Fascism and Racism,” in Terence Ball and Richard Bellamy (eds.), The Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), Chapter 5, p. 124; Griffin, “Introduction,” p. 2; Robert O. Paxton, “Comparisons and Definitions” in R. J. B. Bosworth (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Fascism (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), Chapter 29, p. 549. Roger Griffin, “Palingenetic myth,” in Cyprian P. Blamires (ed.), with Paul Jackson, World Fascism: A Historical Encyclopedia, vol. 2: L–Z (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2006), pp. 498–499; Griffin, Fascism, pp. 40–41, 46. Payne, A History of Fascism, p. 7. There are two main views on the essence of the Ustašas’ ideology in historiography. Some historians interpret the Ustaša–Croatian Revolutionary Movement as Croatian fascism or clerical fascism. Other scholars question the fascist nature of the organisation. In their view, the ustaštvo was a radical nationalist movement, and its ideology was Croatian ethnic nationalism. I share the view that until 1941 the Ustaša was rather a proto-fascist movement, which turned into full-fledged fascism only with the creation of the Independent State of Croatia when the problem of gaining own state was replaced by the problem of the foundations on which it was to be built. For different interpretations, see Srdja Trif kovic, Ustaša: Croatian Separatism and European Politics, 1929–1945 (London: Lord Byron Foundation for Balkan Studies, 1998); Sergei Beliakov, Ustashi: mezhdu fashizmom i etnicheskim natsionalizmom (Moskva: Gumanitarnyi universitet, 2009); Rory Yeomans, Visions of Annihilation: The Ustasha Regime and the Cultural Politics of Fascism, 1941–1945 (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013). Roger Griffin, The Nature of Fascism (London: Routledge, 1993), p. 51.

142  Oleksandr Zaitsev

80 Mykhailo Kolodzinskyi, Voienna doktryna ukrains’kykh natsionalistiv (Kyiv: TOV “Osnova,” 2019). 81 See e.g. Volodymyr Martynets’, “Zhydivs’ka probliema v Ukraini,” in Ideia v nastupi: Almanakh (London: n.p., 1938), pp. 24–47 82 Aristotle Kallis, Genocide and Fascism: The Eliminationist Drive in Fascist Europe (New York: Routledge, 2009), p. 122. 83 Evhen Onats’kyi, “Lysty z Italii. I. Deshcho pro fashyzm,” Rozbudova Natsii, vol. 1, no. 3 (March 1928), p. 95. 84 Oleksandr Mytsiuk, “Fashyzm,” Rozbudova Natsii, vol. 2, no. 7–8 (August–September 1929), p. 262. 85 D. D[ontsov], “Pans’ko-muzhyts’kyi tsentavr i neomonarkhizm,” p. 360. 86 Yevhen Onats’kyi, U Vichnomu misti: Zapysky ukrains’koho zhurnalista, vol. 3: 1933 rik (Toronto, ON: Novyi shliakh, 1985), p. 200. 87 It is no accident, that director of CAUR, listing fundamental points of the universal fascist doctrine, put on the first place “the reconstitution of a State on new bases” (quoted in Leeden, Universal Fascism, p. 117). 88 In some of my works, I used for them the term ustashism (from the Croatian Ustaša), which can be defined as revolutionary integral nationalism developing under conditions of perceived foreign oppression and using violence for national liberation and for creating an independent authoritarian state. I do not insist on this term, but I use it because there is no other special term in historiography and political science for the designation of this type of movements. See Oleksandr Zaitsev, “Fascism or ustashism? Ukrainian Integral Nationalism in Comparative Perspective, 1920s–1930s,” Communist and Post-Communist Studies, vol. 48, no. 2–3 (2015), pp. 183–193. For the critique of my argument, see Tomislav Dulić, Goran Miljan, “The Ustašas and Fascism: ‘Abolitionism,’ Revolution, and Ideology (1929–42),” Journal of Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society, vol. 6, no. 1 (2020), pp. 277–306.

6 CATHOLIC AUTHORITARIANS OR FASCISTS AS SUCH? The Polish rightist subculture turns fascist (1919–1939) Grzegorz Krzywiec

Polish liberal democracy and its discontents from the right It was inevitable that WWI encumbered the new Poland with enormous problems. It is difficult even to discuss whether the nascent country’s international status or its domestic troubles were more prevalent in the minds of the new Polish establishment.1 For the newly reborn state faced multiple dire challenges. First, it had to unite three markedly distinct lands, ones separated from each other for the previous 123 years, during which time they functioned under different administrative, legal and social systems. Second, it had to build new legal infrastructure for the new state. Third, it had to secure its borders and win their international recognition. Sooner or later the Polish political elites had to face all these challenges. One has to bear in mind that the independent Poland of 1918–1939, despite the brief period from 1921 to 1926, was definitely a rightist-oriented, socially conservative and authoritarian country. Its governments advocated a counter-revolutionary policy based on the military victory against Soviet Russia in 1920, and the country’s democratic and liberal forces remained marginalised and without a stable social basis. Similarly as in the other socially conservative regimes in the region (e.g. Hungary, Romania), the Polish political establishment saw itself as a bulwark, cordon sanitaire, against Bolshevism and specifically against Soviet Russia. Victory over the Soviets had deeply influenced the sociopolitical realities of the reborn Poland and powerfully shaped the collective mentality of its ruling classes. In this context one has to keep in mind that the Polish victory over the Soviets produced certain psycho-political conditions conductive to the rise of authoritarian politics, though this did not necessarily lead to fascism as such. On the other hand, the deepening radicalisation of certain groups amongst the National Democracy (ND), the main mass rightist political party in Polish

144  Grzegorz Krzywiec

lands in the early twentieth century, started very early. The beginnings of dissonance and inner polarisation in the nationalist camp appeared in the early 1920s with two events, above all the foundation of the All-Polish Youth (Młodzież Wszechpolska, MW, 23 March 1922), an extreme-nationalist student movement, and the assassination by the nationalist fanatic Eligiusz Niewiadomski 2 of the first Polish president, Gabriel Narutowicz (16 December 1922), the ex-socialist who had been supported in the presidential election by the national minorities. The week-long mass street riots which accompanied the election revealed the true antisemitic potential in society and showed that the “national” fight against “foreign elements” would replace class warfare.3 At that point, Roman Dmowski, the former leader and main theorist of the ND, was for the first time joined in his hopes by students and young intellectuals who wanted to abolish the existing political and economic order so that the nation could be regenerated through the complete ridding of Jews from the public sphere.4 Indeed, the ND’s main ideologist directed his call towards a new generation of Poles. These new heterogeneous groups appealed to the real interest of varied social groups, although they existed at the time on the margin of the parliamentary nationalist mainstream. From the very beginning Dmowski was personally very ambiguous on the subject of the political status of the new state, dubbed the “Second Republic” (Druga Rzeczpospolita).5 After returning from the Paris Peace Conference on 20 May 1920, he ostentatiously rejected politics and his party’s everyday life. Moreover, he expressed loyalty to the new constitution at the same time as he undermined at every possible occasion the political and above all moral competences of the new establishment. Though he was elected to the first Polish parliament (Sejm), he seems to have appeared there only once, at heart being a true authoritarian with complete contempt for the parliamentary model and its institutions. Therefore, operating behind the scenes as the informal leader and senior theorist, Dmowski was playing a double game. Yet he harboured his paranoid Jewishhatred fantasy about a “world-wide antisemitic revolution.”6 Radical, if not millenarian, antisemitism played a crucial role in his political message. But Dmowski’s political credo began to be implemented, at least in part, not until the economic and political crisis broke out in the late 1920s. In 1923 he was nominated as the honorary chairman of the MW, the primary political program of which envisaged a numerus clausus for national minorities and foremost for the Jews.7 But the status of national minorities was not a subject of dispute amongst the Polish nationalists. Even in 1919 the programme of the Popular National Union (Związek Ludowo-Narodowy, ZLN), the main nationalist party in the national election that year, declared that the goal of the reborn Republic should be “the greatest possible nation-state homogeneity” deprived of “foreign and hostile elements,” which mainly referred to the Jews said to be obstructing the proper development of the new state.8 In fact, the whole political Right (which included at that time the National Democrats, Christian Democrats, the National Worker’s Party [Narodowa Partia Robotnicza, NPR], and conservatives of various stripes,

The Polish right turns fascist  145

to name the most important) regarded civil and political rights for minorities as illegitimate, or at least forcefully imposed.9 The early form of Poland’s pre-fascism – leaving aside minuscule groupings and milieux – was that of the Camp of Great Poland (Obóz Wielkiej Polski/OWP) established 4 December 1926 as the nationalist answer to Piłsudski’s coup d’état. The short-lived experience of a constitutional regime in the 1920s had struck many Poles as something tantamount to anarchy, given the corruption of parliamentary politicians and the rabid social and ethnic conflicts. The actual base of this constitutional period was narrow at its outset and did not widen as many had expected. The general opinion was that the parliamentary regime (and liberal democracy in consequence) represented the political class itself.10 Marshal Józef Piłsudski – as another prominent Polish leader, ex-socialist militant and first and foremost the charismatic hero of Poland’s re-established independence – seemed perfectly suited to be the head of state and leader of the political regime (sanacja).11 The Piłsudski coup was widely supported by the liberal intelligentsia, socialists and even communists – and last but not least, by a large majority of Jews. And at first Piłsudski’s new regime often heeded the various relevant demands placed on it by these sections of society. Piłsudski’s regime owed its stability to the openly enjoyed state patriotism or even state nationalism that characterised many Poles of the time. There was no greater accusation in the interwar Poland than being called “un-Polish.” As Norman Davies stated, “The political stance of the leading circles was unashamedly nationalist. ‘Polishness’ become the touchstone of respectability.”12 From the very beginning Piłsudski’s regime included some borrowings from Mussolini’s model, especially in rhetoric.13 But if a proto-fascist regime was not introduced in Poland until 1935, it was due to the lack of support and outright resistance among the regime’s elites and, first and foremost, from Piłsudski himself. Thus on the one hand, under Piłsudski’s own semi-authoritarian dictatorship the chances for the nationalist opposition to take power were less than real. On the other hand the telltale nationalistic climate that dominated, especially in the early 1930s, favoured the growth of genuine fascist-style movements.

Rightist sub-cultures towards the crisis of liberal democracy on the eve of the global economic crisis According to its initiator and theoretician R. Dmowski, the OWP was a new “organised nation” (zorganizowany naród) movement. The foundation of the OWP was partially a result of an internal crisis in the National Democracy, and partially a side effect of the evolution of various nationalist groups of interest which had begun as early as 1920. The parliamentary tactics (represented by Stanisław Grabski, another nationalist leader, one with vast experience in preWWI Galician politics) failed during and just after Piłsudski’s coup. Although he remained aloof from the nationalist mainstream of the time, Dmowski strongly opposed parliamentary politics, criticising both the political conformism of the

146  Grzegorz Krzywiec

leading nationalist circles and their aversion to radical means and aims. It is no accident that with his reappearance on the public stage he harked back to the more flexible tactics presented by the National Democracy under his own leadership a decade earlier. Originally, the OWP was modelled after the Italian fascist party.14 The movement was organised on hierarchical lines and evinced top-down dispositions. The Great Council (Wielka Rada), which controlled all local branches of the OWP, was a sort of copy-cat of the Fascist Grand Council (Gran Consiglio del Fascismo). Actually Dmowski held in his hands all positions in the new organisation. The statute emphasised the personal responsibility of the leaders, discipline and hierarchy, natural hierarchy based on ethnic origins, belonging to the Roman Catholic Church, and the mission to serve, as it was declared. In this early form of the “organised nation,” the nationalist leader embodied the essence of the social, political and basically moral elite. This hierarchy, as he claimed, ought to give what the “true nation” needed foremost: noble men of character. There was a good deal of ideological novelty in this movement as well. One of the first significant steps to build an anti-Piłsudski mass-movement was an overture towards the Roman Catholic Church. Within this scope, it is doubtful that there was much borrowing between the Mussolini regime’s experiments in constructing its own “political religion” and Dmowski’s own return to Catholic values.15 Needless to say, that Catholic Church did not warmly welcome the integral nationalism at the turn of the centuries.16 Dmowski’s definition of “national interest” (interes narodowy), which placed it above all else, beyond God and religion, was treated as pagan and openly anti-Christian. His “national ethics” (etyka narodowa), which resembled Maurice Barrès’s famous words about “French truth, French reason, and French justice,” were viewed by many Polish Catholic circles with the same ambivalence. And one has to bear in mind that the Catholic Church was a crucial social force in traditionalist segments of Polish society. Although early forms of the political representation of Catholicism failed, the Church as such retained a powerful influence amongst provincial landowners, Christian petty middle classes in cities and small towns, and mostly amongst the wealthy peasantry.17 Until WWI tensions between the Polish nationalists and Catholic hierarchy were easily discernible. The shift of the Polish nationalists towards religion was summarised in one of the brochures edited under the auspices of the OWP: “The Church, the Nation, and the State” (Kościół, Naród i Państwo) in 1927.18 Yet even here Dmowski’s defence of Catholic religion revealed a certain ambiguity characteristic of the nationalists of the time. His return to Catholic values proved to be more instrumental than ideological. In fact, he was not much concerned with the universal spirit of Christianity or the supernatural character of religion as he was with the idea of the dominance of Catholicism over Protestantism. The latter he clearly identified with the decadent, liberal (that is, “Jewified”) West. Protestantism, in this regard, was nothing more than another facet of the soulless materialism that dominated the Western world. There was only one cultural

The Polish right turns fascist  147

tradition that counted and, as Dmowski claimed, the Roman Catholic Church preserved it. In this respect, “national democrats” saw in the Church an important ally against all movements and tendencies drawing their inspiration from the heritage of the Enlightenment and last but not least the only institution free from “Jewish influence.” While the main ideologist of the ND only touched upon the theological aspects of religion, he was mainly preoccupied with contemporary politics and the international situation. There is no doubt that included within the genesis of that document was also condemnation of Charles Maurras and the Action Française by Rome. Though Dmowski’s pamphlet was enthusiastically received in some Catholic circles, especially amongst young and local clergy, still there were many critics that found this shift unsatisfactory and insincere. On the one hand, the OWP as a mass movement started to propagate itself as a “true” defender of the Catholic Church in Poland. On the other hand, what was striking was that although Dmowski had invented the new formula “Catholic State of the Polish Nation” for the whole Polish nationalist movement, in his later political writings he added nothing to his general considerations from the late 1920s.19 Despite his whole-hearted belief in the urgent need for the “worldwide anti-Jewish revolution,” Dmowski was always a very flexible and pragmatic politician.20 The first announcements the OWP issued appealed to “all honest Poles” to join in a united struggle against political anarchy and potential communist revolution. Strangely enough, there were no references in the document to “hostile alien elements” and to the Jews by name. Even the word Sanacja did not occur there. A demand which later made a real career – namely, “political organisation of the nation” (organizacja polityczna narodu) – became a common call of all radical-right groups in Poland. It appeared later in another brochure written by Dmowski, to wit, “The Matter of the Government” (Zagadnienie rządu). It seems that ideas of “the organised nation” and members of “true Poland,” the only ones who had the moral right to conduct political activity, were a natural and logical consequence of the disciplinary vision of the early Endeks’ sense of politics.21 At that time the main Endek ideologist claimed that the “inadequate Poles” (“half-Poles,” primarily meaning “the Jews” and all who rejected the nationalist vision of politics) were to be deprived of political and even public rights. “Moral dictatorship” in his project not only signified the suppression of defiant “nominal” members of the “national entity,” but also meant a call for ideological dictatorship. In this respect, the project of “political organisation of the nation” was the very first vision of a totalitarian society, seen as a “political experiment in political domination undertaken by a revolutionary movement with an organic conception of politics” and with a complex agenda for political mobilisation.22 In practical terms, the program was first directed towards the entire Polish Right in order to unite it against Piłsudski’s movement. Thanks to Dmowski’s comprehensive tactics it was to combine all opponents of the Sanacja from the conservative Right, political centre and the young radicals from his own camp giving the latter priority. Piłsudski had drawn a great deal of the mild rightist

148  Grzegorz Krzywiec

electorate to his semi-authoritarian idea of coup. Crucially, after the coup, his system remained culturally and socially conservative to the core. No one significant traditionalist group needed to look for protection from the new political force from the nationalist Right.23 On the other hand, Dmowski and his inner circle had to deal with the urgent problem with the parliamentary representation of the Endecja. At first, most of the older leaders of the ND opposed the far-reaching radicalisation of the Camp. Moreover, in their hands was much of the practical means of power in the entire national democratic movement. Also many of those conservatives, especially the provincial landowners who financially supported Dmowski from the very beginning, resisted the embrace of more radical steps and aggressive mass politics. Therefore Dmowski and his inner circle followed a double strategy, first of building around him, step by step, a new centre of power, and second of supporting the radical youth in the structures of the old nationalist party. The emergence of the new nationalist opposition forced the Sanacja to reexamine its previously lethargic attitude towards nationalist propaganda. In March 1928 there was an election to the national parliament (Sejm). The OWP was officially excluded from it, though many of its first-line militants were engaged in the electoral process. After the coup, this was the very first real verification of the Sanacja and its opponents’ influences in society and thus it proved a measure of whether and to what extent the political turbulences of May 1926 had persistently affected the Polish public scene. The result of the election went beyond the worst expectations of the nationalist Right. The ZLN had lost more than half of its mandates (winning thirty seven as compared to ninety nine in the parliamentary election of 1922) and landed far behind the winner, the Non– Party Bloc for Cooperation with the Government (Bezpartyjny Blok Współpracy z Rządem, BBWR).24 Such a loss of voters was a practical impulse for the next radicalisation within the National Democratic camp. The ZLN was renamed the National Party (Stronnictwo Narodowe/SN) and turned in a more authoritarian direction. In the early 1930s the OWP was rapidly thrown into a fight against the Jews, the Sanacja, and last but not least against the Left. From 1930 the nationalist movement as a whole entered a new phase in its development. As it expanded, this early version of Polish fascism revealed its social and ideological physiognomy. Another tide of this ideological and political lineage of the radical Polish Right after Piłsudski’s coup can be traced back to its beginnings as a student movement in the late 1920s.25 Generally, students were one of the very first social groups who suffered the impact of the international economic crisis.26 The students’ rebellion of the early 1930s broke out in university centres as a protest against overcrowding and poor material conditions in nationwide higher education. The young nationalist leaders, amongst them future far-right leaders (e.g. Tadeusz Bielecki, Tadeusz Gluziński, Jan Mosdorf, Jan Rembieliński, Zdzisław Stahl and Wojciech Wasiutyński), succeeded in reducing the set of actual problems into a simple political message: getting rid of “foreigners” from universities and then from public

The Polish right turns fascist  149

life.27 Within the university population there was only one group that composed a visible scapegoat easily to be recognised – namely, the Jews, who constituted a great deal of the university body (ca. 35–40% of the entire student population). In this new political climate Dmowski’s vision of “The Catholic State of the Polish Nation” (Katolickie Państwo Narodu Polskiego), a strong clerico-nationalist state that would predominate across the whole region and eventually participate in world politics as one of the commanding empires (i.e. by eliminating the “Jewish threat” to “European civilisation”), fired the political imagination of many from the young generation.28 In more than one sense, Dmowski attracted the nationalist youth. In the late 1920s, the Youth Movement of the OWP (Ruch Młodych Obozu Wielkiej Polski/ RM-OWP, 1927) became a way of registering the anger and economic tensions about the changes in the reborn Poland within the young nationalist generation. The most energetic followers of the movement came from the youth, from both towns and cities, mainly from among middle-class, white-collar workers, i.e. largely from well-off layers of society. When one looks at the preconditions of fascism’s success according to Roger Griffin’s classification [(1) either native ultranationalism or fascist role models’ being applied, (2) The political space in a “modern” society undergoing a structural crisis, (3) an inadequate consensus on liberal values, (4). favourable contingency],29 it appears that the Polish case of the late 1920s was completely synonymous with nearly all these features. The antisemitic riots of the early 1930s, as well as the manifestations at the universities that followed them, were the first practical implementation of Dmowski’s late Weltanschauung into politics. The official journal of the Varsovian branch of the OWP, Szczerbiec, claimed: “The ambition of the younger generation of Poles […] is to settle the Jewish question.”30 In the autumn of 1931 new incidents took place at the university campus in Wilno (Vilnius). During a brawl, the Polish student of the law faculty (and ex-student of theology) Stanisław Wacławski was hit on the head and died afterwards in hospital. Mass antisemitic protests and rallies erupted on nearly all Polish universities.31 Nevertheless, the first vitriolic nationwide antisemitic campaign of the OWP that had engulfed the country was forcefully suppressed by the Piłsudski-ites’ government. In 1933, after a series of local antisemitic excesses of the OWP, the government banned the whole organisation. To some extent that was the Piłsudski-ites’ answer to how the Polish nationalist Right reacted to the Nazi seizure of power in Germany in January 1933.32 However, one should not limit their investigation to economic relations or the balance of power and social interest. It was an enormous asset of the extreme nationalism that dominated ND in various groupings that it appeared to transcend such concerns and offered people a meaningful sense of political participation and made them feel secure within the national community against the consequences of social and economic change. In the early 1930s, the main nationalist theorist experienced tremendous political activity. The idea of “Jewish world domination” was still paramount in his mind. Everywhere Dmowski looked, he

150  Grzegorz Krzywiec

saw Jews. All aspects of the economy, politics, culture and first of all the moral order in the world were concentrated on the “Jewish question.”33 Moreover, at the centre of its reasoning was also a passionate opposition to the Enlightenment’s tradition, the legacy of the French Revolution and the idea of the linear progress of human nature. One can assume that this anti-Enlightenment tradition was the most important aspect of Dmowski’s, or, broadly speaking, the ND’s legacy to Polish political thought. In 1934 the SN split. Paradoxically enough, this was an important factor as a proving ground for establishing the new forms of the extreme right-wing in Poland. After banning of the organisation, many of the young activists of the OWP joined the SN with Dmowski’s blessing. With nearly three-quarters of a million members at the moment it was outlawed, it was the largest mass political movement Poland had yet seen. In generational terms it was a rebellion of the nationalist youth against its elders.34 The sons against the fathers. For example, Zdzisław Stahl, the first chairman of the RM-OWP and then leader of the “Association of Young Nationalists” (Związek Młodych Narodowców, ZMN), was a son of Leonard Stahl, the influential ND politician in the Galician pre-WWI era; Władysław J. Grabski – the poet and follower of ONR-Falanga – was a son of ex–Prime Minister Władysław Grabski; Wojciech Wasiutyński, one of the main ideologists of Falanga, was a son of Bohdan Wasiutyński, a prominent politician of ZLN; and so on and so forth. The largest group which then emerged from this chaotic imbroglio was the National–Radical Camp (Obóz Radykalno Narodowy/ONR).35 Ideologically, the ONR added nothing new to the nationalist variety. To some extent, one has to agree that its difference lay in the fact that the new organisation was immediately geared towards a revolutionary political objective: the violent fight against the Sanacja, while in the SN there still existed politically influential groups outspokenly opposed to that. In this respect, the millenarian antisemitism of Falanga was an openly declared, crucial feature of the “national” revolution and was put into operation instantaneously. Yet the ONR’s success in the political sense was spectacular, though short-lived. The radical groups of the nationalist camp were outlawed just at its inception. After nearly a year of illegal activity the movement split into two other factions. Their names were taken from the main journals where the crucial intellectuals of the movement published – namely, the ONR-ABC and the ONR-Falanga. The first group, under the leadership of Henryk Rossman, wanted to transform Poland into a Catholic fascist corporate state. But though the group was strongly influenced by many ideas of European neo-Thomist trends, it did not gain any considerable influence in the Catholic Church. From the entire radical nationalist spectrum of the time, ONR-ABC, as a political movement, was the slowest to take its new shape. Its lack of full totalitarian vision failed to draw attention from the extremist youth and until the last days of Second Republic it remained rather a small grouping of academic intellectuals, however with substantial influence among student corporates and the Christian trade unions.36

The Polish right turns fascist   151

Special interest in this respect should be drawn to the ONR-Falanga. Its leaders, with Bolesław Piasecki in the first place, explicitly identified themselves as agents of God and the divine order.37 Materialistic socialism, the same as capitalism, was then presented as a sort of anti-Christian tool of “Jewish world conspiracy.” More than any other Polish nationalist organisation, the movement focused its propaganda on young clergy, and some activists were actually young clerics and monks. One of the key points that helps us understand the driving force behind this new fascist style of politics was the personality of the leader. Piasecki was assumed to be the charismatic duce of the movement, at the same time the candidate for a new Polish dictator, the main ideologist and the personification of the moral regeneration of the society. As an ideologist he called for the creation a “Great Poland” that had the right to dominate at least Central and Eastern Europe.38 The ONR-Falanga was a movement in which traditional distinctions were blurred; sort of a merger between the aspirations of high politics, the revolutionary rhetoric of anti–system political (power), with characteristics of a radical movement. Religious zeal in the organisation was visible from the very beginning. But as George L. Mosse once put it, the key to fascism was not only in the revolt, but also in its taming.39 The American historian emphasised that the activism of the new movements was directed towards smashing the existing order so that the national entity could succeed and traditional morality would be restored. Another strong factor lay then in the formation of military squads. This paramilitary element always existed within the scope of Polish integral nationalism, especially after 1905, but in the case of ONR-Falanga, this “military spirit” seemed to be the essence of a new political movement. Most activists of the formation were students and unemployed young blue-collar workers in particular, this being a revolutionary element among the working class called “lumpenproletariat.”40 But such a desire for charisma and violence can also be found in nearly all nationalist organisations of the time. From 1935 onwards, the leadership of the SN was in the hands of party radicals. Though all new leaders had been deeply influenced by Dmowski’s vision, none ever developed anything equivalent to Piasecki’s version of a “national breakthrough” (przełom narodowy) which would triumph in the shape of a Polish–Slavic Empire in Central and Eastern Europe. The “national order,” as asserted by Jędrzej Giertych, the main ideologist of the SN, was not, and never claimed to be, an “organised economic system.”41 Although the main nationalist party never obtained such a radical program as the secessionists (in socio-economic terms), its vitriolic antisemitic campaign forged ahead again from 1935 on.42 As the Polish sociologist Ludwik Krzywicki put it: “The Endecja understood that antisemitic slogans were a useful means of controlling crowds and igniting passions […] Students were to act in the vanguard in striking at the government with anti-Jewish slogans.”43 Antisemitism became an ideological war-machine against the government and against the Left, but the attack was largely directed against Polish Jews.

152  Grzegorz Krzywiec

The highest point of this most utopian rightist politics came with the campaign in 1937–1938. During those years Piasecki established himself as the most charismatic nationalist leader, but entirely failed to become a new national dictator. In the cities Falanga failed to create spontaneous popular movements in the name of a “national shake-up.” Moreover, the street violence conducted by the ONR military gangs and the individual acts of terror against baptised Jews shocked even Catholic Church officials.44 As 1939 began, radical fascism as represented by ONR-Falanga had therefore only a partial practical impact in Poland.

“National Revolution” from below45 It is always worth mentioning that in more practical terms, the Second Republic was an overwhelmingly peasant country (nearly 70% of the population lived in the province). Therefore, in order to comprehend the processes and matters that affected the Polish politics of those days one has to focus much more closely and systematically not only on cities like Warsaw, Poznań or Lwów, but on the situation of the Polish province. The years 1930–1932 were a time when the world economic crisis was already strongly felt in the Polish countryside, but it became particularly drastic among young peasants. Peasants felt the economic collapse of the early 1930s most deeply and for the longest time.46 Similarly, among Catholic milieux fears and dissatisfaction arose especially when the Left of the Sanacja establishment tried to enforce civil wedding procedures (1932). This proved to be a flash point not only for the Catholic hierarchy, but first and foremost for many young priests who had only just appeared on the public scene. A huge moral panic campaign swept over the Catholic mass media of those days.47 However, the concept of Jews as the main “problem of the Polish economy” and the main reason for the misery in the countryside started to appear in the local OWP gatherings at the end of 1931. Respectively, in the central Endek press such as Myśl Narodowa, Gazeta Warszawska and Kurier Poznański (the official nationalist daily in the western part of Poland) articles were published (and then massively reprinted) by the top brass nationalists calling for “numerus nullus” for the Jews.48 The “youth” supported these appeals overwhelmingly. In November 1931 a huge wave of student anti-Jewish protests exploded at the universities (e.g. Kraków, Lwów/Lviv/Lemberg, Wilno, Warsaw, Lublin and others). Antisemitic excesses occurred again and again in the spring of 1932 and then again in the autumn of that year.49 In January 1933, when Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany and right away introduced first anti-Jewish policies, the Nazis were attentively and widely observed by the Polish Right, which sought examples that many would be eager to follow.50 Already by the spring of 1933, the Nazis’ successes were widely hailed as examples to imitate during political meetings throughout the entire voivodeships of Kielce, Łódź, Częstochowa, Poznań and first and foremost the Mazovia.51

The Polish right turns fascist  153

In this regard the dissolution of the OWP (March 1933) and the integration of its young and radical members into the “adult” SN had crucial, long- standing importance. Paradoxically enough, the most extreme version of anti-government opposition, militant activism and radical antisemitic ideology ended up in the midst of the adult, nationalist mainstream political party. After a successive wave of antisemitic events at the universities and the murder of Minister of Internal Affairs Bronisław Pieracki on 15 June 1934 (at first falsely attributed to the ONR), the latter was disbanded by the authorities. The organisation went underground, but in various regions it tried to act through connections with their “young” colleagues from the mainstream SN. As a matter of fact, at this time, the boundaries and distinctions between those groups were nearly nonexistent.52 The SN itself had dramatically moved into an openly fascist direction in April 1934.53 An even more striking evolution took place in the Polish province; in Greater Poland (Wielkopolska), Pomerania (Pomorze), the Kielce voivodeship, in the north of Mazovia (Mazowsze), in the industrial Łódź in the centre of Poland, and almost everywhere the nationalists remained the dominant political force in the interwar period.54 Both anti-Jewish radicalism and political violence used by the “young” of all nationalist groupings were amongst the most important tools for gaining dominance in the whole of SN. In this regard, political violence, street fights or just everyday acts of physical terror against the Jews were an inseparable part of the anti-Jewish boycott campaign that had been launched in the autumn of 1931. From the very beginning the “Jews” had swarmed across the pages of the boycott propaganda materials, and party leaflets scared potential readers from every possible corner. The Jews were accused of provoking police attacks on the OWP gatherings and of “Jewification of Poles” through the daily press and by other forms of “Jewish” popular culture, “Jewish” pornography, film and even radio, at the same time being “the actual rulers of the country.” The “Jews” played havoc by their very existence in these visions; therefore, they had to be publicly condemned, marginalised, and then eliminated from public life entirely. The propaganda advocated the usage of violence against the police, against the Left, but most of all against the Jews. As expected, the Jews who were threatened with violent attacks defended themselves, either through appealing to the state authorities, or through embarking on direct self-defence.55 The authorities’ interventions towards that end were presented by the nationalists as further proof that the Sanacja “was catering to the Jews” (wysługiwał się żydom). All these interventions were supposed to happen in crowded places. Direct confrontation in crowded places created confusion, chaos and the engagement of bystanders and mobs. This was also to make use of prevailing traditional ethno-religious divisions; fights between “Jews” and “Pole-Catholics” would inevitably bring more and more peasants into the fray. In this way, the leaflets and speeches of the young Endek activists in the other parts of the countryside had slowly translated “boycott” into “fight.” They had also consistently presented figures like the dead student Stanisław Wacławski

154  Grzegorz Krzywiec

(“stoned to death by the Jews” as leaflets said) and many other victims of nationalist brawls as a “new man,” as national heroes and martyrs to educate peasants about the events taking place at Polish universities and in the cities. Next to the martyrs, boycotters were presented as “new Poles” imbued with the qualities of the “national soldier”: discipline, the spirit of sacrifice for their country and the cause (Greater Poland, Wielka Polska), the spirit of camaraderie and allegiance to the flag, to the national hierarchy and to the Catholic Church. A complete picture of the OWP’s and then SN’s membership is made difficult by a number of factors, most of which spring from the fact the movements’ archives, at both the national and local levels, were destroyed. However, there were some characteristics of this shift towards “national revolution.” Even when the OWP opened its membership and extended its aims towards the province and the folk, real leadership remained firmly in the hands of nationalist students or early university graduates (the average member of the executive was ca. 24–30 years old). Lawyers were starkly overrepresented among the leadership. It should also be noted that in contrast with many European fascist groups, most of the high-ranking activists were steadily employed and many were citizens of substance. They often subsidised their own movement. There was also the question of the initial OWP violence and activism. Among socio-economic issues the Great Depression was recognised as the main cause of the economic crisis. In the case of villages, a drastic drop in agricultural exports in early 1930 occurred, and as a consequence many well-off conservative peasants found themselves able to sell their goods only at ruinous prices. As a result, many felt not just threatened with economic hardships, but believed that the “Jews’ puppet government” was committed to their extinction as a matter of principle. It is significant but hardly surprising that the bulk of Camp activism was far more frequent in the countryside (e.g. Łódź, the Kielce district) where a long-standing rightist tradition of resistance to the central government existed. The very first trials of the OWP activists before the courts revealed that the movement’s membership was drawn from various rightist supporters and grass-roots and parochial activism. In the province, most of the membership was drawn from the wealthy and Catholic families, and in small towns also from shopkeepers and the provincial intelligentsia (e.g. teachers, pharmacists and municipal functionaries at administrative positions not requiring a university degree). For most of them, the Jew in the countryside was a real competitor. The state police and the other governmental reports show further symptoms of this “nationalist revolution” on the Polish province. During summer vacation and the subsequent returns home of many students from cities like Warsaw, Wilno, Kraków and Lublin, these young people tried to organise anti-Jewish riots.56 These rather grass-roots initiatives suddenly became a full-blown nationwide strategy. The Jews were widely attacked and then beaten in trains and in public transport, in parks, in the open, and on the roads. This also frequently happened after antisemitic lectures organised by the nationalist agitators. Jews would be attacked in order to cause violent reactions of the state police against attackers.

The Polish right turns fascist  155

In this regard the summer of 1933 (right before the nationwide outlawing of the OWP), and creation of the National Radical Camp (Obóz ­Narodowo-Radykalny, ONR) on 14 April 1934, and some further seismic events on the Polish political scene, seem to be a crucial, if not decisive, for the creation of the new political culture of violence. This “lesson” and the toxic legacy of the early 1930s marked a momentous improvement of this political strategy via nationalist scaremongering and first and foremost via direct everyday violence. An “economic department” (Wydział Godpodarczy) was established in every local branch of the National Party and was strictly devoted to the economic anti-Jewish campaign. Any conflict and fight in which Jews took the initiative or just defended themselves was to be widely publicised.57 Every single episode was disseminated on a nationwide level.58 The local Endeks would not always indulge in violence openly, but would eagerly provoke it, trying to affect its non-sympathisers, witnesses and onlookers. Here looms the huge problem of various groups engaged in acts of violence. The response of the police and county reeves (starostowie) to this violence, along with Jewish reactions, whether in the form of formal complaints or in the form of self-defence, were very much welcomed. They helped to promote the main elements of the nationalist ideology, of the “idea of Jewish rule” in Poland and “Judaisation” of state institutions. In this way the Endecja rhetoric step by step started to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. During all these activities the agitators were parading through public places and talking about “lousy Jews killing true Poles” and preaching about “Jewish dominance over the Polish nation” resorting to the image of nationalist martyrs.59 Besides this means of agitation, the SN also used the annual Corpus Christi processions or pilgrimages to Jasna Góra (Clarus Mons, the Marian sanctuary in the south of Poland) and other shrines. During these events the “young” under the safekeeping of young Catholic priests usually marched in their organisational uniforms in military style. Similarly, the trials against the Endeks were instrumentalised in order to channel the nationalist political message to various audiences. Almost every state holiday, especially those associated with the Polish Bolshevik war (such as 15 August as the remembrance day of the victory over Bolshevik Russia in 1920 and the main festivity in the Endeks’ calendar), was used to beat the Jews in public places.60 This “script” was systematically reproduced and re-launched after 1935 in the last, most brutal wave of anti-Jewish violence, mostly in the so-called pogroms (from Odrzywół in 1935, the infamous Przytyk pogrom, up to Brześć in the autumn 1937).61 They exhibited but one significant change – namely, that the state authorities (meaning the police officers, the state system of justice or the administrative representative such as the starosta) stepped back and actually ceded a certain monopoly of violence to the various paramilitary groups.62 Just after the death of Piłsudski (1935) the SN was about to begin a new phase of the “national revolution.” In contrast to the centre of the state, in the province where the process of de-legitimisation of the Sanacja regime was not so obvious, and differences and

156  Grzegorz Krzywiec

dissonances between various “national” radicals not so evident, the Endeks initiated the struggle with aggressive forms of boycott anew. The infamous “Indeed” speech of Prime Minister Felicjan Sławoj-Składkowski from 4 June 1936, when the government accepted the “economic struggle” against the Jews, but not the physical attacks and destruction of their property, needs to be taken into special consideration.63 The government openly announced its preference for the emigration of about 90% of Poland’s Jews, which was meant to prevent the pogroms being organised by the nationalists.64 The police still tried to curb attempts of mass-violence but treated the boycotts of Jewish businesses at the very least as a legitimate economic alternative. At the same time the parliament passed a ban on kosher slaughter, although it was never implemented full-scale, and all the country’s professional organisations had to register their “Jewish” members. The so-called “Aryanisation” of free professions with unofficial state support and ousting of Jews from state professions proceeded at an accelerated peace. For instance, the “Aryanisation” of the doctors’ association in the Lublin voivodeship was implemented entirely. At the Catholic University of Lublin or University of Poznań, which had no Jews within the student body at all, the rectors nonetheless still called for numerus nullus. It should not be surprising that the local state representatives understood the shift in the government in very ambiguous way; in a few cases they reacted as brutally as earlier in the early 1930s; in others they even assisted the boycott agitators and nationalist armed groups and thugs; in most cases they just ­observed.65 This triggered a scale of anti-Jewish violence and a number of petty acts of aggression to an extent not seen before.

“National revolution” from above Interestingly enough, this massive flow of “young” nationalist politicians and activists – according to a rough calculation, ca. one-third of the whole generation – changed the late Sanacja’s politics upside down.66 Many “young” activists were present not only among top governmental officials, but as well in the army, and in the national governmental press. There were various, mostly unexplored, levels of this engagement on the part of the post-Piłsudski Sanacja regime in radical rightist politics, fascistisation and per se eliminatory politics. The second half of 1936 in particular witnessed several further major transformations in Polish political culture.67 One of the most understudied subjects in this area was the international situation of the Second Republic: the re-militarisation of the Rhineland and aggressive international policy of the Nazi regime in the region, and the most paradoxically, the civil war in Spain.68 All these different events contributed enormously to the weakening of democratic and liberal values and the rapid invasion of a new authoritarian and fascist mentality within the Sanacja establishment. For our considerations here, though, the most significant and meaningful seem to be the following two: the rapidly growing role and position of Marshal

The Polish right turns fascist  157

Edward Rydz-Śmigły and his inner circle, or, more generally, the para-fascist fraction within the Polish army and military complex in the political establishment, and the cooperation of different segments of the nationalist political scene with the Sanacja regime. The most spectacular process that unfolded before the outbreak of WWII is probably the creation of the youth branch of the Camp of National Unity (Obóz Zjednoczenia Narodowego, OZN), the Union of Young Poland (Związek Młodej Polski, ZMP), and the appointment of Jerzy Rutkowski, the former OWP activist, a collaborator of the biggest Catholic daily (Mały Dziennik), and then Bolesław Piasecki’s close associate in ONR-Falanga.69 In Rutkowski’s own words the aims of the new organisation would be the implementation of the “national breakthrough” (przełom narodowy) by the youth into public life and the life-and-death struggle with communists, freemasons, and all “enemies within the nation.” As regards the “Jewish question” the “chief of staff” of the Union called for the complete elimination of the Jews from the public sphere and sought to solve the “Jewish problem” through mass, forced emigration. Similarly as concerns the other minority question, the Union demanded the immediate integration of the “other groups into Polishness: either Polonisation or expulsion.” The new organisation demanded that responsibility for the “new Poland” had to be taken by the soldiers and above all by the young generation. All these groups were to form a coalition of pro-state nationalist forces in order to crush the Folksfront – the purported or imagined united camp of the Left, liberal democrats (the supposed free-masonry), and the Jews strictly behind it. Apart from numerous obstacles and setbacks happening from the very beginning (some of the OZN officials tried to undermine ONR-Falanga activists’ influences), the ZMP grew in size and claimed 40,000 members in the fall of 1937, and over 60,000 in the spring of 1938.70 However, after leftist attacks from within the Sanacja regime, the “chief of the nation” Rydz-Śmigły resolved to end cooperation with the nationalist radicals and forced them, at least the cream of crop, to resign. On 22 April 1938, Rutkowski and his close fellows left the ZMP, which, alongside Piasecki’s own failure to gain real political power in the state, is always conjured up as a prototypical failure of East European fascists to take power in an environment dominated by conservative authoritarians regimes. Interestingly enough, the ZMP was growing via systematically recruiting new members and acquiring its main influences in the Polish province. Significantly, the ex-ONR-Falanga activists were exchanged for the members of the ZMN, another fascist embryo that arose from the OWP’s outlawing, and which eventually joined the Sanacja after 1934. By no means did the organisation give up the intention of taking on the trappings of the other fascist or para-fascist organisations. The ZMP members still donned paramilitary uniforms, terrorised the street playing the role of ruling party militia and demanded acceptance of a hierarchical form of leadership. The grouping from the very beginning proceeded with frenzy in rivalry with the other radical rightist groups to win the hearts and

158  Grzegorz Krzywiec

minds among the younger generation, while having the organisational support from the state. The organisation conducted an anti-Jewish boycott which deteriorated into small riots until the outbreak of WWII and actively took part in state-sponsored acts of violence against other minorities (mostly against Ukrainians). Thus, alongside the Polish army in the eastern part of the Lublin voivodeship, in Chełm district (Chełmszczyzna), the ZMP was one of the major forces in implementing the ethnic cleaning policy against the Ukrainians and Eastern Orthodox local communities which began in the spring of 1938 under the banner of “national consolidation.” 71 On the eve of WWII, the ZMP was, if not the largest, surely the most influential state-sponsored youth organisation in the Polish province. A special role in building a new consensus within the “national community” on the need to get rid of the threatening “Other” was played by the Polish Catholic clergy or even Catholic Church as such, which coupled popular nationalism with Catholic antisemitism and xenophobia with anti-Orthodox attitudes. This arose from the long-term vision for the Polish nation and state, which itself was deeply tied to the clergy’s belief that it occupied and should occupy a special position in Polish society. After the formation of the Second Republic both the Catholic Church as a whole in the Polish province and the most Catholic clergy of the region wholeheartedly supported the idea of the “Catholic State of the Polish Nation.” The Jews from the very beginning were the pivotal element in its hierarchy of foes. Not surprisingly, after the re-establishment of Poland after over 123 years of partitions, the Catholic Church considered the “Jews” an eternal outsider, a foreign folk that willingly separated itself from other “Christian societies.” However, the position of the Church in eastern parts of the country, that is, in the Borderlands (Kresy) where national and religious minorities and groups had lived side by side for centuries, and the hegemony of Catholicism was neither obvious nor easy to maintain, seemed fragile. It is also important to keep in mind that this discourse of Church-nation identification also derived from the clergy itself with its perception of Catholicism as the genuine defender of the Polish ethnic community.72 In the early 1930s two social-economic processes affected this often-mentioned outlook. On the one hand, the Great Depression struck the Catholic clergy like any other segment of intelligentsia. Moreover, local priests had to maintain their parish churches, cemeteries and other religious properties, and at the same time contribute monies to the curia for its needs, pay state taxes and support their parishes’ religious, social and last but not least charitable activity. If the hierarchy, thanks to its social and economic position, did not worry much about its personal materials needs, local priests, especially newcomers, found it difficult to fulfil all these obligations, particularly in the period 1931–1937 of intense economic hardship. On the other hand, in regions like the Lublin province where the priesthood remained to the vast majority of the populace the only accessible way to social advancement and emancipation, economic and ideological issues were

The Polish right turns fascist  159

bound up inextricably. In this situation, a multitude of lesser clergy began to give its acceptance to radical rightist politics at full steam. Thus, especially after Piłsudski’s death in 1935, the Catholic Church and its functionaries felt under threat, and indefatigably attacked all such “mortal evils” as every form of secularism, liberalism, not to mention socialism and communism, on the basis that they actually believed these were permanent threats to the Polish Catholic nation and its mission. Young priests and alumni of clerical seminars were far more radical in that direction. The most outstanding example of this “holy” alliance with the nationalists and the Sanacja was the widespread participation of the Catholic clergy in both the anti-Jewish boycott in the countryside and then enthusiastic support for purging the over 100 “superfluous” Orthodox churches in the spring of 1938 in the eastern part of the Lublin voivodeship.

Conclusions In the eyes of its own political and cultural establishment, Poland was one of the biggest winners from WWI and for this reason there was not much space for post-war trauma. But this reborn Poland, seen by many contemporaries as a correction of great historical injustices, was from the very beginning endangered by two big European countries – namely Bolshevik Russia and Germany – which in the well-founded widespread Polish view were long-time enemies of Polish independence. This political climate, on the one hand, helped in integrating the new state and furthering the reunification of the society, but, on the other hand, it actually pushed the elites of the country into an ethno-nationalist policy. Although the Left, mainly the Socialists (Polska Partia Socjalistyczna, PPS) and some groups of the liberal intelligentsia, opposed this policy, in principle the idea of an ethnic Polish nation-state became a widely shared ideal from the very outset. Because national minorities made up about one-third of the inhabitants of the country then, and in some borderland regions constituted the vast majority, the prospect of open ethnic conflict was inevitable. On the other hand, amongst Polish political elites there developed a kind of “anti-Enlightenment subculture” (mainly coming from the Endecja) that was deeply intermingled with political antisemitism in that was an integral part of national discourse. The nationalist Right (and later on different fascist groups and movements from the inter-war period) built its political agenda on the premise of the policy of Polonisation. But in contrast to the fin-de–siècle Hungarian nationalists, Polish nationalism did not look for potential allies. With regard to the Jews, as mentioned before, this scenario (for various reasons) was much more complex. Actually, the Endeks were never missionaries seeking converts. In this context we should analyse the influence of Hitler’s taking a power in Germany on the Polish political scene.73 Drawing direct examples from Nazi Germany, even if they carried much more weight than one ever supposes, was in the long perspective less probable. In this respect, the revisionist Germany

160  Grzegorz Krzywiec

(whether Weimar or Nazi) remained in interwar Poland one of the two mortal enemies.74 Moreover, anti-German stereotypes and moods always had a strong basis in the rise of Polish nationalism. In this regard the basic traits of National Democracy’s political legacy were bitterly anti-German.75 Therefore, in the Polish case, on the one hand radical antisemitic visions somehow contradicted patriotic sentiments; on the other, they actually flourished under great influences from the western neighbour. “Catholicization” of the Polish rightist subculture is in this context a matter of debate, though it is true that nearly all nationalist groups displayed characteristic respect for Catholicism in public life, especially after 1926. If for Dmowski this commitment to religion was a kind of political gesture both to the Church and to religiously engaged youth, for the ideologists of the young nationalists this was certainly a part of a general revitalisation project that would lead not only to the creation of a newly united society, but to Polish primacy in European civilisation. For nearly all groups the main goal was a creation of the “Catholic State of the Polish Nation,” but in practice the more visible aim still remained getting rid of the Jews.76 The “national revolution” (which meant Jew-hatred treated not only as a chief instrument for public persuasion but also a sort of world-view) was a common denominator in all these movements. In fact, racial determinism in the strict sense was present on the Polish nationalist Right in rather narrow circles. As to be expected, Catholicism influenced a lot of the propaganda techniques of the nationalist camp. Much more popular amongst the nationalists was the “spiritual racism” which allows the mixture of traditional anti-Judaic sentiments with modern racial rhetoric and was in fact more toxic to political thinking and to popular mentality. In interwar Poland in contrast to Nazi Germany (and to Mussolini’s Italy, as well as to Romania and Hungary to some extent in the late 1930s) the nationalist Right after 1935 remained more heterogeneous in nature and in institutional shape. This means, for example, that no single political leader reached a dominant position to prevail over the whole rightist, or even only nationalist scene. The most dynamic personality of the ONR-Falanga, Bolesław Piasecki, the only party leader who seems to have appreciated this possibility, remained only a kind of spokesman for the student nationalist movement. The radical nationalist youth had gained tremendous influence in its own generation but failed to win direct political power in the state, at least to the full. All in all, fascism as a political and socio-cultural movement did not score tremendous political results, but it did in fact overshadow the political life of Poland as a whole. In this regard, it has been assumed here that the new fascist subculture of anti-Jewish terror, which was imported into almost every part of the Polish countryside (with some significant exceptions) doubtlessly had far-reaching consequences during WWII and immediately afterwards. As Brian Porter rather optimistically claimed, “antisemites were unable to exert much influence over government policy under the Sanacja regime, but they were able to maintain a steady pattern of harassment, discrimination, and occasionally violence.” 77

The Polish right turns fascist   161

As a matter of fact, in the Polish province, in regions such as Mazovia, the Kielce district or in the Lublin voivodship, this new rightist activism demolished almost completely the “ambivalent symbiosis” among ethnic and religious groups and led them at the eve of WWII to extremely polarised, chaotic and antagonistic positions. The paramiliarisation of the Polish Right, which began in the late 1920s and the nationalist revolt behind it, transformed the entirety of Poland’s public scene from the mid-1930s on.78 In this regard, the Polish “young nationalism” version bore striking similarities to European fascist movements and right-wing political modernism such as the utopia of the organic ethno-nation, total reorganisation of institutions governing societies, the deep conviction of the degeneration of the current world, the cult of the uniform and military discipline and organisation. In the interwar Poland, similarly to the Romanian case, different strands of native rightist radicalism integrated not only powerful traditions of local antisemitism and Judeophobia, but mixed them with the dominant religion as a core of a regenerative project. Practically speaking, it all focused on eliminatory practices against the Jews and, on a smaller scale, against the other ethnic minorities. Admittedly, fascist movements reacted differently to antisemitism. In most of the western cases, the movements proceeded to an aggressive form of antisemitism in the late 1930s with the successes of German National Socialism and the spectacular dynamism of Hitler’s regime. The “Polish nationalists,” just as much their Romanian fellows, pioneered their delusional vision of elimination of the “Jews” even earlier than any other fellow regional movement drawing the prospect of mass expulsion of all Jews from the country or even “Europe without the Jews” as a natural component of their broad vision of triumphant Polishness. Although in declarations they were eager to sympathise rather with the Italian fascists (or with the Romanian Iron Guard later on) than with the “pagan” Nazis, it was evident to everyone that everyday racial antisemitism was a fundamental part of the promised “national revolution”. Finally, central for the ideology and praxis of this fascist subculture was the issue of political violence or even the cultivation of the utopia of terror. Inseparably connected with violence was not only the paramilitary organisation of the “young,” but the model for society and the everyday way of life that they promoted. On the eve of WWII a significant part of Polish society, mainly of rightist roots, was infected with virulent antisemitism based on economic, and in part on ethnic grounds. Clerical nationalism, though highly diversified among various groups and circles, greatly contributed to that dominant political climate. Moreover, the Second Republic as a multinational society with red-hot ethnic tensions seemed to be an ideal setting for racial experiments, as did happened later – even if they were not conducted by Poles themselves.79 On the other hand, there is no doubt that in certain areas of mixed population, where ethnic and religious conflicts embittered existing social and economic tensions, the nationalist Right found considerable scope for its activity and left a toxic and even mortal legacy.

162  Grzegorz Krzywiec

Notes 1 For a thought-provoking interpretation of this political climate see Jochen Bőhler, Civil War in Central Europe, 1918–1921. The Reconstruction of Poland (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018). 2 For a comprehensive overview see Szymon Rudnicki, “Right-wing Radicalism in Contemporary Poland,” in Jerzy Wojciech Borejsza and Klaus Zimmer (eds.), Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes in Europe. Legacies and Lessons from the Twentieth Century (New York: Berghahn Books, 2005), p. 355. 3 Paul Brykczyński, Prime for Violence; Murder, Antisemitism, and Democratic Politics in Interwar Poland (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2016). 4 On the radicalisation of the Polish Right of the late 1920s, see Ewa Maj, “Roman Dmowski i Związek Ludowo-Narodowy (1919–1928),” Kwartalnik Historyczny, vol. C/2 (1993), pp. 37–54. 5 See my article: Roman Dmowski and Polish Nationalism until 1939 in Bartłomiej Błesznowski, Marcin Król and Adam Puchejda (eds.), Genealogy of Contemporaneity. A History of Ideas in Poland, 1815–1939, Introduction by Timothy Snyder (WarsawVienna: Institute for Human Sciences and Warsaw University Press, 2015), pp. 195–204. 6 Janina Żółtowska, Dziennik. Fragmenty wielkopolskie, edited by Barbara Wysocka (Poznań: Wydawnictwo WBPiCAP, 2003), p. 103. In general see also Maj, “Roman Dmowski i Związek Ludowo-Narodowy (1919–1928).” 7 “Młodzież Wszechpolska” (I Ogólny Zjazd w Warszawie), Gazeta Warszawska, no. 85 (27 March 1922), p. 1. 8 See my article, “The Crusade for a Numerus Clausus 1922/1923. Preliminaries of Polish Fascism in the Central and Eastern European Context,” in Regina Fritz, Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe and Jana Starek (eds.), Alma mater antisemitica. Akademisches Milieu, Juden und Antisemitismus an den Universitäten Europas zwischen 1918 und 1939 (Wien: New Academic Press, 2016), pp. 67–82. 9 See Szymon Rudnicki, “Anti-Jewish Legislation in Interwar Poland,” in Robert E. Blobaum (ed.), Antisemitism and Its Opponents in Modern Poland (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005), pp. 153–154; Rudnicki, “The Jews’ Battle in the Sejm for Equal Rights,” in Sławomir Kapralski (ed.), The Jews in Poland, vol. 2 (Cracow: Jagiellonian University, 1999), pp. 147–162; Dietrich Beyrau, “Anti-Semitism and Jews in Poland, 1918–1939,” in Herbert S. Strauss (ed.), Hostages of Modernisation. Studies of Modern Antisemitism 1870–1933/1939. Austria-Hungary-Poland-Russia (Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyer, 1993), pp. 1076–1077. 10 For psycho-social picture of those days in Poland see Brian Porter-Szücs, Poland in the Modern World, Beyond Martyrdom (Chichester: Wiley Blackwell, 2014), pp. 91–95. 11 Paul Brykczyński, “A Poland for the Poles? Józef Piłsudski and the Ambiguities of Polish Nationalism,” Pravo: The North American Journal for Central European Studies, vol. 1, no. 1 (2007), pp. 2–21. 12 Norman Davis, “Polish-Jewish Relations: Historic Background,” in Strauss (ed.), Hostages of Modernisation, p. 993. 13 See Borejsza, “East European Perceptions of Italian Fascism,” in Stein Ugelvik Larsen et others ((eds.), Who Were the Fascists. Social Roots of European Fascism (Bergen-OsloTromsǿ: Universitetsforlaget, 1980), pp. 354–366. For more general synthesis of these years see Henryk Wereszycki, “Fascism in Poland,” in Peter F. Sugar (ed.), Native fascism in the Successor States (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio, 1971), pp. 85–86. 14 For a synthesis see Anthony Polonsky, “Roman Dmowski and Italian Fascism,” in Roger J. Bullen, Hartmut Pogge von Strandmann and Anthony Polonsky (eds.), Ideas into Politics: Aspects of European History, 1880 to 1950 (Totowa and New York: Crom Helm, 1984), pp. 132–133. See as well Andreas Kossert, “Founding Father of Modern Poland and Nationalistic Anti-Semite: Roman Dmowski,” in Rebecca Haynes and Martyn C. Rady (eds.), In the Shadow of Hitler: Personalities of the Right in Central and Eastern Europe (London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2011), pp. 90–92.

The Polish right turns fascist  163


164  Grzegorz Krzywiec

The Polish right turns fascist  165

52 See Rudnicki. Falanga. 53 Polonsky, Roman Dmowski and Italian Fascism. 54 Rudnicki, Obóz Narodowo-Radykalny, p. 150; Adam Tyszkiewicz, Obóz Wielkiej Polski w Małopolsce 1926–1933 (Kraków: Księgarnia Jagiellońska, 2004), pp. 241–249; Rafał Dobrowolski, Akademicka młodzież obozu narodowego w Lublinie w latach 1919–1939 (Lublin: Wydawnictwo Adam Marszałek, 2012), pp. 200–206; Krzysztof Osiński, Narodowa Demokracja wobec rządów sanacji na terenie województwa pomorskiego w latach 1926–1939 (Toruń: Wydawnictwo Naukowe Grado, 2008), pp. 200–216; Mariusz Bechta, Narodowo radykalni. Obrona tradycji i ofensywa narodowa na Podlasiu w latach 1918–1939 (Biała Podlaska: Rekonkwista, 2004), pp. 190 on. 55 For an innovative interpretation of political violence as a “communication tool” see Kamil Kijek, “Zanim stał się Przytyk. Ruch narodowy a geneza zajść antyżydowskich w województwie kieleckim w latach 1931–1935,” Zagłada Żydów. Studia i Materia ły, vol. 14 (2018), pp. 45–79. 56 On political and institutional position of the starost see Janusz Mierzwa, Starostowie Polski Międzywojennej. Portret zbiorowy (Kraków: Historia Iagiellonica 2012), pp. 413–466. 57 Urszula Jakubowska, Oblicze ideowe-polityczne “Gazety Warszawskiej” i “Warszawskiego Dziennika Narodowego,” p. 63. 58 Kijek, “Zanim stał się Przytyk.” 59 See an analysis of boycott slogans in the case of Łódź Michał Trębacz, “Stosunki polsko-żydowskie w województwie łódzkim (1938–1939),” in Adam Sitarek et others (eds.), Zagłada Żydów na polskiej prowincji (Łodz ̨ ­Narodowej—Komisja ́ ́ : Instytut Pamieci Scigania Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu, Oddział w Łodzi : Wydawnictwo ́ Uniwersytetu Łodzkiego, 2012), pp. 38–47. ́ 60 Both British and American diplomacy recognised the remembrance of Polish– Bolshevik War as a period of increased antisemitic agitation and aftermath spilling violence against the Jews; see e.g. Przemysław Różański, Amerykańscy Żydzi i amerykańska dyplomacja wobec sprawy żydowskiej w Polsce: 1922–1939 (Gdańsk: Wydawnictwo Uniwerstetu Gdańskiego, 2013), p. 235. 61 Researchers agreed on between 100 and 200 mass violence riots against Jews: Alina Cała, Żyd- wróg wieczny? Antysemityzm w Polsce I jego źródła (Warszawa: Nisza, 2012), p. 369; Jolanta Żyndul, Zajścia antyżydowskie w Polsce, p. 42; Wojciech Śleszyński, Zajścia antyżydowskie w Brześciu nad Bugiem 13 Maja 1937 (Białystok: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu w Białymstoku, 2004), p. 2007. 62 On the late shift in the Jewish question see Edward D. Jr. Wynot, “‘Necessary Cruelty’: The Emergence of Official Anti-Semitism in Poland, 1936–1939,” American Historical Review, vol. 76, no. 4 (October 1971), in particular, pp. 1035–1058. See as well Monty Noam Penkover, The Swastika’s Darkening Shadow. Voices Before the Holocaust (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), pp. 47 and on. 63 See Zbigniew Zaporowski, “Miasteczko i sztetl. Polacy i Żydzi w województwie lubelskim w przededniu II wojny światowej,” in Adam Sitarek, Michał Trębacz, Ewa Wiatr (eds.), Zagłada Żydów na polskiej prowincji (Łódź: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego, 2012), pp. 25–26. 64 For an overview of Sanacja towards the Jewish question see my “Some projects of Anti-Jewish Discriminatory Law in Interwar Poland. Context and Circumstances,” in Martina Fiamová (ed.), Anti-Semitic Legislation in Slovakia and in Europe. Collection of papers from International Scientific Conference Bratislava, September 8–9, 2011 (Bratislava, Nation’s Memory Institute, 2011), pp. 134–138. 65 See Jan Grabowski, Hunt for the Jews: Betrayal and Murder in German-Occupied Poland (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013), pp. 17–21. 66 See Mikołaj Kunicki, Between the Brown and the Red, pp. 40–46; Wynot, Polish Politics in Transition, pp. 153–154. 67 On general remarks see António Costa Pinto, “Introduction and the Other ‘-isms’,” in Costa Pinto (ed.), Rethinking the Nature of Fascism. Comparative Perspective (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), pp. 1–9.

166  Grzegorz Krzywiec

7 FAITH, FAMILY AND FATHERLAND Conservatism and right radicalism in interwar Hungary Béla Bodó

The evolution of Hungarian conservatism before 1914 Political developments in Hungary followed larger European patterns before 1914; among the most developed countries, it was first France and then, after 1871, Germany that exercised the greatest influence on the political parties and pressure groups in Hungary. Like in Poland, the middling nobility, or gentry, in Hungary had become attracted to the Enlightenment and later adopted liberalism to fight absolutist rule. What had been first the ideology of a special interest group, the gentry, by the 1830s had turned into a program for national rebirth and economic and social modernisation. Liberalism lent early Hungarian nationalism a progressive quality and became, in image of the freedom-loving Hungarian nobleman, an enduring feature of national identity.1 Because of the early identification of national aspiration with liberal principles, Hungarian conservatives had problems making their case heard. That the first conservatives had come from the ranks of the pro-Habsburg Catholic aristocracy in the northern and western parts of the country, while the liberal gentry were often Protestants from the eastern half of the land, lent the debate between liberals and conservatives a social, geographical, and religious dimension; it greatly aided the efforts of liberal and gentry journalists to portray conservatism as an alien ideology and its advocates, pro-Habsburg aristocrats, as the stooges of a foreign power. Married to the explosive force of modern nationalism, yet also inspired by the tradition of noble resistance of royal absolutism, Hungarian liberalism left little space for other political movements to emerge before 1848. The defeat of Hungarian liberalism during the civil war of 1848/1849, followed by the reintroduction of absolutism in the 1850s, did not discredit liberalism; if anything, military defeat at the hands of the absolutist powers reinforced the faith of Hungarian political elites in the righteousness of their cause and the supremacy of liberal ideas.

168  Béla Bodó

Admittedly, after the emigration of radicals, like Lajos Kossuth, liberalism took on more moderate, and even increasingly conservative, characteristics. Liberalism’s shift to the centre and the right only continued after the Compromise with Austria in 1867. With greater independence from Austria and with regained control over the state, the predominantly noble Hungarian civil-service class turned liberalism into the official ideology of a rapidly expanding and centralising state.2 While in the majority of Western European states centralisation was counterbalanced by democratisation marked by the rapid expansion of voting rights to the middle and lower classes, in Hungary, the rise of the labour movement and peasant socialism, combined with the growing threat of ethnic separatism, kept the political system frozen in the old liberal mould. Progressives, like the poet Endre Ady and many foreigners, perceived the social and political system as increasingly anachronistic and its main representative, the conservative liberal Prime Minister István Tisza, as the enemy of mankind.3 While state liberalism increasingly took on conservative, indeed retrograde, features, the 1890s witnessed the birth of Hungary’s first neoconservative parties and movements. The National Antisemitic Party of Győző Istóczy had its roots in the same noble culture that had given birth to Hungarian liberalism. The antisemites were, with a few exceptions, disillusioned liberals; Istóczy himself had been a member of the Liberal Party. Founded in the aftermath of the infamous Tiszaeszlár Blood Libel Trial of 1882, the National Antisemitic Party advocated increased state involvement in the economy to save the noble estates from bankruptcy, and cleanse Hungarian culture and society of “alien” influences.4 Like Adolf Stoecker, the founder of the German Christian Social Party, Istóczy identified capitalism with Jews, and attributed the social decline of his class to their machination and greed. The antisemites were xenophobes: they wanted to close the borders to Jewish immigrants and reverse emancipation by barring Jews from entering certain professions. Istóczy was also among the first statesmen in Europe to raise the issue of mass emigration of Jews to Palestine as a possible solution. His proposals were too radical for the liberal political elite, who had not lost their faith in the possibility and the beneficial effects of Jewish assimilation. Like its German counterparts, the National Antisemitic Party remained a marginal phenomenon, and it soon disappeared from the political scene altogether. However, many of Istóczy’s ideas, such as the restriction of Jewish immigration, the removal of Jews to Palestine, the reversal of Jewish emancipation, and the state protection of “Hungarian” land, found their way into the political agenda of the conservatives and the radical Rights in the interwar period.5 Besides antisemites, the Christian Social Catholic People’s Party (Katolikus Néppárt, or KNP) and the Hungarian Agrarian League (Magyar Gazdaszövetség or MGSZ) adopted neoconservatism as its ideology before the war. Founded in the mid-1890s, KNP and MGSZ propagated broadly conservative values and aspirations, such as support for the traditional family, defence of religion and religious institutions, deference to social superiors, and obedience to the state.

Conservatism and radical right in Hungary  169

Both groups rejected liberalism, bourgeois radicalism, agrarian socialism, and Marxist social democracy. Their social basis was also similar: both organisations sough to attract the support of lower-middle-class groups such as farmers, artisans, and shopkeepers; yet aristocrats and wealthy farmers played a major role in the leadership of both groups. The MGSZ regarded itself as the representative of all farmers regardless of their wealth. To defend the material interests of its members, the MGSZ founded consumers’ and producers’ cooperatives and credit unions to reduce the exploitation of farmers by the (mainly Jewish) middle men and money lenders; supported land-reclamation plans, and pushed for tariffs on agricultural goods to shield farmers and artisans from foreign competitors. The MGSZ sought to put an end to Jewish immigration, too; at the same time, it called for the end to the overseas emigration of Hungarian farmers and agricultural labourers. The KNP fashioned very similar social programs; in addition, in the name of solidarity, it sought to improve the lives of urban workers by demanding higher wages and expansion of the social safety net. The Christian Socials were opposed to the full separation of church and state; they were against Jewish emancipation, religious equality, and state support for Jewish religious institutions; conversion and intermarriage between Jews and Christians. The Christian Socials sought to protect Catholic privileges, especially in the fields of education and culture. To limit the power of the liberal press, which they automatically associated with Jews, the Christian Socials established a network of Catholic newspapers and periodicals before 1914. With the help of the Catholic press, schools, and social institutions, the Christian Social journalists, writers, and teachers were able to turn political antisemitism into a potent political force after the First World War.6

The aristocracy and the Catholic elite during the war and the two revolutions The war cast doubt on the validity of liberal beliefs and principles, such as the faith in the basic decency and rationality of man, and seriously damaged liberal institutions at both the national and the global levels.7 Though often overlooked by historians, the military conflict and the social and political upheaval in its aftermath also destroyed conservative institutions, such as the monarchy; undermined the credibility of, and popular support for, religious institutions, such as Catholic Church; and reduced the power of the aristocracy and questioned authority in every form: from army officers and social superiors to teachers, priests, and local civil servants. The military conflict, economic collapse, and political revolutions increased tensions between generations, undermined respect for the elderly, and weakened the institution of patriarchy. Unprecedented misery, the collapse of traditional values, the retreat of the state, and a marked decline in the censoring power of the village community led to the poisoning of more than fifty people (mainly bed-ridden elderly, disabled war veterans, and elderly patriarchs unwilling to give up control over their farms) by their wives and daughters, under the

170  Béla Bodó

leadership of the local midwife in the village of Nagyrév and its neighbouring communities in Hungary between 1917 and 1929.8 The story of conservatism in Hungary after 1918 closely mirrored the fate of the conservative parties and conservative social groups in Germany and Austria and, to a lesser extent, Italy, which had either lost the war, or counted themselves among its losers. Political and antisemitic violence had been on the rise since 1916.9 By summer of 1918, the labour strikes were no longer about increased wages and shorter working days: incited by left-wing social democrat and anarchist agitators, many of whom had recently returned from Soviet captivity, radicalised workers began to call for regime change. Founded on Soviet models, the workers’ councils took control of factories, replacing liberal owners and managers, and organising production. In the summer and fall of 1918, the country witnessed a veritable “peasant revolution” in the form of jacqueries which took aristocrats, bourgeois landowners, priests, teachers, and Jewish shop and tavern keepers as their targets.10 In mid-February 1919, the parliament passed a major land reform legislation, which, had it been put into practice, would have destroyed the large estates and, with it, the social foundations of conservative power. Even more drastic land reforms, at the expense of Hungarian aristocrats and Hungarian religious social organisations, were planned, and in the next three years carried out, in the neighbouring states. Between 1918 and 1922, hundreds of aristocrats, priests, and civil servants fled their communities and sought refuge in the country’s interior. Their wealthy greatly reduced aristocrats who stayed behind never recovered their commanding position. Back in Hungary, the Soviet Republic, which came to power on 21 March 1919, proved to be even more hostile to aristocrats than the governments of the neighbouring states. Traumatised by the Red Terror, the nationalisation of their estates, castles, and apartments, the confiscation of their large savings and luxury goods, dozens of young aristocrats entered the terror troops of the counterrevolution, the elite officers’ detachments, in the summer and fall of 1919. Their parents invited the same units to restore order and punish estate servants. Aristocrats were overrepresented in the leadership of many mystical, strongly nationalist, and antisemitic organisations, such as Alliance of Etelköz (Etelközi Szövetség). Only in early 1920 had the majority of aristocrats begun to distance themselves from the militias and radical nationalist associations.11 While some continued to support radical nationalist causes (a handful of déclassé aristocrats even joined the national socialist parties in the 1930s), the majority of aristocrats either withdrew from political life altogether, or continued to back conservative political groups and associations until 1944.12 Besides the members of the old social elite, it was the Catholic elite that had traditionally been counted among the supporters of neoconservative parties and associations. The clergy suffered tremendously during the final months of the old regime and the two revolutions. In September 1918, on the eve of the democratic October Revolution, the best-known Christian Social in Hungary, Ottokár Prohászka, published his infamous essay entitled Culture and Terror (Kultura

Conservatism and radical right in Hungary   171

és Terror). In his text, which was meant to serve as a clarion call for all conservatives, the Bishop of Székesfehérvár denounced social democrats as conspirators bent, in his opinion, on destroying piety and religious institutions; undermining solidarity between individuals and social groups; obliterating decency and civility, and destroying Western civilisation by demolishing its very foundation, the traditional family. Prohászka decried social democracy as the main source of “terror and hate” in modern society, as an organisation of ethnic and cultural outsiders (i.e. the Jew) determined to grab power to enslave and exploit decent Hungarians.13 The clergy were convinced that the new democratic government favoured Protestants and Jews over Catholics, combated Catholic influence in the fields of culture and education, and generally promoted secularisation. As the largest landowner in the country, the Catholic Church also worried about the promised distribution of the large estates among poor farmers. The distrust of radical democracy turned into paranoia after the takeover of power by Communists and left-wing social democrats on March 21, 1919. The secularisation of schools and the confiscation of Church property during the Soviet Republic and the Red Terror (the pillaging of churches and monasteries by Red troops; the silencing of the Christian Social press, and the prosecution and the arrest and physical abuse of hundreds of priests, ex-nuns, and monks) traumatised the Catholic clergy and millions of their followers. Like the aristocrats, the priests and monks quickly turned into the vanguard of the counterrevolution; the members of the proscribed Jesuit and Franciscan orders, in particular, played an important role in the counterrevolutionary uprisings in the spring and summer of 1919. The alliance between the Church and the counterrevolution continued after the collapse of the Soviet Republic in early August 1919.14 Bishop Prohászka sat on the board of the pro-fascist and violently antisemitic organisation, the Alliance of Awakening Hungarians (Ébredő Magyarok Egyesülete), during the counterrevolution; in the same capacity, he sponsored the numerus clausus legislation of September 1920, the law which seriously reduced the share of Jews in the student body in the interwar period.15 Admittedly, Prohászka and István Zadravecz represented only a small (yet also powerful and vocal) minority in the more conservatively inclined Catholic elite. Some of its members were opposed to Horthy and his troops for the start; others had come around and denounced antisemitic violence only at the end of 1919. The Church elite moved back to the political centre and the conservative camp. Yet, it continued to tolerate the radicalism of Prohászka, Zadravecz, and other luminaries of the Christian Social Right until 1924. The Catholic hierarchy failed to silence, not to mention expel, the radicals from their ranks; neither did they take an unequivocal stand against discrimination of Jews in the professions or demand the withdrawal of the antisemitic legislations Although the Catholic elite were never able to forget, and forgive, Horthy’s behaviour during the two failed royalist coups, they gradually accepted the status quo and found their place in the counterrevolutionary regime. The relationship between the Catholic Church and the conservative authoritarian regime improved drastically

172  Béla Bodó

after 1924. While the lower clergy proved to be susceptible, once again, to radical (namely Populist) rhetoric after 1930, the Church elite remained in the conservative camp and continued to support the conservative authoritarian regime until the very end. Before 1914, the heavily Jewish financial and manufacturing elite were counted among the strongest backers of the conservative liberal regime and the ruling Liberal Party. The lost war and the two revolutions pushed these social groups further to the Right, however. The owners of the largest militaryindustrial complexes profited handsomely from the long war; at the same time, increased labour militancy and the gradual breakdown of law and order made them more dependent on the state and paranoid about the leftist threat. The takeover of factories by workers’ councils during the democratic interlude, and the nationalisation of the enterprises, the confiscation of luxury goods, the hostage taking by the Red militias, and other chicaneries during the radical leftist experiment sealed the alliance between the heavily Jewish entrepreneurial and financial elite and the counterrevolution. Jewish reserve officers were overrepresented in the first right-wing paramilitary groups formed in Szeged in the spring of 1919; only during the summer did the elite officers’ detachments get rid of their Jewish members. Jewish bankers and merchants provided badly needed financial support to the first counterrevolutionary government and to Admiral Miklós Horthy’s National Army. That the units of the same army were responsible for the majority of pogroms and other types of atrocities against Jews proved to be a disturbing factor; yet it did not lead to a break between the banking and manufacturing elites and the slowly consolidating counterrevolutionary regime.16 The capitalist elite remained one of the most important supporters of the Horthy regime. They built excellent ties to Horthy’s conservative advisors, such as Count István Bethlen, whom they credited with the restoration of law and order. Many of the wealthiest factory owners and bankers joined Prime Minister István Bethlen’s Unity Party after 1922; other sat in the conservative upper chamber of the parliament after its creation in 1926. A small group of Jewish capitalists – which included Jenő Vida, Ferenc Chorin Jr., and Miksa Fenyő – remained Horthy’s closest friends and continued to advise the Regent on domestic and foreign policy until 1944.17

The rise of the radical Right Both the conservatives and the radical nationalists recognised their debt to neoconservative intellectuals and organisations. The majority of the Christian social parties in the interwar period, including the ones that dominated municipal politics in Budapest after August 1919, traced their origins to the People’s Party. Many neoconservatives, such as Bishop Ottokár Prohászka and the Jesuit priest and cultural organiser Béla Bangha, joined or sympathised with pro-fascist associations, such as the ÉME, during the counterrevolution. The neoconservatives were already prone to demonise their enemies by painting them as the enemies

Conservatism and radical right in Hungary  173

of mankind and the harbingers of doom. The radical nationalists’ belief in a worldwide Judeo-Bolshevik conspiracy could be traced back to the neoconservatives’ obsession with free masons and Jews, who, they thought, were pulling all the strings behind the screen.18 Both the neoconservatives and the right-wing radicals cultivated an elitist form of individualism based on the cult of martyrs, heroes, and geniuses. The neoconservatives supported the expansion of state power to control the borders, save the noble estates from bankruptcy, and shield poor peasants from exploitation. The radical nationalists’ social policy in the 1920s and the 1930s, on the other hand, served to aid mainly the middle classes; however, they also added farmers, women, children, and others, to their list of racially and vital groups. Both groups defended tradition and sought to safeguard traditional institutions; at the same time, both wanted to be seen and celebrated as modern, progressive, and even fashionable. What distinguished the radical nationalists from the neoconservatives were not so much their ideas but their fanaticism and readiness to use violence to realise their visions. Neoconservative stereotypes still resembled caricatures: they served to make fun of their enemies and entertain their viewers: to incite violence was not yet their main function. Unlike the majority of neoconservatives, radical nationalists were prone to accept caricature for reality and act on their prejudices. The most important texts of the period, such as Dezső Szabó’s novel The Swept Away Village (Az Elsodort Falu) and Cécile Tormay’s An Outlaw’s Diary (Bujdosó Könyv), were infused with paranoia and hate. Besides scandal novels, newspaper articles and billboards were the best suited to convey the radical nationalist message. In no other political movement, with the possible exception of the Communist party, did journalists and writers play, as organisers and propagandists, such as important role as in the radical nationalist parties and pressure groups. Whereas the leadership of neoconservative organisations had been in the hands of the social elite, the new radical national parties and patriotic associations in the early 1920s were dominated by the middle classes: their leaders were journalists, military officers, civil servants, lawyers, doctors and dentists, and less frequently wealthy peasants; in the cities, particularly among the leaders and rank-and-file of the Christian Socialist groups, ethnic Germans were overrepresented. The Race Defenders, as the largest of the radical-right group was called after 1923, attracted a disproportionate number of military and police officers, university students, civil servants (especially provincial administrators); railway workers, the members of non-socialist trade unions, non-Jewish shopkeepers, artisans, and peasants also occasionally voted for, or otherwise supported, radical-right organisations. Yet, the radical nationalists, as the neoconservatives before them, remained only moderately popular among industrial workers and poor peasants in the interwar period.19 The main difference between right-wing radicals and neoconservatives had to do with their acceptance of violence as a political tool. Neoconservatives focused their attention on social issues and problems, which they sought to solve through reforms and legislations. The radical nationalists, on the other hand,

174  Béla Bodó

were blinded by the rage over the injustices they suffered as Hungarians after the war. The radical nationalists subordinated social reforms to the resurrection of historical Hungary, and they were prepared to use violence to achieve this goal. “Palingenetic” nationalism of the post-WWI period was infused with trauma, mourning, and pessimism about the future: radical nationalists were tormented by the vision of imminent death.20 Their enemies ranged from the entente powers and the neighbouring states to real or imagined domestic adversaries, such as the social democrats, the free masons, the Communists, and the Jews. The agents of violence – the officers’ detachments, civic militias, and military wings of the patriotic associations – murdered about 3,000 people between 1919 and 1923, and injured tens of thousands more. The majority of these killing took place between August 1919 and November 1920; while the number of extrajudicial murders declined rapidly after 1920, isolated attacks on Jews and terrorist assaults on Jewish and democratic organisations continued at least until 1924.21 Paramilitary and mob violence, organised mainly by radical nationalist officers and proto-fascist organisations, such as the ÉME, violated established interests and injured elite sensibilities. Authoritarian conservatives in Admiral Miklós Horthy’s entourage, such as István Bethlen and Pál Teleki, were angered by the rowdy behaviour of the militias and the frequent refusal of their leaders to follow orders. The conservatives were shocked by the radical nationalists’ rejection of Hungary’s long parliamentary tradition and disturbed by their call to introduce military dictatorship. To add insult to injury, the leading luminaries of the radical Right, such as Dezső Szabó and Endre Zsilinszky, did not hide their contempt for the pre-war liberal world and the old political and social elite, who, in their opinion, bore at least partial responsibility for the lost war, the two failed revolutions, and the foreign occupation. As the self-appointed representatives of the war generation, the radical nationalists demanded a clear break with the past and advocated a change of the guard to lead the national renewal. The right-wing radicals regarded Jews as a separate ethnic group and, indeed, a race; in contrast to the authoritarian conservatives, the radical nationalists did not consider Jewish assimilation into Hungarian culture and ethnic group possible, or indeed desirable. Jews, through their leadership in the democratic and Communist regimes, the radical Right argued, betrayed the nation, and thus forfeited the right to be treated as equals. The radical nationalist rejected the drastic reforms as proposed, among others, by the Smallholders’ Party, the social democrats or Communists. However, they were prepared to contemplate moderate social reforms, mainly at the expense of Jewish landowners, merchants, and manufacturers. The conservatives viewed the reformist policies of the radical Right with a mixture of amusement, fear, and contempt: they were certainly less afraid of the radical nationalists than they were the Smallholders’ party or even the social democrats. Their task was to reign in and at the same time use the bourgeois rebels to achieve their own goals: the consolidation of the counterrevolutionary regime and the restoration of law and order. In the end, they were able accomplish these tasks with relative ease. The radical Right remained hopelessly divided

Conservatism and radical right in Hungary   175

along ideological (extremists versus moderates), religious (pagans versus Christians, Protestants versus Catholics), political (pro-Habsburg versus pro-Horthy), geographical (urban versus rural), ethnic (Hungarians versus Germans), and social (civilians versus military and upper middle-class versus lower middle-class) lines in the early 1920s. Baron Pál Prónay, the commander of the most infamous of all paramilitary groups, looked down on the lawyers, journalists, doctors, dentists, and other middle-class professionals and commoners who elected him into the leadership of the patriotic association, the ÉME, in 1922. Separated into a royalist and into a pro-Horthy group, the militias could not formulate a program or choose a single leader. The counterrevolution in Hungary failed to produce its Mussolini: there emerged no political party and party leader strong and talented enough to subjugate the recalcitrant militias to their will and force them to accept the primacy of party politics over their sectarian interests. The best option, Gyula Gömbös, the leader the MOVE, was an excellent organiser; however, as a young General Staff officer, he lacked the name recognition, the political experience, and the charisma of his Italian counterpart.22 Eager to please, he entered into an unequal alliance with the traditional elite as their chief organiser and propagandist tasked to drum up support for Regent Horthy, and the slowly consolidating counterrevolutionary regime. Only in 1923, after he and his followers had been pushed out of the government party, did the outfoxed Gömbös create his own political party, the Hungarian National Independence Party (Magyar Nemzeti Függetlenségi Párt, or MNFP), also known as the Party of Racial Defence. The MNFP advocated moderate land reforms and increased state intervention in the economy and promised to limit the power of Jews in the economic and cultural realms. The program of the MNFP could hardly be called original: the Race Defenders did not demand anything that had not been promised or could not have been by the conservatives and the government party. Predictably, the MNFP remained a small and predominantly middle-class party and a minor force in Hungarian politics in the mid-1920s.23

Conservatism as a political ideology and practice in the 1920s In spite of the omnipresence, indeed near hegemony, of their ideas, the rightwing radicals could not compete with the authoritarian conservatives in the political realm in the 1920s. Their failure to replace the conservatives and conservatism as the main political force in Hungary had to do, paradoxically, with the two groups’ proximity to each other. The boundaries between conservatism and right-wing radicalism remained porous in the interwar period. The radical Right traced its origins back to the Antisemitic Party of the 1880s and to the militant wings of the Christian Socialist and agrarian conservative movements before 1900. Many authoritarian conservatives, too, had begun their careers in, or sympathised with Christian Socialists or the agrarians before the war; others joined and voted for the ruling Liberal Party, however. Right-wing radicalism was the ideology of bourgeois rebels; the movement got its support from the

176  Béla Bodó

middle- and lower-middle-class groups, such as rural administrators, army officers, and non-Jewish liberal professionals and wealthier peasants. Their activists tended to be young; the majority had started their professional and political careers a few years before, or only after, the war. Refugees were overrepresented in both the leadership and the rank-and-file of the most important patriotic associations, irredentist organisations, and student fraternities. On the other hand, conservatism, like liberalism before 1914, remained the ideology of the establishment in the 1920s and beyond: of high-ranking army officers and civil servants, the members of the Church hierarchy, landholding aristocracy, and the heavily Jewish financial and manufacturing elite. Although the two most important prime ministers in the interwar period, Counts István Bethlen and Pál Teleki, had come from Transylvania, the refugees had a weaker presence among the authoritarian conservatives than among the right-wing radicals. Similarly, while the protestant clergy leaned towards the authoritarian conservative camp, young Protestants felt more at home in the organisations of the radical Right than in the government party in the 1920s and early 1930s. Important as they were, these differences were not unbridgeable, however; the two groups shared too many interest and ideas to regard each other as enemies. This was especially true for the counterrevolutionary period between 1919 and 1921, when the members of the two groups rubbed shoulders in Horthy’s entourage, patriotic associations and in the local and federal administrations. Many individuals and social groups (young aristocrats in the early 1920s, for example) had a foot in both camps. The authoritarian conservatives lionised the same authors and read the same texts (but not necessarily the same newspapers) as the members of the radical Right. Regent Horthy regarded the radical antisemite and early fascist Cécile Tormay as his favourite author and close friend. The nationalist students, on the hand, endorsed the political message promoted in the book of the conservative historian Gyula Szekfű: Three generations: history of a declining age and what came thereafter (Három nemzedék: Egy hanyatló kor története. És ami utánna következik). In his controversial work (first published at the height of the White Terror in 1920), the conservative Catholic historian, who had already made a name for himself for attacking nationalist taboos, portrayed the liberal nineteenth century, particularly the period between 1867 and 1918, as the age of decline and disintegration. The cause of this decline, Szekfű argued, was liberalism and the Jews. Alien to the political tradition of the country, liberalism, and its economic manifestation, capitalism, destroyed the livelihood of the historical middle class, the gentry; it increased the exploitation of peasants and workers, as well. The new system favoured only the recently arrived Jews, who had been, in Szekfű’s opinion, too eager to take advantage of the chance offered by the expansion of the economy and the decline of the historical middle class to enrich themselves and occupy the commanding positions of the economy. Jewish immigrants and their children acted as the agents of modernity; they were behind every major cultural trend and political innovation, irrespective if it was good or bad, and beneficial

Conservatism and radical right in Hungary  177

or harmful before 1914. Liberalism, according to Szekfű, destroyed the moral fibre of the historical middle class and undermined the cohesion and identity of the nation. Jews, who had been the beneficiaries of the capitalist transformation before 1914, exploited the social and political chaos of the post-war period to make their bid for power. Both bourgeois democracy and Communism, Szekfű continued, was the work of unassimilated Jews. Szekfű supported the counterrevolution; however, unlike many of his radical-right colleagues, he did not condone ethnic and religious violence. Even though the political elite showered him with favours, Szekfű remained too much a critical intellectual to suppress his growing disillusionment with the outcome of the counterrevolution. In the 1934 edition of his seminal work, the conservative historian draws a devastating review of these events since 1919. National revival had failed, he argued, mainly because the group which was to make it happen, the Christian middle class, proved to be unable and unwilling to reform. Wasteful to the point of hedonism; poorly educated and intellectually lazy; undemocratic and authoritarian to their core; indifferent to the plight of the poor; haughty towards foreigners; intolerant to the ethnic minorities, and ignorant of international realities, the middle class could not bring about the revival of the country from the deep moral and political case crisis in which it had found itself after the war. Having lost his faith in the middle class as the agent of history, and frightened by the rise of Nazi Germany and the arrival of national socialism in Hungary, Szekfű, like the majority of authoritarian conservatives, looked pessimistically to the future in the second half of the 1930s.24 Szekfű and many (but not all) conservatives shared the right-wing radicals’ disdain for nineteenth-century Hungarian liberalism. Yet, on many other issues, the conservatives’ view diverged from that of radical nationalists. For example, the conservatives saw the state (its evolution and conflict with other states) rather than ethnic group, race or nation (and its fight with other ethnic groups, races, and nations) as the moving force behind history. The conservatives celebrated the kings and the statesmen who had done the most to develop the state, enlarge or defend its territory, and Westernise its population and culture rather than “the freedom fighters” whose only claim to fame was that they had taken a stand against the Habsburgs. Thus, they venerated Saint Stephen, who brought the pagan Magyar tribes into Christian Europe and founded the multi-ethnic Hungarian kingdom in the early eleventh century, above everybody else. Since historical Hungary had treated its ethnic minorities decently, the authoritarian conservatives argued, the resurrection of the work of Saint Stephen would benefit everyone in the Danubian Basin and would serve the cause of peace in Europe. To affect the revival of historical Hungary, the authoritarian conservatives were prepared to give autonomy to the ethnic minorities. Like the right-wing radicals, or indeed the majority of Hungarian population, they seem to have learned little from the past and remained hopelessly ill-informed about the will of other people and the political realities in the Danubian Basin. Both groups failed to realise that the time for a multi-ethnic empire in the Danubian Basin had passed, and

178  Béla Bodó

the ethnic minorities who had once lived in the Kingdom of Saint Stephen had no desire to return to the Hungarian fold.25 The differences between pre-war conservative liberalism and post-war conservatism were not only ideological in nature: they also had to do with political style and content. Contemporaries regarded the iconic figure of late state-liberalism, Prime Minister István Tisza, as a principled yet also rigid man unable and unwilling to change his opinion on many issues (concession to ethnic minorities, for example). Their opinion of Prime Minister István Bethlen, the founder of the Horthy regime and the very embodiment of interwar conservatism, was the exact opposite: his many enemies, on both ends of the political spectrum, painted the “Transylvanian fox” as a man of no principles but only interests; an opportunist and manipulator who used words to hide, rather than express, his thoughts; and man who borrowed, and then dropped, ideas from others and was prepared to employ every means at his disposal to defeat his opponents. His critics recognised what was indeed an important feature of Bethlen’s political style and that of interwar Hungarian conservatism. What they failed to recognise, however, was that ideological eclecticism of interwar conservatism and the opportunism and craftiness of “the Transylvanian fox,” and other conservative politicians, such as Miklós Kállay in the early 1940s, were born out of necessity, and that they reflected political realities rather than inborn characteristics: conservatism’s lack of deep roots in Hungarian political tradition, the conservatives’ dependence on the state and the holders of power, their narrow social base, and their followers fragmentation along ideological, religious, and regional lines. These problems were especially acute in the early 1920s, when the threat to conservative hegemony was still real; the conservatives had not yet fully consolidated their hold on power and the state, and their main instruments, the upper chamber of the parliament and the dominant party of government, either did not exist yet or was in the process of being formed. The conservatives held the reins of power firmly in their hands between 1921 and 1931; although they were officially out of power in the 1930s and early 1940s, the interwar Horthy regime preserved many of its original features until the German occupation of the country in March 1944. The regime, like the conservatives, remained closed to the Left (labour parties and bourgeois radicals); it opposed agrarian democracy, but remained friendly to radical nationalists. The conservative elites, particularly Horthy and his entourage, developed an intense dislike for the national socialists in the 1930s, and did everything possible to keep them out of power. The outlawed Communist Party was reduced to insignificance. Even though the conservatives regarded the social democrats as only slightly better than Communists, Bethlen, as a proof of his political acumen and flexible approach to politics, made a deal with them in the early 1920s. The Bethlen-Peyer Pact of 1921 normalised relations between the regime and the labour movement: the socialist candidates were permitted for run for elections; while regularly censored, socialist publications continued to appear; socialist trade unions and welfare organisations were allowed to serve their clients

Conservatism and radical right in Hungary  179

relatively unmolested. As a goodwill gesture, the government released tens of thousands of socialist functionaries from jails and internment camps the following two years. On the other hand, the socialists were forbidden to organise among poor peasants and agricultural labourers (the largest social groups in the country), civil servants, and railway employees. The pact was a stroke of a genius in Realpolitik. Bethlen weakened and tamed social democracy without destroying it (thus angering the Western powers and permanently alienated an important segment of the population). Reduced to a bureaucratic machine representing special interests, the social democratic party could no longer claim to the be the agent of history and the hope of humanity or even that of the most oppressed groups. Robbed of its revolutionary élan and reputation with many of supporters (particularly with rise of the far more radical national socialist parties in the 1930s), the social democrats continuously lost votes in the interwar period.26 Bethlen used the same stick-and-carrot approach to tame the radical Right, as he had emasculated the labour moment. His predecessor, Pál Teleki, had already outlawed, with two exceptions, the main source of disorder and violence in the country, the paramilitary groups in the fall of 1920. Bethlen completed the process by removing Horthy’s Praetorian Guard, the Prónay and the Ostenburg battalions, from the scene in late 1921, and reigning in the most racial of all patriotic associations, the ÉME. The increasingly unstable paramilitary leader Pál Prónay was permanently pushed aside; the commanders of the royalist militias, such as Gyula Ostenburg and Anton Lehár, were either jailed or sent into exile. The conservatives, however, did not want to alienate the rank-and-file of the violent paramilitary groups, who had already proved their usefulness by cleansing the country of leftist elements during the counterrevolution. The high majority of executioners and organisers were given employment as gendarmes, policemen, and military officers or obtained middle-level positions in the municipal governments and the county administrations. The radical nationalists lacked the social capital and political experience of their conservative rivals and patron, and the confidence, to make a bid for power after 1920. Their leader, Gyula Gömbös, was socially ambitious and corrupt: he and his friends, as Bethlen was quick to realise, could be easily bought off and co-opted to help with the of consolidation and restoration. And, indeed, as propagandists and organisers, Gyula Gömbös and his group played a major role in the electoral victory of the new Unity Party (Egységes Párt) in 1922. Annoyed by their radical demands, the conservatives then pushed Gömbös and his comrades out of the government party soon after the election. The right-wing Radicals then organised their own political party, which did very poorly in the next election. The humbled Gömbös and his closest collaborators returned to the conservative fold and the government party only in 1927. Smarting from his earlier defeat, Gömbös moderated his views and policies, or at least did not seek an open confrontation with his mentor in the next five years. Thanks to his perceived moderation, he progressed quickly in his career (Regent Horthy appointed Gömbös as defence secretary in 1927 and minister of defence in 1929). By 1931, the one-time

180  Béla Bodó

student (and frequent target of ridicule in aristocratic circles) became a credible rival to Bethlen.27 The conservatives considered democracy and the democratic parties a far greater threat to their interests than the right-wing radical militias and patriotic associations. They did everything in their power to reverse the process of democratisation which had transformed the political landscape in Europe after 1918. In the fall of 1919, the counterrevolutionary Friedrich government introduced a generous electoral law, which enfranchised almost the entire adult population. Through the electoral reform of 1922, Bethlen and his colleagues reversed the trend towards universal suffrage. The reform significantly reduced the size of the electorate and brought back the open ballot system, which had been regarded as an anathema in most European countries. With the formation, in 1926, of a second (highly elitist) upper chamber of the parliament, where the high majority of the seats were allotted on the basis of birth, wealth, and achievements, Hungary once again became, under conservative tutelage, one of the most undemocratic countries in Europe. The main challenge to conservatism and conservative interests in the early 1920s came from the agrarian democrats, and their main organisations, the Smallholders’ Party. Bethlen used every means at his disposal, from character assassinations to state investigations into party finances, to destroy the peasants’ party and undermine the credibility of their leader, István Szabó Nagyatádi. With the use of heavy-handed methods known from the playbook of pre-war liberalism, and by promising moderate land reforms, the foxy Bethlen was able to split the agrarian movement into several factions. To complete this process of subversion, in 1922, Bethlen and his conservative and radical-right followers entered the Smallholders’ Party in large numbers. The powerful newcomers quickly turned what used to be a democratic organisation of poor and middling peasants into the party of government wedded to established interests. In the next three years (the last peasants left the party in 1925), the party lost all its progressive features and its connection to peasant culture and interests.28 With his second brilliant strike, Bethlen destroyed agrarian radicalism, deprived the largest social group of political representation and gained a political organisation to realise his ambitious plans. But it was not only the democratic Smallholders’ Party which had fallen victim to the conservatives’ manoeuvring and their drive to restore political hegemony in the context of a multi-party system. One by one, Bethlen’s new Unity Party absorbed the Christian Socialist parties and several of small conservative and liberal organisations, as well. In a gesture of magnanimity, as mentioned earlier, Bethlen even allowed the return of the Race Defenders into the conservative fold in 1927. Thus reinforced, the new government party (which bore a strange resemblance to the old Liberal Party of the pre-war period) won every national election, by receiving between 55% and 70% of the votes, from 1922 until 1939.29 But the conservatives owed their success at the polls in the 1920s not only to their heavy-handed methods, voter suppression, and the manipulation of the

Conservatism and radical right in Hungary  181

party system: through their policies and achievements, they also gained the voters’ respect. Helped by the return of prosperity in Europe, influx of foreign loans, and the liberal policies of the government, the Hungarian economy quickly recovered from the post-war recession; by 1927, its indicators, partially in the realm of industrial production, matched and even surpassed the best years of the Dual Monarchy.30 The conservative authoritarian regime protected property rights, and limited state intervention in the economy. It increased protection of agricultural labourers, introduced anti-trust laws, sought to regulate the stock market, and punish speculators and blackmarketeers. The Bethlen government expanded the social safety net by making social insurance compulsory for physical labourers in the industrial and the service sectors. While certainly conservative, especially if compared to its counterpart in the neighbouring states, the land reform act, slowly put in the practice in the mid-1920s, gave land to more than 1.5 million peasants.31 Under the leadership of Kunó Klebelsberg, the Minister of Education from 1922 to 1931, the government vastly expanded, and improved the quality of, elementary-school education. While broadly liberal in its belief in the value of education, the cultural policy of the conservative government served authoritarian and nationalist ends. The elementary schools provided basic literacy skills; yet their main task was to instil patriotic and religious values, enforce obedience to the state, and inculcate respect for authority figures and one’s social superiors. Since the conservatives had placed their hopes in the middle classes, the Bethlen government invested heavily into high schools and universities, which had remained the reserve of the better off. The goal of the regime’s generous support for education and culture was to hasten national revival, rather than benefit individuals. The conservatives’ second motive was to prove to the Western powers that Hungary and the Hungarians were culturally superior to their neighbours, and therefore they deserve special consideration. Thus, educational and cultural reforms were meant to pave the way to the restoration of historical Hungary and Hungarian political hegemony in the Danubian Basin.32

Conservatism on decline, 1931–1941 Count István Bethlen resigned as prime minister in 1931; with the appointment of Gyula Gömbös in the same post in 1932, the era of Bethlen also came to an end. Between 1922 and the mid-1930s, conservatives (the alliance between the Bethlen and the Teleki groups, the liberal conservatives, the Christian Socialists, and the royalists) dominated the government party at the expense of Gömbös’ Race Defenders. The government party which had won three elections also controlled the state apparatus and thus was able to set domestic and foreign policy. However, even after his resignation, Bethlen, as party chairman, who commanded the loyalty of the majority of parliamentarians and one of Regent Horthy’s most trusted advisors, remained a formidable presence. A great tactician, Bethlen was convinced that he could control the radical nationalists by continuing to offer them lucrative positions in the state bureaucracy and other perks.

182  Béla Bodó

However, Gömbös, who had been outfoxed and humiliated by Bethlen in the 1920s, had learned from his mistake: in 1932, it was he who had outmanoeuvred the “Transylvanian fox.” Soon after his appointment as prime minister, Gömbös changed the name of the government party from the Party of Unity to the Party of National Unity (Nemzeti Egység Pártja, or NEP). The change symbolised a drastic shift in Hungarian political life to the Right. In the next two years, Gömbös transformed, on the model of the German NSDAP and the Italian Fascist Party, the NEP into a mass and increasingly totalitarian party. The role of the government was no longer confined to winning elections; like the Nazi Party, it was also supposed to control every aspect of life. Reorganised on a regional basis, its membership vastly expanded, and local cells and social organisations multiplied, the NEP was ready to take on these challenges. Gömbös subjected party members to rigid discipline; they were ordered to wear uniforms, display party insignias, and regularly participate in marches and political demonstrations. The reorganisation of the NEP went hand-in-hand with the purges of the leadership of the members of the older generations, mainly of the Bethlen conservatives, and their replacement with the younger Race Defenders, the so-called Gömbös’ chicks (Gömbös fiókák). By 1935, the NEP had ceased to be Bethlen’s party. No longer a conservative organisation, the new government party displayed all the characteristics of the right-wing radical nationalist parties of the interwar period: rigidity and the mediocrity and servility of its members. Admitting defeat, Bethlen and his closest associates left the party in 1935 and from then on sat as independents in the parliament. Although conservatives had not completely disappeared from the government party, after 1935 they represented only a dwindling minority. The rapid Nazification of the NEP frightened Regent Horthy, conservative aristocrats, the heavily Jewish manufacturing and banking elite and the upper echelon of the Catholic clergy. They had enough of social and political experimentation, the promises of serious social reforms, and Gömbös’ plan to establish a dictatorship and create a one-party state. Had he not died in early October 1936, Gömbös would have been forced by Regent Horthy to resign.33 Gömbös’ departure notwithstanding, the shift of the government party to the Right continued in the late 1930s. With the conservatives’ approval, Prime Minister Béla Imrédy renamed the NEP to the Party of Hungarian Life (Magyar Élet Pártja or MÉP) in early February 1939. The move was supported by the Teleki conservatives, who wanted to slow down the momentum of Imrédy’s Hungarian Life Movement (Magyar Élet Mozgalom) by merging it with the NEP. Instead of reuniting the political elite, the fusion created only more divisions, however. Because many of the conservatives, and even some of the more moderate followers of Gömbös, were not readmitted into the party, they were forced to create their own organisations: the conservatives then founded the Christian National Independence Party (Keresztény Nemzeti Függetlenségi Párt), while moderate Race Defenders established the National Reform Party (Nemzeti Reformpárt). The militarisation and creeping Nazification of the government party (with the introduction of military ranks and the admission of famous right-wing radicals

Conservatism and radical right in Hungary  183

and national socialists, such as István Milotay and András Csilléry) switched into a higher gear under the premiership of the conservative Pál Teleki between 1939 and 1941.34 The MÉP won the national election with a comfortable margin in the spring of 1939, securing more than two-thirds of the seats in the new parliament. The victory of the MÉP at the polls prevented the national socialist coalition, led by the Arrow Cross, from grabbing power legally. Yet the election also significantly weakened the more moderate elements in the government party. After 1939, the Bethlen conservatives almost completely disappeared from the MÉP; each of the Teleki conservatives and Gömbös’ followers had about one-quarter of the seats each allotted to the MÉP; more than half of parliamentary representatives of the MÉP came from the radical Imrédy wing.35 Even though Teleki was able to edge Imrédy and his followers out of the MÉP and forced them to establish their own organisation (called the Hungarian Party of Renewal – Magyar Megújulás Párt), the composition of the parliament remained more or less the same. Between Hungary’s official entry into the Second World War in the second half of 1941 and the German occupation of the country in March 1944, the high majority of seats in the Hungarian parliament was occupied by right-wing radicals and national socialists who wanted to turn Hungary into a dictatorship, supported the war on the side of Nazi Germany, and pushed for the deportation of Jews.36 The purging of the government party of conservatives was a symptom of the larger transformation of political life in Hungary. The centres of conservatism and right-wing radicalism, too, shifted to the Right (from Bethlen to Teleki and from Gömbös to Imrédy) in the same period. With the exception of the Bethlen conservatives, all right-leaning parties came to resemble the national socialists ideologically, by stealing part of the national socialists’ program and by imitating their style (as it was the case with the Teleki government on the eve of the election of 1939). Every prime minister after Gömbös found himself further to the Right at the end of his tenure than he had been at the time of his appointment: the shift in the case of Kálmán Darányi, Pál Teleki, and Miklós Kállay can be attributed to political calculation (their desire to neutralise the national socialists) and foreign pressure.37 However, in the case of László Bárdossy and, most importantly, Béla Imrédy, the transformation involved a drastic transformation of political ideology and behaviour, as well.38 The changing social composition of the political elite after 1931 both reflected and hastened the decline of conservatism. During the counterrevolution, between 1919 and 1921, right-wing intellectuals (e.g. journalists, teachers, dentists, doctors, lawyers) of mainly middle-class origins dominated the parliament, and produced the majority of the ministers and other decision-makers. In the Bethlen era, or more specifically between 1922 and 1932, it was academically trained civil servants, high-ranking military officers, and wealthy landowners (the traditional supporters of the conservative parties) who dominated the state and had the final say in the political elite. Finally, in the 1930s and early 1940s, the members of the lower middle classes had entered the group of decision-makers in ever-increasing

184  Béla Bodó

numbers until the end of 1944; during the Arrow Cross dictatorship, they took control of the state. The shrinking presence of aristocrats and wealthy landowners and entrepreneurs in the political elite followed the conservative decline. Until 1931, the parliament and the upper echelons of the state bureaucracy were dominated by people who had been financially independent. In the 1930s and 1940s, on the other hand, the same groups drew their livelihood almost exclusively from the state. Antisemitic to the core, the radical nationalist and national socialists increasingly saw the state as their spoil, which could and should be exploited to line their pockets and enrich their constituencies. Antisemitic to the core, the majority of parliamentarians pushed for more, and increasingly punitive, anti-Jewish laws to achieve private ends.39 The conservative decline in Hungary was part of a wider transnational trend. The public continued to associate conservatism, and liberalism, with political stagnation and economic and social inequality, which, as a result of the Great Depression, greatly increased after 1929. Even conservative intellectuals, such as Gyula Szekfű, had very few positive things to say about the Bethlen era. The Catholic historian faulted the middle classes and the political elite in “neobaroque” Hungary for their lack of sympathy for the plight of the poor, their class arrogance, snobbery, and obsession with ranks and titles.40 Radical-right and national socialist writers, such as György Oláh, spoke about the country of “three million beggars,” and demanded immediate relief in the form of deep-cutting social, mainly land, reforms at the expense of conservative social groups and institutions, such as the Jewish capitalist elite, the aristocracy, and the Catholic Church. The Populist writers (népi írók), who ideologically could be considered agrarian socialists, echoed their demands.41 The conservative (and liberal) insistence on the rule of law, respect for tradition and advocacy of parliamentary rule alienated the younger and more restless and intolerant generation of political activists who had long lost their faith in capitalism and parliamentary rule. This new generation of politicians believed in the big state; they were to support state solutions to every major economic and social problem. Their model was, on the Left, the Soviet Union and on the Right, Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and less often, Roosevelt’s United States.42 The radicals demanded public work to reduce unemployment especially among the youth; they wanted to give farmers and small business owners debt relief, and advocated the drastic expansion of the social safety net and health services to help the poor, save the lives of mothers and children, and improve the quality of the race. The political activists saw themselves as ideological warriors and political soldiers; predictably, they regarded the political style of traditional conservatives as obsolete. Traditional conservatives, such as Bethlen and his followers, rejected dictatorship, increasing militarisation and Nazification of society and political life, and worried about the country’s dependence on Hitler’s Germany. Their principled stance on these issues opened up new opportunities to form alliances with the centrist groups, such as conservative liberals, and peasant Smallholders after 1935. Yet the problem was that these groups shared the public’s assessment of conservatives as a hopelessly reactionary

Conservatism and radical right in Hungary  185

group and that Bethlen and his supporters, while in power before 1932, had broken too many promises and had created too many tensions with their potential allies to serve as the core group of a stable and far-reaching anti-totalitarian alliance.43

House divided While always complex, conservatism, as an ideology and political movement, became even more fragmented in Hungary in the 1930s and early 1940s. Their differences notwithstanding, the various conservative groups continued to share certain ideas and political reflexes and a habitus. They all rejected Communism, viewed social democracy with suspicion, and distrusted and feared agrarian democrats. Conservatives of all strains defended parliamentarianism as a vital part of historical heritage, rejected dictatorship as an alien concept, warned against Nazification, sought to maintain friendly relations, and tried to avoid war. Conservatives in the 1930s placed their faith in the middle classes, scientists, and civil servants to maintain prosperity and push the country along the path of modernity. They supported social reforms only when they did not harm the interests, or question the privileges, of their most important constituencies, the aristocracy, the financial oligarchy, and the Catholic clergy. All conservative groups believed in Hungarian political supremacy and cultural superiority in the Danubian Basin; they all tried to restore either fully or as much as possible country’s historical borders. All conservative groups harboured strong prejudices against Jews, but offered diverging solutions to the so-called Jewish Question. Conservatives considered the Dual Monarchy’s attitude to ethnic minorities as too tolerant and the assimilationist policies of the Hungarian government before 1914 as ineffective. They were especially eager to assimilate the largest remaining minority group, the Swabians.44 While they all talked about respect for ethnic minorities and rejected population exchange and cultural genocide, the nebulous plans that they put forwards still favoured forced assimilation and the centralised nation state to cultural and political autonomy and federation. Conservatism remained a complex political movement with fluid boundaries at both ends of the political spectrum: on the Left, it merged easily with conservatism liberalism, and even shared certain ideas with genuinely democratic movements; on the Right, conservatism became fused with right-wing radical ideas and attitudes. While it had many ideological and political strains, the conservative movement was divided into two clearly discernible groups: the royalists and the authoritarian conservatives. The royalists gathered around Sándor Pethő, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Magyarság (The Hungarians) and later that of Magyar Nemzet (Hungarian Nation). The movement typically relied on the support of the Catholic Church, the Transdanubian Catholic aristocracy, and the heavily Jewish manufacturing and financial elite. Ideologically the royalists sympathised with Christian Socialism, or, as it was the case with

186  Béla Bodó

the Jewish capitalist elite, they were closer to conservative liberalism. By the early 1930s, royalism was no longer about the restoration of the Habsburgs to the Hungarian throne only: by then the debate over the form of government had given way to the defence of basic liberties and the privileges of the traditional elite. This shift to the centre and the left only continued in the final years of the interwar period and during the Second World War. Pethő’s newspaper opposed Gömbös’ dictatorial ambitions after 1932, and frequently railed against the Hungarian habit of slavishly imitating foreign, in this case, Fascist and Nazi, examples. The royalists remained opposed to substantive social reforms, and were generally indifferent to the plight of the poor. They defended wealthy, culturally assimilated (particularly converted), and politically conservative Jews; however, they continued to accuse members of the Jewish petty bourgeoisie of supporting radical leftist causes. The royalists were Hungarian nationalists; they, too, wanted to restore Hungarian supremacy in the Danubian Basin peacefully and with Western support, rather than in war as the ally of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.45 The authoritarian conservative camp remained divided into a more traditional, and in some respects more liberal, group (The Bethlen faction) and in a more right-wing section (the Teleki camp). The ideological political differences between the Bethlen and the Teleki groups were significant but not unbridgeable. After 1923, the Bethlen group was barely open to the radical Right and closed to fascism and later to national socialism. While friendly to the Race Defenders, the Teleki conservatives, too, regarded the national socialist parties as a political threat and enemy (which did not prevent them from stealing many of their ideas and imitating their political style during the 1939 election). Bethlen and his followers saw the state as the primary mover in history; the Teleki group, on the other hand, believed that the state was only a manifestation of the nation and the race. Both groups regarded private property as sacrosanct and remained suspicious of social experiments; however, between the two groups, Teleki’s followers, who had been inspired by Othman Spann’s Christian Socialist ideas and Italian corporatism, were more prone to support substantive social reforms. The Bethlen-style conservatives remained sceptical about eugenics and biological racism; the members of the Teleki group, in contrast, selectively availed upon racist rhetoric and supported bio-political measures to combat epidemics and improve the health of women and children. The Bethlen group accepted assimilated Jews as Hungarians, even if they continued to harbour prejudices against them. Bethlen and his men regarded assimilated Jews as useful, indeed indispensable, members of society; with a few exceptions, they rejected any plan to disenfranchise, despoil, and socially marginalise them. The Teleki group, too, believed that the assimilation (a much smaller number) of Jews into Hungarian culture would be both possible and beneficial, and that the small number of fully assimilated Jews should have the same rights as other citizens. However, Teleki and his supporters regarded the high majority of Jews as members of an

Conservatism and radical right in Hungary  187

alien race, which posed both an economic and a cultural threat. While Bethlen wanted to exploit Jewish wealth and know-how to rebuild and modernise the country, Teleki and his followers sought to significantly curtail, and in the long run destroy, Jewish wealth and cultural influence. Teleki and his followers bore a major responsibility for the anti-Jewish laws in the late 1930s and the early 1940s. The First Anti-Jewish Law (drafted under Kálmán Darányi’ tenure but put into law in May 1938 under the premiership of Imrédy) limited the Jewish share among doctors, lawyers, engineers, journalists, and the employees of commercial enterprises to 20%. Passed under heavy pressure from the so-called Christian middle class, the law, which deprived tens of thousands of Jews of their livelihood, enjoyed almost universal support among conservatives. Teleki wrote the preamble to the Second Anti-Jewish Law (of May 1939) and prepared the Third Anti-Jewish Law (of August 1941). Modelled on the Nuremberg Law (but more severe) and initiated without German pressure, these laws defined Jews as a race, criminalised marriage and sexual relations between Christians and Jews, and expelled Jews from the civil service. These laws reversed Jewish emancipation and not only impoverished but ostracised and socially marginalised Jews.46 Teleki was also responsible for Law No. II of March 1939, which re-introduced forced labour for Jewish men of military age. Organised into labour battalions often led by sadistic officers, more than 46,000 Jewish servicemen died (about half in Soviet POW camps) during the Second World War.47 The Bethlen group did not push for Jewish emigration, even though it was open to the idea that many, perhaps the majority of, Jews had to resettle after the war. Teleki and his followers, on the other hand, wanted the majority of Jews to leave as early as possible, and were prepared to collaborate with Nazi Germany on this issue. Teleki raised the issue of deporting Hungarian Jews with Nazi help with Hitler already in the summer of 1940 – one year before the start of the genocide.48 The expulsion of Jews who lacked adequate documentation to prove their Hungarian citizenship also began in the final months of Teleki’s premiership. In July and August of 1941, the Hungarian authorities deported more than 20,000 “illegal aliens.” The high majority (about 16,000) was then handed over to the German SS and the Ukrainian Auxiliary Police, which massacred them in the outskirts of the town of Kameniec-Podolski in South-Western Ukraine at the end of August.49 Major deportations stopped after the massacre, but the conservatives remained divided on the question of what to do with the more than 800,000 Hungarian Jews. The royalists and the Bethlen conservatives opposed deportation. After Teleki’s death in the spring of 1941, his followers became split on this issue. A minority sided with the  radical Right and the national socialists, who wanted to expel Jews into the Nazi-occupied territories or resettle them as soon as possible overseas. The rest supported Prime Minister Miklós Kállay’s government, which increased discrimination against Jews, deprived them of their lands, and completed their

188  Béla Bodó

marginalisation, yet at the same time refused to hand them over to the Nazis. Frustrated by Kállay’s obfuscation on this vital issue, eager to gain direct access to the economic resource, including its labour reserves, of the country and determined to prevent Hungary from leaving the Axis alliance, Nazi Germany occupied the country in March 1944.50 The German occupation of the country in March 1944 would have terrified Teleki, had he not committed suicide in the spring of 1941. Ye the occupation was also a logical outcome of the more than a decade of close ties with Hitler and the Third Reich. Both the Bethlen and Teleki conservatives wanted to accomplish their revisionist plans by riding on the coattails of Nazi expansionism. Yet they sought to avoid war and tried to remain in the good graces of the Western powers, particularly Great Britain and the United States. The conservatives hoped that the Anglo-Saxon powers would continue to treat Hungary as an independent state, and, that by recognising the righteousness of the Hungarian cause, would accept the territorial gains that Hungary would make as the all of Nazi Germany. This hope was based on wishful thinking, or wilful ignorance of political realities. By 1937, in fact, Great Britain came to regard Hungary as a satellite at best, or a proxy of Nazi Germany at the worst.51 To its credit, the conservative government of Pál Teleki refused to play the role of the agent provocateur during the Czechoslovak Crisis of 1938, even though Hitler had promised the full restoration of Hungary’s northern borders. As a result, and to the conservatives’ great disappointment, the Axis powers awarded only the southern part of Slovakia, where the population was predominantly Magyar, to Hungary at the end of 1938. The award fell way short of Hungarian expectations; on the positive side (as if to confirm Hungarian expectations) the Western powers tacitly accepted the award as legally binding. The lesson that the Hungarian elite drew from the crisis was that they had to take more risks and had to remain in the good graces of Nazi Germany to achieve better results. In 1940, Hungary went so far as to threaten Romania with war, if it did not return the territories that it had been occupying since 1919. The Axis powers settled the ensuing diplomatic crisis through the Second Vienna Award, which returned the northern part of Transylvania to the Hungarian fold. The country celebrated the award as a great success; convinced that Nazi Germany would win the war, the political elite, with a few exceptions, did not much care that the Western powers, the Soviet Union, and the Romanians rejected the award as a “Diktat.” The circle was completed by Hungary’s participation in the Nazi invasion of Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union in 1941, and re-annexation of parts of the Voivoda (Bácska) and Međimurje (Muraköz) regions in the spring. By the end of the year Hungary became a satellite of Nazi Germany and the enemy of the Allies. Recognising the failure of conservative foreign policy, Teleki committed suicide soon after the Hungarian troops entered Yugoslavia. Still in 1941, Hungary joined the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union, and declared war on the United States and Britain. The stage for military defeat, the loss of additional territories and drastic social and political changes was set.52

Conservatism and radical right in Hungary  189

The conservatives’ relationship with the national socialists, 1936–1945 The conservatives, particularly the Teleki group, were closest ideologically to, and shared more interest with, the radical nationalist than with any other political groups. Once an auxiliary to Bethlen’s Unity Party, the Race Defenders had turned into the conservatives’ erstwhile political rival by 1932. After Gömbös’ death in 1935, his followers were split into two groups. While the moderates drew close to the conservatives, the radicals under the leadership of Béla Imrédy began to chart a path in many respects similar to that of the national socialists. The Imrédy group sought drastic social reforms, normally at the expense of Jews. It wanted to transform political institutions and processes along Nazi lines and align the country’s foreign policy with that of the Axis powers, which after 1939 meant to support Nazi expansionism and Hungary’s involvement in the war and the Jewish genocide.53 While the conservatives disagreed with the Imrédy group on foreign policy and war, they feared and despised the national socialists as Bolsheviks in brown garb. The national socialist parties represented a younger and politically more radical group of right-wing activists.54 What separated the national socialists from the Race Defenders evoked the ire of the traditional elite, including Regent Horthy, was not their youthfulness and nationalism but (in many respects progressive) social program and rough political style. The conservatives were repulsed by the Arrow Cross leader Ferenc Szálasi’s megalomania and his followers’ propensity to resort to ad hominem attacks on dignitaries, such as Regent Horthy and his wife, and to street violence.55 The royalists hated the national socialists who rejected Habsburg restoration. All conservative groups worried about national socialists’ attack on private property and their demand to nationalise key industries and financial institutions and introduce substantive social (including land) reform.56 Because of their perceived radicalism in the social sphere, the national socialists quickly became popular among the blue-collar workers (particularly young, unorganised and unskilled migrants from the countryside; miners and railway workers) and the agrarian poor (landless peasants and agricultural labourers) – the social groups which the conservatives and right-wing radicals were never able to penetrate. By the late 1930s, the Arrow Cross became a true (and perhaps the only) Volkspartei in Hungary able to attract support from almost every segment of Hungarian society. Had the Teleki government kept the process clean and local officials had not resorted to voter suppression and other dirty tricks, the national socialists might have gained the most seats during, and could have easily had become the largest political party in the land after, the parliamentary election in 1939.57 The relationship between the conservatives and national socialist were conflict-laden from the start. In 1937, the Darányi government had the Arrow Cross leader Ferenc Szálasi arrested and his organisation suppressed. In the spring, the court gave the national socialist leader a long prison sentence. In the same

190  Béla Bodó

year, the government forbade civil servants from entering the national socialist organisations. After a terror attack on the main synagogue in Budapest on 3 February 1939, the police closed down more than 120 party cells, arrested 1,500 national socialists, interned many of the leaders, and proscribed Nazi publications. Prime Minister Teleki pardoned Szálasi in the fall of 1940; however, the Arrow Cross remained an outlawed organisation until the German occupation of the country in March 1944.58 Hitler kept the Hungarian Nazis out of power: it was the right-wing radical Sztójay’s government, and not the national socialists, who deported more than 400,000 Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz in the spring and summer of 1944. The Nazis put the Arrow Cross into power only after they had run out of options at the end of October 1944. The ensuing terror killed more than a hundred thousand Jews and prolonged the country’s agony for five more months. Yet it could not reverse the course of history. The Soviet occupation put an end not only to the Arrow Cross terror and the German occupation, but also to the existence of conservative organisations. It was not the Red Army that destroyed conservatism in Hungary, however. Its demise occurred earlier during the German occupation of the country in 1944, and perhaps had been encoded from the start: the conservatives’ proximity to radical nationalists during the counterrevolution 1919–1921; the Bethlen group’s refusal to provide relief by conceding substantive land reforms; the revisionist trap that tied the county’s foreign policy to that of Nazi Germany after 1936; Hungary’s participation in the war on the side of the Third Reich; and, last but not least, the Teleki conservatives’ role in the genocide of the Jews. The war forced tens of thousands of conservatives into exile; the ensuing social reforms (the nationalisation of large enterprises, banks, and farm land), combined with the destruction of Catholic privileges in the field of education, wiped out the social and cultural foundation of conservative power. In the shadow of the Cold War and the creeping Sovietisation of society, conservatism could not be revived. Whatever was left of interwar conservatism in regard to ideas, attitudes, and political habitus remained dormant in the next forty-five years, and were only selectively resurrected after the collapse of the state socialism.

Notes 1 Robert Nemes, “The Politics of the Dance Floor: Culture and Civil Society in ­Nineteenth-Century Hungary,” Slavic Review 60, No 4 (Winter, 2001), pp. 902– 823; Pieter Judson, The Habsburg Empire (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016), pp. 16–50. 2 Judson, The Habsburg Empire, pp. 344–384. 3 Gábor Vermes, István Tisza: the Liberal Vision and Conservative Statecraft of a Magyar Nationalist (Boulder, CO: East European Monographs, 1985). 4 György Kövér, A tiszaeszlári dráma (Budapest: Orisis, 2011). 5 János Gyurgyák, A zsidókérdés Magyarországon: Politikai Eszmetörténet (Budapest: Osiris, 2001), pp. 314–331. 6 Gyurgyák, A zsidókérdés Magyarországon, pp. 286–300; Paul A. Hanebrink, In Defense of Christian Hungary. Religion, Nationalism and Antisemitism, 1890–1944 (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2006), pp. 10–46.

Conservatism and radical right in Hungary  191

192  Béla Bodó

37 Róbert Kerepeszki, Darányi Kálmán. Pályakép, személyiség, korrajz (Budapest: Kronosz Kiadó, 2018). 38 F. Nandor Dreisziger, “A Dove? A Hawk? Perhaps a Sparrow: Bárdossy Defends His Wartime Record before the Americans, July 1945,” Hungarian Studies Review, vol. 22, no. 1–2 (1995), pp. 71–90; Pál Pritz, Bárdossy László (Budapest. 2001), pp. 181–184. 39 Gábor Gyáni, “A huszadik századi magyar társadalmak,” in Gábor Gyáni (ed.), A mi 20. Századunk (Kolozsvár: Komp-Press Kiadó, 2011), pp. 51–99. 40 Gyula Szekfű, Három nemzedék és ami utána következik (Budapest: Maecenas Könyvkiadó, 2007). 41 Gyula Borbándi, A magyar népi mozgalom (Budapest: Püski, 1999). 42 Krisztián Ungváry, A Horthy-Rendszer Mérlege. Diszkrimináció, Szociálpolitika és Antiszemitizmus Magyarországon (Pécs and Budapest: Jelenkor, 2012), pp. 198–217. 43 Ablonczy, Teleki Pál, pp. 172–184. 44 John C. Swanson, Tangible Belonging. Negotiating Germaneness in Twentieth-Century Hungary (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017). 45 György Ránki (eds.), Magyarország Története, 1919–1945 (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1988), pp. 823–825. 46 Gyurgyák, A zsidókérdés Magyarországon, pp. 135–168; Nathaniel Katzburg, Zsidópolitika Magyarországon, 1919–1943 (Budapest: Bábel Kiadó, 2002), pp. 103–180. 47 Randolph L. Braham, The Politics of Genocide: the Holocaust in Hungary, vol. 1 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1981), pp. 285–361; Katzburg, Zsidópolitika Magyarországon, pp. 181–191. 48 Ungváry, A Horthy-Rendszer Mérlege, pp. 368–369. 49 Komoróczy, A Zsidók Története Magyarországon, pp. 623–626. 50 Gyurgyák, Ezzé lett magyar hazátok, pp. 371–380; Püski, A Horthy-rendszer, pp. 78–79; Ungváry, A Horthy-Rendszer Mérlege, pp. 398–458. 51 András Bán, Hungarian-British Diplomacy 1938–1941: The Attempt to Maintain Relations (London: Frank Cass Publishers, 2004), pp. 143–148. 52 Pál Pritz, “Huszadik Századi Magyar Külpolitika,” in Gábor Gyáni (ed.), A Mi 20. Századunk, pp. 202–204; Miklós Zeitler, “Mozgástér a kényszerpályán. A Magyar Külpolitika ‘Választásai’ a Két Világháború Között,” in Ignác Romsics (ed.), Mítoszok, legendák, tévhitek a 20. századi magyar történelemről (Budapest: Osiris Zeitler, 2012), pp. 162–206. 53 Ungváry, A Horthy-Rendszer Mérlege, pp. 198–226. 54 Rudolf Paksa, Magyar Nemzetiszocialisták (Budapest: Osiris, 2013), pp. 139–153. 55 Thomas Sakmayster, Admirális Fehér Lovon, Horthy Miklós, 1918–1944 (Budapest: Helikon Kiadó, 2001), pp. 185–194; Dávid Turbucz, Horthy Miklós (Budapest: Napvilág, 2011). 56 László Karsai, Szálasi Ferenc: Politikai életrajz (Budapest: Balassi, 2016), pp. 111–125. 57 Karsai, Szálasi Ferenc, pp. 150–163; Ungváry, A Horthy-Rendszer Mérlege, pp. 305–337; Püski, A Horthy-rendszer, pp. 115–117. 58 Püski, A Horthy-rendszer, pp. 92–93.

8 THE ROMANIAN RIGHT Images of crisis, the press and the rise of fascism Roland Clark

If you believed the right-wing press, interwar Romania was in a bad way. In 1920, Bolsheviks in Iaşi took over key factories and workshops, apparently controlling the whole city.1 In 1922, Jewish medical students in Cluj were stealing Christian corpses from morgues so that they could use them for their anatomy classes.2 By 1924, the judiciary was controlled by the same Jewish bankers responsible for the entrenched political corruption.3 In 1931, Romanian workers could not find jobs because firms were only hiring “foreigners.”4 The cost of sugar had become so high that ordinary people could not afford to feed their families.5 In 1933, a corruption scandal surrounding the Czech company Škoda revealed that senior politicians were putting national security at risk.6 The Great Depression brought groups such as the Moţi in the Apuseni Mountains and Aromanian migrants in Dobruja to crisis point, and the extent to which Freemasons were involved in international organisations such as the League of Nations became an increasing concern as the decade wore on.7 Opposition parties throughout Europe manufactured and exploited social crises such as these to mobilise support. In Romania and elsewhere, fascism thrived on the claim that the nation was stumbling from one crisis to another. The far Right employed images of crisis more often and with less justification than most of their “mainstream” contemporaries. Images of crisis were common in most Romanian newspapers, but the major liberal press imitated French journalists in publishing impressionistic articles and engaging in political polemics explicitly rather than disguising them as objective reporting.8 The far Right press, on the other hand, published almost exclusively articles with a propagandistic bent. Moreover, whereas liberal or moderate politicians framed economic disasters and political corruption as threats to the proper functioning of the social order, the far Right used the

194  Roland Clark

language of warfare and religion to portray them as existential threats to the nation. As Aristotle Kallis has argued, far more than the worldwide financial crisis of 1929, it was a more complex, subjective ‘crisis mindset’ (fed by a combination of economic, identity, and existential insecurities, both long- and short-term) that played a critical role in radicalising pathologies and deepening dark fissures already present in mainstream beliefs and attitudes.9 There were genuine problems in Eastern and Central Europe, but their political valency increased when they were transformed into what Stanley Cohen called “moral panics.” In a seminal book from 1972, Cohen described how scuffles on Brighton beach between young men from two different subcultures – the Mods and the Rockers – in Easter 1964 were exaggerated and misreported by the media, which then predicted further violence and framed the problem as symptomatic of the age. Reports about fighting encouraged other hooligans to travel to Brighton to take part, as well as causing the British middle classes to believe they were under siege from young working-class thugs whose threat extended not only to violence on the beach but also into other aspects of society. “Pregnant schoolgirls,” Cohen wrote, “CND marches, beatniks, long hair, contraceptives in slot machines, purple hearts and smashing up telephone kiosks were all inextricably intertwined.”10 Cohen showed that while the actual level of subsequent violence was no higher than usual in a holiday town, police and bystanders were more sensitive to it and harassed “potential troublemakers” accordingly. More police were assigned to the beaches, courts began punishing minor offences, and locals formed action groups and vigilante squads to protect their towns.11 Moral panics are not just about holiday brawls. In his book Cohen mentions complaints about “social crises” caused by the violent behaviour of young, working-class men, hysteria about drug use, prevention campaigns around school shootings and extremist recruiters, fears about child abuse and paedophile registers, concerns about vaccinations or the impact of the media on teenage sexuality, anger at welfare cheats and single mothers, and attempts to stop refugees and asylum seekers from entering the country.12 Moving from one apparent crisis to another, far-right newspapers in interwar Romania used moral panics to argue that the nation itself was in danger and that the official authorities were either too incompetent or too corrupt to do anything about it. Sometimes, they suggested, the authorities wilfully encouraged such problems. Only the far Right, the argument went, was capable of restoring balance in society. Using Cohen’s concept of moral panics to unpack interwar Romanian politics requires several caveats, however. Whereas 1960s Britain enjoyed high literacy rates and the sales figures of tabloid newspapers were at an unprecedented high, only 57.1% of Romania’s population could read and write in 1930.13 In cities up to 84.5% of men and 70.3% of women were literate, but

The Romanian Right  195

these numbers dropped down to 64.9% of men and 38.7% of women in rural areas, with the lowest literacy rates found in Bessarabia, where support for farright politics was high. In the municipality of Bucharest, 86.7% of people aged between 7 and 65 were literate, regardless of sex.14 Cohen could persuasively argue that the tabloid press had a significant impact on public opinion in 1960s Britain, but in 1930s Romania what we find in the far-right press are traces of discourses that activists may have used in their speeches and in person-to-person outreach. The press did not create moral panics in Romania in the same way that it did in Cohen’s Britain, but it does provide evidence that such panics existed in certain circles. Moreover, whereas Cohen speaks of “British society” as a whole, this chapter focuses specifically on the far Right. As Irina Livezeanu argues, it was difficult to distinguish between the far Right and the major parties on the grounds of doctrine alone. “Romanian fascists did not so much prosper by organising against anti-nationalists,” she writes, “as gain popularity and legitimacy by defining themselves as the best and purest nationalists within that consensus.”15 In Romania fascism was shaped by the same post-war and interwar imperial transformations and transitions that moulded the major parties. Those people who today we refer to as “fascists” – namely members of the National Christian Defence League, the Legion of the Archangel Michael (also known as the Iron Guard), and other smaller groups – were not always aware that they were fascists in the sense that historians speak of fascism today. They did know two things, however. First, they embraced their identity as “antisemites” or “nationalists”; both labels dating back to the 1870s which marked someone as being actively opposed to Jews, Freemasons, the government, ethnic and religious minorities, ideologies such as humanitarianism and liberalism, and an Anglo-French orientation in foreign policy. Antisemites published and distributed newspapers targeted exclusively at other antisemites, they attended rallies and lectures specifically aimed at antisemites, and they called upon one another for support on petitions and in legal cases. They considered themselves to be very different from politicians even if they shared the same nationalism as members of the National Liberal Party or the National Peasant Party.16 Second, they acknowledged an affinity with French integral nationalism, Italian Fascism and German Nazism. They translated books and articles from far Right groups abroad, they reported on their successes favourably, and their leaders corresponded with foreign leaders on the far Right as well as attending conferences and meetings with them.17 The distinctions between fascist, far Right, authoritarian and mainstream became increasingly loose by the mid-1930s, as Gheorghe Tătărescu’s National Liberal Party governed in an authoritarian manner, working together with King Carol II’s camarilla and relying on the cabinet for decision-making.18 At the same time the former National Peasantist leader Iuliu Maniu cultivated connections with the Legion, and another former Peasantist, Alexandru Vaida-Voevod, adopted fascist slogans and uniforms at his rallies.19 By the end of the decade the king

196  Roland Clark

himself made use of fascist aesthetics and rhetoric in an attempt to build popular support for his dictatorship. Despite the omnipresence of nationalist ideology, fascism was not the only ideology in town. Socialist intellectuals did have their own followings, and the highest positions in the universities were still held by individuals who embraced democratic humanism, usually while endorsing the National Liberal or National Peasantist parties.20 Nor did students who embraced right-wing politics segregate themselves from other influences.21 Fascism was more palatable for most intellectuals than communism, but until September 1940 the Romanian public sphere was a diverse community where most people were at least tolerated so long as they did not question core assumptions about things like patriarchy and the integrity of the Romanian nation.22 Analysing the images of crisis that featured prominently in the right-wing press helps situate the rise of the far Right within what Mark Mazower calls “the larger problematic of explaining the general crisis of democracy and of nineteenth-century liberalism.”23 It also exposes the shared grievances, discourses and values that united fascist and right-wing parties which were otherwise divided by personal and political rivalries.

Post-war threats A loosely organised antisemitic press had existed in Romania since the 1870s, focused on fear-mongering about Jewish finance and the dangers of “politicianism” – the idea that democratic politics sustained a culture of corruption, petty party alliances, indecision and exploitation.24 In 1910 Nicolae Iorga and A. C. Cuza formed the Nationalist Democratic Party on a similar platform. Although antisemitism was the party’s core doctrine, it was founded on the back of student riots that Iorga had provoked by claiming that Romanian culture was threatened by French cultural imperialism and in the aftermath of the largest peasant uprising the country had ever seen.25 Iorga and Cuza parted ways during the war but continued their struggle separately; Cuza portraying himself as a marginalised fighter against a Jewish menace while Iorga played the role of the representative of the nation holding on to core Romanian values during times of change. A variety of other right-wing movements appeared after the war, including the Veterans’ Union, the Reserve Officers’ Union, the Former Guards’ Association, the Guard of the National Conscience, the National Romanian Fascists and Romanian Action. These lasted a few years at most, the majority of their supporters having moved into A. C. Cuza’s new party, the National Christian Defence League (LANC), by 1926.26 The end of the First World War was neither easy nor straightforward. Paramilitary violence plagued Central and Eastern Europe for several years after the armistice, and new cleavages formed as states renegotiated their borders, established new or revised legal systems, currencies, transport networks, education systems and labour agreements. Ethnic groups that had formerly been in the majority now found themselves relatively powerless minorities, and former

The Romanian Right  197

minority groups acted quickly to consolidate their dominance within new, expanded or shrunken states. Veterans in particular exercised significant political influence, and wartime rhetoric about God and nation continued to shape peacetime societies.27 In Romania the right-wing press continued its pre-war attacks on politicianism and Jewish influence in the economy. In Unirea (Unification), the newspaper of what was left of the Nationalist Democratic Party after Iorga and Cuza’s acrimonious split, Cuza argued that “the path of history continues fatefully onwards. Our decisive moment has arrived. The destiny of Romanianism is once again in our hands. It is summed up in two words: To arms!”28 Cuza maintained that the struggle for Romanian rights was not over, because “every nation has the right to decide its own destiny” but the League of Nations was depriving the smaller states of their sovereignty through the minorities treaties.29 Another seasoned antisemitic activist, I. D. Protopopescu, argued that the Jewish question takes on a new face in Greater Romania because their field of action increased together with the unification of all Romanians and the addition of the new provinces. Parasitism has increased thanks to the suppression of Article 7 of the Constitution and the lifting of the restriction that they not settle in rural areas.30 Article 7 of the 1866 constitution had stipulated that only Christians could enjoy citizenship rights, but was modified after the war in order to gain international support for Romania’s territorial claims.31 The arguments of the antisemites echoed those of the National Liberal prime minister, Ionel Brătianu, almost verbatim. Brătianu resigned rather than sign a treaty giving the League of Nations the right to interfere in Romanian affairs if the state failed to treat Jewish Romanians as equal citizens.32 Cuza’s colleague, Mihail Dragoş, explained that the National Democrats’ new goal was “the purification of our social atmosphere, the ending of political parasitism, the abolition of club-house politics, of partisanship and toadyism.”33 Nationalist journalists played on the dangers of political corruption and the feebleness of democracy, warning that the social fabric was at risk of breaking. What distinguished the far Right from the political centre was not that they were antisemitic, but that they had few other policies and relied entirely on moral panics about Jews and corruption to maintain support. The ongoing civil war in Russia and Romania’s invasion of Hungary to annex Transylvania and overthrow Béla Kun’s communist government made the purification of the country all the more urgent, lending credence to fears about Bolshevism spreading in Bessarabia and throughout the country.34 Far Right groups portrayed the wave of strikes in 1920 as the beginning of a communist take-over – an exaggeration, but one which the socialists were only too happy to affirm in their speeches and pamphlets.35 Constantin Pancu’s Guard of the National Conscience responded by staging a counter-protest which later fascists framed as a heroic moment of opposition to communism.36 Eulogising the

198  Roland Clark

involvement of Corneliu Zelea Codreanu in this strike during a radio talk in 1940, his friend Ilie Gârneaţă stated that, In February 1920 the communists began agitating throughout the country, organizing protests, strikes, and conspiracies. Iaşi was under their control. The red flag fluttered at the tram station and the Nicolina factories. The authorities were powerless and the communists became more and more brazen. Corneliu Codreanu and Constantin Pancu led a group of Romanians to establish order. The two groups clashed violently, but Corneliu Codreanu’s courage and heroism won the first victory for the national ideal. Penetrating the entrance to the factory, he swiftly climbed on the roof and ripped off the criminals’ flag, throwing it away and planting the Romanian tricolour in its place. His enemies stared at him, amased at his courage in opposing them.37 Codreanu’s deed was inscribed in the ultranationalist imagination as a moment when the country was threatened with destruction but saved through an act of individual fascist heroism. A similar moment when the fate of the country apparently hung in the balance took place on 10 December 1922 when antisemitic students attacked Jewish medical students who they said were stealing Christian cadavers to dissect for their anatomy lessons. The antisemitic students apparently defended the bodies with swords, sparking a countrywide protest movement that lasted throughout the interwar period.38 Antisemitic students were using the same complaints about cadavers to attack Jews in both Austria and Poland, but according to the right-wing press in Romania, the issue of cadavers was a specifically local problem.39 “We have pointed out that the Romanian people are losing ground every day and that an exclusivist and greedy race extends its dominance over us more and more every day,” the student newspaper stated.40 The message of such reports was not just that a crisis existed and that the authorities were powerless to stop it. It was that through their courage and heroism individual nationalists were standing up to the “foreign” menace and saving the nation. The greater the moral panic, the more heroic nationalists who overcame it were. LANC associated itself with the antisemitic student movement that appeared in December 1922. Antisemitic student violence was common throughout East Central Europe during the early 1920s, and in Romania student leaders such as Corneliu Zelea Codreanu and Ion Moţa kept the movement alive through assassination attempts, murders and celebrated trials.41 The far Right turned on the judiciary in 1924 when five young men – including Codreanu – were tried for conspiring to murder a series of Jewish leaders in Bucharest. The student newspaper Cuvântul studenţesc (The Student Word) insisted that the crisis was very real, reporting that “for over a year 20,000 young people have been raising the alarm about an enormous plot that two million murderous Yids have launched against our country.”42 The moral panic in this case was specifically about whether Jews

The Romanian Right  199

controlled the judges and juries who would pronounce on the fate of the students. They wrote, It will not be the students who will be judged, but current and past governments, all of whom have collaborated with the Yids who are ruling Romanian lands today … The judiciary will determine if the Yids are the mortal enemies of our people, if a Yid problem exists, and if its immediate solution is a problem of life and death for us. Through the verdict which it gives, the judiciary will decide if it is with us or with them: if it recognises truth and reality, or negates them.43 At the end of the day the jury acquitted the students, as other juries did when Ion Moţa shot the man who had betrayed their plot in court, when Codreanu murdered a police prefect in Iaşi, and when Nicolae Totu murdered a Jewish student in Cernăuţi.44 Reframing murder trials as moments of crisis for the nation proved to be an effective way of allowing far-right groups to break the law without serious consequences. The majority of antisemitic students worked with LANC until 1933, but in 1927 a small group of ultranationalists led by Codreanu and Moţa broke away to form the Legion of the Archangel Michael. The Legion grew steadily in popularity until its reputation surpassed Cuza’s own. Codreanu established a paramilitary wing of the Legion in 1930 known as the Iron Guard, and the name stuck although the paramilitaries were banned in 1933. The Legion’s popularity reached its peak in 1937 before the royal dictatorship harshly suppressed the movement and Codreanu was murdered by police while in prison. A small group of leaders survived the wave of arrests and murders that followed Codreanu’s death by escaping to Germany. They returned in September 1940 to establish the National Legionary State. Legionaries ruled the country in an alliance with General Ion Antonescu until they rebelled against the general in January 1941 and were roundly defeated.45 In many ways it was journalists and intellectuals more than politicians who shaped far-right discourse. Nae Ionescu achieved celebrity among young intellectuals in the late 1920s first for his popular lectures on philosophy and then thanks to Cuvântul (The Word), a newspaper he edited. He argued that rationalism had had its day and that consequently capitalism, democracy, constitutionalism and Protestantism – all of which he claimed were based on rationalism – were relics from a by-gone era.46 Ionescu opposed Western democracy with a doctrine he called Orthodoxism. Identifying Romania and Romanianness with a chauvinistic brand of Orthodox Christianity, Ionescu argued that only Orthodox Christians could be “good Romanians,” and fought to exclude everyone else from participating in the public sphere or enjoying citizenship rights.47 Ionescu associated Cuvântul with the Legion shortly before the assassination of Ion Duca in 1933, and many legionaries considered him a father figure to the movement even though he never officially joined.48 Ionescu’s major rival on the far Right

200  Roland Clark

was Nichifor Crainic, a theologian and editor of the cultural magazine Gândirea (Thought) who also identified as an Orthodoxist. During the 1920s Crainic’s journalism promoted a vague nationalist ideology grounded in Orthodox Christianity and a romantic conception of peasants as the true representatives of the nation. He began advocating for integral nationalism in 1931 and adopted an explicitly pro-fascist position in the pages of Calendarul (The Calendar) during 1932. He initially supported the Legion, but the relationship became strained when legionaries turned to Ionescu as their preferred intellectual mentor. Images of crisis focused primarily on economic issues during the Depression years. Grain prices fell steadily from 1929 until 1934. Coupled with higher import tariffs introduced across Europe, this was disastrous for the Romanian economy. Manufacturing also shrunk as foreign investors became reticent to gamble their money on Romanian ventures, further reducing the demand for raw materials. Grain’s centrality as the country’s major export never recovered, and was replaced by oil during the 1930s. The Depression also coincided with the implementation of the National Peasantists’ long-awaited agrarian program, which proved to be an enormous disappointment to most peasants, perhaps pushing some towards more radical political solutions.49 Street protests from across the political spectrum increased during these years, culminating in a major railway workers’ strike in 1933.50 Led by Nichifor Crainic’s Calendarul, the far Right portrayed the Depression as evidence of a moral crisis at the heart of Romanian society. In its third issue Crainic announced that “Calendarul is beginning a methodical and welldocumented campaign of exposing economic crime.”51 His target was “a clique of industry barons, corrupt politicians, and newspaper crooks” he said were conspiring to artificially inflate the prices of bread and butter items.52 Crainic claimed it as a personal triumph when the government voted to reduce import tariffs on sugar, boasting that Calendarul had single-handedly forced the government to lower prices through its articles attacking corruption and Freemasonry.53 Calendarul described industrialists as “reptiles” and lumped ethnic Romanian industrialists together with Jews as parasites on the body of the nation.54 The far Right was particularly incensed when the Romanian government bailed out major banks in 1931. The banks were responsible for the crisis, they claimed, and the money should have gone to hard-working Romanians, not to “foreigners” (i.e. to Jews).55 Regardless of how inaccurate it was, the idea that Jews were sucking money from the economy was a well-worn trope in antisemitic circles that went back decades and stretched across Europe.56 The largest of the Depression-era scandals became known as the “Škoda Affair.” An investigation into a Czechoslovak company producing arms for the Romanian army revealed fraud, bribery, poor quality weapons and leaked military secrets. Bruno Seletzky, one of the firm’s directors, was accused of being a Soviet spy and sentenced to five years in prison. He had close connections to a number of senior politicians and military figures who had shown him detailed military plans in the hope that he might provide appropriate weapons for them.57

The Romanian Right  201

Calendarul expressed its anger that Seletzky became the scapegoat for the scandal, insisting that the criminal justice system should have spread its net much more widely.58 “The international criminals who work in the shadows and the ‘receivers of bribes’ from inside the fortress” must be exposed, they insisted.59 Rather than reporting the Škoda Affair as an isolated incident, Calendarul claimed that it was symptomatic of a wider culture of corruption and tried, unsuccessfully, to generate a moral panic around the case. Other figures on the far Right attempted to capitalise on the economic crisis by blaming foreign workers and employers. Legionaries in Maramureş provoked pogroms against Jews, in one case burning down an entire village when the fire got out of control.60 Apart from Constantin Pancu’s Guard of the National Conscience, which was largely made up of workers, and attempts in 1923 by the National Romanian Fascists to promote a corporatist economic model they claimed would benefit workers, the far Right had hitherto largely ignored industrial workers.61 LANC led the way by advocating for the rights of bus drivers in 1931 as part of what it called “the new working class.”62 The Legion began recruiting workers in late 1932, and by 1933 they were bullying coffee shop owners into employing legionaries and organising boycotts of minority-owned businesses.63 Most ultranationalists were unconvinced when Alexandru Vaida-Voevod tried to introduce a numerus clausus limiting the number of foreign workers allowed to be employed in any one business when he was prime minister in 1933, saying that his legislation was empty rhetoric because it was not being enforced.64 Vaida-Voevod nonetheless made a numerus valachicus his signature policy once he embraced right-wing politics in 1935.65 Disadvantaged groups of ethnic Romanians also became the focus of far-right moral panics during the Depression. The Moţi, a regional group of roughly 60,000 people living in the Apuseni Mountains who had been struggling economically for decades and who felt particularly short-changed by the agrarian reforms of 1921, found themselves in a desperate state by 1933. A report by Ion C. Pop found that poor agriculture, deforestation, lack of roads, the decline of the mining industry, poor public health resulting in the spread of venereal disease, and poor food meant that the population was “decimated by disease, shattered by poverty, and famished by hunger.”66 Emil Şiancu, a veteran of the First World War, a legionary and a Moţi, murdered a forestry entrepreneur named Mauriciu Tischler in 1933. Tischler was Jewish, and the far-right community rallied around Şiancu, as did the National Peasant Party. Calendarul reported his trial as if it was a test of the state’s willingness to recognise Moţi civil rights. Virgil Pop, a priest and representative of a far Right group from the region known as the Blood Brotherhood, declared in parliament that by murdering Tischler, Şiancu was “fulfilling his duties to his country and people, remaining on the path of righteousness and truth.”67 As were most radical right-wing murderers in interwar Romania, Şiancu was acquitted on the grounds that he was defending his nation by killing a Jew. Even after Şiancu had been released, the antisemitic student movement in Cluj staged protests in support of affirmative action on behalf

202  Roland Clark

of the Moţi.68 Far-right journalists kept the story of the Moţi in public view for the next five years, using them as an example of how successive governments had failed patriotic Romanians.69 Aromanians, too, gripped the far-right imagination during 1933. This was a group of Romanian-speakers who had lived in Macedonia for as long as anyone could remember but who had begun to identify themselves with the Romanian nation during the early twentieth century. Roughly 2,000 Aromanian families had migrated to Southern Dobruja from Macedonia in 1925, attracted by promises of land and support from the Romanian government. Bitterly disappointed by the quality of the land they received and unexpectedly high taxes, Aromanians campaigned for support from the government on the grounds of their “desperate” situation.70 They attracted the attention of the far Right in 1930 when Gheorghe Beza, an Aromanian student in Bucharest, shot the Secretary of State, Constantin Angelescu. Codreanu immediately defended Beza and was arrested as an accomplice to attempted murder. He met other Aromanian activists in prison and radical Aromanians became committed legionaries from then on.71 An Aromanian student, Virgil Teodorescu, was shot by police while doing legionary propaganda in 1933, and two of the three legionaries arrested for the assassination of the prime minister, Ion Gh. Duca, later that year were Aromanians. Creating a moral panic around Aromanian issues did little to help the Aromanians themselves. If anything, it weakened their cause by associating it with right-wing radicalism, as a number of older Aromanian leaders recognised. But it proved invaluable as a recruitment strategy for attracting Aromanians into the Legion.72 Other nationalist organisations radicalised during the early 1930s, drawing closer to the language, symbolism and politics of European fascism as the decade wore on. We know little about the rank-and-file supporters of these groups, but many of their leaders had been considered mainstream political figures during the 1920s. As Maria Bucur points out, when one looks at which voices were most prominent in the press, medicine, the church, the humanities, the sciences, the army and social policy, it becomes clear that “illiberalism was broader and less clearly identified with a marginal radical rightist position” than is generally assumed.73 The Cult of the Fatherland, for example, was formed in October 1926 from moderate nationalists, especially retired officers.74 In 1930 it purged members accused of being Freemasons, and by 1936 had become a recruiting ground for other right-wing movements, with a number of prominent members also belonging to explicitly fascist parties.75 Similarly, Fritz Fabritius established the Saxon Self-Help movement in 1922 but adopted an explicitly National Socialist character in 1932.76 Transylvanian Saxons drew close to Nazi Germany as the decade progressed.77 Self-Help largely ignored the Romanian far Right, but Ştefan Tătărescu’s National Socialist Party, also founded in 1932, worked hard to promote German Nazism among ethnic Romanians, receiving significant financial support from the Third Reich in return.78 Grigore Forţu formed the

The Romanian Right  203

Citizens’ Bloc in 1930 as what one of his erstwhile followers called an attempt “to stigmatise corruption and socio-political decadence.” 79 Forţu was arrested following a particularly incendiary speech in January 1933, and his trial became a cause célèbre on the Right.80 His critics, on the other hand, asked why he suddenly decided to attack corruption in 1933 when he had kept silent for so long. Was he hoping to use a corruption scandal to launch a political career, they asked?81 In March 1935 Forţu established the Romanian Brotherhood, an association committed to boycotting Jewish businesses and newspapers. Perhaps exaggerating somewhat, the secret police wrote that “in reality the Romanian Brotherhood is a camouflage for extremist elements seeking to carry out a coup and install a dictatorship.”82 The celebrated economist Mihail Manoilescu, who had been a member of King Carol II’s camarilla in 1930–1931, began writing about Fascist Italy in glowing terms from May 1932 onwards. “In Italy now,” he wrote in his newspaper Lumea noua (The New World), “new forms are being worked out, to frame the life of peoples from now onwards. Humanity and the world’s scientists, in their race towards new formulae and solutions, to which people everywhere aspire, are focusing their attention on Italy.”83 He called his party the Corporatist League, publishing a theoretical treatise on corporatism in 1934 and advocating a single-party political system from 1936 onwards.84 Octavian Goga, who had been a leading nationalist journalist and political figure first in Hungarian Transylvania and then in Greater Romania, also embraced what Armin Heinen calls “the new nationalism” in the 1930s, grounding it in his earlier ideas about the peasantry as the soul of the Romanian nation.85 Goga formed the National Agrarian Party in 1932, which was outspoken in its support of Adolf Hitler and blended chauvinistic nationalism, antisemitism and authoritarianism into its ideology. He merged his party with A. C. Cuza’s LANC to create the National Christian Party (PNC) in 1935, coming to power briefly at the end of 1937.86 In 1933 Germany looked to the right-wing press as a means of cultivating pro-German sentiment in the country. Diplomats considered financing Crainic’s Calendarul, Tătărescu’s Crez Nou (New Faith), and Goga’s Ţara noastră (Our Country), but it is unclear from the extant sources whether any money was forthcoming at this time.87 Crainic tried to establish himself as a patron of the far Right in general and an advocate of “ethnocracy” as an alternative to democracy. In February 1933 he organised a meeting at Calendarul’s office between the followers of Cuza, Codreanu, Forţu and Manoilescu, trying to convince them to unite behind the idea of a “Corporatist State.” Crainic, of course, hoped to lead this umbrella movement.88 His attempts were repeatedly rebuffed by other far-right leaders, who nonetheless took advantage of Crainic to build alliances of their own. The National Christian Party, for example, was originally established by Crainic, who took the lead in bringing Cuza and Goga together before the other two men expelled him from the party and made it their own.89

204  Roland Clark

With such a wide variety of parties to choose from, in the mid-1930s it was the press that defined the far Right, just as it had at the beginning of the decade. Every political party had its own broadsheet. Some, such as the Legion, produced a multiplicity of local or regional newspapers focused on local conditions.90 Much more widely read, however, were the right-wing Bucharest newspapers Porunca vremii (The Dictate of the Times), Sfarmă piatră (Rock Crusher), Buna vestire (The Good News) and Cuvântul (The Word), alongside more moderate newspapers such as Universul (The Universe) and Curentul (Current Affairs), which promoted a nationalist perspective without endorsing right-wing parties. Porunca vremii first appeared in 1932, but expanded significantly when Ilie Rădulescu took over as editor in 1935. Rădulescu convinced legionaries to help him distribute it and established the Association of Christian Journalists in Romania to mobilise journalists against Jewish influence in the press.91 Germany began supporting Porunca vremii financially in November 1935.92 Codreanu approved of the newspaper but refused to endorse it categorically so long as Rădulescu remained outside of the Legion. “Porunca vremii is a good antisemitic newspaper,” he said, but “be cautious of every article and every word, for it is not ours … You should all read Porunca vremii, but do not believe everything that is written in it.”93 Far-right publications developed very few new moral panics from 1933 onwards. The lack of imagination testifies to the extent to which Nichifor Crainic, who had engineered most of the Depression-era moral panics, still influenced the major contours of right-wing discourse later in the decade. Increasing success and as well as a general shift towards the Right in European politics encouraged both splinter groups and new movements hoping to take advantage of fascism’s popularity. In 1934 Mihai Stelescu broke away from the Legion to establish the Crusade for Romanianism. In an open letter to Codreanu, Stelescu wrote that You lied from the beginning … Then there is your empty ambition. When you were in LANC you were already forming the Legion … [Alexandru] Vaida-Voevod wrote the first program of the Iron Guard for you and gave you money to create a political diversion.94 Furious with Stelescu’s “betrayal,” and claiming that Stelescu had attempted to assassinate Codreanu, a team of legionaries murdered him in hospital in 1936.95 The Crusade for Romanianism continued without him, collaborating with the Cult of the Fatherland and other right-wing movements as a nationalist alternative to the Legion.96 One of the people police suspected of working with Stelescu’s crusaders was Tiberiu Rebreanu, a law student who broke away from LANC to form the New Group in 1934. This was a youth organisation modelled on Italian Fascism whose members wore black shirts and fought with legionaries at their meetings.97 Another LANC splinter group was the Swastika of Fire, established by the lawyer I. V. Emilian in 1936. Emilian broke with Cuza after the latter had allied himself with Goga to form the National Christian Party, and he attracted young ultranationalists unhappy with Cuza’s new friends.98

The Romanian Right  205

Alexandru Vaida-Voevod, who had already served three terms as prime minister within the Romanian National Party, established the Romanian Front in 1935. Vaida-Voevod attacked “foreigners” (străini) in his speeches and complained about “the culpable tolerance of the Romanian towards the foreigner.”99 The word “foreigner” in right-wing discourse meant anyone who was not ethnically Romanian, not people who were not citizens. The Romanian Front staged large rallies that were a clear imitation of Hitler’s famous rallies at Nuremberg. One police report described a Romanian Front rally of roughly 3,000 people at Focşani in 1936, saying that meeting at the organisation’s office, they formed columns and marched to the train station. There were thirty bicyclists in front, followed by an advanced guard in uniform (black shirts with a white cross on the right side of the chest) – with a flag of the Legion of Putna of the Romanian Front. After this followed a Gypsy brass band and then a column of participants of the congress numbering 500–600 people … The purpose of going to the station was to welcome participants arriving by train.100 King Carol II also established a fascist-looking youth organisation in 1935 called the Sentinels of the Fatherland. The Sentinels came into their own with the establishment of the royal dictatorship in 1938. They focused heavily on sport and volunteer work, and Carol banned all other summer camps in order to give priority to those run by the Sentinels – a direct attack on the Legion’s own highly successful network of summer camps.101 In 1939 they even began collecting scrap metal, which was a fundraising activity legionaries had pioneered two years earlier.102 Traian Sandu argues that the movements of Tătărescu, Vaida-Voevod and Goga were “token fascisms [des fascismes labiaux], lacking the mobilisation of myths and of the masses which is indispensable for true fascism, which stubbornly refuses to be manipulated” by outside parties such as King Carol or Nazi Germany.103 But it is almost impossible to distinguish between those parties which were “truly” fascist and those which were merely imitators. They could not be organised on a spectrum of more to less fascist parties as their rhetoric, policies and practices were remarkably similar. All of the groups mentioned above mobilised around Romanian nationalism, Orthodox Christianity, leader cults, militarism, youth and muscular masculinity. All tried to attract large numbers of people, although some were more successful than others. And all were manipulated by political elites in one way or another. In addition to the frequent attempts by publicists such as Crainic to build coalitions between parties, prominent individuals moved from one party to another with remarkable frequency. The lawyer Teodor Mociulski, for example, supported the student movement, Cuza, Vaida-Voevod, the Swastika of Fire, the Cult of the Fatherland, the Bloc of the Nationalist Generation of 1922, and Carol II at one time or another.104 Similarly, after Istrate Micescu became disillusioned with his career in the National

206  Roland Clark

Liberal Party he lent his support first to Codreanu, then to Cuza and Goga, and then to Carol II.105 These groups were so ideologically similar to one another that shifting allegiances required no real intellectual reorientation, although the fact that major political figures embraced this ideology meant that the boundaries between centre-right and far Right parties became increasingly blurred. There were nonetheless demonstrable differences within the Romanian far Right. Whereas LANC and the Legion could claim to represent an unbroken tradition of right-wing mobilisation dating back to 1922 – and in Cuza’s case even longer – the parties which emerged during the 1930s were products of the unique political environment of that decade and their leaders had been successful members of the major parties during the 1920s. Similarly, whereas LANC, the Legion and their splinter groups sought to overcome existing political power structures through grassroots mobilisation, the parties of Tătărescu, VaidaVoevod, Goga and Carol II focused on mobilising people in support of those power structures. One segment of the far Right engaged in anti-establishment politics, that is, while the other used the forms and rhetoric of fascism to consolidate their existing political bases. Such differences were more of degree than of kind, however. Right-wing leaders were constantly accusing each other of engaging in “politicianism,” all the while hoping that no one would believe the same accusation applied to them too.106 Nichifor Crainic launched Sfarmă piatră in 1935 as a platform for the National Christian Party, but kept control of the newspaper after Cuza and Goga excluded him from the party. Under the directorship of Alexandru Gregorian, the newspaper consistently attacked the National Christian Party as well as running extended campaigns against prominent Freemasons such as Mihail Sadoveanu.107 Sfarmă piatră’s other major rival was Buna vestire, directed by Dragoş Protopopescu and Toma Vlădescu. Gregorian, Protopopescu and Vlădescu had all worked for Crainic at Calendarul in 1933, but Protopopescu’s legionary sympathies estranged him from Crainic and made Buna vestire into the most openly pro-legionary newspaper of the mid-1930s. The young journalist Virgil Gheorghiu writes that when he visited the offices of Buna vestire in 1938, All newspaper offices have the same smell of paper, printers, ink, and melted lead that the linotype machine turns into letters. The offices of Buna vestire had none of these smells. Instead, there was a very strong smell of leather. Everyone was dressed in leather. They had overcoats, boots, belts, and shoulder straps of leather. It is the legionary uniform.108 Nae Ionescu’s newspaper, Cuvântul, reappeared for four months at the beginning of 1938. Only a shadow of what the newspaper had been at the beginning of the decade, it published right-wing political commentaries together with articles promoting Orthodoxism, antisemitism and chronicling the repression of the Legion, first by Cuza and Goga and then by Carol II.

The Romanian Right  207

Two major themes which featured heavily in Porunca vremii, Sfarmă piatră and Buna vestire between 1935 and 1938 were fears about Freemasonry and the League of Nations. Both had been major preoccupations for Calendarul in 1932 and 1933 as well, often being discussed in the same breath.109 Many leading Romanian politicians had connections to Freemasonry, and like right-wing demagogues elsewhere in Europe, Crainic singled Freemasons out because of the supposedly international, secretive, humanitarian and non-Christian character of the movement.110 In a summary of his political activities during the 1930s, Crainic later explained that Freemasonry, the gate through which enters all of the anarchy and disputes that the whole system from Geneva is based on, infiltrated all public institutions and culminated in the Iorga-Argetoianu government … Satanic liturgies took place in front of all the officials in the temple on Câmpineanu Street when inspectors from the League of Nations entered the country. Never was our ruling class more eclipsed than then [in 1932–33], when the so-called intellectual and political elite, ensconced in the net of ever-changing internationalism, thought and governed according to the global interests of the Alliance Israelite.111 Crainic’s anti-masonic campaign built on earlier attacks published in LANC newspapers by Toma Petrescu, a LANC member who ran his own magazine “exposing” masonic activities.112 Accusations of freemasonry were consistently associated with specific political goals. Crainic formed an Anti-Masonic Study Circle in March 1936, for example, when it became clear that Cuza and Goga were about to exclude him from the National Christian Party. Both Goga and Cuza’s son Gheorghe had been associated with Freemasonry in the past, and creating a panic that the PNC had been infiltrated by Freemasons was a way for Crainic to gain power over his rivals within the party.113 Crainic continued attacking Freemasonry in Sfarmă piatră, focusing particularly on the writer Mihail Sadoveanu, a well-known Freemason and a strong opponent of fascism.114 Porunca vremii also picked up the theme, this time claiming that Freemasons had infiltrated the Romanian Orthodox Church.115 The Church’s response was to commission an investigation into Freemasonry, which was conducted by the Metropolitan of Ardeal, Nicolae Bălan, who was well known for his right-wing politics.116 In 1937 the Holy Synod condemned Freemasonry as an ideology that “promotes unbelief and fights against Christianity.”117 Led by Cuza and Goga, the National Christian Party came to power on 29 December 1937. Having built their party doctrine on images of crisis, they immediately set about resolving those crises. They prohibited Freemasonry early in 1938 and swiftly introduced sweeping and brutal antisemitic laws, which were accompanied by frequent violence against Jews.118 In February 1938 King Carol II used the ongoing violence between legionaries and cuzists as an excuse to

208  Roland Clark

abolish parliamentary democracy entirely, introducing a royal dictatorship with the Orthodox patriarch, Miron Cristea, as prime minister. Whereas PNC’s political agenda had been almost exclusively about antisemitism, the king argued that his regime was about providing stability and strong leadership. Right-wing newspapers continued the rhetoric of crisis under Cuza and Goga in order to justify the revolutionary nature of the new legislation. Under Carol they focused on the king’s effective resolution of well-known crises rather than continuing to fuel moral panics. The king dissolved the Legion, banned all political parties, increasingly aligned Romania’s foreign policy with Nazi Germany, and continued the steady erosion of Romanian Jewry’s civil rights. This was to be a “national state,” one of Carol’s ministers of justice, Ion V. Gruia, said, which involved ensuring that all professions and state jobs in particular be staffed entirely by ethnic Romanians.119 The royal dictatorship collapsed in September 1940, to be replaced by four months of legionary rule in cooperation with General Ion Antonescu. Legionaries too had engaged in a rhetoric of crisis throughout the interwar period, but from 1934 onwards had also presented their movement as a “constructive” one, building up a country that had been destroyed by corruption and international Jewry. With Codreanu dead and immortalised in legionary mythology, the rhetoric of the National Legionary State focused on celebrating the achievements of the movement during the 1920s and 1930s instead of creating new crises to be resolved.120 Crises presented themselves nonetheless. A major earthquake devastated Bucharest in November 1940, and the regime responded by framing it as a punishment from God for not adequately acknowledging the legionary martyrs.121 Unlike the crises of the interwar period, this “moral panic” was generated and resolved under carefully controlled circumstances and used to consolidate, rather than destabilise, state power. The days when fascism was about undermining power structures had passed. Images of crisis had united a plethora of right-wing parties and movements throughout the interwar period, and as the Second World War approached these moral panics provided the rationale for sweeping, revolutionary changes introduced by a succession of right-wing regimes. The demands of Romanian nationalists had apparently been met with the incorporation of the new territories into Greater Romania at the end of the First World War. During the early 1920s, moral panics allowed antisemites and ultranationalists to continue to mobilise supporters around claims that the nation was still in danger from Jews and corrupt politicians. Their images of crisis undermined government efforts to create a new, stable nation-state under the firm control of existing Liberal elites. The Depression provided ultranationalist journalists such as Nae Ionescu and Nichifor Crainic with the opportunity to fuel new moral panics around economic issues. Industrialists, bankers, Freemasons and corrupt politicians became easy targets. The Legion’s growing success, the failure of the National Peasantist government and the rise of Adolf Hitler in Germany catalysed the spread of a number of new far-right parties during this period. Some were more eager to

The Romanian Right  209

associate themselves with European fascism than others, but in the absence of any genuine program most embraced a politics of crisis as their primary campaign tool. A similar politics of crisis sustained the new right-wing parties of the mid1930s, but this time with no new themes or moral panics. Even while any given right-wing newspaper might have been more closely aligned with one party than with others, each of these periodicals cultivated a broad ultranationalist constituency. Moreover, their higher quality of reporting, better production quality and extensive distribution networks meant that they were read by right-wing activists and sympathisers who might have struggled to obtain copies of their own party’s newspapers. The latter often appeared sporadically and faced major distribution problems. Newspapers such as Porunca vremii and Buna vestire were thus able to shape right-wing opinion much more effectively than speeches or circulars from party leaders. Their prominence gave publicists like Ionescu and Crainic an influence that reached far beyond their ability to mobilise supporters into a party. Similarly, editors such as Gregorian, Protopopescu and Vlădescu crafted the discourses that defined the far Right much more profoundly than most historians give them credit for. One of the most significant consequences of the fact that Bucharest newspapers provided the discursive “glue” that held the far Right together is that right-wing politics was therefore driven by the same sort of sensationalism that characterises tabloid newspapers. As Kate Campbell argues, the rise of W. T. Stead’s “new journalism” in 1880s Britain accompanied a significant increase in the number of people eligible to vote – just as in interwar Romania – and an “increasing acceptance that political authority rested on symbolic power outside the framework of reason.” In her support, Campbell quotes Matthew Arnold’s astute observation that where journalism is “feather brained,” democracy “is disposed to be, like this journalism, feather brained.”122 Fascism had become à la mode by the late 1930s, political discourse based less and less on objective evidence, and politicians and journalists on the far Right merely had to keep up the momentum created earlier in the decade.

Notes 1 Constantin Pancu, “Banditismele dela Atelierele C.F.R. Frumoasa,” Conştiinţa, vol. 2, no. 31 (21 June 1920), p. 1. 2 Delaromanu, “Cadavrele…,” Cuvântul studenţesc, vol. 1, no. 3 (15 January 1923), p. 3. 3 “La 29 martie,” Cuvântul studenţesc, vol. 2, no. 10 (25 March 1924), p. 1. 4 “Muncitorimea nouă,” Apărarea naţională, vol. 9, no. 18 (17 May 1931), p. 3. 5 Nichifor Crainic, “Camera a votat ieftenirea zahărului,” Calendarul, vol. 1, no. 27 (20 February 1932), p. 1. 6 “Scandalul skodei a început,” Calendarul, vol. 451 (21 August 1933), p. 2. 7 “Situaţia disperată a moţiilor,” Calendarul, vol. 461 (2 September 1933), p. 2; Archives of the Center for the Study of the Securitate Archives (Henceforth: ACNSAS), Fond Penal, Dosar 13997, vol. 1, f. 18, vol. 2, f. 13; Nichifor Crainic, “Impotriva tăcerii diplomatice,” Calendarul, vol. 1, no. 27 (20 February 1932), p. 1. 8 Radu Ciobotea, Reportajul interbelic românesc: Senzaţionalism, aventură şi extremism politic (Iaşi: Polirom, 2006), p. 38.

210  Roland Clark


The Romanian Right  211

212  Roland Clark

The Romanian Right  213

214  Roland Clark


The nexus between fascism and nationalism in interwar Europe is arguably a complex and multidimensional issue. There is a wide consensus among scholars that nationalism played a great part in the emergence of fascism as an ideology and as a movement.1 Although nationalism is not the only key to the understanding of fascism and a distinction should be drawn between the two ideological phenomena, nationalism certainly occupied a central place in the fascist discourse.2 For one thing, nationalism (as a secular religion and a form of “new politics”) was a powerful device (by means of myths, symbols, rituals, rallies, gymnastic exercises, etc.) for cross-class mass mobilisation and social control over the masses.3 Even structuralist analysts such as John Breuilly, who are critical of purely ideological explanations of fascism and insist more on the First World War and its aftermath (the crisis and the type of status anxiety that sociologists have termed anomie) for the rise of fascists, still regard nationalist arguments as a vital ingredient of fascism; the difference here (in the discussion of the link between the nationalist and the fascist current of thought) is one of degree and context rather than of principle.4 The aim of this chapter is to explore the nexus between nationalism, conservatism and right-wing radicalism in interwar Greece, and to further evaluate the dynamics that existed (or not) there for an authoritarian departure from liberal democracy towards a new paradigm along the path of hybrid fascistisation. As a matter of fact, before the establishment of the Fourth of August Regime in 1936, Greece produced neither a major fascist party nor any sophisticated fascist political thinker. Thereupon, Stanley Payne expresses his surprise at the absence of significant fascist movements in interwar Greece, for it encountered national disaster at the hands of Turkey in 1922.5 That Greece did not produce a significant fascist or far-right mass movement during the 1920s and 1930s is equally surprising to Martin Blinkhorn, who has

216  Spyridon G. Ploumidis

delved into the fascist-conservative connection from a transnational perspective.6 The Greek case is even more perplexing, since (as Payne comments) Greece in the recent past had been characterised by one of the most severe irredentist problems in Europe (the so-called Great Idea of territorial expansion had been a persistent feature of Greek political life throughout the nineteenth century), and thus “seemed to possess some of the major variables necessary for fascism.” 7 Both structural factors and ideological reasons provide answers to this conundrum. Here I will argue that the absence of a state-sponsored irredentist, let alone radical, nationalism in most of the interwar years (before 1936) and of an expansionist/revanchist/imperialist foreign policy after 1923 (and most decisively after 1928) is a prime clue to this historical problem. Nevertheless, political matters took a radical turn in 1936 after the seizure of power by General Ioannis Metaxas. Admittedly, the establishment of the Metaxas regime was a watershed in Greece’s political history. This technically royalist dictatorship, established on the initiative and at the behest of King George II (hence its identification as “monarcho-fascist” by the Communist Party of Greece8), absorbed fascism partially and received various influences from both Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany as well as Salazar’s Portugal. As S. Victor Papacosma has crucially illustrated, Metaxas “created a political order that was an apparent amalgam of authoritarian and fascist programs with some distinctly Greek additions.”9 This motley of traditional/conservative, nationalist and radical features of the Metaxist regime has caused some confusion and has led several historians and political scientists to categorise it either among the subspecies of fascism and label it as “quasi-fascist,”10 or, more often, disengaging it from the fascist and totalitarian current, as a “right-radical authoritarian system.”11 This tangle of diverse identifications has, I believe, obscured rather than provided a clear answer as to the actual nature and position of fascism in interbellum Greece. Most helpful in this respect are Aristotle Kallis’ insights into the hybridity and sheer complexity of the fascist phenomenon, and the multifaceted entanglement, extensive overlapping and dynamical interaction between the “old” and the “new” Right in interwar European politics.12 The disentanglement of these threads is certainly a complicated task. To this end, while Payne’s “fascist negations” are most valid for the definition of generic fascism,13 most helpful is also the distinction between “totalitarian” and “authoritarian” regimes made by Stephen Lee, and his option for an inclusive approach of these regimes by the use of the word “dictatorships.” Whereas the former had a radical programme of change for the rebirth of society with everything (in theory) subordinated to this programme, and possessed a distinctive ideology or a quasi-religious philosophy covering all parts of man’s existence, the latter used dictatorship in a conservative way, aiming to preserve traditional values and the established social structure. While in both regimes party politics were ended abruptly and the legislature was subordinated to the executive, in totalitarian dictatorships the entire power structure came under the control of a single party or movement that was presided over by a leader who was invested with the cult of

Greek nationalism and authoritarianism  217

personality. And whereas totalitarian regimes aimed at mobilising mass support, particularly among the young, and generated paramilitary activity, authoritarian regimes aimed to neutralise and depoliticise the masses.14

The aftermath of the Asia Minor debacle The defeat in Asia Minor in 1922 was a serious setback for the romantic nationalism that Greeks nourished for a century. For the main reason that the Asia Minor Campaign was the pinnacle of Greece’s endeavours at national unification and its geopolitical elevation to a regional power in the Near East.15 Arguably, the thwarting of Greece’s efforts to expand its territory onto the eastern shores of the Aegean and the total loss of its military prowess (Greece’s “Waterloo” or alias “Caporetto,” as several domestic commentators identified its defeat in Asiatic Turkey) were interpreted as an utter national “Catastrophe” and caused unqualified frustration to the political and especially the military circles.16 By virtue of the Treaty of Lausanne (1923), Greece renounced the Great Idea (Megali Idea) of recovering Constantinople and replacing the defunct Ottoman Empire by a renascent Byzantine Empire.17 Consequently, adaption to the new reality was not easy for the vanquished. Not least because the First World War and the Asia Minor issue had accentuated and broadened the National Schism, which dated back to 1910 and had divided Greek society into two bitterly opposed political camps: the (liberal/nationalist) Venizelists and Anti-Venizelists (a motley of conservatives and royalists).18 In the right aftermath of the Asia Minor Disaster a myth tantamount to the German Dolchstosslegende (Stab-in-the-Back-Myth) was created in the country. On 26 August 1922 (o.s.), the mainstream anti-Venizelist daily Kathimerini first argued that “Greece was not defeated by the enemy” (i.e. Kemalist Turkey) but by the (ironically labelled) “Powerful liberators of the Christians” (alluding to the Entente Powers, which had denounced the Treaty of Sèvres).19 This myth was not by any means limited to the anti-Venizelist camp. Two days later, Eleftheros Typos (the mouthpiece of the Venizelist party) claimed likewise that the army had not been defeated, and put the blame on the anti-Venizelist government that had been ruling the country since 1 November 1920.20 A year later (after the Execution of the Six political leaders responsible for the defeat, i.e. the Commander-in-Chief and another five former prime ministers and high-ranking ministers) several radical Venizelist military officers and journalists (however, not Venizelos himself, who stayed aloof of this witch-hunting) reiterated with greater emphasis that “the Greek army had not been defeated by Ankara, but had been crushed and defeated by Athens” (i.e. by the politicians).21 “In August 1922, the [Greek] Nation had not suffered a military defeat, but a political defeat.”22 This allegation actually drew on the verdict of the martial court, which condemned the Six to death for “pre-determined high treason”: the wartime leadership had allegedly “conspired” and “staged” the debacle of the army by “systematically undermining its morale.”23

218  Spyridon G. Ploumidis

The hunting-down of national traitors continued and Greece’s Dolchstosslegende lived on for the rest of the 1920s. In February 1925, the Greek parliament established an Interrogation Committee that would enquire into possible “treason” committed by commanding officers and non-commissioned officers right before and “during the retreat from Asia Minor.”24 (Four anti-Venizelist army generals and dozens of other staff officers found their names on the long list of “traitors.”25) The Stab-in-the-Back-Myth explains also the plans of General Theodoros Pangalos (an ex-member of the General Staff in Asia Minor before Venizelos’ downfall from office in 1920) for a revanchist war against Turkey in 1925–1926. Pangalos (who staged a coup d’état in June 1925) sought the alliance of Mussolini’s Italy with the aim to revise the territorial clauses of the Treaty of Lausanne (which he had promptly denied upon its signing in July 1923) and to jointly recapture Eastern Trace and Asia Minor, yet his overthrow from power in August 1926 by another putschist (General Georgios Kondylis) thwarted his ambitious plans.26 In the comments of his son (who published his personal papers), Pangalos and his associates were the last supporters of the Great Idea; they continued to believe in it even after Eleftherios Venizelos, who was the Idea’s main bearer until 1920, became disappointed by the destruction of his achievements and lost faith in it.27 An initiative for a decisive end to Greek revanchism towards Turkey and a resolute turn of Greece towards a pacifist and conservative foreign policy was undertaken by Venizelos after his return to power in 1928. The return of Venizelos (an astute master of diplomacy who combined vision with the precepts of Realpolitik) to premiership proved to be a watershed in the country’s foreign affairs.28 On 30 August 1928, shortly after his re-election, Venizelos took the initiative to send a letter to Ismet Inonu (the Turkish premier and an old enemy since the times of the Greco-Turkish War in Asia Minor), stating that “Greece has absolutely no claims on Turkish territories, and accepts the Peace Treaties sincerely and without any reservations,” and making a plea to a close friendship between the two nation-states. Inonu’s positive response (for “a sincere, radical, practical and, especially, definite arrangement of all the pending issues”) came about a month later (on 27 September 1928).29 In 1929, Venizelos declared publicly (at a rally of his Liberal Party) that it was in the best interest of Greece to accept “fully and sincerely” the peace treaties (in the event, the Treaty of Lausanne), “not because the treaties corresponded completely to the national wishes of Greece, but [because] the destiny of the humans has it that nobody ever is able to achieve completely what he is pursuing”; moreover, “humanity” had reached “a point whereupon it must abolish war, unless it wants modern civilisation to crash and sink in a new war.”30 Greece’s loyalty to the détente was epitomised by Venizelos’ state visit to Ankara in October 1930 and the signing there of the Greco-Turkish Friendship

Greek nationalism and authoritarianism  219

Pact and a Naval Protocol.31 Léon Maccas, a close associate of Venizelos and editor-in-chief of Ergasia (interwar Greece’s leading political journal), saluted the Greco-Turkish rapprochement, and identified “peace,” “solidarity between the peoples,” “cooperation” and “humanism” as the “new ideals” of Hellenism.32 Irredentism and territorial expansionism were most solemnly revoked by Venizelos at a public speech in Tripoli (the capital of the Peloponnese and hotbed of the Greek Revolution of 1821) on 12 October 1930. In the event, the Greek statesman declared that “today the struggles for national unification have ended,” and that Greece was stepping forward to a new stage of “peaceful progress” for the creation of “a totally modernised state that would provide to its citizens more justice and greater prosperity.”33 This new orientation of Greece’s foreign policies was confirmed by Themistocles Sophoulis, chair of the parliament, about a month later, on 19 November 1930. Sophoulis (a successor of Venizelos in the leadership of the Liberal Party six years later and future premier) defined “economic reconstruction” and the “spiritual elevation of the Nation” as the country’s new “national ideals,” which would be achieved by entirely “peaceful means.”34 Pavlos Karolidis (Greece’s principal historian at the time, a persona of anti-Venizelist leanings) grudgingly commented on the occasion of the centenary of Greek Independence that “although not fully satisfied territorially and according to its sacrifices in the Balkan Wars and the First World War,” Greece was obliged “for practical political reasons” to abandon its “Great National Idea,” yet continued to pursue its cultural supremacy in the Near East.35 In other words, Greek nationalism had been neutralised and restricted to a cultural agenda. Greek foreign policies continued to be inspired by the “spirit of Geneva” (i.e. the principles of the League of Nations), introduced by Venizelos in 1928, long after his downfall from premiership in 1932,36 and were by no means limited to the Venizelist political camp. On 2 April 1933, Panagis Tsaldaris (leader of the main anti-Venizelist party) declared, upon assuming power, that his government would adhere to “the policy of solidifying peace and developing friendly relations with all the nations,” and especially seek the rapprochement with the Balkan countries, including Bulgaria and Albania, with a view of signing friendship pacts and commercial agreements.37 The disavowal of revanchism, war and aggression by the state had a profound effect on the intellectuals. By the early 1930s, Greek nationalist thinking had become introvert, and indulged itself in the search of authenticity and “Greekness.” This “Generation [of intellectuals] of the ’30s,” in their majority literary writers and critics, were French-trained liberal-minded (yet not necessarily connected to Venizelos’ Liberal Party) humanists. In 1933, Spyros Melas, speaking on behalf of his “Generation” (in its mouthpiece Idea), declared that “in the place of the old idea of nationalist Hellenism with its irredentist and imperialist pretensions, we raise today the flag of a new intellectual Hellenism.” This “new Hellenism” was not by any means “a negation of national ideas and national inheritance,” namely

220  Spyridon G. Ploumidis

of “the priceless treasure of the Greek Christian civilisation.” On the contrary, it was rather “a new interpretation” and “a new adaptation” of this “Greek Christian civilisation”; the latter’s further “understanding” and “fertilisation.”38 Along these lines, the Weltanschauung of George Theotokas (1905–1966), the most politicised member of the “Generation of the ’30s,” laid emphasis on sustainable peace and happiness for the entire humankind. From his viewpoint, the nation mainly was a historically defined “spiritual reality” that could normally develop, in the interests of “reason” and “harmony,” into a pan-Balkan and pan-European ideal. In 1932 in his landslide Embros sto koinoniko mas problima (On Our Social Problem), Theotokas condemned “the blind, fanatical and scholastic nationalism, the sickly nationalism that ruins every balanced human being”; therein, he also rejected the warlike mentality and violence in international relations; and pronounced a new humanism that would bring about brotherhood between the nations. For that matter, he saluted “the tendency of the peoples of the Balkans toward unity,” namely the idea of a customs union of the Balkans and the Balkan Conferences of 1930–1933 (an initiative of the left-wing Venizelist politician Alexandros Papanastassiou). In an interview given in December 1932, Theotokas argued that the first concern of Greek foreign policies should be the maintenance of peace, and the communication between and cooperation with the neighbouring peoples. In 1933, he confirmed his strong belief in the “old liberal principles of the early nineteenth century,” which were rooted in the Renaissance, the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. Most surprisingly, Theotokas remained faithful to his ideas throughout the 1930s and the Second World War. In 1946, he reiterated that the “Greek spirit” was compatible to “the most generous humanism,” and the “real” Greek “national idea” was a “liberal and humanistic ideal” that looked back on the Greek Enlightenment of the eighteenth century.39 This mutation of Greek nationalism from its original (irredentist/expansionist/territorial) nature to a rather spiritual/intellectual/pacifist phase is most evident in the distinction between nationalism (ethnikismos) of the nineteenth century and “nationism” (ethnismos) of the “post-war” period made in 1932 by Panagiotis Kanellopoulos (1902–1986), a pioneering sociologist, politician (future prime minister) and intellectual; the word of the day was the latter term. Kanellopoulos diversified “nationism” (that is the “inner idea of the nation”) from its political practices and usages (that is “nationalism”).40 In September 1939, Georgios Alexiadis, a disciple of Kanellopoulos, made, in the Archeion Oikonomikon kai Koinonikon Epistimon (a principal periodical of politics and economics), a “legal and sociological analysis of the idea of the nation,” wherein he asserted that “today the nation is not only the Soil” or “the land” but also an idea that exists independently of the “homeland.”41 Thereupon, Alexiadis contrived the epitomy of interwar Greek “nationism” (with all its predilections and contradictions) that was relevant not only for the years 1928–1936, but also to a certain extent (regarding foreign policies) for the post-1936 period.

Greek nationalism and authoritarianism  221

The turn of 1936 Greece’s bankruptcy in 1932 and the abortive coup d’état of Plastiras (a Venizelist putschist) in 1933, which respectively brought about the downfall of economic and political liberalism in the country, signalled a significant turn towards nationalism, sponsored by conservative political figures, such as Metaxas. In January 1935, Metaxas, in an article in Kathimerini, accused Venizelos that he had crushed the “National Ideal,” namely the “Great Idea,” and had spread the “theory” that Greece cannot hope for any more territory “beyond the limits of the free state of Hellenism.” The restoration of the ideal that had been quelled by “the maelstrom of Venizelos” was a duty of “the new Greek generation.” The youth, “in order to live and not to wither away prematurely,” was “in need to have faith in great ideals that would prod them forward and hold up their enthusiasm, and more generally give a meaning to their lives.” According to the retired general, the two vices of modern Hellenism were “rationalism” and “historical materialism” (i.e. Marxism), which had repulsed “faith” and “idealism” from Greek society. The Asia Minor Catastrophe was particularly disastrous for the “National Ideal,” for it made credible “the new theory of enclosing Hellenism within the limits of Greece,” a “theory” that Metaxas obviously detested. Thus, the “belief ” that the Great Idea had “definitively collapsed” and “lay in ruins” became a “commonplace,” and so “there was no more” in anybody “a National Ideal for Hellenism.” Metaxas, an age-long adversary of Venizelos, deplored particularly the fact that the youth had turned their attention towards “humanistic ideals,” while “leftism, regardless of its vague and nebulous content,” had become a “fashion.” Yet, despite his allusions to territorial expansion, Metaxas conclusively opted for a cultural, rather than an expansionist, new Great Idea, a profoundly conservative political option that overtly and sharply diverted from the imperialist élan of the fascist Powers and their revisionist allies at the time. The task of modern Hellenism would therefore be to restore, “within the limits of its free state,” its civilisation to its ancient glory. More strikingly, Metaxas expressed therein his aversion for the “fascist reaction.”42 Yet, for all his reservations, Metaxas’ leading article brought nationalism back onto the political agenda and was a blueprint for his future governmental policies, namely the “Third Greek Civilisation,” which was the official ideology of the Metaxist regime (1936–1941). In fact, the “Third Greek Civilisation” was a motley of disparate chauvinist, collectivist and communitarian ideas that espoused Greek cultural superiority with a strong emphasis on discipline and loyalty to the “New State.” In the words of Theologos Nikoloudis, the Deputy Minister of Press and Tourism (a screen for propaganda), the cultural policy of the New State was “idealistic,” and was epicentred on the idea of the “Nation.” However, the Third Greek Civilisation combined and intersected conservative political practices with radical nationalist connotations. The New State would eventually transcend tradition and transform the “new Greek citizen” into a “superior man.” The core of this radical

222  Spyridon G. Ploumidis

nationalist ideal was the “Spartan ideal,” which (in the regime’s own propaganda) “pulverised the individual” for the sake of “the glory and the greatness of the fatherland.” For the Spartans “subdued the individual to the community; the private interest to the general good; the thirst for individual survival to the need for promulgating the country.” This tribal “Doric virtue” was “the ideal model for organising a polity.” In plain words this meant that the individual “citizen” would become a disciplined “common soldier” and come only second to the state.43 Not least because of its chauvinist propensities and totalitarian pretensions, the state-sponsored nationalism of the Metaxas dictatorship was more of a substitute than a renewal of the Great Idea. Yet at the same time, despite its sharp differences from the Venizelist humanistic “nationism” of the early 1930s, the ideology of the Fourth of August regime did not entail expansionism and aggression or the transcendence of the Greek state borders. On the contrary, the pronounced Third Greek Civilisation was introvert and autarkic, and looked forward to a return to “the beautiful Greek traditions” and “the eternal sources” of ancient Greek and Byzantine civilisations rather than sought an expansion to an unredeemed promised land.44 The weekly Agrotiko Mellon (the regime’s mouthpiece to the farmers) clarified (in the most neo-romantic manner) that the construction of a new “National Civilisation,” i.e. “the struggle of Hellenism for its National consolidation and regeneration,” would take place within “its own borders”; it would be “a struggle for its fertile harmonisation with the territory where it lives, with its own Land.”45 Ostensibly, the Metaxist experiment both converted with and diverted from the radical-right political fashion of his time. His conservative agenda on foreign policies was repeatedly confirmed by Metaxas himself. On 2 October 1936, he stressed, at a “pan-Athenian” rally, that the only agenda of the Greek armed forces was “to defend the independence and the integrity of the country,” and that Greece was not pursuing any “military adventures.” Three days later, at a public speech in Komotini (on the north-eastern rim of Greece, close to Turkey), he repeated that Greece had no appetite for “wars and conquests,” but wanted to live in peace and pursue “economic prosperity.” His speech in Salonica on 26 of that same month followed the same lines. The tension in international relations did not alter Metaxas’ view on foreign and defence policies. At his orations in Drama (close to the Greco-Bulgarian border) and in Agrinio and Mesolonghi on 7 March and 14–15 June 1938, as well as at his address to the Council of the Balkan Entente in Bucharest on 21 February 1939, he reiterated that Greeks were a “peaceful people, profoundly devoted to the ideal of peace and content within their present borders.”46 Along these lines, Vassileios Papadakis (a senior diplomat and general secretary of the Deputy Ministry of Press and Tourism), in his analysis of Greek foreign policy in Neon Kratos (the regime’s semi-official mouthpiece), renounced

Greek nationalism and authoritarianism  223

any form of expansionism and plainly explained: “Greece does not ask anything from anybody, and does not want anything else but the maintenance of peace and the development of good relations with everybody (with its neighbours and with all the major European Powers) […] Greece’s foreign policy is peaceful toward every direction […] and is founded exclusively upon the Greek needs and circumstances, without being influenced by any alien political system” (by this alluding to fascism).47 Conclusively, Metaxist nationalism was more conservative and introvert rather than radical and innovative, and the regime’s foreign agenda was in continuity with the Venizelist past.

Drawbacks of right radicalism in Greece The absence of a state-sponsored warlike spirit and the general lack of expansionist foreign policies went hand in hand with the marginality of self-proclaimed fascist organisations. For one thing, fascism had no real political following in Greece. For instance, the National Union of Greece (est. 1927) and the National Socialist Party of Greece (est. 1933) of Georgios Merkouris (a former Minister of National Economy) remained minuscule and failed to enter the parliament, while in the elections of the 1930s Metaxas’ royalist Free Thinkers’ Party never secured more than seven seats.48 Fascism as a political ideology was unpopular in Greece not least because of the Italian occupation of the Dodecanese and the invasion of Corfu in 1923.49 Naturally, Greek nationalism was incompatible with a sociopolitical system that was identified with one of Greece’s arch-enemies (i.e. Italy). Next to Fascist Italy’s aggression, Mussolini’s grotesque image and his ultra-violent methods of governance were also repugnant to a noble-born like Metaxas, who preferred to present himself as Greece’s Salazar, that is as an erudite aristocrat-cumintellectual, grounded on the conservative values of family, community and Christian faith, and as a benign autocrat.50 Subsequently, in Greece, admiration for the Italian and German systems (limited to a handful of politicians and army officers) lay mostly on the structure of government and not on ideology per se: these countries seemed to possess precisely what Greece was most lacking, i.e. administrative efficiency and internal order.51 Ioannis Meletopoulos, an established Piraeus lawyer, in the pertinent entry of the mainstream Great Greek Encyclopedia (Megali Helliniki Engyklopaideia, a monumental multivolumed work completed in the late 1920s), praised Italian fascism for its “fine administration.”52 Therein, Mussolini was extolled for his successful “reforms.”53 The “very satisfactory results” of Mussolini’s “applied modifications in administration, commerce, agriculture, industry, and more generally in every part and form of the state and the society” were equally highlighted in Engyklopaidikon Lexikon Eleftheroudaki (the second in volume encyclopaedical dictionary at the time).54 A systematic propagation of the Italian model was undertaken in 1937–1938, by the Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Atene by

224  Spyridon G. Ploumidis

means of over fifteen translations of speeches of Mussolini and other works of prominent Italian Fascists.55 A dozen more publications (e.g. by Demosthenes Stefanidis, a professor of political economy at the University of Thessaloniki; Ioannis Giannopoulos, a jurist and former MP of the Free Thinkers’ Party; and Georgios Merkouris) that appraised German National Socialism “with sincere admiration” and Hitler as “the embodiment of the idea of German greatness,” and propagated corporatism appeared in 1937–1939.56 However, the impact of these post-1936 works should not be overestimated. They were more a means of aligning with and courting the Metaxist regime rather than products of a strong indigenous stream of thought. Not only was the proliferation of radical ideas and fascist ideology extremely limited before 1936, but also fascism was heavily criticised by intellectuals, including its future proponents under the Metaxist regime. For instance, in 1929, Babis Alivizatos (an economic technocrat-cum-political scientist who in 1936 made a complete U-turn, joined the Metaxas regime and consequently planned its agrarian policy) translated Francesco Nitti’s (a devout anti-fascist politician’s) work Bolschevisme, fascisme et democratie (Paris 1926). In his “introductory note,” Alivizatos denounced fascism for being “merely a passing reactionary phenomenon that is not inspired by any ideal other than the exercise of crude violence.” And thereupon he expanded that [Fascism] is an attempt at a return to the dark middle ages, to the principles of dictatorship and to the morals of violence, and so it leads to tyranny and war. Its only ideal and programme is ultra-nationalism and destructive and foolish imperialist and expansionist tendencies. Alivizatos further warned that the reaction and the medievalism that takes the form, within the individual states, of dictatorial and fascist movements and threatens to wipe out and terminate the liberal and democratic institutions, in international life takes the form of a relentless and bigoted nationalism that poisons, more and more every day, the international organism and prepares the ground for new wars and new calamities against humanity. He finally commented that communism, contrary to fascism, “deserves our respect,” and alerted his readers that Greece ran the danger of “a new disguised or undisguised dictatorship.”57 In addition to these professed denouncements of fascism, the legacy of the Great War and the Asia Minor Debacle had not created in Greece a (in Robert Gerwarth’s terms) “culture of defeat” that entailed paramilitary violence, movements and combat groups.58 The absence of a politicised potent veterans’ movement that attempted to turn home politics towards a radical agenda is of

Greek nationalism and authoritarianism  225

paramount importance for explaining this lagging. Certainly, the veterans were a sizeable new social category in post-1922 Greece (in 1929 the official number of the disabled ex-servicemen was 5,837; along with the close relatives of the war dead, the number of the bereaved and the disabled amounted to 57,548).59 What is more, by 1926 the Greek veterans had managed to turn their welfare provisions to a new-fangled privileged status, and therefore held vital interests in the institutionalisation and the expansion of the memory of the National Wars (of 1912–1922), since the latter was arguably vital for the legitimisation and the perpetuation of their extensive rights and privileges.60 Their endeavours culminated in the First Panhellenic Congress of War Veterans (Athens 19–22 May 1934), wherein a congressman suggested that “by law nobody should live off the state budget, unless he has served somehow at the front.” The First Panhellenic Congress, wherein more than 140 representatives of 71 veterans’ and reservist officers’ associations took part, went many steps beyond material claims and was a landmark in the history of the Greek veterans’ movement, for it explicitly examined their “role in the post-war Society” and enunciated “their need to exit from the margins of [public] life” and to assume an active part in “the long-awaited reformation of Greek Society and Greek nation in general.” Their imagined “historic role” was (according to the comments of the conservative Venizelist daily Hestia) based upon “the spirit of the trench.” In addition to being militaristic, the discourse of the veterans had also overt nationalistic and anti-communist connotations. In his address to the congressmen, Minister of War General Kondylis (a future stager of a coup d’état, which restored the monarchy a year and a half later) hailed the veterans (himself being one of them) as “preachers of the idea of the nation” and “the most significant foundation” of the state. The resolution of the congress, which pertained to the role of the ex-servicemen in the “reformation of Greek Society,” clearly stipulated “the absolute negation of the immoral and criminal idea of class conflict,” and exclaimed their “firm decision to stand up against the internal enemies of the Nation, with the same intrepid firmness, with which they had previously confronted the external enemies.”61 The agenda of the war veterans became clearer at their Third Panhellenic Congress (Athens, 14–17 June 1936). Once again, the main concern of the congressmen was “the securing of their established rights.”62 The keynote speaker particularly suggested that the veterans who at the time were temporarily working in the public sector or the local government should become permanent.63 At the same time, the veterans once again most solemnly reconsidered their position “in the society and the state,” and their representatives “equivocally” approved of another speaker’s suggestion that “ideologically and politically” the Greek veterans were equally distanced from “the two extremes” of communism and fascism. More precisely, their “most profound belief in the idea of the nation and the national state in its capacity as the bearer of historical life and civilisation” differentiated them from the former, whereas their aversion

226  Spyridon G. Ploumidis

to violence and the violation of liberty similarly separated them from the latter. According to this suggestion, the Greek veterans were “slightly inclined toward the Left.” To this effect, among the “main concerns” of the veterans were: the improvement of the living conditions of the majority of the people; the curtailment of economic differences; the welfare policy for the workers and the farmers; the support of every “national” effort that enhanced social justice and equality in the distribution of public “goods” and services; the strengthening of national security and defence.64 The approved resolution included also allusions to corporatism (by means of the vision of the “nation” as the hub of “workers’ unity”), which was a common feature of the social policies of authoritarian and fascist dictatorships in the interwar period.65 Yet, despite these allusions and the previous concerted efforts of radically minded influential individuals (such as General Kondylis) to fascistise the veterans’ movement, on the eve of the establishment of General Metaxas’ regime, the self-styled “class” of Greek war veterans 66 was still very far from developing into a radical paramilitary force. (Similarly, in Britain, France and the United States, where a broad veterans’ movement appeared as early as 1915–1916 and 1919 respectively to champion for the rights of the discharged and the disabled, the ex-servicemen failed to emerge as an independent political force, not least because of their organisational fragmentation and political polarisation. There, the mainstream veterans’ organisations, albeit formidable lobbyists, opted for international and domestic stabilisation and supported the established political and social status quo rather than the radical Right or the revolutionary Left. They were neither regimented nor bellicose and during the 1920s endorsed the League of Nations and Briand’s rapprochement policies. The case of the three Atlantic democracies was profoundly different from Germany and Italy, where the challenge of demobilisation was not coped with successfully and ex-serviceman played there a key role in the symbolic appropriation of the idea of the war veteran by ultranationalist and radical forces and in the maturing of fascism there.67)

The Fourth of August dictatorship Fascism seemed to have a better chance in Greece after 4 August 1936. Although technically a royal dictatorship, the Fourth of August regime shared basic tenets of generic fascism (anti-liberalism, anti-Marxism, anti-Communism, etc.), and promptly adopted several fascistic trappings, symbols and practices, such as the fascist salute; the double Minoan axe (reminiscent of the Lictor’s axe); the Führerprinzip (Metaxas assumed the title Archigos [= the Leader]); the construction of a repressive police state; the vehement anti-Communism; the extensive use of cinema and radio propaganda and censorship; etc. Totalitarianism appeared also to be one of its main propensities: In December 1938, the Metaxist New State placed culture and arts under its absolute control (literally its “roof,” by means of the establishment of the Roof of Letters and Arts). Yet,

Greek nationalism and authoritarianism  227

its most innovative totalitarian measure was the exaltation and the indoctrination of the youth into its principles. The establishment of the National Youth Organisation, which by June 1939 had come to absorb the Boy Scouts (who hitherto paid allegiance to the Crown) and the Young Men’s and Women’s Christian Associations, was first and mostly instrumental in filling-in a gap in the power structure of this technically royalist dictatorship. As a matter of fact, the Fourth of August regime was not the product of a mass movement or a mass party, but was implemented from above and so had no deep roots in the society. Therefore, the fascistisation of the young generation would in due time have produced the power base that the regime and its “Leader” (Metaxas) personally was desperately looking for.68 The new-fangled National Youth Organisation (Ethniki Organosis Neolaias, abbreviated to EON) was a prime tool for the familiarisation of the future generation with totalitarian, collectivist and communitarian ideas and concepts (formulated into the so-styled “Spartan ideal”), which aimed at creating a “superior Man” and a new elite, loyal to the New State.69 At the same time, EON served as the ultimate workshop for the construction of a domestic Volksgemeinschaft. Metaxas envisioned the transformation of the Greek society into a homogenous community (commonly phrased in the domestic propagandist discourse as “the people’s [viz. völkisch] community” or “the People as a single body”) that cut across class or other fault lines. His vision for a Greek Volksgemeinschaft (apparently, a more inclusive one than the German archetype) was never elaborated and made explicit. Nevertheless, a society wherein the child of the worker would stand side by side as a comrade [viz. Kamerad] to the child of the literate; the child of the peasant side by side to the child of the wealthy; away from party politics and political hatred; and away from capitalism was, as the mouthpiece of EON clarified, “the ideal form of the new society” that was still in progress before Metaxas’ natural death. In February 1941 (i.e. shortly after Metaxas’ decease), Theologos Nikoloudis (the head of the propaganda machine) explained in plain words that this “socialising” and “cooperation” between “the poor and the rich children” would instil them with the spirit of “comradeship” (namely Kameraderie), “unity” and “a deeper social solidarity.” All in all, EON certainly was the most genuinely fascist constituent element of the Metaxas dictatorship.70 The Fourth of August regime was also innovative in another way: it institutionalised and disseminated further a new form of nationalism, namely “peasantist nationalism.” “Peasantist nationalism” was not invented by the Metaxas regime by any means. This novel discourse of Greek nationalism, which drew on radical agrarianism and neo-romanticism, had actually first made its appearance in the 1920s (during a severe crisis in the global agricultural economy) as a response to acute socio-economic problems. “Peasantist nationalism” was by

228  Spyridon G. Ploumidis

and large constructed by the agronomists (a new strata of technocrats who used nationalism as a vehicle for social mobility) as a way of addressing urbanism and curbing the soaring influx of peasant migrants into the major towns. (In 1920–1928, the percentage of Greece’s urban population living in places over 20,000 rose from 17% to 27%; this was the result not solely of the settlement of around 390,000 refugees in the three largest cities of the country, i.e. Athens, Piraeus and Salonica, but also of the internal migration of another 500,000 from the rural areas to the large urban centres. Especially the new smallholders, who acquired their plot of land as a result of the agrarian reform of 1917, saw no prospect in agriculture and inflated the petit bourgeois strata. Slumping international prices of agricultural products and the steep drop, by a median 20%, in the productivity of Greek agriculture in 1922–1933 were the main reasons behind this alarming phenomenon of the Landflucht.) The conception of the “peasantist nation,” which is also germane particularly to the discourse of the Legion of Archangel Michael in Romania, intended (rather naively) to persuade the farmers to remain in the fields and continue their ancestral profession. Within this “peasantist nationalist” narrative, the nation was formally identified with the farmers, the national territory was considered identical with the agricultural land and the cultivation of the land was presented as a national duty, equal to the military service, while urbanism was negatively tainted and equated to high treason. Metaxas, who comprehended the importance of the landed agrarian class as the broadest conservative social foundation (a “sincere supporter and watchful guard of the national State”), unreservedly adopted the “peasantist nationalist” discourse and fully integrated the agronomists into the technocratic apparatus of his New State. In January 1937, “peasantist nationalism” eventually assumed institutional dimensions (this new state ideology was formalised by Minister of Agriculture and academician Georgios Kyriakos, an agronomist by trade, in his annual address to the plenum of the Academy of Athens) and became a cornerstone of the hegemonic ideology of the Metaxist New State. Accordingly, the so-called Third Greek Civilisation (the regime’s main ideological tenet) was meant to have an agrarian basis and be inspired by rustic life; and its main concern officially was the creation of a new-styled “Agrarian Civilisation.” 71 Moreover, the Metaxas dictatorship resembled the fascist and authoritarian regimes in another manner: by legislating and implementing (in Peter Williamson’s terms) “authoritarian-licensed” corporatist measures.72 The Fourth of August regime essentially was the only government in Greece that put certain corporatist ideas systematically into practice.73 Shortly after assuming power, Metaxas declared in a speech that the nineteenth century had been marked by the decline of capitalism and laissez-faire liberalism, but that since 1918 these systems had declined and fallen, to be replaced nearly everywhere by state systems of a “managed economy” (alias économie dirigée),74 i.e. a centrally planned and state-regulated economic system that had been adopted by dictators across

Greek nationalism and authoritarianism  229

Europe at the time and encompassed economic nationalism, autarky, welfare measures and corporatism.75 In an interview published in the Völkischer Beobachter (the Nazi Party mouthpiece) 18 days later, Metaxas further announced that his “new State” would be “corporatist,” and that “organisations of employers and employees” would be founded in each prefecture.76 Announcements about these plans as well as about a future, horizontally structured (according to the branches of production), Great Council of National Labour were repeated in November by the Finance Minister Konstantinos Zavitsianos.77 For, according to its semi-official mouthpiece, the regime aimed in the immediate future at the “reorganisation of social and political life on the basis of the doctrine of cooperation and solidarity between the classes.” 78 However, in 1936–1941, the distance between political theory and practice remained immense, and these pronouncements were never fully materialised. To nobody’s surprise, in mid-1938, the theorists of Metaxas’ New State reassured their readers that political representation of “associations of organised groups and the professions” would definitely be institutionalised, yet admitted that “whether or not the Fourth of August State would develop into a Corporatist State” was still very “obscure.” 79 In effect, nothing similar to the two German Reichsstände für Handel und Industrie (National Corporations for Trade and Industry)80 was established there, nor a law parallel to the Carta del Lavoro (1927)81 or to the (Nazi) Law on the Organic Structure of the Economy (November 1934)82 was ever instituted in Metaxas’ Greece. The novel policy of corporatism was applied solely and minimally in agriculture (via the so-named “Houses of the Farmer,” which replaced the Chambers of Agriculture in November 1938 throughout the Peloponnese, a monarchist stronghold).83 So, in as much as the Metaxas regime never reached the mature stage of fascism, corporatism did not ever become the structural and overwhelming ideological foundation of Greek economy, let alone politics (e.g. in the form of an assembly similar to the Camera dei Fasci e delle Corporazioni). On the whole, structural, practical and ideological differences exceeded in scope parities to archetypal fascist dictatorships. First and foremost, the very existence of the king, who, albeit in the background, was in full control of the army and the gendarmerie, seriously impeded the adoption of other European models of government and radical practices of the “new” Right. In fact, dictator Metaxas never disputed the monarchy, and laid emphasis on traditional values, namely the Orthodox religion and the family, rather than on the new totalitarian state that was under construction.84 For that matter, Metaxas exhorted his Youth to show “absolute respect to the Christian religion,” and “love and obedience to the Church,” and to abide by the “sacred institution of family.”85 What is more important, the narrowness of the regime’s social base (exemplarily highlighted by David Close) explains the importance attached to the National Youth Organisation,86 and the bureaucratic character of the Fourth of August regime.87 Last but not least, as S. Victor Papacosma underlines, Metaxas’

230  Spyridon G. Ploumidis

dictatorship did not persecute minorities on racial grounds. Quite the contrary: Metaxas specifically spoke out against antisemitic practices.88 (Nevertheless, pro-Romanian Vlachs, Albanian Çams and especially the Slavophone minority in Northern Greece did experience harsh discriminatory and assimilatory pressures, since the dictatorship, as had earlier Greek regimes, viewed these minority populations as a source of support for Bulgaria and Italy, Greece’s long-standing enemies.89) Additionally, economic and societal reasons account equally for the absence of right-wing radicalism and corporatism (let alone totalitarianism) in interwar Greece. Low levels of industrialisation and literacy; the fragmentation of a (by and large agrarian) society (the British ambassador in Athens noted in 1935 that Greece, “a poor and small agricultural country,” was “a country of which the vast majority of the inhabitants” were “primitive Balkan peasants”), wherein personal arrangements and kinship played a far greater role than class or corporate interests in the management of labour; the extensive clientelist networks of the established bourgeois parties; and the ineffectiveness of public administration and civil services (marred by inertia, confusion, controversy and delay) equally inhibited the emergence of a mass militant movement or a party that would deify the state and its functions.90 Certainly, National Socialist notions such as Reichsnährstand (the supreme National Sustenance Corporation) or the Werkgemeinschaft (the National Labour Community), propounded by Demosthenes Stefanidis (see above),91 sounded alien to the Greek readership.

Conclusion The Metaxas regime was a fascist-like (in its outward characteristics and its style of power) and fascist (in certain structural forms) royalist dictatorship that held totalitarian aspirations, yet it never reached the mature stage of fascism. Hence, the Fourth of August regime falls more comfortably within the category of the authoritarian far Right, which at the time interacted and overlapped with more radical and ultranationalistic currents and the “fascist” model of rule that was set in 1922. Payne maintains that sometimes a long evolutionary period of five years or more was required for the transformation of the authoritarian Right into fascism.92 The Metaxas dictatorship happened not to have enough time in its hands. It was smashed by its very natural allies (the Italians and the Germans). It is clear to me that the very nationalist nature of fascism precluded the construction of a strong fascist community of nations. Deep-rooted nationalist antagonisms and divisions overrode convergence and uniformity of “fascist” ideas and political practices. For his part, Stephen Lee rightfully argues that “Metaxas was attracted by the style of power [of fascism] rather than the ideology behind it; although he used elements of fascism he was not overtly or latently a fascist.” 93 Therefore, in Lee’s terms, Metaxas’ regime is categorised as “authoritarian” and not

Greek nationalism and authoritarianism  231

“totalitarian.” I would like to add here that in Greece the drawbacks exceeded the potentials of the far Right. The latent and introvert nature of interwar Greek nationalism has a lot to answer for. Even in the case of Metaxas’ shortlived political experiment (the closest that Greece ever came to generic fascism), my arguments here converge with Aristotle Kallis’ analysis: Interwar nationalism, conservatism and right-wing radicalism need to be “recontextualised” within a an open-ended process of hybridisation, which allowed for a broad grey zone between the novel Fascist-Nazi template and the conventional authoritarian dictatorships, and created a series of “related” and multifaceted political phenomena across Europe.94

Notes 1 Oliver Zimmer, Nationalism in Europe, 1890–1940 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), p. 82. 2 Mark Neocleous, Fascism (Buckingham: Open University Press, 1997), p. 19; Peter Davies and Derek Lynch, The Routledge Companion to Fascism and the Far Right (London: Routledge, 2002), p. 115. 3 George L. Mosse, The Nationalization of the Masses: Political Symbolism and Mass Movements in Germany from the Napoleonic Wars through the Third Reich (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996 [1975]), pp. 1, 5–6, 20, 207–209; John Breuilly, Nationalism and the State (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 21993), pp. 19–20; Zimmer, Nationalism in Europe, p. 89. 4 Breuilly, Nationalism and the State, pp. 290, 300, cited in Zimmer, Nationalism in Europe, pp. 83–84, 87–88; Anthony Smith, who vetoes the equation of fascism and Nazism with nationalism, concedes that these two movements were “heavily intertwined with, and politically indebted to, nationalism”; see Anthony D. Smith, Nationalism in the Twentieth Century (Oxford: Martin Robertson, 1979), pp. 80, 84. 5 Stanley G. Payne, Fascism: Comparison and Definition (Madison: Wisconsin University Press, 1980), p. 120. 6 Martin Blinkhorn, Fascism and the Right in Europe, 1919–1945 (Edinburgh Gate and Harlow: Longman, 2000), p. 49. 7 Stanley G. Payne, A History of Fascism, 1914–1945 (Madison: Wisconsin University Press, 1995), p. 317. 8 Giorgis D. Katsoulis, Ιστορία του Κομμουνιστικού Κόμματος Ελλάδας [History of the Communist Party of Greece], vol. IV (1934–1940) (Athens: Nea Synora, 1976), p. 343. 9 S. Victor Papacosma, “Ioannis Metaxas and the ‘Fourth of August’ Dictatorship in Greece” in Bernd J. Fischer (ed.), Balkan Strongmen: Dictators and Authoritarian Rulers of South Eastern Europe (London: I. B. Tauris, 2007), p. 196. 10 Jon V. Kofas, Authoritarianism in Greece: The Metaxas Regime (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983), pp. 53, 207; Stephen J. Lee, European Dictatorships, 1918–1945 (London: Routledge, 2008), p. 35. 11 Payne, A History of Fascism, 319–320, cited in Papacosma, “Ioannis Metaxas and the ‘Fourth of August’ Dictatorship,” p. 197. 12 Aristotle Kallis, “Fascism and the Right in Interwar Europe: Interaction, Entanglement, Hybridity,” in Nicholas Doumanis (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of European History 1914–1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019), pp. 304, 312, 318. 13 Payne, A History of Fascism, pp. 6–7. 14 Lee, European Dictatorships, pp. 26, 29. 15 Sir Michael Llewellyn Smith, Ionian Vision 1919–1922: Greece in Asia Minor (London: Hurst, 1998), pp. 6, 37, 54.

232  Spyridon G. Ploumidis

Greek nationalism and authoritarianism  233

234  Spyridon G. Ploumidis

Greek nationalism and authoritarianism  235

68 69 70


72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89

in Interwar Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019), pp. 1–2, 8, 11, 274–277. Petrakis, The Metaxas Myth, pp. 18–24; Papacosma, “Ioannis Metaxas and the ‘Fourth of August’ dictatorship,” pp. 182–186; Ploumidis, Το καθεστώς Ιωάννη Μεταξά, pp. 27–33, 45–48, 53–54, 70–71, 86–87. Ploumidis, Το καθεστώς Ιωάννη Μεταξά, pp. 38–40, 54, 63–67. Ploumidis, Το καθεστώς Ιωάννη Μεταξά, pp. 105–107; for the German Volksgemeinschaft and its nature, see: Richard Grunberger, A Social History of the Third Reich (Harmondsworth, Middlesex and New York: Penguin Books, 1977), pp. 67–80; Payne, A History of Fascism, pp. 194–195; Jane Caplan, Nazi Germany: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019), pp. 58–87. Spyridon G. Ploumidis, “‘Peasantist Nationalism’ in inter-war Greece (1927–41),” Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, vol. 37, no. 1 (2013), pp. 111–129; see Ploumidis, “Agrarian Politics in Inter-war Greece: The ‘stillborn’ Peasant Parties (1923–36),” Studia Universitatis Cibiniensis. Series Historica, vol. 9 (2012), pp. 59–62; Ploumidis, “Η ελληνική αγροτική κρίση του Μεσοπολέμου (Δεκ. 1920): Κοινωνικές διαστάσεις της οικονομολογικής σκέψης επί της κρίσης” [The Agrarian Crisis in Inter-war Greece (December 1920): Social Dimensions of the Economic thought on the Crisis], Dodoni, vol. 38–42 (2008–2013), pp. 304–307, 327–331. See Peter J. Williamson, Varieties of Corporatism: A Conceptual Discussion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), pp. 7, 11, 85–86. Spyridon G. Ploumidis, “Corporatist ideas in Inter-war Greece: From Theory to Practice (1922–1940),” European History Quarterly, vol. 44, no. 1 (2014), pp. 65–70. Papacosma, “Ioannis Metaxas and the ‘Fourth of August’ Dictatorship,” p. 187. Ivan T. Berend, An Economic History of Twentieth-Century Europe: Economic Regimes from Laissez-Faire to Globalisation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), pp. 92–132. See Metaxas’ interview republished in Kathimerini 5266 (26 September 1936), p. 1; Kofas, Authoritarianism in Greece, p. 65. Mark Mazower, Greece and the Inter-War Economic Crisis (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), pp. 290–291; Sarandis, “The Ideology and Character of the Metaxas Regime,” pp. 156–157. Gr. Bamias, “Οι αγρόται εις το Νέον Κράτος,” [The Farmers in the New State] To Neon Kratos 10 ( June 1938), p. 662. Nikolaos D. Koumaros and Georgios A. Mantzoufas, “Αι θεμελιώδεις συνταγματικαί αρχαί του Νέου Κράτους,” [The Fundamental Constitutional Tenets of the New State] To Neon Kratos 11 ( July 1938), p. 818. See Avraham Barkai, Nazi Economics: Ideology, Theory, and Policy (New Haven, CT and London: Berg, 1990), p. 129. See Williamson, Varieties of Corporatism, pp. 84–90, 96. See Barkai, Nazi Economics, p. 130. Ploumidis, “Corporatist Ideas in Inter-war Greece,” p. 68. Ploumidis, Το καθεστώς Ιωάννη Μεταξά, pp. 67–70. Τέσσαρα χρόνια διακυβερνήσεως Ι. Μεταξά [Four Years of the I. Metaxas Government], vol. II (Athens: Yphypourgeion Typou kai Tourismou, 1940), pp. 109, 133. David H. Close, “The Power-base of the Metaxas Dictatorship” in Higham and ­Veremis (eds.), The Metaxas Dictatorship, p. 21. See Payne, A History of Fascism, p. 467. Papacosma, “Ioannis Metaxas and the ‘Fourth of August’ Dictatorship,” p. 196. Ibidem; Eleftheria Manta, Οι μουσουλμάνοι Τσάμηδες της Ηπείρου: 1923–2000 [The Muslims Çams of Epirus, 1923–2000] (Thessaloniki: Institute for Balkan Studies, 2004), pp. 103–108; Philip Carabott, “Aspects of Hellenisation of Greek Macedonia, ca. 1912–ca. 1959,” Κάμπος: Cambridge Papers in Modern Greek, vol. 13 (2005), pp. 47– 51; Tasos Kostopoulos, Η απαγορευμένη γλώσσα: Κρατική καταστολή των σλαβικών

236  Spyridon G. Ploumidis


91 92 93 94

διαλέκτων στην ελληνική Μακεδονία [The Forbidden Language: State Suppression of Slavic Dialects in Greek Macedonia] (Athens: Vivliorama, 2008), pp. 162–180. John Campbell and Philip Sherrard, Modern Greece (London: Ernest Benn, 1968), pp. 379–381, 399–400; George Th. Mavrogordatos, Stillborn Republic: Social Coalitions and Party Strategies in Greece, 1922–1936 (Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, 1983), pp. 67–75, 154; Blinkhorn, Fascism and the Right in Europe, p. 50; cf. FO 371/19518: Sir Sydney Waterlow to Sir John Simon, “Greece: Annual Report, 1934” (Athens 6 February 1935), p. 2. Stefanidis, Το κοινωνικόν ζήτημα, pp. 19, 27–28. Payne, A History of Fascism, p. 467. Lee, European Dictatorships, p. 336. Kallis, “Fascism and the Right in interwar Europe,” pp. 312–313, 318.

10 DYNAMICS OF DIVISION The French Right (1918–1941) Sean Kennedy

In the period between 1918 and 1941 the French Right was organisationally and intellectually fragmented, as it had been since the inception of the Third Republic (1870–1940). This perennial friction, however, should not obscure the ideological convergences and organisational connections that existed. At different points during the interwar era conservative and radical rightists displayed some programmatic similarities as well as patterns of overlapping membership; there were also attempts at cooperation, particularly in times of crisis. Potential for right-wing cooperation was evident with the forging of the Bloc National after the Great War, in response to the election of the left-wing Cartel des Gauches in 1924, as the Great Depression took its toll on French society and political scandal culminated in the 6 February 1934 riots, during the era of the Popular Front, and in the wake of the catastrophic defeat of 1940. Yet despite these periods of potential convergence – typically in response to a shared sense of enmity to domestic and sometimes foreign foes – intra-right divisions endured. As Kevin Passmore has demonstrated in depth there were various fault lines, including variable positions on the nature of the political system, international affairs, the role of religion and social and economic issues.1 Moreover, as stressed by Michel Dobry and other scholars, competition for members, desires for primacy and differences over strategy were also critical to fomenting these divisions.2 As for France’s influential and voluble right-wing intellectuals, generational differences, cultural leanings and transnational trends all encouraged differentiation. Overall the situation was highly fluid; by the eve of the Second World War the French Right had evolved in crucial ways. Some prominent writers were increasingly drawn to the examples of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, while others remained entrenched critics of the established system without embracing foreign models so fulsomely. Organisationally the Right had been transformed

238  Sean Kennedy

by the advent of mass organisations, above all the Croix de Feu (CF) and its successor the Parti Social Français (PSF), which mobilised men and women on a vast scale, despite the latter’s official exclusion from politics. Additionally, many conservatives had been radicalised by years of polarisation. While organisational and intellectual divisions persisted, ideological convergences favouring authoritarian government, paternalist social relations and exclusionary conceptions of the nation had also emerged. These transformations, and the persistence of a bitter left-right divide, continued to structure the conduct of the Right after France declared war on Germany. Following the crushing defeat of 1940 overlap between conservatives and radicals were evident in the early stages of Vichy’s National Revolution – though so too was the legacy of previous divisions. The ideological goals, but also the fractious character, of the new regime reflected a complex history of conservative-radical interactions between the wars. Space precludes detailed discussion of the long and rancorous debate over the significance of French fascism here. 3 Noting recent scholarship that avoids imputing essences to movements and bearing in mind that the term “fascism” was employed as a mobilising tool by the French Left, and a means of selfidentification by only a limited number of intellectuals and formations of the French Right, this chapter will avoid focusing upon this debate.4 In keeping with the approach of this volume I instead employ the terms “conservative” and “radical.” These are distinguished relatively, with the latter term encompassing those who advocated more profound changes to the established system, criticised established conservatives for compromising right-wing principles, and were more inclined to advocate or engage in direct action. While acknowledging Zeev Sternhell’s insights regarding the influence of left-wing ideas in shaping far-right ideology, this chapter highlights connections between conservatives and radicals, tracing a series of interactions that encouraged growing militancy.5 Influences from abroad, as well as responses to international, national and imperial developments all shaped this process. None of this is to deny the persistence of internal divisions; nor is it to suggest that Vichy was pre-determined. Nevertheless, intra-right conflict often took place within the context of some broadly shared values, with an overall trend towards authoritarianism and exclusion.

From the Bloc National to the Cartel des Gauches Fractiousness was hard-wired into the political makeup of the French Right during the era of the Third Republic. Political formations emerged slowly and remained fluid in organisation and membership. Identifying specific affiliations and alignments is challenging – at election time candidates might belong to a party but run under a more vaguely defined label; the composition of parliamentary groups did not correspond to party lines. Bearing this porosity and complexity in mind, at the national level there were three major right-wing parliamentary parties in 1914. The closest to the political centre was the Alliance

The French Right  239

Démocratique, which supported a secular republic and sometimes governed in coalition with the anticlerical and moderately reformist Radicals, at the time the dominant French political party. Where the Alliance differed from many Radicals was in the depth of its commitment to business interests and its desire to stem the influence of the French Socialist Party (SFIO). Associated with leading politicians such as President Raymond Poincaré, the Alliance was an elitist but highly influential formation, able to govern with the Radicals in the centre or participate in a broader right-wing coalition. Further to the Right was the Fédération Républicaine, whose supporters were more sympathetic towards the Catholic Church and traditionalist in their social views. The Action Libérale Populaire (ALP) was the most explicitly Catholic and densely organised of all the right-wing parties but it waned after the Great War, with many of its supporters likely shifting their votes to the Fédération. The formation of the Parti Démocrate Populaire (PDP) in 1924, which opposed the Left but accepted the Republic and promoted moderate social reform, represented a reincarnation of the political Catholic tradition but it remained a smaller formation, though not without influence. There was also an established tradition of vociferous extra-parliamentary and intellectual engagement. Ultranationalist associations, commonly dubbed “leagues,” were frequent critics of the parliamentary system and promoted a stronger executive and exclusionary nationalism that often extended to antisemitism. Examples included the Ligue des Patriotes and the Ligue de la Patrie Française; the ultranationalist writer and sometime deputy Maurice Barrès had been involved in both organisations, and his political stance is suggestive of their priorities. Barrès’s political engagement evolved, but he was consistent in promoting an authoritarian and xenophobic regime, albeit one that still took on a republican form. Perhaps the most famous league of all was the Action Française (AF), which engaged both in intellectual combat through its influential newspaper and in street confrontations spearheaded by its Camelots du Roi. The AF, with prominent writers like Charles Maurras and Léon Daudet forcefully advancing its views, championed the restoration of the monarchy as the solution to what it saw as the corruption of France by democracy, Freemasonry and Judaism. Catholic thinkers and formations were also influential during this period; in accordance with papal directives they accepted the republic but combated its secularism and sought to restore religion to the heart of French life. Catholic organisations such as the Ligue patriotique des françaises also played a critical role in bringing women into the public sphere, attracting hundreds of thousands of supporters.6 Despite such fragmentation, nationalism and hostility to the Left constituted points of ideological contact among the Right, and there was overlap between some organisations as well. The Great War promoted further blurring of these lines while favouring right-wing ascendancy. Though France entered the conflict with the declaration of a union sacrée, right-wing nationalists most fully embraced the “war culture” of 1914–1918, with its demonisation of the enemy and

240  Sean Kennedy

rejection of compromise. The AF, for instance, gained legitimacy as it focused less upon attacking the republic and more upon stoking anti-German sentiment and denouncing suspected pacifists and traitors.7 Maurice Barrès quickly became another leading champion of the war effort, calling for an end to internal divisions under thinly veiled nationalist auspices; “let us all put ourselves in step, in military step, and then on with the music.”8 With the ascent of Georges Clemenceau as premier in 1917 and the exclusion of the Left from government the Right gained further momentum, a trend that persisted into the early post-war years. In 1919 an electoral alliance known as the Bloc National achieved an imposing victory, winning a total of 383 seats in the Chamber of Deputies against 176 for the Left. This outcome was partly the result of the Right’s embrace of what John Horne refers to as “a culture of victory,” which blended triumphalism with deep-seated anxiety.9 Spanning from elements of the Radical Party to organisations advocating constitutional reform and even hitherto anti-parliamentary AF supporters, the Bloc promised a stronger executive, the defeat of left-wing agitation and a hard line in dealing with Germany. Pro-natalism and the restoration of the family were also critical to many of its adherents. Invoking the strong – critics would say authoritarian – wartime leadership of Clemenceau and stressing the moral authority of veterans, the Bloc extended wartime instincts into peacetime, invoking national unity and directing it against the Left.10 In dealing with strikers the government also had the support of the Unions Civiques, extra-parliamentary formations in which veterans played a key role. This sometimes resulted in physical confrontations with the Left, but in contrast to Italy the French state remained firmly in control.11 On the intellectual front the ideas of Barrès and Maurras remained influential, even as anti-Communism and strident imperialism emerged as priorities alongside traditional anti-German nationalism. In 1919 the nationalist author Henri Massis published a manifesto entitled Pour un parti de l’intelligence, which assailed left-wing writers as “the Bolsheviks of literature” and called for the defence of French nationhood for the sake of Western civilisation: “We believe – and the world believes with us – that it is the mission of our race to defend the spiritual interests of humanity.” Such notions remained crucial for many conservative and radical right-wing intellectuals in the years to come.12 The formation of the Bloc showed how various elements of the Right could converge around a shared program, but its fate reaffirmed the significance of internal divisions. Clemenceau resigned after the 1919 elections to seek the presidency of the Republic, but his anticlerical past and other grievances left him short of support and he was denied this prize. His successor as prime minister, Alexandre Millerand, was a former socialist who had moved to the Right over the course of his career and was a key architect of the Bloc. However, while Millerand redeployed the language of war – dubbing confrontations with strikers as a “civil Battle of the Marne” – both he and his successors struggled to implement the Bloc’s agenda. The electoral alliances of 1919 varied at the local level; divisions between centrists and rightists, and splits within the Right, remained

The French Right  241

significant in some regions, which soon had implications for government policy.13 Plans to introduce social insurance ran into opposition from economic liberals, while some conservatives favoured corporatism. In foreign affairs the desire to weaken Germany was strong, yet within the Bloc there were those who envisioned a more conciliatory approach within a framework of international cooperation. Religion was another crucial dividing line, with laic conservatives supporting laws regulating Catholic organisations while newly elected Bloc deputies such as Xavier Vallat, who received AF support in 1919, were bitter foes of secularism. Plans for constitutional reforms to strengthen the executive amounted to little, for instance, as enough parliamentarians remained broadly content with the status quo.14 The nationalist drive that animated the Bloc National revived when Poincaré returned as prime minister in 1922 and pursued a more assertive policy towards Germany, ordering the occupation of the Ruhr in order to secure reparations. When the recently formed Communist Party (PCF) launched a campaign to label him “Poincaré-la-guerre,” the Bloc responded by accusing the Communists of serving German interests, further evidence of how the legacy of the war was being invoked to support anti-communism.15 Despite Poincaré’s domestic support, though, internationally France experienced sharp criticism accompanied by intense financial pressure. With legislative elections looming, the Bloc fragmented. The Radical Party parted ways with the centre and Right, looking instead to the Socialists as allies. Meanwhile, on the Right there was growing frustration with the Bloc’s limited achievements. Many conservatives felt that the Radicals had too much influence and sought a more homogenous, unambiguously right-wing government. The prospects for this dimmed further when Maurice Barrès, who had continued to serve as a bridge between conservative and radical nationalists after the war, died in December 1923, removing a key interlocutor from the scene.16 The 1924 elections resulted in a major shift as the Cartel des Gauches, an electoral coalition of Radicals and Socialists, emerged the winners. Under the leadership of Radical Édouard Herriot the Cartel celebrated left-wing heroes such as the Socialist leader Jean Jaurès, who had been assassinated by a nationalist fanatic in 1914. The government also pursued a more conciliatory foreign policy and encouraged secularism with plans to extend France’s lay laws to the newly regained and strongly Catholic territories of Alsace and Lorraine. Some conservatives – predominantly associated with the Alliance – remained open to governing from the centre and hoped to eventually lure the Radicals back to a government of “republican concentration.” In general, though, rightwing opposition to the Cartel was characterised by heightened militancy. The Fédération shifted further to the Right after the fiery nationalist Louis Marin assumed leadership in 1925. Though proclaiming commitment to the parliamentary system Marin and his supporters adopted a combative tone and tightened party discipline.17 New extra-parliamentary movements also took shape. Antoine Rédier’s Légion, established in 1924, sought to carry the spirit of the

242  Sean Kennedy

trenches into post-war politics, though it remained marginal. More imposing was the Jeunesses Patriotes ( JP), founded later that same year. Its leader Pierre Taittinger, a decorated veteran, initially regarded it as an effort to rejuvenate the Ligue des Patriotes but the JP soon became an independent organisation, though Taittinger’s status as a Fédération deputy served to highlight the blurred lines between conservatives and radicals. Georges Valois of the AF, inspired by his pre-war efforts to attract syndicalist support and convinced that the monarchist movement had stagnated, established the Faisceau in 1925; its very name and doctrines highlighted the growing appeal of Italian Fascism.18 Numerically the most potent new organisation was the Fédération Nationale Catholique (FNC), led by General Noël de Castelnau, a former Bloc deputy who now sought to contest the Cartel’s religious policies. Garnering as many as two million members at its height, its rambunctious activism played a key role in leading Herriot to abandon secular legislation for Alsace-Lorraine. Right-wing deputies such as Vallat, Philippe Henriot and Jean Ybarnégaray of the Fédération were also active in the FNC, though so were more moderate Christian Democrats such as the Abbé Desgranges, further illustrating the multiple and intersecting modes of right-wing political engagement at the time.19 The Légion, JP and Faisceau displayed continuities with older leagues but were also marked by the Great War and its aftermath. Like their forerunners they sought a stronger executive. Their nationalism varied in specifics but was broadly exclusionary: the AF had a long history of antisemitism, and while some of the newer formations sought to downplay such attitudes during the 1920s antiJewish views and xenophobia were in fact rarely absent.20 Wartime experiences provided these movements with the veteran as a model of integrity to contrast with a supposedly corrupt parliamentary system, and a memory of wartime unity and discipline as inspiration for regenerating post-war France. These groups were also generally sympathetic to Italian Fascism, though most did not go as far as Valois in terms of emulation. Instead, French radical nationalists tended to interpret Fascism selectively, to reinforce their calls for repression of the revolutionary Left and the establishment of a strong government.21 The “restoration” of stability in gender roles – widely regarded as having been disrupted during 1914–1918 – was also of key importance to the Right. Compared to the conservative parties the leagues were more engaged in recruiting women, some of whom became propagandists and social workers in support of a nationalist agenda. But while willing to promote women’s activism in certain ways, these formations also stressed the centrality of the traditional family as the building block of French society.22 The leagues also reflected a growing pro-imperial turn on the part of the French Right. After 1914 the contributions of colonial troops and the expansion of French imperial influence encouraged stronger right-wing identification with the colonies. Taittinger, for instance, embraced a broader “imperial nationalism.” Nationalist intellectuals joined in, defending France’s role in the Rif War of 1924–1925 with a petition praising “the French troops who fight in Morocco for Law, Civilisation, and Peace.”23

The French Right  243

Given these broadly shared priorities, it might seem that there was considerable potential for right-wing cooperation against the Cartel. Aside from overlapping members there were also instances of cooperation, such as when JP militants provided security at Fédération meetings. Going further, former president Alexandre Millerand, who had resigned from office in the face of accusations that he had sought to exceed his constitutional authority, now established the Ligue Républicain National to federate various parties and leagues. Paul Reynaud and Henri de Kerillis, formerly of the Alliance and Fédération respectively, created the Centre de propagande des républicains nationaux in late 1926 to provide publicity materials and speaker training courses, with long-term hopes of establishing a broader right-wing party along the lines of the British Conservatives.24 But internecine conflict remained potent, sometimes the result of diverging principles but also attributable to ambition and competition for supporters. Georges Valois of the Faisceau, for instance, sometimes lambasted parliamentary conservatives for contributing to political degeneration; in response Millerand accused the Faisceau of seeking dictatorship. The leagues themselves were prone to bitter feuds, to the point of physical clashes.25 The political atmosphere shifted again with the decline of the Cartel. Herriot was forced to resign in 1925 amidst a financial crisis; instability subsided only when the Radicals shifted to work with right-wing parties and Poincaré returned as prime minister in July 1926. The shift to a centre-right government and improvements in the economy were followed by a decline in radical-right activism. The Faisceau disintegrated, while the JP assumed a more restrained stance. As for the AF, intellectually and organisationally it suffered a blow when the Vatican condemned its “politics first” strategy in 1926, rendering the movement unacceptable to many Catholics. In religious regions such as Brittany the implications for local politics were profound, deepening divisions between nationalists and proponents of Christian Democracy. So too were the intellectual consequences, as influential Catholic writers such as Jacques Maritain also parted ways with the royalists.26 Maurras and his colleagues remained combative and influential but confronted breakaways and new challengers in the years to come. The experience of the Cartel had demonstrated the substantial potential that existed for radical-right activism in response to the election of a left-leaning government, as well as the willingness of various conservatives to align themselves with more extreme views. But it also displayed how, in contrast to Italy earlier in the 1920s, the French political system was not blocked – governing coalitions could shift, while the clout of many leagues was inhibited by their extra-parliamentary approach, infighting and the return of greater stability later in the decade. The result was that as in many European states during the 1920s, French conservatives remained in the ascendant despite their fragmentation and the pressure of radical alternatives. Nevertheless, the intense opposition to the Cartel and the increasingly hard-line outlook of the Fédération hinted at what was to follow in the 1930s, when a new generation of right-wing activists took the stage. This wave of agitation posed even greater challenges for conservatives

244  Sean Kennedy

after 1936, when the rise of new parties posed an unprecedented organisational threat.

From consolidation to crisis Poincaré led a centre-right coalition to victory in the 1928 elections, but his successors were soon battered by powerful economic and political headwinds. Some of the coalition’s reforms, notably the introduction of social insurance, provoked anger among significant numbers of right-wing supporters, especially in rural areas where the legislation had major financial implications for employers. The centre-right governing coalition eventually unravelled against the backdrop of the Great Depression, whose impact on France was delayed compared to other Western states but very real. The Radicals broke with the Right, returning to an electoral alliance with the Socialists, and in 1932 the centre-left returned to power. As in 1924 the Radicals headed the government and the SFIO provided support in the legislature. However, ensuing administrations found themselves overpowered by the Depression; policy differences between the Socialists, who opposed measures such as cutting civil service salaries, and more economically orthodox Radicals led to a revolving door of ministries while popular disaffection mounted. While unemployment rates were far lower than those in Germany at the time as many as a million people, possibly more, lost their jobs and many members of the lower-middle and middle classes – peasants, artisans, small businesses – experienced major losses of income. As noted by Jenkins and Millington, France’s economic crisis and political paralysis deepened as the Nazis tackled German unemployment, setting up an apparent contrast between liberal democratic inefficacy and energetic authoritarianism.27 Right-wing responses to these events varied. The Alliance, under the leadership of Pierre-Étienne Flandin from 1933 onwards, sought to modernise while continuing to advocate “republican concentration,” bringing the Radicals back to the centre-right while excluding the SFIO. The smaller, Catholic-oriented PDP also favoured such an approach. But the Fédération persisted in an oppositional stance, excoriating the centre-left. Moreover, the parliamentary parties had to consider their responses not only to the Left but also to a potent revival of radical-right activism featuring a variety of organisations.28 Prominent among the older organisations participating in this wave of renewed activity was a re-energised AF; Maurras and his colleagues portrayed the ongoing governmental instability as indicative of the ingrained decadence of the Third Republic. The JP, too, though flirting with establishing more conventional structures in the form of the Parti Républicain National et Social (PRNS), also refocused upon anti-parliamentary protests. But the field of nationalist opponents quickly grew crowded. A new generation of right-wing writers was emerging, and while acknowledging their debt to figures such as Maurras did not feel constrained by previous agendas. This “Young Right” included figures such as Robert Brasillach, Jean de Fabrègues,

The French Right  245

Thierry Maulnier and Jean-Pierre Maxence, who published in a variety of venues, ranging from smaller reviews to, later, newspapers such as Combat and Je suis partout. Interested in culture and politics, they demanded renewal and eventually advocated a “national revolution” that entailed a radical break with the established liberal order. Reflecting in 1939, Maxence characterised their mood as follows: “what was at first among [them] nothing more than a confused disquiet, a spontaneous mistrust, an almost instinctive protest, grew to become a motivated refusal, an explicit critique, a violence founded in reason.”29 New formations were also taking shape. The CF, first established in 1927 as an elite veterans’ organisation, decisively entered the political arena – though not as a formal party – under the leadership of (retired) Lieutenant-Colonel François de La Rocque from 1931 onwards. In retrospect this shift put the organisation on the road to becoming the largest of the nationalist leagues, though at the time there were rivals. In 1933 Marcel Bucard established the Francistes, who were unabashed in their enthusiasm for Italian Fascism. That same year the perfume and newspaper magnate François Coty supported the establishment of the Solidarité Française (SF), led by Renaud Jean; it featured uniformed activists and virulent hostility to the established system. Both formations ultimately proved ephemeral but at the time the situation was in flux, and formations like the SF often claimed wildly exaggerated membership totals.30 The growing crisis of the Third Republic was then raised to fever pitch by the Stavisky Affair. Alexandre Stavisky was a confidence man who had avoided prosecution for years, but his most recent scheme triggered an investigation which revealed the extent of his connections to Radical politicians. The police caught up with Stavisky at Chamonix in January 1934, but he reportedly committed suicide. Right-wing newspapers – but also Communist and Socialist publications – surmised that Stavisky had been murdered to prevent further revelations. As the press campaign intensified demonstrators repeatedly took to the streets. Many opponents of the government considered the scandal an indictment of the system; some papers invoked Stavisky’s Jewish background to promote antisemitism. On 30 January Prime Minister Camille Chautemps was replaced by another Radical, Édouard Daladier. Among the latter’s first moves was to transfer the right-wing Paris Prefect of Police Jean Chiappe, seen as overly favourable to the nationalist leagues, to another post; Chiappe responded with a very public resignation. Much of the Right was enraged; accusations of a left-wing conspiracy to seize power quickly ensued.31 The demonstrations intensified and the range of participants broadened. La Rocque’s CF joined in, with other groups such as the powerful Union Nationale des Combattants, a right-wing veterans’ organisation, also getting involved. On 6 February some 40,000 demonstrators – mostly from right-wing organisations, though the Communists were also present – marched on the Chamber of Deputies. They clashed with police for hours before finally withdrawing: fifteen protestors died and 1,400 were injured. Daladier resigned the following day, replaced by a government of “National Union” led by former president Gaston

246  Sean Kennedy

Doumergue, which excluded the Socialists and featured several prominent conservatives and some Radicals. The scope of the demonstrators’ goals is still debated. Some were unabashed in calling for an end to the regime; others, at least in the aftermath, professed satisfaction with simply removing the centre-left from power. In any event, the fact that the outcome of a national election had been overturned by a riot speaks to the intensity of the crisis. There had also been cooperation between some groups, with many conservative politicians supporting the demonstrators. One vice-president of the Fédération characterised what happened as “The uprising of the healthy, hard-working and vibrant population of the capital against the weakness of a decadent parliamentary regime.” Even the more moderate Alliance adopted what one of its historians deems an “uncritically approving” attitude towards the demonstrations; members of its newly formed youth wing associated with supporters of the JP and the AF’s Camelots du Roi.32 As for right-wing intellectuals, both established figures and emerging ones saw 6 February as a turning point. Léon Daudet, writing in L’Action française, sought to galvanise activism, proclaiming that “A government of whores and scoundrels has had the Paris people fired upon, shot down savagely with automatic arms.” Jean-Pierre Maxence, associated with the Young Right, depicted the event as a harbinger of a radical national renewal; “amongst the young at least, [there was] a shared disgust with the situation, a shared will for change, a shared desire for revolution.”33 Given the gravity of the situation, the French Left increasingly set aside its internal differences to combat a perceived fascist threat. On 12 February various left-wing formations demonstrated together across the country. In the ensuing months the Popular Front coalition of Communists – after a crucial political shift by the Comintern – Socialists, and ultimately Radicals took shape. They confronted a rapidly expanding and increasingly militant Right. The Left dubbed the nationalist leagues as fascist subversives, while the Right depicted the Popular Front as bent upon revolutionary upheaval. Confrontations went well beyond words: though the level of violence was lower than in Italy in the 1920s or Germany in the early 1930s, it was significant; the Right called for a ban on the PCF while the Left demanded the same for the leagues.34 In contrast to the Left, efforts to achieve right-wing unity proved elusive as some movements declined and others surged. An early effort to federate the leagues after 6 February, the Front National, attracted only limited support. The SF lost its major financial backing with the death of Coty in 1934 and remained confined to the fringes; the Francistes also failed to emerge as a mass movement. By contrast, the AF and the JP remained in the headlines and on the streets. A radical-right presence also emerged in the countryside as Henri Dorgères, who had been involved in the campaign against social insurance at the close of the 1920s, established the Comités de Défense Paysan, whose security groups were known as the Greenshirts. Holding boisterous rallies, calling for tax strikes and engaging in demonstrations against farm foreclosures,

The French Right  247

Dorgères favoured an authoritarian system to support the peasantry which had sacrificed so much for France in 1914–1918, and was now feeling acutely the impact of the Depression.35 These formations, however, were all overtaken by the CF, which had some 500,000 supporters by 1936. La Rocque strove to keep his organisation distinct from other groups and project an image of independence and discipline, though in reality he had contacts with conservative politicians, military figures, and, it has been recently discovered, Fascist Italy’s military attaché. Through a message of “national reconciliation” the CF claimed to transcend Left and Right and invoked memories of the union sacrée, while promising to fend off a Communist-Socialist revolution. With an ever-more sophisticated organisation, mass rallies and paramilitary mobilisations that included forays into predominantly left-wing districts, the CF sustained a high level of activism, drawing supporters from other movements.36 Building upon precedents established by Catholic organisations while avoiding sectarian messages, it also had great success in mobilising women, with La Rocque’s close advisor Antoinette de Préval providing key leadership. As shown by Caroline Campbell, the CF’s Women’s Section engaged in extensive social outreach to counter working-class support for the Left, deflect criticisms of the movement’s paramilitarism and demonstrate its commitment to transforming French society.37 While the various leagues worked to expand their support, conservative and radical rightist politicians converged in demonising the Popular Front, which was decried as the harbinger of bloody revolution. Many on the Right responded to the Popular Front’s internationalist anti-fascism by depicting it as an agent of Soviet influence; they also toned down their traditional hostility to Germany for fear of provoking a war that could, they surmised, lead to revolution. Calls for forceful action were legion; writing in Combat, Thierry Maulnier observed that “among men disinterested enough or dispossessed enough to no longer fear any risk,” there was “the ruthless will to destroy, to go on to the very end.”38 An impetus towards greater organisational cooperation was also evident; the leagues provided security at conservative meetings, while their leaders called upon supporters to vote for right-wing candidates during cantonal and municipal elections in 1934–1935. Yet there was friction as well. While a variety of conservative politicians had joined the leagues some were concerned that the latter, while useful serving as the sharp end of right-wing activism, remained subordinate. Philippe Henriot of the Fédération, for example, proposed that “while the parties should provide the core of the troops, the leagues constitute the shock troops.”39 The Alliance leader Pierre-Étienne Flandin voiced support for the leagues after 6 February but distanced himself from them after becoming prime minister in November 1934; for this he was chastised by Taittinger, who noted that right-wing demonstrators had effectively put Flandin in office. Other league presidents were vocal about the inadequacies of traditional conservatives; La Rocque had initially supported the right-wing Doumergue government but soon grew impatient, dismissing it as a

248  Sean Kennedy

“poultice on a gangrenous leg.” As the legislative elections of 1936 approached there were signs of trouble on the horizon. In late 1935 the CF leadership contemplated running their own candidates but determined that for the time being they were not positioned to surge onto the electoral scene, as Mussolini and Hitler had done.40 Their caution is worth noting, but so too is the frame of reference and the potential challenge to established conservatives. During the elections league members were often called upon to vote for conservative candidates, but there were instances when their members balked at supporting an “establishment” figure. After the ballots were counted, however, the leagues’ lack of a clearly defined presence in the Chamber – the result of unwillingness to depart from their tradition of hostility to the parliamentary system – narrowed their political options.41

From the Popular Front to Vichy Despite the imposing mobilisation of the Right the Popular Front emerged victorious in the elections. This historic shift to France’s first Socialist-led government was accompanied by a wave of strikes and demonstrations over the summer and fall of 1936. Aimed at securing long-desired reforms and celebrating victory, such unrest further radicalised many conservatives and energised radical rightists. The dissolution of the nationalist leagues by the Blum government disrupted the political field but without ending polarisation or confrontation. Some of the leagues responded by transforming themselves into political parties. In the case of Taittinger’s JP this involved an attempt to reactivate the PRNS, with limited success. Far more consequential was La Rocque’s formation of the PSF. Though the timing of its creation meant that its parliamentary presence was weak, in terms of mass support it soon aggregated many former CF supporters as well as members of other nationalist associations, people frightened by the prospect of social revolution, and later some disaffected members of the Popular Front. The evidence points to rapid growth, with over one million members by 1939, far ahead of all other parties.42 At the outset, however, the PSF faced competition. In 1936 the former Communist activist Jacques Doriot, expelled from the PCF for prematurely advocating an anti-fascist strategy in 1934, formed the Parti Populaire Français (PPF). The PPF initially stressed its social radicalism and Doriot reached out to other disaffected Communists, but also drew support from some disillusioned Radicals and ex-CF supporters who regarded La Rocque as too cautious. The PPF received funding from businesses eager to neutralise the Popular Front, as well as subventions from Fascist Italy. By 1937 the party was positioning itself on the radical Right, emphasising intense nationalism and anti-Communism. It received notable intellectual support; figures such as Robert Brasillach, disillusioned by what he saw as the timidity of conservatives and leagues like the CF, now regarded Doriot as the man of the moment. Other writers such as Pierre Drieu La Rochelle and several figures associated with the Young Right also

The French Right  249

aligned with the PPF.43 Despite such endorsements, however, the party failed to displace the PSF; Doriot’s appeal remained more limited and localised. Among the established parties, the PDP opposed many of Blum’s policies, though it avoided personal attacks, instead hoping the Radicals would break with the Left and enter a new coalition. The Alliance also promoted this scenario, with Flandin advocating a return to a government of a concentration. However, while professing an ongoing commitment to liberalism Flandin now increasingly favoured a stronger state and became a major advocate of appeasing Germany.44 As for the Fédération its radicalisation continued, to a point where at times its invective echoed that of the recently dissolved leagues. Louis Marin declared that all left-wing groups were now “the forward agents and conquering troops of the Communists.” Xavier Vallat became infamous in 1936 when he lamented in the Chamber of Deputies how France was now governed by a Jew.45 The political atmosphere was thus highly charged, with many right-wing and left-wing activists willing to use force, though it soon became apparent that the French state retained the capacity to assert itself. Maurras was jailed for incitement to violence; Doriot was removed from office as the major of Saint-Denis following accusations of fraud, though the charge was later set aside. In October 1936 PSF supporters protesting a Communist rally (which had been allowed to proceed even though a PSF gathering had been banned) encountered a strong police presence. La Rocque and his colleagues were subsequently tried for reconstituting the banned CF, after which the party curtailed its mass mobilisations. In rural areas the Greenshirts, too, found that the authorities were still in control.46 Most dramatic was the fate of the Cagoule, a terrorist organisation with ultranationalist, authoritarian goals that enjoyed appreciable support within military, business and some political circles. Dangerous though it was, it was suppressed following its 1937 bombing of the French employers’ association headquarters, in a failed attempt to convince the public that a Communist uprising was imminent.47 The French state thus structured the actions and options of the Right; infighting also had major consequences. In autumn 1936 there were some joint meetings between various formations, but durable cooperation often proved elusive. La Rocque proclaimed that the PSF’s imposing support base meant that it should lead right-wing coalitions, an attitude that other movements resented. Established parties, especially the Fédération, were also concerned about the electoral threat that the new party posed. Subsequent efforts by Doriot’s PPF to regain momentum by forming the Liberty Front, a proposed coalition of parties to oppose the Left, faded as the PSF refused to join, though Doriot did receive a positive response from the Fédération and Taittinger’s PRNS.48 La Rocque soon found himself engaged in various feuds, whether it be clashes with other rightwing parties in byelections or accusations from former prime minister André Tardieu that the PSF leader had accepted government money in the early 1930s. This culminated in a defamation trial and a torrent of mudslinging in the press, all the while reinforcing fissures within the Right.49

250  Sean Kennedy

This fratricidal conflict coincided with the decline of the Popular Front in 1937–1938. Stymied by the Senate’s refusal to grant him decree powers to prevent capital flight, demoralised after police fired upon and killed left-wing demonstrators protesting a PSF meeting, Blum resigned. The following months witnessed new ministries, including a second very short-lived Blum government, but a clear shift to the Right took place after Daladier, now at the head of a Radical Party increasingly hostile to its erstwhile partners, took power in April 1938. He broke with the Socialists and brought conservatives into his coalition: his government pursued rearmament but via orthodox economics, crushing a general strike in November 1938. It also continued appeasement into 1939; meanwhile the Radical Party featured an increasingly combative anti-Communism, with elements of xenophobia and even antisemitism.50 Now participating in government, parties such as the Alliance and PDP saw their efforts to replace the Popular Front with a government of “concentration” bear fruit. The Fédération initially refused its support but altered course after the defeat of the November general strike. The shift from left- to right-wing governments, with the Radicals providing the linchpin, echoed developments during the era of the Cartel des Gauches and illustrated that the French Third Republic was not entirely deadlocked. However, the events of the late 1930s did not simply represent a return to politics as usual. The experience of the Popular Front had radicalised many on the Right; calls for stronger government and sterner measures against Communists and foreigners, with Jews and Spanish Republicans as prominent targets, were widespread.51 Among the new right-wing parties, the PRNS and Greenshirts were increasingly marginalised by 1939. As Doriot’s PPF fell short of its initial ambitions it increasingly embraced conservative Catholicism and antisemitism. This evolution was the result of several factors, among them the influence of the party’s Algerian wing. The virulent anti-Jewish attitudes of many European settlers in Algeria also shaped the policy of the PSF. Though some scholars have praised La Rocque for his efforts to contain antisemitism, he was in fact not above making insinuations about Léon Blum’s Jewishness, and he acceded to pressure from his party’s Algerian wing to boycott the Jewish community of Constantine.52 Nevertheless, a wider debate about the nature of the PSF’s goals continues. It has long been suggested that the very creation of the party signalled La Rocque’s willingness to integrate into the democratic regime; this argument still appeals to some historians.53 It is true that compared to its predecessor the CF, the party’s political tactics were apparently more conventional. But an assessment of its vast ancillary organisations, which advanced a vision of a renovated France in which authoritarian and exclusionary attitudes are readily discernible, is quite revealing. The PSF’s ambition to remake French society in its own image was deep-rooted and far-reaching.54 On the eve of the Second World War, then, the French Right remained fractured in significant ways that did not always correspond to radical-conservative divisions. Radicals like Doriot and conservatives like Flandin were both advocates

The French Right  251

of appeasing Nazi Germany, while figures such as Henri de Kerillis and Paul Reynaud consistently advocated firmness – and were rather isolated in doing so. Intellectuals like Robert Brasillach argued that France needed to adopt fascist mobilisation methods and antisemitic policies, while other writers associated with the Young Right such as Thierry Maulnier expressed ambivalence on these matters. On economic matters the Right united in attacking various aspects of the Popular Front’s reforms, but the Fédération tended to focus on security and the authority of employers, while the PSF made more concrete attempts to organise workers.55 Electoral competition was also a growing source of friction, especially between the Fédération and the PSF. But years of competition also entailed radicalisation and appropriation of discourse and policies across formations, as the Fédération’s hard-line stance and Flandin’s drift from conventional liberalism suggest. With respect to foreign policy, much of the French Right believed that going to war under the aegis of the Popular Front would serve the cause of Communist revolution, and supported appeasement during the crucial period between 1935 and 1938. Only after the Anglo-French capitulation at Munich, the unmistakable collapse of the Popular Front and the Nazi annexation of Bohemia and Moravia in 1939 did the mood shift – and even then, fears of left-wing subversion endured.56 An examination of influential legal and political periodicals indicates growing admiration in elite circles for authoritarian political models in Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany and Salazar’s Portugal.57 Moreover, while formations such as the PSF provided considerable scope for women’s activism in some respects, this party and other organisations such as the Alliance National contre la Dépopulation also promoted a vision that stressed patriarchal authority and hostility to feminism and individualism.58 As France entered the Second World War most rightists rallied in support of the national effort, but with conditions and limitations. Many conservatives were uneasy with expanding state intervention to achieve a total war effort and opposed efforts to rally the public behind an anti-fascist crusade. The former, they feared, might encourage socialism by stealth, while the latter might revive the Popular Front. Many rightists also wanted to avoid alienating Fascist Italy; they were far more comfortable championing anti-Communism, which intensified nationwide following the Nazi–Soviet Pact of August 1939. The Daladier government’s domestic measures, which extended to banning the PCF and imprisoning its deputies, only temporarily appeased the Right, which grew increasingly critical of the government’s war effort. The Soviet invasion of Finland in November led Alliance leader Flandin to call for military action against the USSR, an idea that gained traction in right- and some left-wing circles. This growing anti-Communist consensus contrasted sharply with the divisions apparent after the Daladier government fell and Paul Reynaud became prime minister in March 1940. Formerly associated with the Alliance, Reynaud now lacked right-wing support and needed Socialist votes to be confirmed. The evolution of politics during France’s “phoney war” was thus characterised by the lack of

252  Sean Kennedy

an emerging union sacrée; for many on the rightist memories of the Popular Front and fears of revolution were too fresh to contemplate political coalitions that included the Left.59 There is a strong case to be made that the shattering French defeat of 1940 should be regarded primarily in military terms, but certainly the politics of the interwar era shaped responses to that defeat. Initially brought into government by Reynaud to bolster support, the venerable Marshal Pétain enjoyed considerable national respect, credited with inspiring leadership in 1914–1918 – a testament to the lingering power of France’s particular ‘culture of war’ – as well as being widely regarded as politically neutral. That, of course, was not the case; after replacing Reynaud Pétain emerged as an advocate of an armistice and an authoritarian reconstruction of France.60 To be sure, at the time the marshal’s appeal went well beyond the Right: his assumption of power as head of state was confirmed by 569 votes in parliament, with only 80 against. Politicians with left-wing pasts such as Gaston Bergery, a former Radical, and the dissident socialist Marcel Déat played significant roles in the months ahead, and various left-wing supporters accommodated themselves to the new circumstances and worked for Vichy. But the regime itself was indubitably right-wing, albeit one with various elements whose relative influence shifted over time.61 Among Pétain’s advisors were sympathisers of the AF; the Vichy regime’s soon-to-be infamous slogan “Travail, Famille, Patrie” was appropriated, though without permission, from the PSF. Overall, the new government’s enthusiastic authoritarianism, Catholic-inspired moral values and xenophobic and antisemitic agenda resonated with a broad spectrum of right-wing opinion. At the same time, Vichy had also inherited the varying ambitions and competitive dynamics of the interwar Right, and by 1941 these were increasingly evident. Pierre Laval emerged as head of government under Pétain only to be removed from office at the end of 1940, replaced first by the Alliance’s Flandin and then Admiral François Darlan. Though organised political activity had been banned, political competition continued. Right-wing collaborationist movements, notably Doriot’s PPF, proclaimed fealty to the marshal but advocated alignment with Nazi Germany. La Rocque’s PSF was frustrated by its exclusion from the corridors of power, a situation traceable to the internecine conflicts of the 1930s. The PSF’s response was to critique the government while insisting that it would “accompany” the marshal. La Rocque also tried to fend off absorption of his followers into the Légion Française des Combattants, Vichy’s mass organisation of war veterans intended to provide a base of popular support. While an increasingly feminised PSF conducted extensive social work throughout the country, the PSF leader went on to secretly provide intelligence to the British, while maintaining that only his organisation could implement an authentic transformation of France along nationalist lines.62 Intellectual fissures were also evident; writers such as Drieu La Rochelle and the Catholic Alphonse de Châteaubriant embraced French alignment with Nazi Germany, with members of the latter’s Groupe Collaboration announcing in

The French Right  253

December 1940 that “these two peoples, having received from the creator such gifts, … ought always to remember the obligations that they have to themselves, to each other, and to all of Europe.” Other ultranationalists, notably Charles Maurras, avoided collaborationism but embraced the destruction of democracy and many principles of the National Revolution; indeed, L’Action française was soon criticising Vichy for not being stringent enough in its antisemitic laws.63 By 1941 some French rightists were choosing a different path, supporting Charles de Gaulle’s Free French or one of the emerging internal resistance movements. But this did not mean that they had necessarily abandoned their hostility to the Third Republic and what it had stood for.64 As various contributions to this volume have noted, at the time democratic values in Europe were deeply discredited, and authoritarian solutions held significant appeal. Many French radical rightists had felt this way for a long time; after two decades of complex interaction that featured competition but also a convergence of ideas in a context of bitter polarisation, a substantial number of French conservatives thought so as well. In time, mounting alienation from Vichy and the German occupiers, as well as the shifting fortunes of war following growing Allied military success, convinced many supporters of the French Right to change course; but others remained diehard supporters of Vichy and collaboration to the end.

Notes 1 Kevin Passmore, The Right in France from the Third Republic to Vichy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013); Gilles Richard, Histoire des droites en France de 1815 à nos jours (Paris: Perrin, 2017). 2 Michel Dobry, “La these immunitaire face aux fascismes,” in Dobry (ed.), Le mythe de l’allergie française au fascisme (Paris: Albin Michel, 2003) pp. 44–50. 3 For sharply opposed views see Serge Berstein and Michel Winock (eds.), Fascisme français? La controverse (Paris: CNRS Éditions, 2014) and Zeev Sternhell (ed.), L’histoire réfoulée: La Rocque, les Croix de feu, et le fascisme français (Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 2019). 4 Kevin Passmore, “L’historiographie du ‘fascisme’ en France,” French Historical Studies, vol. 37, no. 3 (2014), pp. 469–499. 5 Zeev Sternhell, Ni droite ni gauche: L’idéologie fasciste en France, 4th ed. (Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 2012); for a wider context see Aristotle Kallis, “Fascism and the Right in Interwar Europe: Interaction, Entanglement, Hybridity,” in Nicholas Doumanis (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of European History, 1914–1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 301–322. 6 Richard, Histoire des droites, pp. 111–136; Passmore, Right in France, pp. 127–179. 7 Passmore, Right in France, pp. 180–183; Mathias Bernard, La guerre des droites: Droite et extrême droite en France de l’affaire Dreyfus à nos jours (Paris: Odile Jacob, 2007), pp. 51–53; Eugen Weber, Action Française: Royalism and Reaction in Twentieth-Century France (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1962), pp. 89–112. 8 Robert Soucy, Fascism in France: The Case of Maurice Barrès (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972), p. 273. 9 John Horne, “Defending Victory: Paramilitary Politics in France, 1918–1926. A Counter-example,” in Robert Gerwarth and John Horne (eds.), War in Peace: Paramilitary Violence in Europe after the Great War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), p. 220.

254  Sean Kennedy

The French Right  255

33 34 35 36


38 39 40 41 42



45 46 47

48 49 50 51 52

State University Press, 1979), pp. 116–118; Donald Wileman, “P.-É. Flandin and the Alliance Démocratique, 1929–1939,” French History, vol. 4, no. 2 (1990), pp. 170–171; François Audigier, “L’alliance démocratique de 1933 à 1937 ou l’anachronisme en politique,” Vingtième siècle, vol. 47 (1995), pp. 150–151. Weber, Action Française, p. 342; Sanos, Aesthetics of Hate, p. 72. See Chris Millington, Fighting for France: Violence in Interwar French Politics (Oxford: The British Academy and Oxford University Press, 2018). Robert O. Paxton, French Peasant Fascism: Henry Dorgères’s Greenshirts and the Crises of French Agriculture, 1929–1939 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997). Sean Kennedy, Reconciling France against Democracy: The Croix de Feu, the Parti Social Français, and French Politics, 1927–1945 (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2007), pp. 51–84; for the Italian link see Kevin Passmore, “Les Croix de feu et le Parti Social Français: Une perspective transnationale,” in Sternhell (ed.), L’histoire réfoulée, pp. 193–196. Caroline Campbell, Political Belief in France, 1927–1945: Gender, Empire, and Fascism in the Croix de Feu and Parti Social Français (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2015), pp. 49–73; Maggali della Sudda, “Gender, Fascism, and the Right Wing in France between the Wars: The Catholic Matrix,” Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions, vol. 13, no. 2 (2013), pp. 179–195. Mazgaj, Imagining Fascism, p. 162. Irvine, French Conservatism in Crisis, p. 123. Albert Kéchichian, Les Croix-de-Feu à l’âge des fascismes: Travail Famille Patrie (Seyssel: Champ Vallon, 2006), pp. 355–363. Brian Jenkins, “The Right-Wing Leagues and Electoral Politics in 1930s France,” History Compass, vol. 5, no. 4 (2007), pp. 1359–1381. This is one point on which scholars agree, despite the controversy surrounding the PSF. See David Benoussan, “La structuration et la géographie d’un parti de masse de droite: le PSF (1936–1940),” in Berstein and Thomas (eds.), Le PSF, pp. 37–54 and Didier Leschi, “La Rocque dans le champ politique du fascisme et de l’antisémitisme,” in Sternhell (ed.), L’histoire réfoulée, p. 154. Laurent Kestel, La conversion politique: Doriot, le PPF et la question du fascisme français (Paris: Raisons d’agir, 2012); Sarah Shurts, Resentment and the Right: French Intellectual Identity Reimagined, 1898–2000 (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2017), pp. 137–165. Delbreil, Centrisme et démocratie-chrétienne, pp. 317–323; Arnaud Chomette, “Sauver un France libérale: Pierre-Étienne Flandin entre stratégie centriste et attraction autoritaire,” in Gilles Morin and Gilles Richard (eds.), Les deux France du Front Populaire (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2008), pp. 117–125. Irvine, French Conservatism in Crisis, pp. 82, 93. Kennedy, Reconciling France, pp. 126–127, 146–147. Joel Blatt, “The Cagoule Plot, 1936–1937,” in Kenneth Mouré and Martin Alexander (eds.), Crisis and Renewal in France, 1918–1962 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2002), pp. 86–104; Gayle K. Brunelle and Annette Finley-Croswhite, Murder in the Métro: Laetitia Toureaux and the Cagoule in 1930s France (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2010). For contrasting views of the Liberty Front see Jean-Paul Thomas, “Le Parti social français (PSF), obstacle à la radicalization des droites,” in Vervaecke (ed.), À droite de la droite, pp. 261–263, and Kestel, La conversion politique, pp. 170–174. Kennedy, Reconciling France, pp. 140–144. Jean Vigreux, Histoire du Front Populaire: L’échappée belle (Paris: Tallandier, 2016), pp. 213–221; Serge Berstein, Histoire du Parti Radical, vol. 2 (Paris: Presses de la FNSP, 1982), pp. 588–590. Passmore, Right in France, pp. 343–347; Richard, Histoire des droites, pp. 229–235. For an interpretation stressing La Rocque’s moderation see Emmanuel Debono and Jean-Paul Thomas, “Le PSF et la question de l’antisémitisme,” in Berstein and

256  Sean Kennedy

53 54 55 56 57 58

59 60 61 62 63 64

Thomas (ed.), Le PSF, pp. 219–238; for a discussion of antisemitism in the Algerian PPF and PSF see Samuel Kalman, French Colonial Fascism: The Extreme Right in Algeria, 1919–1939 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), pp. 138–142, 157–160. See Berstein and Thomas’s introduction to Le PSF, pp. 11–14. Campbell, Political Belief, pp. 49–85, 123–146; Kennedy, Reconciling France, pp. 157–188. Mazgaj, Imagining Fascism, pp. 182–210; Passmore, Right in France, p. 326. The classic study of this evolution is Charles Micaud, The French Right and Nazi Germany, 1933–1939: A Study of Public Opinion (New York: Octagon Books, 1964 [originally published in 1943]). Laurent Kestel, “Were French Elites Allergic to Fascism? A Study of the Reception of the 1930s Dictatorships in Three French Periodicals,” in Kalman and Kennedy (eds.), French Right between the Wars, pp. 195–209. See Geoff Read, “Des hommes et des citoyens: Paternalism and Masculinity on the Interwar Right in France, 1919–1939,” Historical Reflections, vol. 34, no. 2 (2008), pp. 88–111; Cheryl Koos, “Gender, the Family, and the Fascist Temptation,” in Kalman and Kennedy (eds.), French Right between the Wars, pp. 112–126; and Laura Lee Downs, “‘And So We Transform a People’: Women’s Social Action and the Reconfiguration of Politics on the Right in France, 1934–47,” Past and Present, vol. 225 (2014), pp. 187–225. Talbot Imlay, Facing the Second World War: Strategy, Politics, and Economics in Britain and France 1938–1940 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), pp. 171–185. Philip Nord, France 1940: Defending the Republic (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2015). Passmore, Right in France, pp. 352–357. Campbell, Political Belief, pp. 178–202; Kennedy, Reconciling France, pp. 225–258. Shurts, Resentment, pp. 213–214; Mazgaj, Imaging Fascism, pp. 213–217; Weber, Action Française, p. 462. Valerie Deacon, The Extreme Right in the French Resistance: Members of the Cagoule and the Corvignolles in the Second World War (Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2016).

11 CONSECRATING THE FATHERLAND Catholicism, nationalism and fascism in Spain (1919–1939) Giorgia Priorelli and Alejandro Quiroga

On 20 May 1939, General Francisco Franco had a busy day. In the morning the Caudillo went to the Church of Salesas Reales in the centre of Madrid. There, twenty archbishops and bishops were waiting for him, together with the Vatican Nuncio Gaetano Cicognani, more than a dozen generals and various ministers including Ramón Serrano Súñer, the brain behind the creation of the Francoist party Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista (FET y de las JONS). Dressed in a falangist shirt, a Carlist beret and his military uniform, Franco entered the temple under a canopy while a choir composed by members of the Sección Femenina sang the fascist anthem Cara al Sol. A Te Deum and a mass followed. The religious ceremony highlighted the providential nature of the Francoist triumph in the Civil War, while the persons attending prayed for el Caudillo and the greatness of Spain. After the mass, the dictator directly addressed God, asking for his help to lead the Spanish people to “full imperial freedom” and offering him the Sword of Victory.1 The ritual remembered those carried out by the Spanish Kings, situated the figure of Franco above the Catholic Church and consecrated the Spanish nation to Christian divinity. Once the ceremony at Salesas Reales finished, the dictator’s entourage went to the Bank of Spain’s gardens, where a tribute to the army was held. On the way, Franco was praised along the streets of Madrid, which were decorated for the occasion, in anticipation of his arrival to the military celebration. Upon arriving, he addressed more than 500 officers who were gathered there. In his speech, the Generalísimo reminded his “comrades” of the need to carry out a “revolution” that would put an end to the “last vestiges of the fatal spirit of the Enlightenment” and its liberal legacies, at a time “when all the walls of the old order are collapsing.”2 After the harangue, Franco set off to the Monastery of El Escorial. Once he arrived, the dictator was received by members of FET y de las JONS

258  Giorgia Priorelli and Alejandro Quiroga

singing the national anthem. Without stopping, Franco went directly to the Pantheon of the Kings, where he prayed before the tombs of Carlos V and Felipe II, the monarchs most closely linked to the construction of the Spanish Empire in the sixteenth century. Next, Franco greeted a host of diplomats. When it was Philippe Pétain’s turn, the French ambassador in Spain acknowledged his old friend Francisco Franco with the fascist salute. After Pétain, the rest of the ambassadors, without exception, greeted the Caudillo with the same gesture.3 The ceremonies on 20 May 1939 clearly illustrate the prominence of Catholicism, imperial nostalgia and the anti-liberal discourse in the construction of the nation by the victors of the Civil War. The importance of the Church, army and the single political party during these events is also indicative of the three fundamental pillars upon which Francoist Spain was built immediately following the war. The ultimate objective of these ceremonies was to celebrate the Francoist victory over the republicans. Yet these events also represented the absolute triumph of the radical Right over other more moderate conservative options. This chapter explores the emergence, consolidation and eventual victory of the radical Right in Spain in the period 1919–1939. Like their European counterparts, Spanish conservatives became increasingly authoritarian and nationalistic after the First World War. The parliamentary system of the Restoration monarchy did not hold for long. In 1923, General Miguel Primo de Rivera staged a successful coup d’état, closed parliament, purged conservative elites and, with the support of King Alfonso XIII, established a military government. The dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera (1923–1930) represented the first attempt to put into practice an authoritarian regime under military, nationalist and Catholic principles in the midst of the counterrevolutionary European tide. The dictatorship went through a process of fascistisation but, unlike Mussolini, Primo de Rivera’s radicalisation did not achieve the unity of the radical Right. Following the fall of Primo de Rivera and Alfonso XIII, the establishment of the democratic Second Republic (1931–1936) led to the fragmentation of the Spanish Right. Moderate sectors of the Catholic movement opted for participation in the republican regime, whereas a myriad of radical right-wingers vowed to destroy the democratic system. In all cases, Catholicism and nationalism remained a central ideological and mobilising feature. In most instances, too, the different parties of the Spanish Right went through a significant process of fascistisation, whereas Spanish fascists acquire a number of ideas and money from reactionary nationalists. The Civil War created the necessary conditions for the unification of all radical Right forces under the military command of General Franco. The following victory of the rebels in April 1939 also meant the permanent exclusion of all forms of liberal, moderate conservatism from the Francoist self-defined National-Catholic regime. Scholars have engaged on a number of often heated debates on the ideology, political culture and social composition of the Spanish Right in the interwar period. In the 1980s and 1990s, conservative historians stressed that the strong presence of religious postulates in the Right’s discourse necessarily hampered

Spanish nationalism and fascism  259

the development of modern, secular Spanish nationalism in the first decades of the twentieth century.4 Furthermore, these academics argued that, unlike in Italy and Germany, fascism had being weak in Spain precisely because of the relevance of Catholicism in the country’s conservatives.5 Against this line of interpretation, most analyses emphasised the impact of the European conservatives, including fascists, on the Spanish Right.6 According to these views, Spain was no European exception, and Catholicism did not act as an ideological buffer that prevented fascism from having a real impact on Spanish conservatives. In the last few years, new studies on the radical Right and religion debunked the idea that fascism and Christianity were somehow incompatible. Particularly, the study of synergies between Christian churches and counterrevolutionary dictatorships have been the focus of historiographical debate, marked intensely by theories concerning the “sacralisation of politics” and the concept of “political religion.” 7 In the attempt to understand the reasons for popular support of conservative dictatorships, historians and political scientists have gone on to study how the counterrevolutionaries themselves perceived their political movements. The ideology, ceremonies, language and symbols of counterrevolutionary dictatorships have turned into the main themes to analyse and many authors have come to define fascism as a “political religion,” namely a system of beliefs, rituals and myths that convert the nation into a sacred object of worship.8 Emilio Gentile’s work on Italy, Richard Steigmann-Gall’s and Michael Burleigh’s research on Germany, and Zira Box’s and Giuliana di Febo’s investigations on Spain, to cite some of the most outstanding, have applied theories of ‘political religion’ to examine the regimes of Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler and Francisco Franco.9 Within comparative history, other works have emphasised the relevance of Catholicism as an ideological mortar within the historical framework of “sacralisation of politics” when it comes to forming counterrevolutionary dictatorships, not necessarily fascists, throughout Europe.10 In all of these cases, the nationreligion binomial serves as an analytical tool to classify regimes and political groups during the interwar period. In a complementary way, recent studies have focused on the diverse political cultures of the Right in Europe and their transnational nature.11 For the case of Spain, historians have come to highlight the continual processes of hybridisation and exchange between different groups of the radical Right.12 The political culture of the Franco dictatorship, created during the war and staged during the ceremonies at Salesas Reales and El Escorial, can be interpreted as a result of a process of hybridisation of the already porous political cultures of the reactionary nationalists and fascists.13 This chapter takes such an approach centred around the analysis of the diverse political cultures of the Right, distinguishing, first and foremost, between conservatives and those of the radical Right. The conservatives were those who were willing to accept the existence of a parliamentary system as a model to solve political problems. The radical Right was composed of nationalists that advocated for the suppression of parliamentarianism and the destruction of democracy. Within the radical Right, in turn, it is important to

260  Giorgia Priorelli and Alejandro Quiroga

distinguish between the political culture of the reactionary nationalists and the political culture of the fascists.14 In the following pages, the relations between the moderate Right and the extreme Right will be examined since the latter’s emergence after the First World War through the end of the Spanish Civil War. This chapter is chronologically divided into four sections. The first is dedicated to the final years of the parliamentary monarchy, when a number of radical groups began to challenge the Restoration system. The second section studies the Primo de Rivera dictatorship, which marked the radical Right’s coming to power, the emergence of a new political class and the ostracism of the Restoration conservative elite. The third section of this chapter analyses the diverse manifestations of the radical Right during the Second Republic, together with its complex relation to moderate conservatives and international fascism. The final section examines the creation of the Francoist political culture based on a hybridisation process of the far-right and fascist political cultures.

The Restoration system and the emergence of the radical Right (1919–1923) Spain did not enter the First World War, but the war entered Spain where the same profound socio-economic and political transformations that came with the conflict across Europe occurred. The increase in labour-related struggles and the anti-liberal reaction on behalf of a good portion of the conservative establishments within the Old Continent reproduced in a mimetic fashion in the Spanish Restoration.15 In the face of fear generated with the triumph of the Bolshevik Revolution, the rise of the labour movement and, to a lesser extent, the growth of Catalan nationalism, a sector of Spanish conservatives radicalised their stance and their policies towards a nationalist, Catholic and anti-democratic model. The leaders of the Partido Conservador, which had dominated the Restoration system since its beginnings in 1875, understood the impact of the Great War and proposed several ways to modernise the political regime in the attempt to keep alive a deeply elitist and clientelist parliamentary monarchy.16 Some of the key measures taken by the conservatives sought to promote nationalist pro-Spanish feelings among the population. Both conservatives and liberals had fostered Spanish nationalism when in power, especially following the 1898 Spanish American War. Yet from 1914 liberal nationalism lost ground to its conservative counterpart. Those who described Spain as conterminous to Catholicism and talked about discipline and order steadily gained the support of the authorities.17 For instance, in 1918 the conservative government of Antonio Maura declared 12 October a national holiday in commemoration of the Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus. Together with its imperialist connotations, the so-called “Day of the Race” coincided with the popular religious celebration of the Virgin of El Pilar, which had already gained a strong patriotic sentiment during the nineteenth century. In a similar line, King Alfonso XIII personally consecrated the Spanish nation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus at

Spanish nationalism and fascism  261

the Cerro de los Ángeles (Getafe) in a lavish ceremony in 1919. The Restoration establishment realised that celebrating the nation intermingled with religion in a Catholic country was a good way to obtain popular support without having to pay the toll of real democratisation of the political system. The Catholic Church played a central role in the configuration of the conservative political culture, having already agreed to provide its authority to the “civil religion” that sanctified the social and political order of the Restoration in the last decades of the nineteenth century, in exchange for the constitutional and legal protection of its ideological monopoly. In the early twentieth century, as the democratic threat to the system grew, the ecclesiastical authorities became fully aware of the fact that they shared the goal of protecting the established social and political order with the Restoration political elites.18 When the Church felt the heat of secularisation increasing, then it reacted by orchestrating a vast mobilisation using modern means. Thus it organised a new series of Catholic leagues, press campaigns and street demonstrations to face the challenge posed by liberals, anti-clerical republicans, socialists and anarchists.19 It was precisely from this Catholic mobilisation that a new radical-right political culture emerged. As it was the case in Italy, Belgium, France and Austria, Spanish Catholics fostered the principles of social Catholicism to “re-clericalise” the country.20 In 1909 the Jesuit Ángel Ayala founded the Asociación Católica Nacional de Propagandistas (ACNP). The following years witnessed the creation of Catholic trade unions, youth and women’s associations and Centres of Social Defence.21 In 1917 diverse agrarian unions formed the Confederación Nacional Católico-Agraria, ­ an interclass organisation made up of smallholders and directed by big landowners.22 Initially created under the umbrella of ecclesiastical authorities, social Catholic agencies increasingly spread authoritarian, antiestablishment rhetoric to combat the advance of leftist ideas. Some other critics of the Restoration also emerged from within the political system. Maurismo, the movement formed around the conservative leader Antonio Maura, sought to mobilise what was seen as the apolitical middle classes, the so-called “neutral mass,” and to create an educated citizenry to change the system from within. In other words, Maurismo intended to attract the middle classes hitherto not involved in the oligarchic system to transform the Restoration and, ultimately, combat the Left. Achieving these goals involved the creation of modern propaganda apparatus, the organisation of mass rallies, the formation of a Maurista Youth and the foundation of Maurista centres all around Spain, something until then unknown to the monarchist parties. With a propaganda machine ready, a nationalist rhetoric and a paternalistic approach to the “social question,” Maurismo felt confident to fight the working-class parties on their home ground. Since early 1915, Mauristas opened “social centres” in working-class neighbourhoods to compete with socialist, anarchist and republican educational and cultural centres. The aim was to “educate” the lower classes in patriotic, Catholic, corporative and monarchist values and separate the proletariat from the left-wing parties, but the Mauristas never made inroads in working-class areas.23

262  Giorgia Priorelli and Alejandro Quiroga

The fact that the first Spanish attempts to form fascist-type groups emerged around the Mauristas should not come as a surprise. Since the First World War, an important sector of Maurismo, and particularly the Maurista Youth, was convinced that parliamentary politics had failed and advocated a strong government to save the nation. For many Mauristas, the only way to stop the Left was by physical confrontation, either via bourgeois militias or via military-led repression. As early as March 1919, the Maurista daily La Acción had called for a military dictatorship.24 When Mussolini gained power in Italy in October 1922, La Acción enthusiastically welcomed fascism as the solution to sweep away the political parties and called Spaniards to follow the Italian example and form a national legion. Two months later, in December 1922, the ultranationalist paper La Palabra was launched in Barcelona. It called for the middle classes to save the Spanish nation and claimed it was time to “smash the separatist slugs” in Catalonia.25 At the very same time, the Maurista Joaquín Santos Ecay, the director of La Acción, Manuel Delgado Barreto, and the president of Spanish Employers’ Confederation, Tomás Benet, attempted to form the first fascist organisation around the newspaper La Camisa Negra in Madrid.26 In the summer of 1923, another pro-fascist organisation, La Traza, was founded by a group of army officers in Barcelona. The new party blamed politicians for the loss of the colonies, the Moroccan disaster of 1921 and the elites’ destruction of the “popular will,” which was leading the fatherland to internal disintegration.27 In their foundational manifesto, La Traza called for a “sacred union of Spaniards” beyond their “monarchic or republican, aristocratic or democratic” ideas to save the nation, and suggested violence against the internal enemies of the fatherland was a valid option to redeem Spain.28 Not all the groups of the radical Right came from inside the Restoration system. Carlists and Catholic integralists had a long tradition of opposing parliamentary government and liberalism, which went back to the beginning of the nineteenth century. In the first decades of the twentieth century, the so-called “traditionalists” aimed at revitalising their doctrine by incorporating ideas from European thinkers like Charles Maurras. This new traditionalism focused on social questions in an attempt to gain mass political support and, simultaneously, sought to attract the most conservative political and ecclesiastical forces of the Restoration regime.29 At a discursive level, the traditionalists maintained their old anti-liberal rhetoric but profoundly invigorated their Spanish nationalism with calls for a “moral empire” over the Hispanic American countries and a further Spanish colonial expansion in the north of Africa.30 Like the social Catholics, traditionalists intensified their propaganda campaigns, participated in mass pilgrimages and opened social centres for workers in Barcelona and Bilbao.31 The years that followed the end of the Great War led to a profound reformulation of the Spanish Right. The conservatives of the Restoration establishment gradually increased their use of nationalism and religion to combat both the Left and regional nationalists in Catalonia and the Basque Country. At the very same time, a vociferous but fragmented radical Right emerged. The creation of

Spanish nationalism and fascism  263

the Partido Social Popular (PSP) was an attempt to unite the different factions of Spanish conservatism in December 1922. The PSP managed to attract not only many social Catholics, such as José María Gil Robles, but also traditionalists, like Victor Pradera, and Mauristas, like Ángel Ossorio y Gallardo. Together with an increasing state intervention to regulate the economy, the party proclaimed the need for radical changes, including the creation of a corporate state, the reform of the 1876 Constitution and the end of the elitist political system of the Restoration.32 Although the party had a small democratic wing, the PSP mainly distinguished itself for its anti-liberal rhetoric, its message of national regeneration and its attacks on a parliamentary system, which was depicted as obsolete and corrupt.33 As in previous attempts by the radical Right, the PSP failed both to reform the Restoration regime and to attract great popular backing. The regime simply proved too resilient to the challenges. By 1923 the authoritarian route of the military dictatorship was welcomed by all the radical-right groups. They hoped the army would impose on the masses their authoritarian view of Spain and implement their political agendas. It was something of an acknowledgement of their own failure to rally mass support.

The Primo de Rivera dictatorship (1923–1930) General Miguel Primo de Rivera’s successful coup meant the end of the Restoration regime and the arrival of the radical Right in power. Above all, the dictatorship was a military regime run by an authoritarian, nationalistic and anti-democratic group of officers with the support of King Alfonso XIII. During the first two years of the dictatorship, Primo de Rivera kept the country in a state of war, suspended the 1876 Constitution and dissolved parliament. Moreover, he censored any type of criticism against the regime (it is useful to take into account that censorship was not definitively established in Mussolini’s Italy until 1926) and unleashed a highly arbitrary political repression which led to the detention of hundreds of opponents. Finally, he created a system of anonymous denunciations, formed networks to spy on citizens and carried out an unprecedented purge of government employees. By 1925, Primo de Rivera’s political “service record” placed Spain at the head of the European authoritarian systems and miles away from any sort of conservative liberalism, as has been asserted on occasions.34 Primo de Rivera also set in motion ambitious programmes of mass indoctrination. The formation of a militarised and politically active “new citizen” became a priority for the dictator, who thought that authoritarian Spanish nationalism was the best solution against left-wing ideas. The creation of the delegados gubernativos (army officers assigned to all of the country’s districts with the aim of controlling municipal politics and destroying the networks of Restoration politicians), the Somatén Nacional (the dictatorship’s militia) and the Unión Patriótica (UP, the regime’s political party) responded to diverse necessities, but all of these institutions had a common role: they were “educators.” The delegados gubernativos

264  Giorgia Priorelli and Alejandro Quiroga

were assigned the task of creating the “new citizen” in villages and towns by propagating the authoritarian nationalism which had spread through Spain’s military barracks during the final years of the Restoration.35 With this goal, the delegados organised mass patriotic rallies and processions in support of the regime, simultaneously launching governmental campaigns aimed at fomenting patriotic morals and duties in multiple localities. In order to complete their educational mission, the delegados received direct orders from Primo de Rivera entrusting them with the task of organising patriotic conferences which would promote the virtues of the “Spanish race.”36 The ideologues of the primorriverista dictatorship sought to regenerate the political culture of the radical Right. José María Pemán, José Pemartín and Ramiro de Maeztu elaborated a political discourse that combined Spanish traditionalism, the ideas of the 1920s European radical Right – including Italian Fascism, the monarchist Action Française and Portuguese Integralismo – and the emerging currents of irrationalist and vitalist philosophers, such as Oswald Spengler, Hippolyte Taine, Henri Bergson and José Ortega y Gasset.37 The UP essayists developed a doctrine that considered Catholicism as the Volkgeist of the Spanish nation. They also blurred the ideological distinctions among liberals, republicans, socialists, communists, anarchists and regional nationalists and portrayed all political adversaries as a united whole: the anti-Spain. This mythological figure was not only opposed to the “national essences” and worked to destroy the fatherland, but was also described in pathological terms. From Pemartín’s viewpoint, those supporting democratic and left-wing ideas were “hallucinated dogmatics,” “mentally sick people, [who] had no cure.”38 For Pemán, the issue was to choose between “the Fatherland or Soviets” at a time when the nation was “attacked by communism, separatism and terrorism.”39 He declared, “peoples are now in the destructive communist bloc or the national constructive bloc. In Spain the latter is the Unión Patriótica, neither liberal nor conservative, but patriotic.”40 For Maeztu, the solutions were plain: “Against Bolshevism, the dictatorship! Against subversion, the bayonets!”41 The dictatorship of Primo de Rivera persecuted a few conservative and liberal MPs, while ostracising most of the politicians of the Restoration. However, the purging of the old ruling class was a necessary but not sufficient condition, as the regime’s self-imposed quest for regeneration implied also “new men” in politics and a new party. Unsurprisingly, the members of the fascistic La Traza, some Carlists, many Mauristas and most of the PSP leaders joined the Unión Patriótica in 1924.42 Yet, the bulk of the party’s membership was made of social Catholics. The primorriverista choice of the social Catholics as the main basis on which to build the UP and the process of incorporating the party into the state apparatus were to have obvious consequences in attracting membership from certain social backgrounds. Those provincial middle and lower-middle classes affiliated to the organisations controlled by the ACNP joined the UP en masse during the years 1924 and 1925. State and municipal public officers constituted the second largest group in the party’s rank and file, becoming an important contingent of support

Spanish nationalism and fascism  265

for the regime. Finally, for all the apparent restrictions that the delegados had to impose on those related to the “old regime” wanting to become UP militants, many landless peasants under the political control of the local Restoration politicians were allowed to join the party.43 The Catholic Church enthusiastically collaborated with the dictatorship since the inception of the Primo de Rivera regime. The ecclesiastical authorities took part in hundreds of patriotic ceremonies, played a central role in education and mobilised its supporters to endow the dictatorship with a political base.44 Nonetheless, as the new authoritarian state began to take shape, tensions between the primorriveristas and the Catholic Church emerged. Social Catholics disliked the primorriverista education reform, the new labour legislation that excluded Catholic unions and the military control of both the UP and the Somatén. Throughout 1929, both social Catholic cadres and rank-and-file militants increasingly left the UP. Only the most radical supporters of the dictatorship remained in the party, which, after the resignation of Primo de Rivera on 28 January 1930, simply collapsed.45 In 1923, Primo claimed he was to follow the example set by Mussolini. Seven years later, his regime had fallen to pieces while the Italian Fascist dictator had consolidated his power and enjoyed a certain level of popular support.46 Initially, all the groups of the Spanish radical Right came under the umbrella of the military dictatorship. The UP facilitated an area of political hybridisation for social Catholics, Mauristas, traditionalists, fascist sympathisers and military nationalists. However, as the dictatorship started to build a new state, tensions between these radical-right groups proved massively damaging for the Primo de Rivera regime. When comparing the development of the Partito Nazionale Fascista and the UP, the picture that emerges is one of two regimes travelling in opposite directions. In Italy, the Fascist party gradually integrated different conservative groups and increasingly accommodated Catholic rhetoric into its discourse throughout the 1920s.47 In 1929, the Lateran Agreements effectively integrated the Catholic Church into the Fascist state. Conversely, the UP increasingly radicalised its discourse, political goals and personnel throughout the 1920s, a process which led to the gradual alienation of conservative groups from the regime. In 1929, the departure of the social Catholics from the UP paved the way for the fall of the dictatorship. In January 1930, most of the primorriverista generals withdrew their support for the dictator who was, therefore, compelled to resign.

Conservatives versus the Second Republic (1931–1936) Alfonso XIII’s attempts to maintain the monarchical system after the fall of General Primo de Rivera were unsuccessful. The proclamation of the Second Republic on 14 April 1931 and the sweeping electoral victory of socialists and leftist republicans were, in a way, a reflection of the Right’s divided, weakened and limited mobilising capacity. Primo de Rivera’s dictatorship not only worked to discredit the crown and the military but also contributed to spawning a “negative

266  Giorgia Priorelli and Alejandro Quiroga

nationalisation” in large sectors of the population that, in reaction to the Catholic, monarchist and authoritarian nationalism of the dictatorship, ended up developing lay, republican and democratic concepts of Spain.48 While most of the Restoration’s conservative politicians disappeared from the political scene with the primorriverista dictatorship, some became republicans and reappeared after 14 April 1931. This was the case with Catholic politicians Niceto Alcalá Zamora, President of the Second Republic, and Gabriel Maura, who led small conservative parties and maintained themselves faithful to democratic principles during the entire 1931–1936 period. The republican conservatism was initially fuelled also by Alejandro Lerroux’s Radical Republican Party. This party began at the centre of the political spectrum and participated in the first republican-socialist governments, but then quickly shifted towards increasingly conservative, clerical and authoritarian postulates. Such an ideological mutation paid off in November 1933, when the Radical Party took second place in the elections and Alejandro Lerroux became Prime Minister with the support of the social Catholics.49 After its problems with Primo de Rivera’s dictatorship, social Catholicism began to restructure at the start of the Second Republic. On 29 April 1931, Ángel Herrera founded Acción Nacional with the support of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. Led by one of the former leaders of ANCP, José María Gil Robles, Acción Nacional changed its name to Acción Popular (AP) in 1932. The social Catholics continued to define the denominational nationalism elaborated during the last years of the Restoration. They advocated for a corporate state and presented themselves as the ultimate defenders of the Catholic Church’s political interests.50 “We are going to create an authentic revolution of the Right, for God and Spain,” Gil Robles proclaimed in November 1931.51 To counteract the reforms that the republican-socialist coalition promoted, AP was willing to find a “legalistic path” that allowed them to participate in a democratic system in which the group had little faith.52 The idea was to act within the republican institutional system so that, once in power, they would have the ability to change progressive laws from within the state.53 To carry out its political-religious project, in March 1933, AP was set to lead a conservative coalition baptised as the Confederación Española de Derechas Autónomas (CEDA).54 With the promise of “working the principles of Christian public law to rule in Spain,” CEDA brought together several Catholic parties that were in favour of constitutional reform to create a corporate state.55 Their objective was to put a stop to the reformist measures of the Republic that they saw as “incompatible with the religious feelings of the country.”56 CEDA soon turned into a mass party with more than 750,000 members and a youth organisation, JAP, with clear “fascist tendencies.”57 The JAP green shirts organised military parades, goose-stepped Spanish cities and engaged in street clashes with socialists.58 Similarly, the party’s propaganda methods were copied from the Nazis, and the CEDA rallies became fascist-inspired ceremonies in which thousands of supporters greeted Gil Robles shouting Jefe! Jefe! Jefe!59

Spanish nationalism and fascism


In November 1933, the Confederación Española de Derechas Autónomas, which had formed coalitions with parties of the extreme Right in several electoral districts, won the elections. The formation led by Gil Robles then preferred not to lead the government and decided to let Lerroux’s radicals assume the responsibility of running the country. During the first months of the mandate, the radical governments almost entirely erased the previous progressive legislation from leftist republicans and socialists. In October 1934, Gil Robles changed his mind and decided that his party should be involved in the government, requesting that four ministries be handed to CEDA members, including ministry of war for himself. The entrance of CEDA into the government, which many progressives saw as a sort of Trojan Horse strategy to destroy the democratic system similar to what Adolf Hitler had done in Germany, resulted in a revolt on behalf of sectors of the Left in the October Revolution of 1934. The uprising was a failure everywhere except in Asturias. The army put down the insurrection after a week of bloody fighting. General Francisco Franco acted as adviser to the War Minister and engineered the repression. Mass trials and imprisonments ensued. Socialist and republican town councils were overturned throughout the country, constitutional guarantees were suspended and censorship imposed. Gil Robles carried out the repression behind a wall of silence.60 The combination of an anti-socialist nationalism and a reactionary interpretation of Catholicism was the ideological driving force behind some other radical groups’ political cultures and actions.61 Most of the primorriverista ideologues ended up forming part of Renovación Española, a party declared to be anti-parliamentary, anti-democratic and monarchical.62 Founded in February 1933 by the former Maurista leader Antonio Goicoechea, Renovación Española was a group that split from AP. The so-called “Alfonsine monarchists” disliked Gil Robles’s “accidentalist” tactics but, nonetheless, formed electoral candidacies with CEDA for the November 1933 elections in some constituencies. Ramiro de Maeztu, José María Pemán, José Pemartín, José Calvo Sotelo and other primorriveristas reworked the principles of National Catholicism initially developed in the 1920s.63 Defenders of a corporate state and profoundly undemocratic, the ideologues of Renovación Española also supported a militaristic nationalism that welcomed some aspects of Italian Fascism, particularly the Mussolinian justification of the use of violence for political purposes. According to Renovación Española, the Army was the “backbone of the nation” and, for this reason, had an obligation to overthrow the Republic through a coup d’état.64 This coup method to gain power was pretty much in line with Renovación Española aristocratic and elitist character. In this sense, it is not surprising that the party was unable to develop a significant militancy.65 Still, what the men of Renovación Española were able to achieve was financial support from Benito Mussolini, establishing a transnational network to exchange ideas and propaganda material with several groups of the radical Right across Europe and forming a series of joint candidacies with the Carlists in both 1933 and 1936.66 The connections between Alfonsines, Carlists and Italian Fascists also became clear

268  Giorgia Priorelli and Alejandro Quiroga

in March 1934 when a delegation of Renovación Española and traditionalists travelled to Rome to ask for weapons and technical assistance to the government of the Duce.67 From the beginning of the Second Republic, traditionalist anti-liberalism manifested itself in violent tones, especially within young Carlist generations that swelled the ranks of their parliamentary organisation – Requeté – in order to prepare for an armed uprising to end the democratic regime.68 After their internal divisions were overcome, the Carlists united again in 1932 under the name Comunión Tradicionalista. Their social support grew significantly in the first years of the Republic, partly as a reaction to the Left’s policies of secularisation. Unlike Alfonsine militarism, however, traditionalist radicalisation did not imply a process of genuine fascistisation.69 Comunión Tradicionalista embodied a reactionary, paternalistic, anti-socialist and anti-parliamentary nationalism that sought a revival of the monarchy accompanied by the recognition of the supremacy of the spiritual power of the Church, especially in the areas of culture and education.70 On the other hand, like the Alfonsine monarchists, Comunión Tradicionalista had an organic vision of the nation which was reflected in their desire to implement a corporate state that harmoniously organised society and put an end to class struggle.71 Among the groups of the radical Right that attacked the Second Republic, Spanish fascism played a decisive role. It began to blossom with the creation of the Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional-Sindicalista ( JONS) by Onésimo Redondo Ortega and Ramiro Ledesma Ramos in October 1931. Two years later, the foundation of Falange Española led by the son of the dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera, José Antonio, came to formalise the creation of the first Spanish fascist party in a strict sense. In March 1934, JONS joined the Falange Española to form Falange Española de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional-Sindicalista (FE de las JONS). As in the Italian case, the falangist movement propagated a modern and imperialist ultranationalism, which sought to implement a totalitarian dictatorship and a new corporate state in which relations of production were controlled by a trade union linked to FE de las JONS. The falangist plans also included the creation of a “new man” and the palingenesis of society. Both projects had to be carried out through purifying violence expressed by the vital force of the youth and mobilisation of the Spanish masses. The falangist political culture was based on an antidemocratic reading of the Generation of ‘98 writers and the ideas of the vitalist philosopher José Ortega y Gasset.72 Following the example of these illustrious intellectuals, the falangists idealised the era of the Catholic Kings in the sixteenth century as the golden age of Spain. However, there was no trace of it at the beginning of the twentieth century. In the falangists’ eyes, the country had been going through a crisis for centuries without anyone being able to solve it. Moving from these assumptions, Spanish fascism made the regeneration of the fatherland a fundamental element of its ideology and proclaimed its intention to “reincorporate the people into the nation.” 73 Unlike the Alfonsine monarchists, the falangists did appeal to the masses to carry out their “national revolution,”

Spanish nationalism and fascism  269

although FE de las JONS had very little popular support during the Second Republic. Unlike the Carlists, on the other hand, the fascists did not seek to restore either a monarchy or a pre-liberal state. As for the relationship with Catholicism, although the falangists recognised the Catholic “nature” of the Spanish nation, their ideology did not support a privileged position for the Catholic Church in the construction of the future totalitarian state.74 Despite the differences noted between the falangists, on one side, and the Alfonsines and Carlists, on the other, the hybridisation processes between the political cultures of fascism and reactionary nationalism were very intense during the Second Republic. Thus, for instance, Acción Española, the periodical of the Alfonsine monarchists, regularly published articles from Italian Fascists (Benito Mussolini, Carlo Costamagna and Pietro Giovanni), falangists ( José Antonio Primo de Rivera and Ramiro Ledesma Ramos) and traditionalists (Víctor Pradera). As in other countries in Europe, the publications from Spain’s radical Right collected a mixture of rupturist and traditionalist ideological elements.75 Moreover, personal relations between falangist leaders and reactionary nationalists were, in general, very strong and it is not surprising that the radical Right’s parties tended to band together during elections. Within this framework of collaboration, it should not be forgotten that Renovación Española funded Falange since its founding, while Mussolini gave money to all Spanish radical-right groups to help them in their quest to end the republican democracy.76 Radicalright transactions were not only ideological but also material in nature.

The Francoist crusaders. For God and Spain (1936–1939) Catholicism and nationalism were the two fundamental elements of political mobilisation for the Francoists.77 In the name of the salvation of the homeland, the rebels developed rhetoric that justified the extermination of the anti-Spain.78 Likewise, they repeatedly used the Catholic concept of purification to justify the repression carried out against all those who were considered the enemies of the nation.79 In this context, the Catholic Church’s support to the rebels proved to be a key factor not only in legitimising the coup d’état and the subsequent violence of Franco’s troops but also as an instrument of war mobilisation and rearguard repression. The “sacralisation” of the nation amongst the Spanish Right reached its peak with the active participation of the Catholic Church in a civil war, which was described as a real “crusade” against republican militias.80 Among the various forces that were integrated into the rebel front, the political group that demonstrated the greatest mobilisation capacity was Falange. After a period of confusion over the loss of its main leaders in the months immediately following the coup d’état, it gained public support as its organisations spread throughout the national territory. Falange offered assistance via the Frente de Juventudes in the political education of young people, support for widows and war orphans with Auxilio Social and fascist membership for women in the Sección Femenina. Having become a mass party once the war broke out, FE de las JONS

270  Giorgia Priorelli and Alejandro Quiroga

appeared as the most functional option for Francoist mobilisation. In addition, Falange was considered key for “the establishment of political and social objectives of the New State” and for the creation of “a permanent regime that would not depend on the old controversies within the Spanish extreme Right or on dynastic disputes.”81 The process of formal unification of all political forces on the rebel side was carried out under the leadership of Ramón Serrano Súñer, a former member of CEDA and Franco’s brother-in-law. The Unification Decree of 19 April 1937 united Falange with Comunión Tradicionalista and named Franco supreme leader of the new party, Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las JONS (FET). The remaining political organisations were dissolved, although conservatives of all hues joined the new party on an individual basis. The Alfonsine monarchists did this, as did many of the former leaders of CEDA who affiliated with FET from the beginning, although Franco prevented José María Gil Robles from joining it due to his previous collaboration with the Republic.82 In the merger of the two parties, Falange ended up carrying more weight than the traditionalists. FET’s adoption of falangist programmes, symbolism and ceremonial forms, together with the falangist control of the press, propaganda machine and part of the assistance services, can be interpreted as a process of fascistisation of the Francoist side. The unification process also meant the definitive exclusion of any moderate-right component within the Caudillo’s project. The development of the armed conflict had a double impact on the Spanish radical Right. On the one hand, the civil war contributed to strengthening the fascist party itself; on the other hand, it also radicalised the fascistisation process that was set in motion during the Second Republic. Thus, the conservative forces emphasised their totalitarian, anti-democratic and violent views after joining the Francoist front.83 Reciprocally, the falangists incorporated the counterrevolutionary nationalist principles of Carlists and Alfonsine monarchists into their discourse. In particular, the falangists carried out a process of “clericalisation” of their political rhetoric, emphasising the role of Catholicism and the Church in their vision of Spain and in the construction of the new Francoist state.84 It is very difficult to assess whether these processes of hybridisation of the reactionary nationalist and fascist political cultures were based on ideological conviction or were the result of the needs imposed by political practice during the war. In any case, what should be noted is the cohesive function that Catholicism carried out within the deployment led by Franco, to the point of becoming a nuclear element of nationalist rhetoric throughout the broad spectrum of the rebel organisation.85 The hybridisation of the fascist and reactionary nationalist political cultures during the civil war must be understood as a transnational process within the European framework. Throughout the Old Continent, the radical Right was united against the more or less real Bolshevik threat to fight against the actions of the Comintern.86 Many conservatives in Europe interpreted the conflict in Spain as a counterrevolutionary struggle in which the Francoists defended the values of Christianity and Western culture. Moreover, the civil war provided the

Spanish nationalism and fascism  271

appropriate framework for foreign fighters on the Franco side to contribute to the development of fascism as a transnational phenomenon and, correspondently, for Falangism to become an important benchmark in Mussolini and Hitler’s Europe. Ultimately, Falangism had a strong component of “cultural revisionism” in common with Italian and German fascisms, which were based on the values of anti-communism, anti-liberalism and anti-democracy.87 These were shared ideological aspects between the three fascisms, which wished to impose on the continent not only a new political and economic order but also a cultural order, free from all subversive doctrines that, in their opinion, undermined the unity of the nation and the integrity of Western civilisation.88 It was precisely on the grounds of counterrevolution and the defence of Christianity that the European fascists coincided with the Vatican. From the beginning of the 1930s, the Catholic Church coordinated a series of far-reaching transnational anti-communist campaigns from Rome, using a Secretariat on Atheism created for this purpose. Among other initiatives, the Secretariat carried out travelling exhibitions, radio programmes, extracurricular classes, summer camps, training courses for pastors and conferences illustrating the Holy See’s tactical and doctrinal responses to the Soviet Union.89 The Secretariat’s activity contributed to reinforcing the pre-existing network of anti-communist forces of the European radical Right, including the fascists, with which the Vatican had been collaborating since the 1920s. Within this framework of transnational cooperation, the Spanish Civil War accelerated the international convergence between fascism and Catholicism, which, not by chance, represented the Franco dictatorship so well.

Conclusions The consecration ceremonies at the Salesas Reales and El Escorial on 20 May 1939 marked the consolidation of a Francoist political culture as a result of a process of absorption and distortion between fascist ultranationalism and reactionary nationalism.90 These ceremonies also represented the pinnacle of a path initiated twenty years before by which the radical Right gained support and displaced the more moderate conservative political cultures. After the First World War, radical right-wing groups presented the nation and religion not only as the antidote to any kind of revolution but also as incompatible with liberalism and democracy. Far from being a Spanish peculiarity, these events were yet another case of a generalised tendency across Europe of politicisation of religion and, at the same time, of sacralisation of the nation. The dictatorship of Primo de Rivera meant the rise to power of the radical Right and the exclusion of the Restoration liberal conservatives. However, the attempt to impose a nationalism that was authoritarian, Catholic, military and monarchical was unsuccessful and the process of fascistisation that the dictatorship underwent generated tensions between radical primorriveristas and social Catholics, which contributed greatly to the fall of the regime. During the Second

272  Giorgia Priorelli and Alejandro Quiroga

Republic, the Right appeared to be deeply fragmented. Faced with moderate conservatives who were loyal to the Republic, social Catholics remained more ambiguous and then, once the elections of February 1936 were lost, opted for a military coup as a way of attaining power. Republican democracy also witnessed the birth of a properly fascist political culture for the first time in Spain, while Alfonsine and traditionalist monarchists developed further a well-established political culture of reactionary nationalism. As in other European countries, there was a process of hybridisation between fascists and reactionary nationalists, which was not limited to ideological issues but was also based on joint political practice and international relations between radical-right groups and governments. The Spanish Civil War, which signified the disappearance of the moderate liberal Right and the absolute victory of the radical Right, was the last phase of this process of hybridisation. The 1936–1939 conflict also contributed both to the collaboration between Rome, Berlin and the Vatican and to the understanding between Francoist fighters coming from different parts of Europe, always on counterrevolutionary precepts and in the name of Christian civilisation. The Franco regime itself, forged in a war of extermination and a brutal post-war repression, adopted the Catholic precepts as well as ideas and practices of the fascist powers and other European dictatorships. De facto, despite its nationalist rhetoric and claims of exceptionality, Francoism was the product of a mixture of two political cultures that were transnational and, like all others, subject to change according to the historical milieu.

Notes ABC, 21 May 1939, p. 8. ABC, 21 May 1939, p. 9. ABC, 21 May 1939, pp. 9–10. For example, Stanley Payne, “Los nacionalismos,” in José Andrés Gallego (ed.), Historia general de España y América, vol. 16–12 (Madrid: Rialp, 1982), pp. 109–130; Stanley Payne. Fascism in Spain, 1923–1977 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1999), pp. 3–23; Pedro Carlos González Cuevas. Historia de las derechas españolas (Madrid: Biblioteca Nueva, 2000), p. 264. 5 Payne, Fascism in Spain, p. 14; Pedro Carlos González Cuevas, “On the Irrelevance of Fascism in Spain,” in Fernando del Rey and Manuel Álvarez (eds.), The Spanish Second Republic Revisited: From Democratic Hopes to Civil War (1931–1936) (Brighton and Portland, OR: Sussex Academic Press, 2012), pp. 239–255. 6 Michael Richards, A Time of Silence. Civil War and the Culture of Repression in Franco’s Spain (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998); Alfonso Botti, Cielo y dinero. El Nacionalcatolicismo en España, 1881–1975, (Madrid: Alianza, 1992); Shlomo BenAmi, Fascism from above: The Dictatorship of Primo de Rivera in Spain 1923–1930 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983); Raúl Morodo, Acción Española. Orígenes ideológicos del franquismo (Madrid: Alianza, 1985); Paul Preston, Las derechas españolas en el siglo XX: Autoritarismo, fascismo y golpismo, (Madrid: Sistema, 1986); Martin Blinkhorn, “The Iberian States,” in Detlef Mülberger (ed.), The Social Bases of European Fascist Movements (London: Croom Helm, 1987), pp. 320–348; Martin Blinkhorn, Fascism and the Right in Europe, 1919–1945 (Harlow: Pearson Education Limited, 2000), pp. 54–56, 77–82. 1 2 3 4

Spanish nationalism and fascism  273

274  Giorgia Priorelli and Alejandro Quiroga

13 14 15 16

17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

25 26 27 28 29 30 31

32 33 34

los que no eran fascistas,” in Joan A. Mellón (ed.), El fascismo clásico (1919–1945) y sus epígonos (Madrid: Tecnos, 2012), pp. 155–190. Zira Box, “The Franco Dictatorship: A Proposal for Analysis in Terms of Political Cultures,” in Reactionary Nationalists, Fascists and Dictatorships in the Twentieth Century. Against Democracy, pp. 293–310. Saz, Box, Morant and Sanz, “Introduction,” in Reactionary Nationalists, Fascists and Dictatorships in the Twentieth Century. Against Democracy, p. 10. Francisco Romero Salvadó, The Foundations of Civil War: Revolution, Social Conflict and Reaction in Liberal Spain, 1916–1923 (London: Routledge, 2008), pp. 302–334. Javier Moreno and Ramón Villares, Historia de España. Volumen 7. Restauración y Dictadura (Madrid: Crítica, 2009); Carlos Forcadell and Manuel Suárez, Historia de las culturas políticas en España y América Latina: La Restauración y la República 1874–1936 (Madrid: Marcial Pons, 2015). Javier Moreno, “Mitos de la España inmortal,” Claves de razón práctica, no. 174 (2007), p. 32. Carolyn P. Boyd, “Introducción,” in Carolyn P. Boyd (ed.), Religión y política en la España contemporánea (Madrid: CEPC, 2007), p. 8. William J. Callahan, “Los privilegios de la Iglesia bajo la Restauración, 1875–1923,” in Religión y política en la España contemporánea, pp. 30–32. Michael Burleigh, Earthly Powers. Religion and Politics in Europe from the Enlightenment to the Great War (London: HarperCollins, 2005), pp. 388–403, 408–414. Juan José Castillo, El sindicalismo amarillo. Aportación al estudio del catolicismo social español, 1912–1923 (Madrid: Cuadernos para el diálogo, 1977), p. 278. Juan José Castillo, Propietarios muy pobres: sobre la subordinación política del pequeño campesinado (la Confederación Nacional Católico-Agraria), 1917–1942 (Madrid: Servicio de Publicaciones Agrarias, 1979), pp. 340–344. María Jesús González Hernández, Ciudadanía y acción. El conservadurismo maurista (Madrid: Siglo XXI, 1990), pp. 149–61. Francisco J. Romero Salvadó, “The Failure of the Liberal Project of the Spanish Nation-State, 1909–1923,” in Clare Mar-Molinero and Angel Smith (eds.), Nationalism and the Nation in the Iberian Peninsula (Washington, DC and Oxford: Berg, 1996), p. 130. La Palabra, 17 December 1922 and 6 January 1923. Antonio Elorza Domínguez, “Las variantes del fascismo (1931–1936),” in Joan Antón and Miquel Caminal (eds.), Pensamiento político en la España contemporánea (1800–1950) (Barcelona: Teide, 1992), pp. 989–1006. La Traza manifesto in Eduardo González and Fernando del Rey (eds.), La defensa armada contra la revolución (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1995), pp. 326–327. La Traza manifesto in González and del Rey (eds.), La defensa armada contra la revolución, pp. 326–327. Juan Ramón de Andrés Martín, El cisma mellista (Madrid: Actas, 2000), p. 58. Juan Vázquez de Mella, El ideal de España (Madrid: Imprenta Alemana, 1915), pp. 73–75, 85–95. Felicano Montero García, “El catolicismo social en España, 1890–1936,” Sociedad y utopía: Revista de ciencias sociales, no. 17 (2001), pp. 115–134; Colin M. Winston, “Carlist Worker Groups in Catalonia, 1900–1923,” in Stanley Payne (ed.), El Carlismo, 1833–1975 (Madrid: Actas, 1996), pp. 85–101. Julio Gil Pecharromán, Conservadores subversivos. La derecha autoritaria alfonsina, 1913– 1936 (Madrid: Eudema, 1994), pp. 36–37. Miguel Martorell and Fernando del Rey, “El parlamentarismo liberal y sus impugnadores,” Ayer, vol. 63, no. 3 (2006), p. 43. The view of Primo de Rivera dictatorship as liberal conservativism in Clive Beadman, “Official nationalism of the Primo de Rivera Regime: Some findings from the

Spanish nationalism and fascism   275

35 36

37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60

pages of Unión Patriótica and Somatén,” International Journal of Iberian Studies, vol. 11, no. 2 (1998), p. 74; Javier Tusell and Genoveva García Queipo de Llano, “La Dictadura de Primo de Rivera como régimen político. Un intento de interpretación,” Cuadernos Económicos de I.C.E, no. 10 (1979), p. 56; Javier Tusell, Radiografía de un golpe de Estado: El ascenso al poder del general Primo de Rivera (Madrid: Alianza, 1987), p. 270. La Gaceta, 2 October 1923. The instructions to the delegados in the Royal Decrees of 20 October 1923 and 20 March 1924 and the Royal Order of 9 December 1923. Primo’s orders to the delegados, in his letters of 10 December 1923; 5 April 1924; 24 April 1924. All documents in Archivo General de la Administración del Estado (AGA), Subsecretaría Sección de Orden Público, Interior, Box 149. Alejandro Quiroga, Making Spaniards. Primo de Rivera and the Nationalization of the Masses (1923–1930) (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), p. 56. José Pemartín, Los valores históricos en la Dictadura española (Madrid: Editorial Artes y Ciencia, 1928), pp. 644–645. Unión Patriótica, 15 November 1929. Unión Patriótica, 15 November 1929. La Nación, 24 February 1927. José Luís Gómez-Navarro Navarrete, “La Unión Patriótica: análisis de un partido del poder,” Estudios de Historia Social, no. 32–33 ( January-June, 1985), pp. 93–163. José Luis Gómez-Navarro, El Régimen de Primo de Rivera. Reyes, Dictaduras y Dictadores (Madrid: Cátedra, 1991), pp. 232–236. Eduardo González Calleja, La España de Primo de Rivera: la modernización autoritaria 1923–1930 (Madrid: Alianza 2005). Gil, Conservadores subversivos, p. 54. Renzo de Felice, Mussolini il Duce, Gli anni del consenso, 1929–1936 (Turin: Einaudi, 1996, l° ed. 1974), pp. 1–55. John Pollard, “Conservative Catholics and Italian Fascism: the Clerico-Fascists,” in Martin Blinkhorn (ed.), Fascist and Conservatives. The Radical Right and the Establishment in Twentieth-century Europe (London: Unwin Hyman, 1990), pp. 32–50. Quiroga, Making Spaniards. Nigel Townson, La República que no pudo ser. La política de centro en España (1931–1936) (Madrid: Tuarus, 2002). El Debate, 28 October 1932. El Debate, 8 November 1931. Leandro Álzvarez Rey, “La derecha accidentalista en la Segunda República española,” in Javier Tusell, Feliciano Montero and José María Marín (eds.), Las derechas en la España contemporánea (Barcelona: Anthropos, 1997), pp. 199–201. José Luis Rodríguez Jiménez, La extrema derecha española en el siglo XX (Madrid: Alianza, 1997), p. 110. José Ramón Montero, La CEDA: el catolicismo social y político en la II Republica, vol. I (Madrid: Ediciones de la Revista de Trabajo, 1977), pp. 245–304. The quotation in Montero, La CEDA, p. 621. For the corporate state see José Ramón Montero, “La CEDA y la Iglesia en la Segunda Republica española,” Revista de Estudios Políticos, no. 31–32 (1983), p. 116. Gil Robles’s words in El Debate, 25 November 1933. Eduardo González Calleja, “La violencia y sus discursos: los límites de la ‘fascistizaciónt’ de la derecha española durante el régimen de la Segunda República,” Ayer, no. 71 (2008), p. 106. Julián Casanova, The Spanish Republic and Civil War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010). Paul Preston, A Concise History of The Spanish Civil War (London: Fontana, 1996), pp. 48–49. Preston, A Concise History, pp. 51–58.

276  Giorgia Priorelli and Alejandro Quiroga

Spanish nationalism and fascism  277

12 IN THE MIRROR OF FASCISM Portugal and the Italian experience Giulia Albanese

In an interview with António Ferro in December 1932, António Oliveira Salazar reflected on the relationship between the Estado Novo and Italian Fascism in the following terms: Our dictatorship evidently resembles the Fascist dictatorship in its reinforcement of authority, the war declared on certain democratic principles, its markedly nationalist character, and its concern with social matters. It differs from it, however, in its methods of renewal. […] Rather, the Portuguese Estado Novo cannot, nor wishes, to avoid certain limitations of a moral nature that it deems essential to preserve, as a means of checking its reformist action. Salazar added: Another difference between our two dictatorships lies in our methods of action, the dynamics of our renewal. For example, violence, the direct and constant method of the Fascist dictatorship, is not applicable to our environment; it does not suit the mildness of our customs.1 This text, which deserves more extensive analysis, shows how the historiographical reflection on the relationship between Salazarism and fascism is not the outcome of a late categorisation made by historians, but has a long history that also concerns the way in which the Portuguese dictator himself conceived of and represented the Estado Novo in relation to Fascism and fascist movements. Salazar’s reflection is all the more significant in that it draws attention to differences between the two regimes – the “moral” aspect and violence – which do not coincide with the differences highlighted by historians and political scientists:

Portugal and the Italian fascism  279

the latter have placed greater emphasis on the absence of a mass dimension, of a single party, and of a militia.2 The debate on the relationship between fascism and Salazarism de facto emerged with the birth of the latter. However, it became established as a specific and relevant object of investigation by international historians only in the 1960s, when the volume European Fascism, edited by Stuart Woolf, presented the Portuguese case within a miscellany of fascist and pro-fascist experiences.3 At that time, the debate on the place of this European experience among fascist movements was clearly a topical issue, since Salazar remained in power until 1968 and the Estado Novo survived for some years after his death. The birth of democracy in Portugal brought a plethora of studies exploring the topic of the Salazarist regime’s development and its role in the history of European fascist movements. This is not the place to reconstruct the evolution of such historiography, which combines crucial questions regarding the history of Portugal, interwar Europe, and the history and definition of fascism and fascist movements.4 However, it is important to note that such research developed in a context which, from the early 1980s onwards, was marked by a heated debate on the European dimension of fascism. In the 1990s an attempt was then made to develop a broader and historically more correct definition of the term “fascism” by outlining a taxonomy of fascist movements, in the hope of settling the question of what ought to be regarded as fascist and what instead lacks the characteristics required to fit this category. Although this debate has fostered an awareness of the complex range of issues to be addressed among historians and social scientists, a universally shared definition has hardly been reached – as was probably to be expected. One of the consequences of this is that the role and contribution of Salazarism, and its relationship with fascism, remain an object of discussion and debate to this day.5 In recent years, however, not least in order to avoid what has often threatened to become a stale debate, many research projects and comparative studies have been carried out on different fascist, pro-fascist and authoritarian experiences in Europe, along with an analysis of the dictatorships in interwar Europe, in an effort to identify on what level – whether political, ideological, cultural or practical (or all four levels combined) – it is possible to identify actual forms of collaboration and convergence.6 This perspective is certainly enriching our knowledge and leading to a new awareness of the actual relationships and links between the diverse political experiences in interwar Europe. Within this framework, greater attention has recently been paid to the issue of the impact of fascist experiences on moderate and conservative groups both at a national and at a cross-national and comparative levels.7 The latter perspective is particularly important because it makes it possible to avoid identifying fascism as a home-grown element in certain contexts and, conversely, as an imported one in other contexts. It brings out the affinity with and proximity to fascism of the conservative milieu in the interwar period, allowing us to evaluate the relationship, differences and points of convergence between conservatives in the broad sense and fascists in the strict sense.

280  Giulia Albanese

Starting from these considerations, the aim of this chapter is to examine the impact of Italian Fascism on the conservative and radical Right in Portugal, by focusing particularly on how conservative Catholicism and radical nationalism – two of the main ideological strands in Portuguese conservatism – viewed and related to the Italian experience, initially as a source of inspiration for the transformation of the Portuguese republic and, later, as a model for the Estado Novo. In order to do so, I will briefly explore some of the possible threads that run through all these experiences. Certainly, not least in the above-quoted interview, Salazar repeatedly distanced himself from Fascism and from more explicitly pro-fascist movements in the construction of the Estado Novo’s political project, if only by adopting a partly dialectical approach (of the sort allowed in a dictatorship). Yet this does not imply that the picture in question exhausts the relations between Salazarism and the complex world of fascism, as in some ways this very interview with Salazar shows. Although historians have been late in bringing this topic into focus with the clarity it deserves, the support shown to Italian Fascism by nationalist milieus and even part of the Catholic world undoubtedly contributed in a crucial way to the shaping of the Fascist regime, its political practices and its ideological aims – so much so, in fact, that at the regime’s height it was almost impossible to distinguish between these different political families.8 However, these areas continued to preserve some degree of autonomy, and might come across as more familiar abroad and as conveying political perspectives that were not fully in line with the regime, despite the fact that they were integrated into it for the most part. This suggests that tracing the contacts between the composite nationalist and Catholic milieus in Portugal and the Fascist ruling class in Italy is not a futile exercise in view of an attempt to reflect on the fascistisation of the Portuguese experience and to acknowledge the existence of different political currents within Italian Fascism.9 From this perspective, the period between the March on Rome and the establishment of the Estado Novo is particularly significant, insofar as it was in those years that the Fascist model was most explicitly viewed as a point of reference and as a means to build a model of political transformation for Portugal that was to bear fruit during the long life of this regime.

Anticipations That war could serve as a hotbed for new political cultures, even in the conservative field, was something that Portugal learned well in advance of the rest of Europe. The military uprising of December 1917, led by Sidónio Pais, a retired officer and former ambassador who had been among the founders of the Republic in 1911, was the end of the line for a motley group and collection of forces critical of the Republic. These ranged from Catholics to monarchists, and from conservative and reformist Republicans to Regenerationists, along with certain political and trade-unionist forces within the labour movement which hoped that dictatorship would finally bring an end to the war.10 This range of civilian and

Portugal and the Italian fascism  281

military forces were brought together in the hope of quitting the conflict, or at any rate of scaling down the war effort, and at the same of barring the Democratic Party from power, which had been the main ruling party in Portugal since the proclamation of the Republic. This alliance of forces led to the formation of a dictatorship that disbanded Parliament, removed the president of the Republic, and put all control over foreign affairs and the army into the hands of a single man (who was also appointed prime minister).11 It is impossible to tell what kind of regime would have sprung from this dictatorial interregnum, had it lasted longer. After just over a year in power, Sidónio Pais was assassinated, the dictatorship was brought down, and a “new old Republic” was established after a bitter civil war that chiefly affected the north of the country, in particular pitting the monarchists and more reactionary Catholics against the democrats.12 Despite its limited duration, Pais’ dictatorship – along with the ensuing civil war – was an important moment for the development of new political cultures and the implementation of some initial government policies that provided answers to the questions raised by the war. Over the course of those months, Pais set a propaganda machine in motion that organised a kind of personality cult, proposed a crucial constitutional reform which altered political representation by establishing a corporate chamber, limited the effects of the law separating State and Church, and launched plans for a single party. Not all these reforms were to last and affect the re-established democratic Republic. The law replacing the Senate with a corporative chamber – entailing a double mode of representation, on a territorial and a professional basis – never came into effect. However, this project was the outcome of a political reflection rooted in the debate surrounding the encyclical Rerum Novarum, but also in the impact that the Action Française movement had had in Portugal, and in ideas springing from certain novelties in terms of local representation introduced in Spain over the previous years.13 The corporative reform, which reflected a political tendency among the country’s Catholic elites in the late nineteenth century, could be implemented within a broader cultural and political context; as such, it could help mediate between different forces, marking a step forward and a break with respect to the original formulation of such a project.14 The corporatist policies put forward by the Pais government entailed a specific criticism of the Portuguese Republic, which had failed to find a truly democratic means of representation. This was because voting participation was limited and the exclusion of political forces that might receive in his perspective electoral support – such as Catholic, monarchist and reactionary forces – made universal suffrage impossible from a Republican perspective. The corporatist political reform thus led to an authoritative integration of the masses through the establishment of a means to broaden the voting base down to universal male suffrage. This corporatist plan thus acted as a link between the various forces that made up the government and gave rise to a kind of dictatorship which, far from being a mere military dictatorship, put forward a new political plan. This dictatorship sought to gain

282  Giulia Albanese

legitimacy through political institutions that hearkened back to a distant past, while at the same time deeply renewing the liberal-Republican mode of government and institutions.15 This plan was also strengthened by the considerations inspired by World War I, not least in the Catholic world. In those very years, jurist António de Oliveira Salazar was exploring the issue of how the war had changed the State’s economic role. The conclusions he reached led him in a direction similar to Pais’. Salazar, as many others in those post-war years, believed that the State needed to play a central role in the economic management and organisation of the country.16 In connection to the concerns raised by this reform, an attempt had also been made in the brief period of Pais’ regime to broaden government political action on the economic and social levels, both from the top down and through the establishment of a network of poverty relief associations, such as the Association of 5 December.17 Pais’ project also laid the foundations for a transformation of political culture through the Partido Nacional Republicano (PNR). This was founded concomitantly to the new universal male suffrage law, which was never implemented, for the purpose of establishing a one-party regime “capable of bringing together all Portuguese political groups into a single organisation”18. This new political plan would certainly have alienated those political groups that had taken part in the Sidonist experience but were unwilling to give up their autonomy and identity. At the same time, it provided a one-party model for the establishment of a new political order in the years to come. The most concrete legacy of the Pais government in Portugal in the years immediately following was its moderating effect on the laws concerning the separation of Church and State. Indeed, it reopened a diplomatic channel that had been closed in 1911, partly thanks to the fact that an initial rapprochement had occurred during the war:19 the Church did not achieve all it had hoped for, yet the premises were established for a dialogue that was to be conducted in the following years, well after the end of the dictatorship. This change was a further sign of the attempt made to strike a balance between different forces seeking to transform the relationship between the State and the Catholic Church in different ways, and which held widely articulated and divergent opinions on the Republic that had emerged out of the 1911 revolution, as well as of liberalism more generally. The political experience of Sidonism had limited impact outside Portugal. However, it is hardly surprising that in the following years, in the light of the corporatist, dictatorial and authoritarian plans made in various countries both in Southern Europe and beyond, Sidónio Pais’ dictatorship came to be viewed as the embryonic stage of a political transformation and innovation that was to sweep across the Continent over the next twenty years. The dictatorship acquired symbolic importance in Portugal because it was seen to suggest a native approach to what, in the interwar period, had emerged in Europe as a fundamental model

Portugal and the Italian fascism  283

for the economic and political ordering of government institutions. An example of this is the publication of a volume written by a prominent figure both within Pais’ government and in Salazar’s dictatorship; namely, Teofilo Duarte’s Sidónio Pais e o seu Consulado (1942).20 In this book, published at a significant moment in European history, Duarte stressed the anticipatory and “avant-garde” character of Pais’ regime, which “lay in the spiritual possibility of the age in which it emerged; hence, far from representing a regression, it exhibited the marks of progress.”21 Duarte affirmed the continuity between the monarchy as an instrument of government and these new dictatorial regimes – while acknowledging that the latter’s lack of a hereditary aspect constituted a crucial difference – insofar as they both concentrated different forms of power (military, executive, administrative and at times even legislative) in the hands of a single person and directed economic policies through the integration of “living forces” within the political arena. This led Duarte to reflect on the nature of what he described as “authoritarian” regimes, and on the possibility they might endure over time or develop into regimes of a different kind, thereby raising potentially destabilising questions for the Portuguese regime at the height of World War

The Republican crisis and the nationalist world Portugal was experiencing a relatively calm spell in the complex and conflictridden post-war years, when Mussolini came to power. Partly for this reason, moderate public opinion received the news of the political developments in Italy in an explicitly cautious way: an article published in the Portuguese Industrialists’ Association’s newspaper, O Século, stated that it was too early to “tell what consequences Fascism might have on European political life,” even though its triumph was no doubt “the topic of the day.”22 This reference to the European-wide impact of Fascism in a conservative newspaper reflects the considerable attention which conservative groups paid to this political novelty. It also shows how certain political groups in Portugal were highly receptive towards developments in Italy, not least as a result of the prolonged phase of crisis that the country had experienced in the previous months and years. The resonance of the Fascist rise to power in Portugal, however, is best witnessed by the words of the plenipotentiary minister at the Italian Embassy in Lisbon, Attilio Serra, who stated that leading Portuguese politicians had immediately requested permission to establish a Fascist party in their own country.23 Besides, in the summer of 1922, heated discussions concerning Fascism had taken place in Portugal, particularly in the pages of the Catholic and monarchist newspaper A Época. The latter had hosted a debate – probably the first of its sort in Portugal – between the NationalSyndicalist Rolão Preto, a soon-to-be herald of Portuguese fascism who defended fascist violence, and Father Santa Cruz, who described fascist nationalism as “excessive, modern, and pagan.”24 Over the following months, various signs of sympathetic interest in Fascism emerged, as, for instance, with the establishment in 1923 of a

284  Giulia Albanese

newspaper entitled A Ditadura (which remained in circulation until 1925) – the voice of the Nacionalismo lusitano group, which explicitly drew inspiration from Fascism.25 The year 1923 also witnessed the emergence of other radical right-wing movements, such as Acção Nacionalista, which had Portugal as its mouthpiece. Of all the pro-fascist movements of those years, Nationalist Action was the one that most openly distanced itself from monarchist aspirations. However, monarchist pro-fascist movements were also to be found, most notably Acção Realista Portuguesa.26 February 1923 witnessed the founding of the Nationalist Republican Party (Partido Republicano Nacionalista, or PRN), which sprang from the merging of the Liberal Republican Party and the Reconstitution Party. Its aim was to bring the Portuguese Right together into a united front in opposition to the Democratic Party (officially called the Portuguese Republican Party) – the cornerstone of the Republic – and to restore “order in the streets, barracks, public services, and spirits.” However, it failed to develop a homogeneous political perspective, and thus partly ended up competing with other political movements and projects, such as Cruzada Nun’Alvarez.27 What proved particularly challenging for the PRN was the creation of a unitary platform for institutional State reform, and the development of a shared view on the role of Republican institutions in the country’s future.28 This political constellation, made up of both army men and civilians, crucially contributed to destabilising the Republic and organising revolts and uprisings designed to redraw the political and institutional horizon. It is within this context that we should understand the speech delivered in December 1923 by Francisco Pinto da Cunha Leal, an army captain during World War I as well as a Sidonist who became a nationalist leader and took part in several political enterprises in the post-Sidonist period, between 1919 and 1926. He served several terms as Finance Minister and led many anti-democratic revolts in the confused post-war years. In the Geographical Society headquarters in Lisbon, before a large crowd of people – most of them politicians and army men – Cunha Leal explicitly and publicly presented the path of dictatorship as a solution to the country’s political problems. Over the course of his lecture, however, he suggested a path halfway between Primo de Rivera’s one, which had been established in the meantime in nearby Spain, and Mussolini’s Italian path. Leal envisaged a political dictatorship for his country, based on open support from the military, as the only way of “saving the fatherland.”29 This is not the place to outline Cunha Leal’s life and political career, although it is a highly significant  – if only partially original – one, insofar as it illustrates just how successful the Sidonist and later nationalist ruling class was in challenging State institutions, while remaining an integral part of them. With regard to the spread of these new political groups and ideas more generally, it is noteworthy that a year after the March on Rome and only a few months prior to the establishment of Primo de Rivera’s regime, the spectre of dictatorship not only resurfaced but took the centre of the political stage, with

Portugal and the Italian fascism  285

the support of part of the Republican ruling class. Indeed, talk of a dictatorship was not merely appreciated, but applauded. The flourishing of this nationalist – and in some way pro-fascist – mobilisation should be discussed in further detail, had it not already been examined by António Costa Pinto a few years ago. It arose due to the Republic’s instability, but at the same time it caused a further development in the latter through a slide towards dictatorship.30 In this context, certain figures played a significant role by taking an explicitly pro-fascist stance. Among these, mention must be made of Francisco Homem Cristo Filho, who had carved out a place for himself in conservative French milieus. Homem Cristo Filho spent many years in Paris, working as the director of a conservative press and publishing agency. Under the Republic, he took part in various publishing ventures, usually in times of crisis or when dictatorship was looming, such as the founding – in 1915 – of the newspaper Ideia Nacional, which resembled its Italian counterpart in more than just its name. Ideia Nacional was established concomitantly with Pimenta de Castro’s dictatorship and was funded by interventionist sections of the Portuguese nationalist and conservative milieu, as well as by some of Homem Cristo Filho’s French contacts. The newspaper also received support from certain representatives of Portuguese Catholicism, including António Oliveira Salazar.31 As evidence confirming the links between the Portuguese journalist and Italian nationalists, in the 1960s Cecília Barreira discovered that Francisco Homem Cristo Filho had been in contact with Luigi Federzoni and Francesco Coppola from as early as 1911 (however, it would be worth investigating such matters further). Under Sidonio’s dictatorship, Cristo Filho served as an intermediary for him in Paris, through the “Directorate for Information and Propaganda Services of the Republic of Portugal in Friendly and Allied Countries,” of which he was the Director, as well as through the press agency he worked for. The latter was the most important source of information for the Sidonist newspaper A Situação.32 Cristo Filho later became one of Fascism’s earliest promoters at an international level through the volume Mussolini bâtisseur d’avenir, published in France in 1923. In this book – dedicated to the Italian nationalist leader Luigi Federzoni – Cristo Filho praised Fascism’s capacity for renewal and regeneration, which he deemed capable of directing “the national experience towards new destinies.” He also stressed Fascism’s potential to serve as a source of inspiration for all Latin peoples that might revive their past glories. Homem Cristo Filho saw Mussolini’s success as the cornerstone of a global political transformation centred on the capacities and distinguishing features of the Latin soul, by contrast to the political centrality attained by Northern Europe. While this project met with little success, it constitutes a significant element in the narrative which the conservative and reactionary ruling classes developed during the fraught 1920s, and which Fascism later attempted to revive.33 The various strands of the Portuguese nationalist experience took the form of different, and frequently conflicting, currents and organisations during the Republic’s crisis years. However, in one way or another, and with different ambitions and aims, they all intertwined with the military coup of 28 May 1926.

286  Giulia Albanese

Filomeno da Camâra and José Mendes Cabeçadas were among the leaders of this coup. They had previously headed the military uprising of April 1925 and were prominent representatives of the Sidonist National Republican Party, although it is unclear whether they only privately took part in the coup or whether the upper echelons of the Party were directly involved. Be that as it may, their presence no doubt reflects the prevailing sentiments within the Party.34 Francisco Homem Cristo Filho received an official appointment as Overseas Propaganda Officer from the ruling class that emerged from the coup. Francisco Cunha Leal, who had fuelled these political tendencies and collaborated with the subversive forces involved in the coup, at first received official appointments, but soon fell afoul of the regime. Many other examples could be adduced and discussed in detail. It was precisely the nationalist and formerly Sidonist milieus gravitating around the above-mentioned movements that absorbed – and interpreted from a conservative perspective – the drive towards dictatorship coming from Mediterranean Europe. They gave voice to this drive, adopting it and redefining it from their own national perspective by proposing a Portuguese path to dictatorship through a convergence and an alliance with the military. The fact that this multifaceted nationalist milieu ultimately failed to acquire a leading role within the Estado Novo, and that some of its most prominent representatives joined the opposition’s ranks even before Salazar’s rise to power, does not change the fact that it played a vital role in this initial stage. Despite the failure of this political scene to coalesce conservative forces under the new dictatorial regime, and despite its inability to establish a single, homogeneous movement, different representatives of what we might term the Nationalist constellation were more successful than other sections of the conservative or reactionary ruling class in processing the novelties from Italy and in adapting them to the Portuguese setting. They did so not merely by evoking the Sidonist past, but also by engaging with Fascism in order to promote the idea that it was necessary to transform Portugal according to their desires and aspirations. 35

Catholics and the dictatorship Most of the Catholic ruling class in Portugal looked favourably upon the beginning of the dictatorship, and seemed to give it their blessing. Indeed, despite its – certainly conditional and troubled – adherence to the Republic, the profoundly divided Catholic milieu generally continued to view the Republic with suspicion. The main reason for this was the Republican choice to introduce a law on the separation between Church and State, modelled after the one adopted by the Third Republic in France. This new law was a key ideological step of the new regime. 36 However, Pais’ overtures towards the Catholic world in 1918 proved crucial in lending legitimacy to the “new old Republic.” Partly through the influence of the newly appointed apostolic nuncio Achille Locatelli, the Republic compelled

Portugal and the Italian fascism  287

the Portuguese Catholic elites to accept its status quo and constitution in their post-1919 reinterpretation, albeit with all the necessary precautions and distinctions.37 These changes brought about a shift in Portuguese Catholicism from intransigent resistance to the Republican regime to more nuanced positions, leading it to formally adopt an attitude of indifference towards the institutional framework, as long as religious freedom was guaranteed. This shift, however, split the Catholic milieu into an intransigent monarchist group (represented by the newspaper A Época) and one more open to new horizons (represented by Novidades). From an organisational and political standpoint, the political reorganisation of Catholics in the Republic was promoted in 1912 through the founding of the Centro Académico da Democracia Cristã (CADC), which favoured the emergence of a new political ruling class conscious of its role and of its opposition to the Republican regime. A few years later, under new political circumstances, the post-Sidonist redefinition of this ruling class received the blessing of the Centro Católico Português (CCP), established by the national episcopacy in 1917. The Centro set out the terms for Catholics’ participation in the Republic’s political life, encouraging the expression of less explicitly antiRepublican sentiments, in order to promote “the Christianisation of laws, of habits, and of national political life.”38 In such a way, that section of the Catholic milieu more willing to accept the Republican political regime ensured certain political guarantees for itself. Most notably, it was largely spared in the purges that followed the civil war, and had access to some degree of political representation within the ‘new old Republic’ that began to take shape in 1919. Thus, a less radical republic than the one established in 1910–11 found new sources of legitimation in the Catholic world, not least through symbolically charged acts, such as President De Almeida’s decision to bestow the Cardinal’s hat on the nuncio – a gesture that in the past had expressed the deep bond between the monarchy and the Catholic Church. Nor was this a merely symbolic gesture, given that the president’s legitimation as a (partly symbolic) replacement for the sovereign went hand-in-hand with the dismantling of the policy of separation which the Republic had been pursuing since 1911.39 Much more could be said about the effects of these changes on that section of the Portuguese Catholic milieu that had accepted the Republic, since it included figures who had adopted this course with significant reservations, and who saw the Republic as a political field in which to operate in view of better times to come. But it also included actors who were more committed to the democratic and Republican institutions. One example is António Lino Neto, President of the CCP in the 1919, who within the political climate just described warned Parliament in 1923 about the risk that Portugal might follow Mussolini and Primo de Rivera’s lead. He sought to defend the Republican institutions, despite the enduring tensions between the Portuguese Republic and the Vatican.40

288  Giulia Albanese

In the face of the military coup of May 1926, however, the Catholic political and religious authorities by and large proved willing to accept the change underway, and to give it their blessing – albeit with much cautiousness and ambiguity. That the relationship with the Church was the main problem – or one of the main problems – that the military coup was intended to solve became immediately clear with the manifesto of 28 May 1926, which called for “the utmost religious freedom.” This seemed like a rather unambiguous statement, as witnessed by the words of the apostolic nuncio to the Holy See, who wrote, “Given that the other religious denominations had never been harassed by the previous governments, the ‘intolerance’ opposed by the proclamation could only refer to that shown by the Church of Rome.”41 In the immediately following days, this interpretation was confirmed by the statements made by General Manuel Gomes da Costa, the leader of the May 1926 coup, and particularly of the military march on Lisbon. It was also confirmed by the decision to appoint no less than two men from the CCP as ministers of his government, namely António de Oliveira Salazar and Mendes dos Remédios, who were professors at the University of Coimbra and respectively served as Finance Minister and Minister of Education. Further evidence that the nuncio was correct in his assessment came from the decision to implement measures such as the revision of the law on separation and divorce, to acknowledge the legal status of the Church, and to grant freedom in the teaching of religion.42 The compromise on which the coup rested was soon challenged, creating an unstable situation that endured up to the establishment of the Estado Novo in 1933. But this was not the case with the new course taken with regard to political affairs, and which was endorsed both by those who upheld the dictatorship as a means to restore the old regime and by those who instead envisaged it as a temporary measure to restore the functioning of State institutions and remove the “democrats” from power.43 Moreover, although the two Catholic professors’ appointment in the military government was short-lived, the presence of António Oliveira Salazar and Mendes dos Remédios is certainly significant. In Coimbra, where Mendes dos Remédios taught Italian, significant connections were established with the Mussolini government from 1925 onwards. In 1926 the Fascists funded the creation of an Italian room in the university library, where students and professors could access some of the regime’s main works of propaganda as well as information regarding the formation of the State and the Fascist dictatorship in Italy.44 It is difficult to imagine that the Professor of Italian and the regime’s future Minister of Education was not involved in this process. Meanwhile, a few months before the coup, a major event shook the Catholic political and religious elite in Portugal, forcing it to come to terms with its internal divisions. This event, too, did not have a direct impact on the political sphere, and while it warrants being examined in much greater depth, it seems worth at least mentioning it here. In December 1926, the Vatican officially condemned the Action Française, a force that, as we have seen, had served as a point of reference for

Portugal and the Italian fascism  289

Catholic monarchism in Portugal. The Pope’s move fanned the conflict between this political milieu and that which had already embraced the Republican order at a stage in which the dictatorship could offer a new course and potential unity to the Portuguese Catholic forces.45 This conflict directly affected the apostolic nuncio, who sought to protect those Catholics close to the Action Française at a time of significant transformation in Portugal’s political balances. His choice, however, was not fully accepted by the Holy See and gave rise to tensions with the Vatican. The convergence between the redefinition of Catholics’ role in political life through the condemnation of the Action Française and the cultural-political crisis it triggered in Portugal reveals the impact which the idea of dictatorship had in the 1920s, even well beyond the borders of the nations affected by the phenomenon. It is equally revealing of the redefinition of the Vatican’s role in the development of dictatorial states in Europe. In Portugal the polemic surrounding the Action Française proved all the more significant on account of the political circumstances in which it occurred: a moment of enduring uncertainty with regard to the destiny of the dictatorship. It also brought to the surface the tension between a more radically monarchical Catholicism, which had no intention of passively accepting the Vatican’s condemnation (as was also the case in France), and a Catholic wing more open to other political solutions. The conflict in question further revealed the need for Vatican intervention to restore the unity of a Catholic milieu which, during the war and its aftermath, had increasingly been shattered, both in Portugal and elsewhere. The stabilisation of the dictatorship from 1928 onwards, concomitantly with the return into government of the staunch Catholic Oliveira Salazar as Finance Minister, where he wielded control over all the other ministries’ expenditures, marked the emergence of a structural political alliance between the military, Catholics and the Republican and radical milieus that had supported the coup. The outcome of this process became evident only in 1932, with the launching of the Estado Novo by the newly appointed President Salazar, who in the meantime had acquired a leading role in the new political order.46 Within this context, it is most interesting to consider the way in which the treaty between the Italian State and the Church was interpreted only a few years before the launching of the Estado Novo, at a time in which Salazar was starting to permanently assert his role. This treaty, which was struck within the context of the Italian Fascist dictatorship, touched upon certain points with respect to which the Portuguese position remained ill-defined compared to the Italian one, but also – more generally – in comparison with the Catholic leadership’s choices in that political phase. By and large, the Portuguese press welcomed the 1929 treaty.47 However, the unanimity of those days concealed different takes on what had occurred. As Rita Carvalho has noted, Henrique Trindade Coelho, a former Republican-democrat and prominent member of the Cruzada Nun’Alvares, who at the time was serving as Portuguese A mbassador to the Holy See and was an admirer of Mussolini’s Fascism,

290  Giulia Albanese

wrote: “for me, as a Catholic, the day of the treaty’s publication was a sad one,” In Trinidade Coelho’s view, the Pope had relinquished some of his sovereignty for the benefit of the State. Indeed, he believed that “Mr Mussolini’s triumph is absolute,” since “deep down [he] was obeying the principles of Fascist imperialism.”48 From an Italian perspective, the agreement no doubt represented a crucial point of arrival both for the Fascist regime and for the Catholic Church.49 Moreover, it shed light on one of the possible paths towards the construction of an authoritarian and Fascist regime in interwar Europe. It clarified how the relationship with Catholicism – the latter’s willingness to accept authoritarian forms of government as legitimate (or more legitimate than democratic ones) and to come to terms with the development of totalitarianism – was one of the guiding threads in the construction and consolidation of the Fascist regime in Italy (and elsewhere). In Italy, at least, this guiding thread had not proved crucial for Mussolini’s rise to power, which is why historians too long regarded it as a secondary element. But in the light of the Lateran Treaty, the relationship with the Church acquired a profoundly different role and significance. The ideological assumptions behind this political balance were laid in the years leading up to the Fascist rise to power by the nationalist political ruling class, which was not interested in contributing to the consolidation of the Church’s spiritual power, but sought to exploit that potential as a means of political action, to promote nationalist and then Fascist policies for the construction of social order at the domestic level, and for political expansionism at the foreign policy level.50 However, in the eyes of certain representatives of what might be described as the Portuguese radical Right, the treaty represented the construction of a new political balance between Fascism and Catholicism that was entirely to the former’s advantage, with the blessings of the upper echelons of the Vatican: something Portuguese Catholics did not wish to emulate. However, the political balance established with Catholics in Portugal in the following years was not significantly different from that brought about by the Lateran Treaty in Italy. Clear evidence of the beginning of the dictatorship was provided by the closing down of the Centro Católico Português a few years later, despite some resistance from the episcopacy, and by the founding of the National Unity Party. The latter sought to establish itself as the one and only party, and was conceived as a means to control the more explicitly Fascist forces, as well as to bring a section of the Catholic political elite in Portugal even further into line. This process occurred largely with the support of the Patriarch of Lisbon, Manuel Gonçalves Cerejeira, a friend of Salazar’s and someone with whom the latter had shared an important stretch of his political career, particularly within the CADC.51 It was in this context that the Acção Católica Portuguesa was founded in 1934.52

Conclusions António Costa Pinto has compellingly shown how – at different times – the political balance created through the alignment of Catholics, conservatives and

Portugal and the Italian fascism  291

the military proved a major obstacle for the consolidation of fascist movements in Portugal.53 The stabilising of the dictatorship, the adherence to and development of authoritarian doctrines, and the attention paid to crucial aspects of the Italian Fascist regime became clearly visible, at several levels, from 1926, and then with the consolidation of the Estado Novo. But, at the same time, this alignment hindered the development of explicitly fascist forces within the Estado Novo. Within this context, however, it would be rather reductive to consider the dialogue between Fascism and the military dictatorship, as well as between Fascism and Salazarism, exclusively in the light of the relationship between the more explicitly fascist groups within the dictatorship and State political institutions in Portugal in the coup’s wake. What we have is a balance that long remained unstable, particularly in the years before Salazar’s real rise to power, but even subsequently, given that the stabilisation of the Estado Novo brought about some shifts and transformations in the relations between the various political tendencies within the country. In this context, different political groups engaged in different ways with a number of personalities from the broad political world of Italian Fascism. We have seen how, from as early as 1923, Homem Cristo Filho proposed the idea of a network capable of playing a leading role within a new international political order for the nationalist Right in the Latin world, a network to be coordinated by Fascist Italy and Benito Mussolini. We do not know how this project would have developed, had its main proponent not died in an accident in June 1928. However, it is significant that a few months earlier he had held a semi-formal meeting – a dinner – in Rome, in order to promote precisely this political plan. The event was attended by Manuel Gomes Da Costa, one of the leaders of the 1926 coup, who had later fallen into disgrace and had been exiled to the Azores – at the time of the dinner, he had just returned to Portugal. It was also attended by the aforementioned Henrique Trinidade Coelho; Augusto de Castro, Portuguese envoy to Rome; Luigi Federzoni, Minister of the Colonies; Giuseppe Bottai, Italian Minister of Corporations; and Francesco Coppola, Editor-in-Chief of Tribuna, and – along with Federzoni – one of the most prominent nationalists in the pre-Fascist period. It seems as though Mussolini also tasked Francisco Homem Cristo Filho with organising a Congress of Western Nations, to be held in Rome in late April 1929, and writing a monumental, six-volume work on the Fascist State.54 At the same time, other political actors were operating on the international and cross-national stage. In 1927, journalist António Ferro published an important volume of reflections on the centrality of the dictatorial perspective in Europe and Portugal.55 The volume, entitled Viagem à volta das ditaduras (The Journey ­Towards Dictatorships), was a collection of articles and interviews on the dictatorial experiences of the 1920s. The author was a member of that generation which had cultivated relations with radical Italian milieus even before the Fascist rise to power and had also joined Gabriele d’Annunzio in Fiume. In a book published in 1922, Ferro described him as the leader of the resurgence not just of Italy but

292  Giulia Albanese

of the whole Latin world, thereby foreshadowing some of Homem Cristo ­Filho’s theses.56 A few months before the coup of 28 May, the volume Viagem a volta das ditaduras brought together some interviews previously published in leading Portuguese newspapers, with an important introduction by Commander Filomeno da Câmara.57 These interviews are particularly noteworthy because here, Ferro already raised what was to become a central topic in his reflection, namely the problem of the relation between the dictator and the masses, which – with much foresight – he also explored in connection to the Italian regime.58 Among those interviewed to illustrate the Italian case – in addition to Mussolini, whom Ferro probably met through Homem Cristo Filho – were the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Gasparri, and Pope Pius XI, as well as the reformist Socialist Filippo Turati. Also featured was Luigi Federzoni, whom we have already come across. In his volume Ferro put forward some original thoughts on the relationship between Federzoni and Mussolini, as well as the possible causes of friction between the two, concluding that “between Mussolini and Federzoni there is complete, absolute solidarity: solidarity in terms of action, solidarity in terms of ideas.”59 In 1926, Federzoni himself welcomed this perspective. When asked whether there were any “shades of Fascism,” he replied, “There is Fascism and, consequently, there are Fascists, individuals. Some are younger than others … the chief difference between us is age difference.”60 Over the following years, António Ferro established himself as an important interlocutor for Salazar, particularly through his work as editor-in-chief of the Secretariado da Propaganda Nacional, a tool for rallying the masses founded in the summer of 1933. As we have seen, Ferro also conducted some important interviews with Salazar, modelled after Emil Ludwig’s interviews with Benito Mussolini and later published in the volume Salazar, o homem e a sua obra (Salazar, the Man and His Shadow) in 1933. These interviews clearly depict a tension between the pro-Fascist Ferro and Salazar, who was instead bent on ensuring a degree of autonomy for his Estado Novo with respect to the fascist experiences in Europe – especially the Italian experience – according to the perspective previously outlined.61 The interview also explored Hitler’s rise, drawing frequent parallels between his role and the Duce’s, and positively emphasising – even to Mussolini’s detriment – Hitler’s anti-communist action, while at the same time tracing an explicit parallel between the three figures through Ferro’s comments. In 1928, a booklet was published that presented Fascism, and especially its corporatist ideas, as a solution to the Portuguese State’s problems. This slim volume, entitled Fascismo é nacionalismo (Fascism is Nationalism), was written by an otherwise unknown author by the name of Carlos d’Alva. As an appendix, it included a translation of the Italian Labour Charter of 1927. D’Alva wrote, “only through a cautious and modern reorientation is it possible to solve contemporary problems. This orientation, which is the fated outcome of the long and broad experience of the nineteenth century, is what they call Fascism in Italy.” As a

Portugal and the Italian fascism  293

gloss, he added, “Fascism is nothing other than nationalism.” Clarifying what he meant by nationalism, d’Alva stated, “not backward nationalism, which shuts itself off in its ivory tower, but a nationalism that makes use of real capacities in a disinterested manner – not cronyism – and which fulfils the nationalist aspirations of all peoples.”62 The booklet emphasised that the imitation of Fascism in Portugal entailed the rediscovery of its own civilisation’s roots and the full realisation of the latter. In this process, the Italian experience was seen as providing a drive towards the rediscovery of such roots, and as a political proposal to be interpreted and applied within a partially different framework. At the same time – d’Alva stated – it was necessary to burn all bridges with respect to parliamentarianism, to focus on representing people’s interests through corporatism, and to re- establish the family as a means to preserve “the tradition of the race.”63 The roots of the corporatist experience were presented as endogenous, and had been rediscovered by Sidonism in the early twentieth century. As several scholars have extensively shown in recent years, the rediscovery and readaptation of corporatism revealed its importance as a means to establish an authoritarian balance, but also to find a hybrid middle-ground between the Estado Novo and Fascism.64 However, this process of study, imitation, readaptation and reappraisal of the Fascist experience was also important for the Estado Novo in other respects, starting from the relationship with the masses and the construction of consent through the establishment of a series of organisations, such as the Secretariado da Propaganda Nacional, as well as workers’ clubs based on the Fascist model. Recently, some studies have revealed how the Italian experience was also influential in the sphere of State repression, particularly through the creation of a political police force.65 The year 1940 brought a remarkable consolidation of Salazar’s power in Portugal, as well as a definition of the relationship with the Church through a treaty with the Vatican. The centenary of Portuguese independence and of its restoration as a nation also brought the country much exposure. In this momentous year, Fascist leader Luigi Federzoni, the former President of the Senate and then President of the Accademia d’Italia, paid an official visit to Portugal, for the inauguration of the “Casa degli italiani” (House of the Italians) in Lisbon. On this occasion Federzoni received several public honours, including the Grand Cross of the Order of Santiago da Espada, the highest intellectual award in the country. In the course of that ceremony, as though to strengthen the ties between the two nations with tales predating the rise of both Fascism and Salazarism, the National Education Minister, António Carneiro Pacheco, acknowledged Federzoni’s merits as an avant-gardist. He stressed how one was bound to think of this man when drawing a balance of intellectual reaction in the first quarter of the 20th century, […] at once a traditionalist and a revolutionary, someone who brings desire to life and lends them strength, a thinker, a re-educator, and a forerunner of the new orders.66

294  Giulia Albanese

The honouring of Federzoni in Portugal, in the midst of the War, was part of the effort to build a discourse on the brotherhood between the Portuguese and the Italian dictatorships, between Salazarism and Fascism; a brotherhood which, however, could only be achieved on the basis of the intellectual and political role of nationalism as a forerunner of Fascism and a point of reference for Portuguese nationalism. A few years earlier, in an effort to prevent the risk of emulating foreign experiences, Salazar’s regime had repressed the National-Syndicalist movement led by Rolão Preto, who in the early days of the dictatorship had supported Gomes da Costa, endorsing the establishment of an integralist militia. Later Gomes da Costa had continued to explicitly evoke the Fascist model, and had engaged and entered in contact with other, more explicitly “revolutionary” Fascist personalities, such as Italo Balbo.67 By contrast, the reference to Federzoni, an equally Fascist figure and a leading representative of the Fascist political elite in Italy, appeared to be less of a matter of concern for Salazarism: indeed, it could be seen as providing a crucial link between Portugal and Italy. In Fascist Italy it was problematic – and essentially impossible – to distinguish between Fascism and nationalism, but also between Fascism and clericalism, as both of these constituted important components of the Fascists’ ideological background, while at the same time playing a key role in the legitimation, consensus and political project of Fascism. By contrast, the events I have described clearly reveal that Portugal could prefer Federzoni to Balbo, alluding to its own autonomy from the Fascist model, while actually affirming its connection with that regime again and again through the mediation of one of the leading representatives of the Fascist ruling class.

Notes 1 I wish to thank Marco Bresciani for having brought me into this project, Daniele Serapiglia for reading the text and providing useful feedback, Simone Renato Muraca for his research assistance and Sergio Knipe for the translation in English of this article. See Daniele Serapiglia (ed.), Il fascismo portoghese. Le interviste di Ferro a Salazar pref. Luís Reis Torgal (Bologna: Pendragon, 2014), pp. 91–93. 2 These themes are present in the discussion on the relationship between Salazarism and Fascism: see António Costa Pinto, “O Salazarismo na recente investigação sobre o fascismo europeu – velhos problemas, velhas respostas,” Análise Social, vol. XXV (1990), pp. 695–713, and Yves Leonard, Salazarismo e fascismo (Mem Martins: Editorial Inquérito, 1998). More recently on this theme, see Mario Ivani, Esportare il fascismo. Collaborazione di polizia e diplomazia culturale tra Italia fascista e Portogallo di Salazar (Bologna: Clueb, 2008), pp. 7–18, and Manuel Loff, O nosso século é fascista. O mundo visto por Salazar e Franco (1936–1945) (Lisboa: Campos das Letras, 2008), as well as – with an original and more complex perspective – Luís Reis Torgal in Estados Novos, Estado Novo (Coimbra: Imprensa de Universidade de Coimbra, 2009) and Fernando Rosas, Salazar e os fascismos (Lisboa: Tinta da China, 2019). 3 Stuart J. Woolf, European Fascism (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1968). 4 An overview of the development of these historiographies in Mario Ivani, “Il Portogallo di Salazar e l’Italia fascista: una comparazione,” Studi storici, vol. XLVI, no. 2 (April–June 2005), pp. 347–406.

Portugal and the Italian fascism  295

296  Giulia Albanese


12 13

14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

“O Sidonismo, ‘direita’ na República. O reformismo demo-autoritário e a questão presidencialista,” in Riccardo Marchi (ed.), Ideias e percursos das direitas portuguesas, (Alfragide: Leya/Texto, 2014), pp. 133–166. On the political geography of Portugal see Ernesto Castro Leal, Partidos e programas: o campo partidário Republicano português (1910–1926) (Coimbra: Imprensa da Universidade, 2008). On the Pais experience as a possible form of mediation between different political trajectories, see Filipe Ribeiro de Meneses, União sagrada e sidonismo. Portugal em guerra (Lisboa: Edições Cosmos, 2000), in particular pp. 219–258. On the role of the Portuguese Republican Party, also named Democratic Party, see Castro Leal, Partidos e programas, pp. 43–50. On the civil war see Dittature mediterranee. Sovversioni fasciste e colpi di stato in Italia, Spagna e Portogallo (Roma-Bari: Laterza, 2016), pp. 36–43. De Meneses, “Sidónio Pais, the Portuguese ‘new republic’,” p. 113. On hybridisation across different corporatist projects, see António Costa Pinto, “Fascism, Corporatism and the Crafting of Authoritarian Institutions in Inter-War European Dictatorships,” in Rethinking European Dictatoships in Europe, pp. 87–118, and Matteo Pasetti, L’Europa corporativa. Una storia transnazionale tra le due guerre mondiali (Bologna: Bononia University Press, 2016). On the role of the Integralismo Lusitano movement see José Manuel Quintas, O Integralismo Lusitano para além das etiquetas, in Ideias e percusos, pp. 167–195. On the Catholic roots of Portuguese Corporatism see Daniele Serapiglia, La via portoghese al corporativismo (Roma: Carocci, 2011), pp. 21–79. See António José Telo, Sidónio Pais in Nuno Severiano Texeira and António Costa Pinto (eds.), A Primira República portuguesa entre o liberalismo e o autoritarismo (Lisboa: Ed. Colibrì, 2000), pp. 11–24. António Oliveira de Salazar, “Alguns aspectos da crise das subsistência (1918),” in Inéditos e dispersos. II. Estudos económico-financierios (1916–1928) (Lisboa: Bertrand, 1998). See also Pasetti, L’Europa corporativa, in particular pp. 58–64. Serapiglia, La via portoghese, pp. 81–82 and 96–109. Meneses, União sagrada e sidonismo, p. 224. On the political and institutional evolution of Sidonism and the founding of the PNR, see Castro Leal, Partidos e programas, pp. 63–73. On the relationship between Church and State in Portugal in the first half of the twentieth century (and beyond), see Bruno Cardoso Reis, Salazar e o Vaticano (Lisboa: Imprensa de Ciências Sociais, 2006). See again Meneses, União sagrada e sidonismo, p. 310. Teofilo Duarte, Sidonio Pais e o seu Consulado (Lisboa: Portugália, 1942), p. 371. “O Século,” 2 November 1922. Serra to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Benito Mussolini, 2 November 1922, in Ministero Affari Esteri, Commissione per la pubblicazione dei documenti diplomatici, I documenti diplomatici italiani, Settima serie, 1922–1935, vol. I (Roma 1953), p. 15. See António Costa Pinto, Os Camisas Azuis. Ideologia, Elites e Movimentos Fascistas em Portugal 1914–1945 (Lisboa: Editorial Estampa, 1994), pp. 48–51. Costa Pinto, Os Camisas Azuis. Ernesto Castro Leal, “Acção Realista Portuguesa: Uma Direita Radical na I República Portuguesa,” in Marchi (ed.), Ideias e percursos, pp. 197–222. See Ernesto Castro Leal, “A Cruzada Nacional D. Nuno Álvares Preira e as origens do Estado Novo (1918–1938),” Analise Social, vol. 33 (1998), pp. 823–851. See Albanese, Dittature mediterranee, pp. 166–167. ASV, AES, Portogallo, IV period, pos. 318 po, fasc. 21, the Nuntius to the Secretary of State, 22 December 1923. See Costa Pinto, Os Camisas Azuis, and, more recently, Castro Leal, Paridos e Programas, pp. 78–80. On the origins of Portuguese nationalism, see Manuel Villaverde Cabral, “A Estética do Nacionalismo: Modérnismo litérrio e autoritarismo

Portugal and the Italian fascism  297



33 34

35 36



39 40 41

político em Portugal no início do século XX,” in A Primeira Républica, pp. 181–211. See also Torgal, Estados novos, estado novo, in particular pp. 87–97, on the Sidonist legacy. On Cristo Filho’s life and career, see Cecília Barreira, “Homem Cristo Filho. Algumas consideraçoes em torno do seu percurso ideólogico-político,” in O Fascismo em Portugal. Actas do Colóquio realizado na Faculdade de Lettras de Lisboa em Março 1980 (Lisboa: A Regra do Jogo, 1982), pp. 175–185, and also Barreira, Nacionalismo e modernismo. De Homem Cristo Filho à Almada Negreiros (Lisboa: Assirio e Alvim 1961); Ana Isabel Sardinha, Francisco Homem Cristo Filho. On the different nationalist groups and “Ideia Nacional,” see Leal, Acção Realista Portuguesa, p. 218. For this information, see Pais de Sousa, Uma Biblioteca Fascista em Portugal, pp. 36–37. Orlando Raimundo, António Ferro: O inventor do salazarismo. Mitos e falsificaçoes do homem da propaganda da ditadura (Alfragide: Dom Quixote, 2015), pp. 95–100, where it is claimed – albeit without referring to any sources – that Cristo Filho created the Fast agency in 1917 through Count Alberto de Monsaraz’s funding. De Monsaraz was a realist opponent of the Republican regime and the secretary of the NationalSyndicalist movement. See Gori, Almeida de Carvalho, Italian Fascism and the Portuguese Estado Novo. Manuel Baiôa, “Decadencia y Disolución del Partido Republicano Nacionalista (1926–1935),” in Mercedes Gutiérrez Sanchez and Diego Palacios Cerezales (eds.), Conflicto Político, democracia y dictadura. Portugal y España en la década de 1930 (Madrid: Centro de Estudios Políticos y Costitucionales, 2007), pp. 99–153, but there is no reference to the European context. Filomeno da Camâra was a prominent member of the Cruzada Nuno Alvares, and he was secretary of this group at the beginning of 1926. Torgal’Estados Novos, Estado Novo, underlines many of these nationalist trajectories. On the religious context of the First Republic see Vítor Neto, “A questão religiosa: Estado, Igreja e conflitualidade sócio-religiosa,” in Fernando Rosas and Maria Fernanda Rollo (eds.), História da Primeira República Portuguesa (Lisboa: Tinta da China, 2009), pp. 129–148. On the relationship between Catholicism and the Republic, and the role of Maurassian thought, see Ana Isabel Sardinha Desvignes, “L’Action française au Portugal (1910–1918): quelques repères pour l’histoire d’une réception,” in Olivier Dard and Michael Grunewald (eds.), Charles Maurras et l’etranger – L’etranger et Charles Maurras (Berna: Peter Lang, 2009), pp. 265–282. On the transformation of the relationship between State and Church see also Filipe Ribeiro de Meneses, Portugal 1914–1926: From the First World War to Military Dictatorship (Bristol: Hipla, 2004), pp. 195–197. Manuel Braga da Cruz, O Estado Novo e a Igreja Católica (Lisboa: Editorial Bizâncio, 1998), pp. 12–14; Douglas L. Wheeler, Republican Portugal. A Political History (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1978), p. 143; Cardoso Reis, Salazar e o Vaticano, p. 28. The Statute of the Centre is quoted in João Miguel Almeida, António Lino Neto. Intervenções parlamentares (1918–1926) (Alfragide: Texto, 2009), p. 44. See Braga da Cruz, As origens da democracia cristã e o salazarismo, Lisboa: Presença, 1980), pp. 242–256. See Manuel Braga da Cruz, “Centro Catolico Português,” in António Barreto and Maria Filomena Mónica (eds.), Dicionário de História de Portugal, vol. 7 (Lisboa: Figuerinhas, 1999), p. 290. See Robinson, The Religious Question, p. 356. See Tom Gallagher, “Portugal,” in Tom Buchanan and Martin Conway (eds.), Political Catholicism in Europe 1918–1965 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), pp. 129–155. See the apostolic nuncio’s report for Vatican State Secretary Pietro Gasparri, 16 June 1926 in ASV, AES, Portogallo, 1926–1938, pos. 337a- 338po, fasc. 43. On the relationship between Catholicism and Salazarism see Duncan Simpson, A Igreja Católica e o Estado novo salazarista (Lisboa: Edições 70, 2014).

298  Giulia Albanese


Portugal and the Italian fascism  299

13 AMERICA AS ALTERNATIVE TO EUROPEAN RADICALISM? The United States and the transnational rise of the Right Kiran Klaus Patel

When examining the radical Right during the interwar years, the United States often appears as the positive other: Unlike many other industrialised countries in the North Atlantic sphere, American democracy remained robust throughout the 1920s and 1930s. It even weathered the Great Depression comparably well, which is remarkable given the depth of the economic crisis. The unemployment rate offers one example: in early 1933, at the deepest point of the crisis, it stood at a staggering 25%, and thus even higher than in most of those European states in which democracy succumbed to authoritarian or fascist rule.1 Still, the radical Right (or Left, for that matter) did not take over. Instead, so the story goes, American democracy got a fresh start when President Franklin D. Roosevelt took office in March 1933. With “FDR” at the helm, it managed to rejuvenate during the New Deal and soon came to lead the “free world.” This standard account recalls Goethe’s 1827 poem with the opening line “America, you’re better off – Than our continent, the old.”2 And, indeed, democrats, particularly from Europe, often eulogised the New Deal. Looking back at the 1930s from the 1950s, Russian-British political philosopher Isaiah Berlin raved, “The only light in the darkness was the administration of Mr. Roosevelt and the New Deal in the United States. At a time of weakness and mounting despair in the democratic world, Mr. Roosevelt radiated confidence and strength.”3 For a long time, a major current of research on the New Deal shared this positive assessment. Some twenty years ago, Alan Brinkley, one of the leading experts on interwar America, argued that the New Deal was “the central event in the progress of the modern United States toward greater unity and democracy.”4 In contrast, other scholars have put greater emphasis on the limits of democracy and underlined the inconsistencies and internal deficits of the various reform

An alternative to European radicalism?  301

policies, along with the many ways in which the New Deal itself stabilised racial and other forms of inequality. This image, which contradicts the rather positive assessment of the New Deal in many studies with a transatlantic focus, has gained further traction in recent years.5 The present chapter contributes to this second current, linking its focus on US history to the other contributions in this volume. It concentrates on the prewar years of the Roosevelt presidency as the most relevant period for our topic. Even if much research argues that the New Deal years saw the emergence of a new consensus culture legitimising a reformed democratic political system,6 this chapter contends that there were important counter-currents. The United States also saw radical mobilisation on the political Right as well as new forms of conservatism. While these have mostly been researched within the context of US history, this chapter assesses how they were interrelated with and connected to developments in Europe. Their trajectories within America were, I argue, inextricably linked to dynamics on the other side of the Atlantic. The chapter is structured in three parts. First, it briefly summarises how the New Dealers themselves interacted with and viewed Europe’s rightward shift towards authoritarianism and fascism. This part highlights the initial ambiguities in America during the first half the 1930s and demonstrates how the perception of European developments impacted the New Deal’s political course. A second section briefly assesses the role of proto-fascist movements and other positions on the radical Right. Although initially energised by interactions with their European interlocutors, it was these same links – real and perceived – that very much contributed to their political marginalisation. A third section widens the focus beyond the radical Right and examines new forms of conservatism, which have hitherto been primarily associated with post-war developments. It demonstrates not only that their origins stretch back to the 1930s, but also that some of their roots lay in transatlantic networks and connections, too. Overall, the chapter contends that a transatlantic perspective, highlighting interrelations and confrontations, sheds new light on conservatives and radicals on both sides of the Atlantic.

The dark side of New Deal In 1934, Rexford Tugwell, one of President Roosevelt’s closest advisors, travelled to Europe. His trip also brought him to Italy, where he took deep interest in Fascism’s economic and social policy. In his diary, he succinctly summarised his take on what he saw: “It makes me envious.” 7 Tugwell’s view contradicts post-1945 public discourse and the bulk of scholarship, which have projected their normative framework back onto the interwar years. The conventional interpretation is that the period saw a struggle between three clearly delimited ideologies: communism, fascism and liberal democracy. While this approach goes a long way in describing the dynamics of the time, it tends to marginalise the ambivalences that also characterised the 1930s and are crucial to understanding

302  Kiran Klaus Patel

the New Dealers’ interactions with the Europe of their times – a continent that was politically more multifaceted, fluid and hybrid than standard accounts and conventional categories have it. This complexity in turn rubbed off on transatlantic exchanges.8 Against the backdrop of the double crisis of democracy and capitalism, it was not just the forces of radicalism that set out to build a new order. The same holds true for attempts to reform democracy, such as the New Deal. Similar to political movements in Europe, many of which ultimately drifted in an authoritarian direction or towards the far Right, American political reformers of the 1930s argued for a “third way” between communism and traditional forms of liberal democracy. The very term New Deal epitomises this spirit of restoring a supposedly lost national unity revolving around cultural authenticity, originality and a space free from commodification and anonymous market pressure, particularly during the first years of the Roosevelt presidency. Tugwell, for instance, rejected both laissez-faire and communism, and spoke of a “third course,” while economist Stuart Chase pointed to a “third road.”9 Roosevelt himself argued that existing ways no longer provided adequate answers; already during his campaign in 1932, he called for “bold, persistent experimentation.” When he assumed the presidency in March 1933, he turned this approach into his political program.10 At the level of public rhetoric, therefore, the New Deal shared the language of new beginnings with many of the much more radical political movements in Europe. The crisis of democracy challenged established ways. And while many observers agreed that a good dose of “experimentation” was needed to overcome economic, political and societal problems, they wondered whether such a course would ultimately leave the core tenets of American democracy – at least of the democracy one knew – intact.11 Core features of liberal thinking, such as the role of parliament and the division of powers, individualism and the rule of law, lost credibility. Many, including many dictators, talked about alternative forms of democracy, filling the term with new meaning and adding to the confusion of political categories. It took significant intellectual – and political – effort during the 1940s to re-establish tidy divisions between the various blueprints of political order. To understand the uncertainties of the 1930s, it is essential to rediscover the decade’s shifting political languages and practices – also to understand how at the tail end of the decade, the picture started to look clearer again. Marcus Llanque was therefore right when he recently argued, “The interpretation to understand democracy as the opposing idea to dictatorship was the result of the interwar years’ debate, not its starting point.”12 In fact, intellectual orientations in America during the first half of the 1930s were more ambivalent than we sometimes think. Tugwell was not the only one fascinated by Mussolini’s course of action. Until the mid-1930s, Roosevelt felt “sympathy and confidence” with that “admirable Italian gentleman.”13 Moreover, Germany was often referred to positively. Representative David J. Lewis, economist Willard L. Thorp and others recommended studying German industrial

An alternative to European radicalism?  303

policies as a model for America, though reservations tended to be stronger in relation to the Nazis’ political dictatorship.14 Admiration for Italy and the Soviet Union was by no means unreserved either. Roosevelt, Tugwell and others were quick to distance themselves from the political system behind the economic and social policies of Mussolini and Stalin, and instead stressed the merits of democracy. FDR insisted that US culture was inherently democratic, and that his own policies followed “the democratic procedure of our Government itself.”15 Yet Italy and the Soviet Union seemed to be leading the way with their activist and symbolically charged state interventionism, which seemed so successful in fighting the Great Slump. In the first couple of years after assuming power, the New Dealers saw America as a country in desperate need of catching up, rather than as a pioneer of political innovation. The Great Depression had de-legitimised established political and economic models, sowing insecurity about future paths and challenging established notions. Across the globe, many people felt that democracy was an outdated political model, not a robust and reliable system to overcome ongoing and systemic political and economic crises. In America, the search for new answers led to a debate awash in references to Europe and to transnational interconnections that eventually had a tangible impact on New Deal policies.16 Transnational references and networks, as well as the role of the global more generally, started to change from around 1935 onwards. After a flurry of activities and the creation of a long list of new agencies and institutions during the first two years, the sense of immediate crisis receded, and the domestic political and economic situation looked more stable again. The New Dealers suffered serious setbacks and defeats too, for instance, when the Supreme Court ruled the National Recovery Administration unconstitutional, thus killing one of their flagship projects. But they also launched new initiatives such as the 1935 Social Security Act, which helped to consolidate America’s national trajectory. Fascination for European developments, including some aspects of fascist regimes, faded away quickly and receded to the political margins. While transnational exchanges continued to inform the New Deal’s agenda, the wider world began to play a very different role to the one it had just two years earlier. Back then, the main threat to democracy had been perceived as domestic dynamics and uncertainties. Now, reinvigorated national self-confidence in a context of growing international tensions generated new dynamics. During the second half of the 1930s, the image of three distinct, competing ideological alternatives finally solidified in mainstream political discourse in the United States. This clearer perception of differences between liberal democracy and its contenders on the Left and Right was not simply an effect of America’s national history and tradition. It was also informed and driven by intense transnational exchange as international fascination for the political extremes faded. Italian Fascism showed its ugly face in October 1935, unleashing war against Abyssinia, recklessly ignoring international law and killing civilians with poison gas. In contrast to Italy, the Soviet Union and German Nazism had only ever appealed

304  Kiran Klaus Patel

to intellectual minorities. The murder of Sergey Mironovich Kirov in late 1934 initiated the Soviet Union’s “Great Purge,” while Nazi Germany’s expansionist course (with the reintroduction of the draft in 1935 and the remilitarisation of the Rhineland in 1936) sparked more alarm than admiration internationally. The fear of what now was increasingly called “totalitarianism” thus became a great simplifier. It narrowed down the ambiguities, the fluidity and the scope of political options that had characterised the situation just a couple of years earlier.17 Against this backdrop, the focus of debates and transnational interconnections shifted to foreign policy and security concerns. Global developments compelled America to seek a more self-asserted form of national identity. In the face of perils, certain options still contemplated a few years earlier were now ruled out as “alien” or “totalitarian,” while the national trajectory was stabilised and reified, increasingly building on a notion of America as a civilisation in its own right – with a civilising mission at home and abroad – and not just as a republic or nation-state. This new self-understanding prepared the United States to engage more actively with the world. This culminated in 1941 with Time magazine publisher Henry Luce’s description of the twentieth century as the “American Century” – displaying a mind-set and perception of the world that was courageous, even impertinent, given that at the time, Nazi Germany and Japan seemed much more successful in asserting their “new orders” internationally.18 Furthermore, it was utterly different from the way that most Americans had perceived their country and its global context only a few years earlier. This new view also led to a reassessment of certain New Deal programs. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), for instance, had been established in 1933 as a large-scale regional planning project, aiming to provide navigation, land reclamation, flood control, electricity generation, fertiliser manufacturing and agricultural development in a particularly deprived region of the United States. After beginning as a symbol of overcoming the Great Depression and catching up with planning efforts elsewhere in the world, it refashioned itself at the turn to the 1940s into a self-assertive, democratic alternative to totalitarian planning and a transnational icon of development. Nobody was more successful in this domestic and international public relations exercise than the TVA’s director David E. Lilienthal. In his TVA: Democracy on the March of 1944, the political message was very clear. Where dictatorships used totalitarian instruments, Lilienthal contended, Americans left room for grassroots democracy – gently glossing over both the somewhat ambivalent results on the ground and the main thrust of the TVA’s early years, which had not exactly been about creating a massive, concrete alternative to totalitarian policies.19 These shifting views on America’s political identity, on its place in the world and on possible alternatives, are key to assessing the role and trajectory of rightist and conservative positions at the time, as the issues to which the next two sections will turn.

An alternative to European radicalism?  305

A far-right Atlantic: connections between New Deal America and European fascism Max Ascoli was shocked. This was not the America he had expected when he fled Mussolini’s regime, the land of the free, beacon of democracy. While grateful for the new liberties he enjoyed, the exile scolded American politicians, particularly in the metropolitan centres, for happily accepting the support of fascists. In New York, Ascoli argued, the “priests are all fascists” and mayor LaGuardia never criticised Mussolini because he “needs the vote of the priests.”20 The rise of the radical Right in Europe after World War I had visible effects in America, not least because of the history of migration connecting the two continents. Yet the American radical Right obviously also had home-grown roots. Driven by these twin forces, the modern radical Right was never more successful than during the 1930s. This section discusses the role of transatlantic links in the trajectory of America’s radical Right. It argues that while, for a time, such connections helped to vitalise and legitimise its role in the United States, these very links were also one of the main reasons for its marginalisation at the tail end of the decade. Compared to the interwar years, connections between European and USAmerican right-wing movements during the nineteenth century were weak. At that time, nativist ideas loomed large in America, organised in movements such as the Know Nothings with their anti-immigration agenda. These groups mostly addressed US-born Protestants while targeting Catholics and Jews from Europe as alien. Later on, such views were adopted, for instance, by parts of the American Protective Association. There were also explicitly racist organisations such as the Ku Klux Klan, born in the south during Reconstruction. While some rightist ideas and actors already spanned the North Atlantic during the nineteenth century, these connections became much more intense after World War I, in the context of an anti-revolutionary and anticommunist atmosphere on both sides of the North Atlantic – a development which Jeffrey Kaplan and Leonard Weinberg have called the first efforts in the “emergence of a Euro-American Right.”21 The rise of far-rightist and fascist groups and regimes in Europe played its own part. Family ties and continuous waves of immigration explain how right-wing ideas quickly found their way from the Old World to America. Italian Fascists and soon also German Nazis started to project their ideologies onto the United States, seeing the millions of US citizens with family roots in their own respective countries as pools of potential support. Organisations quickly followed. One example from the 1930s is the German American Bund, which enjoyed official backing from Berlin. Quite typically, the Bund was led by a first-generation immigrant: Fritz Julius Kuhn was born in Munich in 1896, fought as a German infantry lieutenant in World War I and moved to the United States in 1928. In February 1939, the Bund rallied a crowd of 20,000 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, criticising Roosevelt, whom Kuhn addressed as “Rosenfeld.”

306  Kiran Klaus Patel

Kuhn’s speeches were generally antisemitic and anticommunist tirades.22 For Italian Fascism, the Fascist League of North America played a similar role until it was dissolved in 1929. There were also many smaller, less well-known organisations, some of which had ties to other parts of Europe, such as Slavicoriented rightist groups, including Ukrainian networks.23 Another example is the All-Russian National Revolutionary Party, set up by Anastasy Vonsiatsky in 1933.24 The ultranationalist facets of their ideologies did not keep any of these groups from working transnationally. Transatlantic – and global – exchange on these issues was no one-way street. Connections were solidified by people and ideas crossing back to Europe – and elsewhere. Antisemitism served as a bridge between the productivism of Henry Ford and the ideology of Adolf Hitler, for example.25 George Sylvester Viereck, a pro-Hitler propagandist in the United States, organised public support for the regime and helped it to obtain sensitive information on US policies vis-à-vis Germany.26 Prominent eugenicists on both sides cited each other to legitimise their claims. Nazi experts advising their government in drafting the infamous 1933 “Law for the Prevention of Offspring with Hereditary Diseases” (Gesetz zur Verhütung erbkranken Nachwuchses) were well aware of the experience with similar laws in various American states, and with US eugenics research and practice more broadly. Obviously, American knowledge was not the force driving Nazi policies, but these examples do provide evidence of the transnational exchange of knowledge in various directions.27 Vonsiatsky soon tried to merge his party with another, Harbin-based Russian-fascist organisation. Far-right and fascist networks spanned the globe. Not all far-right ideas and organisations in the United States had such strong transatlantic dimensions. This was much less the case for the Catholic radio priest Father Coughlin, for instance, whose speeches became more antisemitic and anti-democratic as the 1930s progressed. Another example is the Mothers’ Movement, which at the same time shows that women engaged in this kind of politics, too.28 Generally speaking, the far Right in the United States was heterogeneous and fragmented during the 1930s, and our knowledge on it has remained patchy. A lot of research has focused on the urban centres in the northeast, most importantly on New York City. The picture looks already quite different for a city like Philadelphia, let alone for regions in the south and the west, where other groups often had a stronger presence than the Bund and groupings directly connected to Italian Fascism. George W. Christian’s Crusader White Shirts would be one example, with sections in Georgia, Pennsylvania and California; another is the so-called Silver Legion, an underground fascist organisation headquartered in Asheville, North Carolina.29 Concomitantly, the far Right’s role was determined by reactions and counteractions by the state, civil society groups and the media. Wherever far-right political organisations appeared, counter-movements sprang up. The rise of

An alternative to European radicalism?  307

Italian Fascism in America provoked Italian Americans into setting up the Anti-Fascist Alliance of North America. 30 Scandals with heavy media coverage and highly public events impacted their trajectories, too. For instance, Mussolini himself ordered the dissolution of the Fascist League of North America in 1929 after sensationalist reporting of its attempts to subvert the Italian American community generated a public outcry. Moreover, US officials were fighting extremism using the means supplied by the constitution. Congress played an important role in this context: Building on the work of several earlier committees that had mainly targeted communist activism, a Special Committee on Un-American Activities was set up in 1934 to investigate Nazi and other farright activities; in 1938 this became the House of Representatives’ Committee on Un-American Activities. The Committee’s very name is revealing, not just calling these groups undemocratic, but outright denying their Americanness. The administration, with the support of Congress, the FBI and parts of the press, worked hard to “otherise” these groups, and hence to write them out of US political culture and consensus. This directly challenged the identity of some of these organisations, which fashioned themselves as super-patriots. The Silver Shirts’ uniform, for instance, bore a scarlet letter “L” to symbolise “Loyalty” to America, “Liberation from materialism,” and the “Silver Legion” itself.31 After a first wave during the first two years of the New Deal, the fight against the far Right intensified again from 1938 onwards. Not least in view of the changed international context, fears concerning foreign agents and domestic traitors increased: they were now seen as a serious threat to America’s stability. Some critics of fascist subversion targeted the FDR administration itself, revealing the shrill paranoia of some of the New Deal’s opponents. The nation had become polarised, and the opposing political camps were even more firmly entrenched. The political environment remained fragile and filled with fear. At the same time, the New Dealers increasingly portrayed fascism as a genuine threat that they themselves actively opposed. This helped them to refute accusations from certain quarters that the administration itself was leading the country into fascism. Thus, the New Dealers’ anti-fascist campaign served domestic and international purposes by linking the far Right inside the country to foreign espionage and subversion.32 But the fifth column scare was not just a product of hysteria and political calculus. In 1938, the FBI uncovered a major German spy ring, while the Committee on Un-American Activities opened an investigation into the German American Bund. The latter’s financial activities were also under investigation by the New York district attorney. In late 1939, Kuhn was found guilty of embezzlement and forgery in New York and sent to prison. Soon the Bund was no longer an effective organisation. Radio censorship increased after the outbreak of war in Europe in fall 1939, restricting Father Coughlin’s ability to disseminate his ideas. In 1942 the US government succeeded in stopping his political

308  Kiran Klaus Patel

activities more generally by exerting pressure on the church. The same year, the FBI arrested Vonsiatsky on charges of collaborating with Nazi Germany. These are just a few examples of a broad general trend: The more organisations of the radical Right resembled their European fascist counterparts or linked up with them, the more likely they were to encounter legal persecution by the state, particularly after Pearl Harbor. The mass media and civil society became less tolerant of far-right positions, too, reflecting the new, hardened self-understanding of a vigilant democracy in a dangerous world.33 While the public space for far-right activities thus shrank massively between 1938 and Pearl Harbor, this political current did not vanish entirely. While some groups and organisations were officially suppressed or dissolved, their ideas did not simply disappear. Certain communities, such as the Italian American, managed to recalibrate notions of citizenship to give more space to rights and values associated with their country of origin. A new, more diverse notion of citizenship emerged, which, together with coercion and a new war-time consensus, helped to dampen the more radical voices on the Right.34 Still, the European factor goes a long way to explaining why far-right positions became so much less vocal from the early 1940s onwards.

The transatlantic roots of modern conservatism Friedrich August Hayek was no fan of the New Deal. The Vienna-born economist – who moved to London in 1931, to the United States in 1950, and back to Europe in the early 1960s – formulated some of his thoughts in explicit opposition to the Roosevelt administration. During the 1940s, he was particularly critical of the aspiration to project New Deal policies on Europe after World War II. In his seminal Road to Serfdom, published in 1944, he ridiculed the idea of a TVA for the Danube. Having grown up on its impressive banks, he certainly knew more about the diverging interests in its riparian states than most self-acclaimed American experts. For Hayek the conclusion was clear: anyone with some “knowledge of human nature” and “a little knowledge of the people of Central Europe” knew that such plans could not work. And for Hayek, the same held true for all New Dealish forms of state planning.35 For a long time, the roots of modern conservatism in the United States have been interpreted as a product of the post-war era. Recent research, however, suggests that opposition to New Deal state action already gave rise to new conservative currents and expressions. Most of this research emphasises intraAmerican dynamics, sidelining the transatlantic dimension. One main reason for this is that so many of these studies have a local and regional focus, for instance in Kathryn S. Olmsted’s work on the origins of modern conservative politics in California and the role of business resistance against labour mobilisation.36 Others, such as Jason Morgan Ward, make a similar observation of white southerners’ anti-civil rights activism, ostensibly defending “white democracy” against the African-American freedom struggle and federal government

An alternative to European radicalism?  309

initiatives.37 While many of these new publications concentrate on the Sunbelt states and suburban communities, several studies examining the national level adopt a similar, nation-centred approach. One example is Kevin M. Kruse’s analysis of America’s revolution in religious identity. Kruse highlights its roots in the domestic politics of the 1930s, when key business leaders and industrialists enlisted conservative clergymen in a crusade against the New Deal under the banner of “freedom under God,” accusing the New Deal of undermining the spirit of Christianity, freedom from government control, and the democratic system altogether.38 In contrast to that line of research, I argue in this part of the chapter that there was also an important transatlantic dimension to the rise of modern conservatism in the United States, whose roots also lie in the 1930s. The thread of modern conservatism to be examined here,39 the free-market current that gave rise to neoliberalism, was defined in opposition to the emerging planning tradition of the New Deal. While planning was mostly identified with the Soviet Union, the New Deal represented possibly the most significant democratic laboratory for such ideas during the 1930s. In the end, planning always remained partial; still, vast regional programs such as the TVA demonstrated the federal administration’s will to at least consider and experiment with strong forms of state interventionism. Criticism of such policies was never for Americans only. Two of the most powerful free market critics were in fact émigré Austrian economists – besides Hayek, his mentor Ludwig von Mises, who emigrated to the United States in 1940, also deserves mention. Asserting that planning was inherently authoritarian, their neoliberal ideas remained marginal at the time, but would rise to prominence decades later, scaffolding the policies of leaders like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.40 At the level of economic ideas, this neoliberal anti-planning ideology gained traction from the mid-1940s. This was when US-based economists such as Gottfried Haberler, Jacob Viner and Milton Friedman connected with likeminded thinkers such as Swiss-based German Wilhelm Röpke, Italian Luigi Einaudi and Chilean Pedro Ibáñez Ojeda, who also believed in the market and repudiated the global New Deal. The Mont Pèlerin Society, founded in 1947, became a transnational hub for such anti–New Deal thinking. Hotbeds of this approach, including the Chicago school, relied heavily on transatlantic and global networks to propagate an antitotalitarian rhetoric steeped in Cold War ideology.41 In the medium and long term, the anti–New Deal camp was at least as successful in globalising its views as those who clung to the agenda associated with FDR’s presidency. This modern conservatism of transatlantic pedigree was not a new phenomenon of the post-war era, however. The first beginnings of such developments were witnessed in the 1930s, when transatlantic anti–New Dealers started to close ranks during the second half of the decade. At the time, market advocates still disagreed on many things. Hayek, at the time based at

310  Kiran Klaus Patel

the London School of Economics, for example, differed on important conceptual and political issues with Frank Knight, Jacob Viner and Henry Simons, his economist colleagues at the University of Chicago. Still, contacts between them intensified: they read each other’s works and engaged in personal correspondence.42 There were also direct meetings. One such moment was the Walter Lippmann Colloquium in Paris in late August 1938, when US-American intellectuals such as the journalist Lippmann met with eminent European thinkers, including Hayek, Mises and Röpke, in an effort to construct a new form of liberalism. While continuing to disagree on important matters, they all sought to counteract state control and planning, which they associated with Stalinism, Nazism and the New Deal alike. The Colloquium was not the “birthplace of neoliberalism” as is sometimes claimed,43 but it did play an important role in bringing various groups and thinkers from both sides of the Atlantic into closer contact. The International Studies Conference had already started to play a similar role, creating a Rockefeller-funded venue where thinkers from both sides of the Atlantic could discuss economic questions.44 Through such exchanges, modern conservatism developed distinct transatlantic traits and made the “awkward transition from dispersion to coherence.”45 Hayek later wrote that his own work was based on a train of thought for which he saw the origin in Lippmann’s 1937 Inquiry into the Principles of the Good Society, while Lippmann acknowledged how much his book owed to the writings of Hayek and Mises. Although the connectedness remained tenuous during the pre-war years and was constrained during World War II, it nevertheless formed the indispensable prehistory for the creation of the Mont Pèlerin Society and other post-1945 transatlantic exchanges.46 In an effort to overcome their isolation and marginalisation in the face of the new, New Dealish orthodoxy that had come to the fore only a few years earlier, modern conservative thinkers joined to create a new version of globalism and new ways of thinking about world order in the transatlantic sphere.47 Transatlantic modern conservatism did not just emerge during the New Deal era. It was also born in a genuine anti–New Deal spirit. While Hayek ranted against the TVA, Röpke argued that “the fortress of the New Deal has to be taken.”48 While they castigated all forms of strong state interventionism as totalitarian, the New Deal posed a bigger intellectual challenge than fascism or Soviet communism, since the similarities and confluences with their own political ideas were much more powerful. In certain cases there was a biographical dimension to this New Deal nexus, which led to a particularly trenchant form of animosity: Lippmann, for instance, was a recent convert from support for FDR’s policies, explaining his need to distance himself especially forcefully from the old beliefs.49 Hayek put his finger on another link to the New Deal, which made the fight against it all the more toxic, agreeing with British political theorist Bernard Crick that the New Dealers had stolen the very label “liberal” from what they deemed the real defenders of liberty. That “abuse during the New Deal era”

An alternative to European radicalism?   311

deprived “the normal American” of a vital concept, Hayek insisted, thus impeding political and economic thinking in important ways.50 Intellectuals were not alone in making the conservative movement. Other important groups that joined the fight against the New Deal during the 1930s included business representatives, religious leaders and their allies, who insisted on free-market ideals in their opposition against Roosevelt’s policies. Organisations such as the Liberty League and the National Association of Manufacturers became hotbeds of business opposition to the New Deal. Personal hatred ran so deep that some business representatives referred to the president only as “That Man.” Hanna Coal executive George M. Humphrey always spelled Roosevelt with a lowercase “r,” while dinner guests of banker J. P. Morgan were not allowed to mention the president’s name at all. 51 Here again, transnational and transatlantic mobilisation started to play a role even before World War II. In the mid-1930s, for instance, the New Dealers discovered Sweden as a paradigm of progressive reform and identified its consumer cooperatives as a particularly interesting role model for America. In 1936, the Roosevelt administration even sent an official expert group to Europe to study whether European cooperatives held lessons for the United States. The hype, particularly around Sweden, deeply worried conservative business circles, who went as far as to send their own experts to Sweden – returning with the clear message that things were indeed going well in the Scandinavian country, but that this had nothing to do with consumer cooperatives. The transatlantic space was becoming a point of reference for New Dealers and anti–New Dealers alike. 52 Nevertheless, transatlantic anti–New Deal references and networks remained small and fragile throughout the 1930s. World War II and the opportunities it created for the US economy persuaded many business leaders to accept Keynesian economics and New Deal liberalism, making this a rather difficult time for modern conservatism. This even held true for some of its protagonists. When Mises arrived in the United States from Switzerland in 1940, for instance, he was not greeted by cheering crowds. Despite his stellar career in continental Europe, he initially struggled to find an adequate academic position in America. The later prominence of his and similar ideas was by no means preordained. Still, the links made during the late 1930s ultimately formed the starting point for the rise of the modern conservative movement on both sides of the Atlantic after 1945.

Conclusions Today Franklin D. Roosevelt is viewed as one of the greatest American presidents ever,53 and the New Deal is often associated with a period stretching several decades into the post-war era.54 And in comparison to many of its European counterparts, American democracy remained stable and capable of reform during the interwar period. For these reasons, it is easy to underestimate the

312  Kiran Klaus Patel

level of contestation and conflict at the time, as well as the role of the far Right and the first germs of modern conservativism. In fact, some 40% of Americans rejected the New Deal and its promises. Most of the legislative innovations of the 1930s were forced through against the fierce opposition of an entrenched minority. Very often, FDR did not even seek bipartisan support. The New Deal brought about a political realignment that would ultimately lead to decades of Democratic leadership, but also deepen the rift in America’s political climate. For all these reasons, it is quite appropriate to call Roosevelt “the great divider,” rather than the figurehead of a new, all-encompassing consensus culture.55 More generally, the challenges the United States was facing at the time were not fundamentally different from those of European societies. It is therefore no surprise that the histories of the far Right and conservatism in Europe and the United States during the 1930s are highly interconnected, as this chapter has shown – sometimes energising, sometimes impeding each other. This link clearly mattered, even if research is only starting to rediscover America’s role in Europe’s radical 1930s, and vice versa.

Notes 1 Frederick E. Hosen (ed.), The Great Depression and the New Deal: Legislative Acts in Their Entirety (1932–1933) and Statistical Economic Data (1926–1946) ( Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1992), p. 257. 2 Translated version in Richard P. Horwitz (ed.), The American Studies Anthology (Lanham, MD: SR Books, 2001), p. 34. German Original: “Amerika, du hast es besser/Als unser Continent, der alte,” in Hermann Böhlau (ed.), Goethes Werke (Weimarer Ausgabe), vol. 5 (Weimar: Hermann Böhlau, 1893), p. 137. 3 Isaiah Berlin, “Roosevelt through European Eyes,” Atlantic Monthly, vol. 196 (1955), pp. 67–71, here 67. 4 Alan Brinkley, “Prosperity, Depression, and War, 1920–1945,” in Eric Foner (ed.), The New American History (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1997), pp. 133–158, here 143. 5 See on the state of the art Mason B. Williams, “The Great Depression and the New Deal: A Historiographical Survey,” in Jerald Podair and Darren Dochuk (eds.), The Routledge History of Twentieth-Century United States (London: Routledge, 2018), pp.  25–36; Lisa McGirr, “The Interwar Years,” in Eric Foner and Lisa McGirr (eds.), American History Now (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2011), pp. 125–150. 6 See, e.g., Wendy L. Wall, Inventing the “American Way”: The Politics of Consensus from the New Deal to the Civil Rights Movement (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), though it should be added that Wall acknowledges the fragility of the consensus culture at the time. 7 Rexford G. Tugwell, The Diary of Rexford G. Tugwell: The New Deal, 1932–1935, edited by Michael Vincent Namorato (New York: Greenwood Press, 1992), p. 139. 8 See also António Costa Pinto and Aristotle Kallis (eds.), Rethinking Fascism and Dictatorship in Europe (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). 9 Tugwell quoted in Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Politics of Upheaval: The Age of Roosevelt, vol. III (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1960), p. 648; Stuart Chase, A New Deal (New York: Macmillan, 1932), p. 242.

An alternative to European radicalism?   313

314  Kiran Klaus Patel

An alternative to European radicalism?   315

316  Kiran Klaus Patel

Democracy during the 1930s,” in Paul Nolte (ed.), Transatlantic Democracy in the 20th Century: Transfer and Transformation (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2016), pp. 75–90. 53 See, e.g.,; (last accessed June 1, 2019). 54 See, e.g., Steve Fraser and Gary Gerstle (eds.), The Rise and Fall of the New Deal Order, 1930–1980 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989); Gary Gerstle, Nelson Lichtenstein and Alice O’Connor (eds.), Beyond the New Deal Order: U.S. Politics from the Great Depression to the Great Recession (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019). 55 Jean Edward Smith, “Roosevelt: The Great Divider,” New York Times, September 2, 2009. For a contrasting interpretation, see, e.g., Mary E. Stuckey, The Good Neighbor: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Rhetoric of American Power (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2013).

14 FASCISM AFTER FASCISM History and politics Guido Franzinetti

Fascism, populism and nationalism: words and things Fascism has been defined as “a genus of political ideology whose mythic core in its various permutations is a palingenetic form of populist ultranationalism.”1 The three terms (“fascism,” “populism” and “nationalism”) are all heavily laden, and they have always attracted attention in terms of their historical semantics. It may appear counter-intuitive to list them in a reverse order, since “nationalism” is unquestionably the oldest, while “fascism” is the most recent, at least in historical terms. The terms are quite distinct, but throughout the twentieth century they have often been defined reciprocally (nationalism differs from populism, which differs from fascism, which differs from nationalism). This interrelation is at the root of the problematic nature of their definition.

Fascism The use of the term “fascism” illustrates this point quite clearly. For a start, the term is historically incomplete, since the full name was the “National Fascist Party” (Partito Nazionale Fascista, PNF), as the confluence of the Associazione Nazionalista Italiana and the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento. Leaving aside the history of these two quite distinct entities, the real question to be raised here is: why was the label Nazionalista dropped so easily, both in its contemporary existence (1923–1943) and up to the 1970s? Even after Mussolini’s fall in 1943, the party was resurrected as the Partito Fascista Repubblicano (PNR, 1943–1945), in which the emphasis was clearly on the “republican,” as it was in the naming of the Repubblica Sociale Italiana (which marked the ending of the Fascist-Monarchist compromise, which had been lasting since 1922).

318  Guido Franzinetti

After 1945, even the remnants of the PNF/PFR studiously avoided the label nazionale: in 1946 those who were commonly labelled as neofascisti created the Movimento Italiano di Unità Sociale, which soon became the Movimento Sociale Italiano. It took up the label Destra Nazionale only in 1972 when it merged with the residual Italian Monarchists. In subsequent mutations, striving to achieve respectability and acceptance as a party of the conservative Right (rather than of the radical Right), those previously known as neofascisti finally adopted (in 1995) the “national” label (Alleanza Nazionale). The immediate reason for this Fascist (and neo-Fascist) reluctance to adopt the “national” label is the fact that in Italian (as in virtually all languages of Europe, with the notable exception of English) the term “nationalist” has always had a negative connotation.2 But the really striking aspect is how this differs from German National Socialism. For a start, “Nazi” was an epithet: it was an abbreviation for “Ignatz” (used to indicate “idiot” or “clumsy oaf ”), and it was always used in a derogatory manner by the opponents of the NSDAP (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei).3 Party members would have used only the term “National Socialist.” That said, it is likely that, especially after 1945, in Europe the term “National” would have always carried a resonance of the regime established by the NSDAP, both in Germanic and in non-Germanic languages.4 The term was discreetly dropped or sidelined, except by radical-rightist forces which were untroubled by its past associations. In the Italian context, the most damning label which could be conjured by anti-Fascists (at least after 1943) against Mussolini’s supporters was precisely that of nazifascisti, to stress that they were allies of Germany, the historical enemy of Italy. Apparently, the mere label of fascisti would not have been considered sufficiently damning.5 The key assumption was that (after 1943) Fascism had no legitimacy, and indeed its identity had been entirely submerged in the (almost mythical) entity of nazifascismo. It is, therefore, even more striking that outside Italy the term “fascist” (used as an epithet) should have been preferred to the term “Nazi” (let alone “National Socialist”). In the 1930s, the propaganda machine of the Communist International would tend to use the term “fascist” (or its opposite, “anti-fascist”), rather than “Nazi.” Even after 1945, as the Cold War began to emerge, and Western propagandists strove to use “totalitarianism” as a term describing both Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union, the easiest term at hand was that of “red fascism” (rather than “red Nazism”).6 Harry Truman, supposedly one of the architects of this “totalitarian” discourse, actually said, “There isn’t any difference in totalitarian states. I don’t care what you call them, Nazi, Communist or Fascist or Franco, or anything else. They are all alike.” 7 (Apparently, at that time Truman still considered Francoist Spain a “totalitarian” country.) It is by no means obvious why, in American usage, “fascism” should have prevailed over “Nazism,” even after 1945. From 1922 onwards, Mussolini’s regime had attracted the attention from a wide range of commentators, quite often favourable.8 It is likely that, at least among liberals and leftists – in the United States and in Europe – the term “fascism” had already acquired wide currency

Fascism after fascism  319

before the Nazis took power, so the Italian label subsumed the German label. But originally, the term “red fascism” would have made sense only to individuals from a liberal or leftist variety. In fact, the more widespread use of the term “totalitarian” had emerged from discourses of the anti-Stalinist Left in the 1930s (from which Hannah Arendt later benefitted).9 In any case, in the post-war era “fascism” survived as the template for describing any radical right-wing authoritarian movement, which would be classified as either authentically “fascist” or as “not really fascist” (as Franco’s Spain was increasingly seen). Nazism was instead seen as historically unique, in every possible sense. In short, fascism retained the general, catch-all characteristic as a label for describing any movement to the right of traditional conservatism. It could also be used to label any conservative movement which seemed to demonstrate authoritarian inclinations (e.g. Gaullism).

Populism It should be clear that “populism” is widely used as a derogatory term in many fields. Anything which is (or appears to be) “popular” can be labelled as “populist.” Historically, it could be associated with the ancient Greek term “demagogue,” with which it shares many of the semantic and historical ambiguities. As Moses Finley put it, illustrating Thucydides’ view, “The demagogue is a bad thing: to ‘lead the people’ is to mislead – above all, to mislead by failing to lead. The demagogue is driven by self-interest, by the desire to advance himself in power, and through power, in wealth.”10 A vast literature devoted to the precise nature of populism has always existed, and it has expanded even further over the past three decades.11 As a term, “populism” has a more complex genealogy than “fascism,” not least because it has been adopted by a much wider range of political movements than fascism ever was, and was rarely formally institutionalised as a regime (except, to some extent, in Latin America). The vagueness of the term reflects the extraordinary geographical extension of movements which have claimed the “populist” label (or have been classified as populist). As can be seen from the collection of essays based on the May 1967 LSE conference, populism could be identified in North America, Latin America, Tsarist Russia, Eastern Europe and Africa.12 Curiously, Turkey was virtually omitted from this overview, despite the fact that “populism” was one of the six “arrows” of the Turkish nationalist project (together with republicanism, nationalism, laicism, statism and reformism).13 The geography of populism can be (and has been) extended much further. In this context, a possible way of classifying the varieties of populism around the world can be that of starting from their social profile. As Richard Hofstadter pointed out, The character of American populism derives in great part from the American tradition of entrepreneurial radicalism. Elsewhere, populism rested upon the role of the peasantry, but unless one identifies a peasantry simply

320  Guido Franzinetti

with rural poverty, the United States has not had a peasant class; neither, despite the limited stratum of large landowners and slave owners in the south, has it had a class of rural grandees, an aristocracy with clerical and military connection and conservative traditions.14 Ernest Gellner once defined Eastern European populism as “intellectuals dressed up as peasants.” For that matter, Franco Venturi’s choice of using the Russian term narodnichestvo (“populism”) to define one of the Russian socialist movements reflected a very specific historiographical perspective. In the case of pre-revolutionary Russian socialism, narodnichestvo – as Richard Pipes pointed out – was applied by contemporary Marxist critics as a derogatory label. It has become a conventional historiographical definition largely through Franco Venturi’s Roots of Revolution.15 Populism in Latin America presents a quite different social profile, coupled with a significant institutional base, which has repeatedly allowed populist movements to achieve power, and often to remain in power for significant lengths of time. It is probably the only region in which populism appears to have a clear social and institutional base.16 In Eastern Europe, during the Cold War, “populism” was seen as belonging to the past.17 The label has been hastily revived since the end of the 1990s, but without any serious attempt to establish historical continuities. In Western Europe, the term began to be revived in the 1970s, with the emergence of anti-taxation parties in Scandinavia and elsewhere. In the 1980s, the term re-emerged in analyses of political developments in Southern Europe.18 In the post–Cold War era there was a more extensive use of it. In short, the use of the term is vitiated by its constant oscillation between its use as a historical term (focussed on actual political and social movements) and its use as a generic sociological label (focussed on elusive concepts and elusive political outcomes). Despite the vast production of studies of forms of populism in recent years, the term still appears to oscillate between a catch-all term, and a mere term of abuse.

Nationalism In the 1990s nationalism also experienced a revival (not so much in terms of social practice, but in terms of political and academic discourse). This revival of interest in nationalism slightly modified the previous formulations.19 But significantly, none of the main authors of the “Golden Age” of nationalism studies (the 1980s) addressed directly the issue of fascism. Indeed, it could be argued that the expansion of these studies was actually based on the decision to sideline fascism. After 1945, explicit nationalist discourse (in both Western and Eastern Europe, for different reasons) was essentially banished from mainstream politics and substituted with reassuring visions of social and economic integration within

Fascism after fascism  321

the two blocs. After the end of the Cold War, any revival of nationalist discourse and practices was classified as “ethnic nationalism,” “populism,” and occasionally “fascism.” In short, the three terms have become essentially interchangeable labels: depending on the circumstances, political movements and processes can be labelled as “ethnic nationalism” (the Yugoslav wars of dissolution), as “populism” (post-communist authoritarian politics in Slovakia in the 1990s), or even “fascism” (Islamic fundamentalism as “Islamo-fascism”). The labels could be all switched around, but the basic mode of explanation would remain unaltered: these were all phenomena which represented a break with an assumed post-war (or at least post–Cold War) political consensus. (The historiographical consensus followed a more complex pattern.) This interchangeability of labels (and therefore of historical explanations offered) reflects a significant shift away from the kind social and economic analysis which had been offered by debates on fascism (and National Socialism) from 1938 to 1986 (from Angelo Tasca’s La Naissance du fascisme to the beginning of the Historikerstreit).20 It is sufficient to glance at Walter Laqueur’s Fascism: A Reader’s Guide or Larsen’s Who Were the Fascists21 and to compare them to most recent collections of studies on the triad of fascism, populism and nationalism. There is a quite different kind of historical investigation. This also requires some explanation. Many factors have played a role. At one level, the cultural and linguistic turns in historiography provided ample space for moving away from the interconnection between the kind of political, social and economic history which had been favoured during the Sonderweg debates.22 The Historikerstreit represented a quite conscious answer to the previous historiographical season dominated by the Sonderweg. Furthermore, from the 1980s onwards intellectual and cultural history (which had never been abandoned) was able to set the terms of debates for the following decades. In their very different ways, from the 1960s onwards, Ernest Nolte, George Mosse and Zeev Sternhell had already contributed to this reorientation of the historiography of fascism.23 At another level, the end of the Cold War produced a radical restructuring of historical studies in Europe and in North America, starting with the demise of area studies and its displacement by transnational history and global history.24 One way of avoiding the conceptual confusion between fascism, populism and nationalism could be found in the perspective offered by Mark Mazower in Dark Continent (1998). Mazower’s perspective derived from his studies on Greece in 1930s, World War II and the Greek Civil War. He was predictably less inclined to take at face value the previous generalisations concerning fascism. Dark Continent was written in sharp opposition to the kind of facile optimism offered in accounts of twentieth-century Europe in the wake of the end of the Cold War (by Francis Fukuyama and many others), but also in contrast to Eric Hobsbawm’s Age of Extremes (1994), which he felt had downplayed “fascism’s significance in its concentration in what it regards as the

322  Guido Franzinetti

fundamental struggle between communism and capitalism.” 25 Mazower argued that: The fact is that in most of Europe by the mid-1930s – outside the northern fringe – liberalism looked tired, the organized Left had been smashed and the sole struggles over ideology and governance were taking place within the Right – among authoritarians, traditional conservatives, technocrats and radical right-wing extremists … Regimes varied from the royal dictatorship of King Carol in Romania, through the military men ruling Spain, Greece and Hungary to the one-party states in Germany and Italy. Not all of them were fascists; indeed, some saw in fascists their most threatening enemies.26 This perspective can be usefully adopted in outlining key passages in the historical development of fascism, much more effectively than in the endless methodological discussions on totalitarianism.

The fascist moment The seizure of power Italian National Fascism is usually considered emblematic of what may be termed the “fascist moment” of European history (1922–1945). Paradoxically, its path-breaking rise to power also determined its structural weaknesses in terms of a radical Right movement (which is how it always saw itself ). For a start, electoral consolidation never played a significant role in its initial seizure of power (at least, not if compared to German National Socialism).27 As is well known, the full seizure of power was a process, beginning in 1922 and was fully completed only in 1929.28 The price of this process was that the monarchy was retained; the army and the police apparatus maintained a relative autonomy; and, last but not least, the Roman Catholic Church remained sufficiently powerful to set the terms of the Concordat of 1929. For a movement which was born as republican and anticlerical, all these limitations represented a severe handicap for any radical ambitions. But this did not make it into an old right-wing authoritarian system. The term “totalitarian” itself requires a more nuanced historical approach than the one provided by Hannah Arendt and her imitators. In the Italian context, it had been in use and debated among anti-Fascists since the 1920s.29 Arendt famously argued that “Mussolini’s Fascism … up to 1938 was not totalitarian but just an ordinary nationalism dictatorship developed logically from a multiparty democracy.”30 According to her, “Proof of the non totalitarian nature of the Fascist dictatorship is the surprisingly small number and the comparatively mild sentences meted out to political offenders.”31 Emilio

Fascism after fascism  323

Gentile has provided an extensive and critical discussion of this formulation.32 As Maura Hametz has pointed out, the numbers of the individuals brought to justice at the Special Tribunal (16,000) was not so small. Many were released on the terms of “no grounds to proceed” (non luogo a procedere), which was by no means an acquittal, least of all in a state run by Fascism. 33 Furthermore, direct comparisons between Fascist Italy and National Socialist Germany are highly misleading: Italy was a relatively backward, semi-peripheral country; Germany in 1933 was one of the most advanced societies in Europe. Mussolini’s level of political repression was quite commensurate to Italy’s level of development. In a sense, Italian Fascism was handicapped precisely by the fact of being the earliest form of successful radical rightist regime. But the Repubblica Sociale of 1943–1945 demonstrated the genuine totalitarian ambitions which had remained dormant for two decades.

Consolidation This leads on to the crucial period of political and social consolidation, the years which are supposed to be of the consenso (1929–1938 circa).34 This definition is of course politically charged, since it would tend to legitimate the Fascist regime as some sort of authoritarian regime of the Spanish or Portuguese kind (as opposed to a “pure totalitarian” system, such as Nazism). The evidence on the degree of social support for fascism is by no means conclusive, especially if assessed in a comparative perspective.35 It is remarkable that, up to 1933, fascism as a Europe-wide movement was by no means a success. Despite the attraction which fascism exerted on a global scale (in Asia and in Latin America),36 the right-wing authoritarian movements which prevailed were of the old Right kind. Even the advent of National Socialism in 1933 did not change the picture significantly. Indeed, in 1934 Mussolini felt obliged to intervene to support the old rightist regime of Dollfuss in Austria (which was predictably labelled “Austro-fascism” or “Clerico-fascism”) against the Austrian Nazis. On the nationalist side of the Spanish civil war there was definitely a radical-rightist component, which was progressively sidelined in the two decades after 1939. The Anschluss was therefore the turning point. But this was true not only for Mussolini (who had to accept the demise of the Austrian regime he had saved in 1934) but especially for East-Central and South-Eastern Europe. In Italian historiography, 1938 is seen as a turning point because of the strengthening of the alliance with Nazi Germany and the enforcement of the racial laws. But the real issue, at a European level, was the fact that the radical Right was winning its contest with the old Right: the writing was on the wall. This did not alter the fact that in Romania and Hungary the two sides (old Right vs. the Iron Guard or the Arrow Cross movements) would continue to fight against each other until the bitter end.

324  Guido Franzinetti

The fog of war: fascism in 1938–1945 Ultimately, the war years (in practice, 1938–1945) proved to be the nemesis of the entire radical Right project, in Italy and elsewhere. The reasons for this failure cover the entire spectrum of the first truly global war. Paradoxically, the nature of the conflict has literally obscured the role of fascism in historiographical perspectives. Collaborationism has burgeoned in recent studies, not least because the much greater attention paid to the extermination of Jewish and other populations has shifted attention to the “bystanders.” But not all “collaborationists” were fascists; not all radical rightists were collaborationists. This is especially the case over the whole of East-Central and South-Eastern Europe. As Milovan Djilas put it, there was “The civil war within the war.”37 Bernard Lory actually argued that, in the wartime Yugoslavia, there were “four wars in one” (a Balkan war, a war of resistance against the occupiers, a civil war and a world war).38 Inevitably, the specificities of fascism – of any kind of fascism – get lost. Italian Fascism is the most obvious case: in 1943 Mussolini was overthrown by a Fascist institution (the Gran Consiglio del Fascismo) which was followed by a civil war which began between forces which had been part of the same army until a few weeks before. (Actual Resistance came later.) All over Europe, distinguishing between the old Right and the radical Right was very difficult, if not impossible. In short, the period 1938–1945 (which until 1942 could have been marked by a conclusive victory of the Axis on a European scale) marked the dissolution of fascism into the “fog of war.”

Post-war fascism There is a widely circulated narrative which assumes that after the end of World War II fascisms was simply “dead,” discredited and unappealing. This reflects a very selective perspective. All over Europe, people who had associated too closely with Nazi and Fascist occupiers were on the run. Some found immediate refuge in the western parts of Germany and in Italy; others in Spain or even Latin America. These were by no means exclusively German or Italian fugitives; all countries in Axis-occupied Europe were well represented. These fugitives brought with them legacies, and some of these legacies (for example, those from the Yugoslav battlefields) continued to be relevant until the end of the Cold War. Outside Europe, the perception of fascism or even Nazism could be quite at variance with the assumed post-war anti-fascist consensus. In Latin America, Peronist populism had no reason to share this view of fascism. As Benedict Anderson has recounted, in 1963 the Indonesian president Sukarno had no problem in explaining that “Hitler was extraordinarily clever really … [the] Third Reich would really and truly bring happiness to the people of Germany … How clever Hitler was, brothers and sisters, in depicting these ideals.”39

Fascism after fascism  325

In 1942, an Indian National Army had been created under Japanese auspices. This does not mean that all over the “Third World” there was a widespread sympathy for fascism and Nazism. But it does mean that assumptions about the European radical Right would cover a wide spectrum of opinions. In Italy itself, Fascism remained very much alive as an issue. At an institutional level, the crucial decision was the maintenance of the “continuity of the state,” which ensured that many of the key structures of the Fascist administrative state remained in place (together with the men who ran it).40 A discerning observer could also find continuities in the structures of the Trade Union movement in Italy.41 The fear of a “return to Fascism” was revived in 1960 by the short-lived Tambroni government (supported by the neo-Fascist MSI). For more than a decade Italian political life was haunted with rumours of military conspiracies directed at preventing the advance of parties of the Left. These rumours certainly had some effects, but they did not prove to be harbingers of a Fascist restoration in Italy.

Explaining and understanding fascism The historical understanding of Fascism and Nazism had not begun in 1945; by 1938 there was already a solid tradition of studies from European and American authors on the nature of these political movements, which also continued to be written and published during the war. In the first post-war decade there was, predictably, an outpouring of memoirs of all kinds. There were not many outstanding contributions. In the case of Italy, it is significant that in his 1976 overview of studies on Fascism, Adrian Lyttelton was still beginning with Angelo Tasca and Gaetano Salvemini, two historians writing as émigrés in 1938 and 1942.42 Italian Fascist studies began to emerge in the early 1960s, with the publication of the first volume of Renzo De Felice’s biography of Mussolini.43 From that moment onward, Italian historiography of Fascism was progressively polarised, between an increasingly sympathetic tendency (represented by De Felice) and an opposing, critical tendency. There was, instead, a much more substantial degree of interest in Fascism (Italian or otherwise) outside Italy, especially in Great Britain and in the United States. This reflected the general expansion of higher education, the growth of a publishing market. In Germany there was the emergence of students and younger professors who were not directly tainted with association with the Third Reich, but who demanded historical explanations, and not apologetics: “in 1973, 45% of chairs in History in German universities were taken by professors born between 1929 and 1941.”44 The renewed interest in Fascism was concerned not so much with the Italian case, but the more general phenomenon, at least on a European scale.45 Nolte’s The Three Faces of Fascism: Action Française, Italian Fascism, National Socialism did not provoke the controversies of his later work. Research on the radical Right in Eastern Europe was inevitably constrained by the Cold War situation, and was

326  Guido Franzinetti

often confined to emigrés of various kinds, including German historians who had emigrated or been expelled from the region after the war.46 In the first half of the 1970s interest in fascism reflected (at least in Europe) a concern in what some perceived as a “crisis of democracy.” The fear of a breakdown of democratic regimes was quite widely shared, in the face of the cluster of political, economic and financial crises which had followed the suspension of the “dollar standard” in 1971, the Yom Kippur War of 1973 and the British crisis of 1974. The Chilean coup of 1973 had strong repercussions in Italy, because of historical connection between the two countries, and led the Italian Communist Party to propose a “historic compromise” with the ruling Christian Democracy. This was the setting for the subsequent publication of influential essays which had been launched by Juan Linz and Alfred Stepan under the heading Breakdown and Crisis of Democracies, including one on the rise of Fascism in Italy.47 The mid-1970s saw a shift in studies related to the European radical Right, in the wake of the concomitant collapse of the three old rightist authoritarian systems which had survived in post-war Europe: Portugal, Greece and Spain. These processes were rapidly labelled “transitions to democracy in Southern Europe,” but they were, in fact, quite distinct processes. In the second half of the 1970s fascism seemed definitely an episode of the past, which could now be reassuringly seen through the lens of these “transitions to democracy.” This gave way to a rapidly growing literature of “transitology,” illustrating the various “transitions” in Southern Europe, Latin America and later in Eastern Europe.48 The overall result was that fascism and the radical Right were somewhat less central to historiography, if not political science.

Right-wing radicalism in post–Cold War Europe Forgetting and remembering fascism The end of the Cold War in Italy was marked by a serious political crisis, which led to the advent of a centre-right government in 1994, which, for the first time in the post-war era, included the neo-Fascist party in government. The political judgement on Fascism acquired a heightened relevance, and mainstream media provided ample space for strident polemics, especially those coming from the Right, and even from the radical Right.49 In reality, with the Cold War coming to an end, both sides of Italian historiography had to some extent softened their views: Emilio Gentile began to present a much more nuanced (and critical) picture of Fascism than his mentor Renzo de Felice ever did, while Claudio Pavone had been putting forward a more realistic approach to the history of the Italian civil war of 1943–1945.50 The historiographical divide was actually much narrower than it had been in the past. As a confirmation, the relations between the political Left (the former Italian Communist Party) and the radical Right (the former neo-Fascists) actually improved. In 1996 one of the leaders of the “post-communists” acknowledged

Fascism after fascism  327

the need to understand the reasons for the Italians who sided with Mussolini’s Repubblica Sociale.51 Fascism has gradually been defused as a political issue. New generations of scholars, of course, continue to investigate this past, but with a previously unimaginable detachment.

Re-discovering nationalism In one version of history, the last decade of the twentieth century was marked by the euphoria of a presumed “victory” of the West in the contest of the Cold War, of the (much misunderstood) “End of History,” and by a very reassuring narrative of civil society, liberalism and neo-liberalism. The wars of Yugoslav dissolution put paid to visions of this kind, and the revival of nationalism studies in the 1980s seemed to offer a starting point for an understanding of the present, and a starting point for re-evaluating the past. Fascism seemed to have re-acquired an immediate relevance. In practice, this led to a transformation of nationalism studies, with an increasing attention to ethnic cleansing, and then genocide.52 But fascism, as such, was relegated to second place (although, of course, research on the topic continued). Mussolini did not seem to be able to seriously compete in a field dominated by Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot. What, instead, needs to be acknowledged is the vast growth of research on the radical Right in Eastern Europe: some of it may be instrumental and apologetic, but this really has provided the basis for a genuinely informed discussion of the topic.

After the crash: re-discovering populism Inevitably, the financial crash of 2008, the enduring Great Recession, the refugee crises and the disillusionment of Eastern European electorates with liberalism in all its guises have had political consequences. The rapid response, in terms of categorisation, has been to rediscover the label “populism,” once again as a catch-all term (usually in a derogatory manner). The vast outpouring of literature on the topic cannot be discussed, even in a cursory manner. What can be attempted is a broad classification. First of all, there remains a solid base of genuine apologetics for leftist populism, of which Ernesto Laclau was for many years an advocate.53 This was a sophisticated product of the Peronist Left. More generally, there has been a general populist or “pink” wave over Latin America. Fascism, as such, has not emerged as a key issue, not least because the bureaucratic authoritarian state does not fit easily with the theory and the practice of fascism.54 Second there is a wide range of highly normative interpretations of populism, which analyse the phenomenon on the basis of analyses of its functioning and its theoretical assumptions and discourse. These have usually been produced by disappointed enthusiasts of the post–Cold War transitions to democracy in Eastern Europe.55

328  Guido Franzinetti

Conclusions Political and historical debates on fascism and the radical Right remain, inevitably, inconclusive. What can be addressed is the current state of conceptual confusion, which has been compounded by the overlapping with the conceptual conundrums which nationalism and populism have always created. Nationalism has been conveniently sectioned into “ethnic” (bad) and “civic” (good) nationalism, as if the adoption of labels could actually solve the theoretical and practical problems these involve. Populism has remained (barring very specific exceptions) a catch-all term, which can be both rejected and accepted at the same time. It has as much conceptual clarity as its semantic ancestor, “demagoguery.” Finally, fascism itself retains its demotic value, as an easily recognisable label. Historians should resist the temptation of actualisation. To be taken seriously, fascism requires to be seen from a distance.

Notes 1 Roger Griffin, The Nature of Fascism (London: Routledge, 1991), p. 44. 2 Guido Franzinetti, “Nationalismus, Nationalism: a Footnote,” Storia della Storiografia, no. 29 (1996), pp. 127–131. 3 Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli, Dal diario di un borghese (Rome: Editori Riuniti, 1996 [or. ed. 1948]), p. 313. The origin of the term has been attributed to Konrad Heiden, an early observer of the ascent of the NSDAP. 4 It must be stressed that outside Europe the terms “National” and “Nationalism” did not seem to carry negative connotations (as in, e.g., the Indian National Congress, or the African National Congress). Until recently, in the UK only fringe organisations ever used the label “National” (with the obvious exception of Ireland and later Northern Ireland). 5 Mussolini’s supporters (in 1943–1945) were also labelled as repubblichini, but this was intended merely as a diminutive, belittling expression. 6 Les K. Adler and Thomas G. Paterson, “Red Fascism: The Merger of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia in the American Image of Totalitarianism, 1930’s–1950’s,” The American Historical Review, vol. 75, no. 4 (April 1970), pp. 1046–1064. 7 Harry Truman, 13 May 1947, “Informal remarks to the association of Radio News Analysts,” Truman Public Papers 1947, pp. 238–239, quoted in Michael James Lacey, The Truman Presidency (Cambridge and Washington, DC: Cambridge University Press and Woodrow Wilson Center, 1989), p. 257. 8 John P. Diggins, Mussolini and Fascism: The View from America (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1972). Gian Giacomo Migone, The United States and Fascist Italy: The Rise of American Finance in Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015 [or. ed. 1980]), and its review by Adam Tooze, “When We Loved Mussolini,” New York Review of Books, vol. 63, no. 13 (August 8, 2016). 9 Abbott Gleason, Totalitarianism: The Inner History of the Cold War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995). It is notable that the British edition of Arendt’s Origins was entitled blandly The Burden of Our Time. The American title actually reproduced the subtitle of Peter Drucker’s book, The End of Economic Man. The Origins of Totalitarianism (New York: John Day, 1939). 10 Moses I. Finley, “Athenian Demagogues,” Past & Present, no. 21 (April 1962), pp. 3–24, here p. 4. 11 For a perspective from the early 1970s, see John B. Allcock, “‘Populism’: A Brief Biography,” Sociology, vol. 5, no. 3 (September 1971), pp. 371–387. For a quantitative

Fascism after fascism  329

12 13

14 15



18 19 20




update on the more recent waves of literature on the topic, see Marco D’Eramo, “Populism and the New Oligarchy,” New Left Review, no. 82 ( July–August 2013), pp. 5–24. Ghiţa Ionescu and Ernest Gellner (eds.), Populism. Its Meanings and National Characteristics (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1969). The term used was halkçılık, which was derived from halk, “which had gained currency in leftist circles, where it meant the mass of the population (peasants and workers),” while “in nationalist circles at the time the word millet was the word more commonly used to denote the (Muslim) population as a whole.” The left-wing resonances of halk were quickly dispelled by Ataturk himself (Erik J. Zürcher, The Young Turk Legacy and Nation Building. From the Ottoman Empire to Atatürk’s Turkey [London: I. B. Tauris, 2010], p. 250, with reference to a study by Mete Tunçay). Richard Hofstadter, “North America,” in Ionescu, Ernest Gellner, Populism, p. 9. Franco Venturi, Roots of Revolution: A History of the Populist and Socialist Movements in Nineteenth Century Russia (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1960 [or. ed. 1952]); Richard Pipes, “Narodnichestvo: A Semantic Inquiry,” Slavic Review, vol. 23, no. 3 (September 1964), pp. 441–458. (I owe this point to Alberto Masoero, Turin). See Gino Germani, Authoritarianism, Fascism, and National Populism (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction books, 1978). Germani was himself a exile from Fascist Italy; see Ana Alejandra Germani, Gino Germani: del antifascismo a la sociología (Buenos Aires: Taurus, 2004). In the case of Poland, there was always an officially sponsored historiography on the ludowcy, which was discussed in Olga A. Narkiewicz, The Green Flag: Polish Populist Politics 1867–1970 (London: Croom Helm, 1976). In Hungary, the “populist movement” (népi mozgalom) was always present in culture and historiography. See, e.g., Ilona Duczyńska and Karl Polanyi (eds.), The Plough and the Pen. Writings from Hungary, 1930–1956 (London: Peter Owen, 1963); Gyula Borbándi, Der ungarische Populismus (München: Hase & Koehler, 1976). See, e.g., George Th. Mavrogordatos, “From Traditional Clientelism to Machine Politics: The Impact of PASOK Populism in Greece,” South European Society and Politics, vol. 2, no. 3 (1997), pp. 1–26. For a discussion of the historical semantics related to nationalism, see Guido Franzinetti, “The Historical Lexicon of Nationalism: Ethnicity, Ethnos, Race, Volksstamm: Historical Footnotes,” Colloquia Humanistica, vol. 5 (2016), pp. 54–62. A. Rossi [Angelo Tasca], Naissance du fascisme; English trans. The Rise of Italian Fascism 1918–1922 (London: Methuen, 1938). Forever in the Shadow of Hitler? Original Documents of the Historikerstreit, the Controversy Concerning the Singularity of the Holocaust (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1993). Walter Laqueur (ed.), Fascism: A Reader’s Guide: Analyses, Interpretations, Bibliography (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California, 1976); Stein Ugelvik Larsen, Bernt Hagtvet and Jan Petter Myklebust (eds.), Who Were the Fascists: Social Toots of European Fascism (Bergen: Universitetsforlaget, 1980). For a highly perceptive overview of the Sonderweg debates (and of their relevance for the analysis of Italian Fascism) see Maria Luisa Pesante, “La fine del nazionalismo nella storiografia della BRD. Correnti e generazioni nell’analisi della società guglielmina,” Quaderni storici, vol. 15, no. 44 (agosto 1980), pp. 627–655. Ernst Nolte, Der Faschismus in seiner Epoche (München: R. Piper, 1963), Eng. trans. The Three Faces of Fascism. Action Française, Italian Fascism, National Socialism (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson 1965); Nolte, Der europäische Bürgerkrieg, 1917–1945: Nationalsozialismus und Bolschewismus (Frankfurt: Propyläen Verlag, 1987); George L. Mosse, The Nationalization of the Masses: Political Symbolism and Mass Movements in Germany from the Napoleonic Wars through the Third Reich (New York: Howard Fertig, 1975); Zeev Sternhell, Ni droite ni gauche. L’idéologie fasciste en France (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1983); Eng. trans. Neither Right nor Left: Fascist Ideology in France (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995).

330  Guido Franzinetti

Fascism after fascism  331

46 Eugen Weber, Varieties of Fascism: Doctrines of Revolution in the Twentieth Century (Princeton, NJ: D. Van Nostrand, 1964); Peter F. Sugar (ed.), Native Fascism in Successor States (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio, 1971). For an overview of the literature available at the time, see Béla Vágó, “Fascism in Eastern Europe,” in Laqueur, Fascism, pp. 229–253. Larsen, Hagtvet and Myklebust, Who Were the Fascists was published in 1980, but was in fact based on the 1974 Bergen conference. 47 Paolo Farneti, “The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy and the Takeover of the Fascist Dictatorship: 1919–1922,” in Juan J. Linz and Alfred C. Stepan (eds.), Breakdown and Crisis of Democracies (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press, 1978), pp. 3–33. 48 Juan J. Linz and Alfred Stepan, Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation: Southern Europe, South America, and Postcommunist Europe (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996). 49 Renzo De Felice’s late writings (e.g. Rosso e Nero, edited by Psquale Chessa [Milano: Baldini & Castoldi, 1995) played a role, as did the polemics about the role of the Partito d’Azione during and after World War II: see, e.g., Ernesto Galli della Loggia “La democrazia immaginaria. L’azionismo e l’’ideologia italiana’,” Il Mulino, no. 2, (marzo-aprile 1993), pp. 255–270. 50 Claudio Pavone, A Civil War. A History of the Italian Resistance (London-New York: Verso, 2014). Pavone’s book is sometimes seen as a post–Cold War product. In fact, he had presented it at a conference in 1985, and published it as “La guerra civile,” in Pier Paolo Poggio (ed.), La Repubblica Sociale Italiana 1943–45, Annali della Fondazione Luigi Micheletti, vol. 2 (1986), pp. 395–415. 51 Luciano Violante, inaugural speech at the Italian Chamber of Deputies, 10 May 1996. This was followed in 1998, with the acknowledgement of the killings of Italians in the Istrian Foibe. See Guido Franzinetti, “The Rediscovery of the Istrian Foibe,” Jahrbücher für Geschichte und Kultur Südosteuropas, VIII (2006), pp. 85–98. 52 Guido Franzinetti, “The Former Austrian Littoral and the Rediscovery of Ethnic Cleansing,” Časopis za povijest Zapadne Hrvatske, vol. VI–VII (2011–2012), pp. 41–52. It is symptomatic that Michael Mann, who had had been engaged in research on fascism (Fascists [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004]), rapidly produced a book on ethnic cleansing (The Dark Side of Democracy: Explaining Ethnic Cleansing [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005]), on the basis of his earlier article, “The Dark Side of Democracy: The Modern Tradition of Ethnic and Political Cleansing,” New Left Review, no. 235 (May–June 1999), pp. 18–45. 53 Ernesto Laclau, Politics and Ideology in Marxist Theory. Capitalism, Fascism, Populism (London: Verso, 1977). 54 Guillermo O’Donnell, Modernization and Bureaucratic Authoritarianism: Studies in South American Politics (Berkeley: Institute of International Studies and University of California, 1973). 55 Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century (London: Bodley Head, 2017); Ann Applebaum, Twilight of Democracy: The Failure of Politics and the Parting of Friends (London: Allen Lane, 2020).


Acción Popular (AP, Spain) 266–7 Action Française (AF, France) 147, 239, 264, 281, 288–9 Adriatic, Northern Adriatic 73–4, 77, 83–4, 87–88; Adriatic question 71–3, 77, 83–5, 87–89 Aleksandar I, King of Yugoslavia 99–102, 104, 107–8, 114, 117 Alexiadis, Georgios 220 Alfonso XIII, King of Spain 258, 260, 263, 265 Alivizatos, Babis 224 Allen, William 4 Alsace-Lorraine 52–3, 241–2 Alter, Peter 119 Anschluss 37, 39–40, 86–87, 323 Anti-Bolshevism 7, 57, 87 Anti-communism 40, 96, 102, 104, 106, 110, 226, 240–1, 248, 250–1, 271 Anti-liberalism (or illiberalism) 2, 4, 29, 70, 96, 108, 110, 202, 226, 258, 260, 262–3, 268, 271 Antisemitism, Austria 23–6, 29, 34, 38, 40; Hungary 168, 170–1, 184; Romania 195–201, 203–4, 208; France 239, 242, 245, 250–3; United States 306 Antonescu, Ion 199, 208 Arendt, Hannah 4, 5, 319, 322 Arias, Gino 81 Armstrong, John A. 119 Arrow Cross (Hungary) 183–4, 189–90 Austria-Hungary, breakup 10, 25–6, 32–3, 34, 83, 85, 120 Authoritarianism 5–6, 8–9, 31, 33, 36, 39–41, 70–1, 75–6, 96, 100, 105, 109–10,

119–21, 126, 133–4, 143, 156, 171–2, 175–7, 186, 203, 215–6, 230, 238–9, 244, 250, 252–3, 258, 263, 279, 283, 290–1, 293, 301, 319, 322–3, 327 Baltic (or Baltics) 47, 51–60, 73, 79 Bandera, Stepan 133 Barrès, Maurice 122, 146, 239–41 Baxa, Karel 28 Belli, Pietro 74 Benoist, Alain 134 Bethlen, István 172, 174, 176, 178–88, 190 Blanke, Richard 49 Blinkhorn, Martin 6, 215 Bloc National (France) 237, 240–1 Boehm, Max Hildebert 47, 51–6, 59–62 Bohemia (or Bohemian lands) 25, 27–8, 30, 35–8, 47–52, 87, 251 Bolshevik/Soviet Russia, 143, 155, 159 Borders, borderlands, 7, 10, 34–5, 37, 45–6, 48, 48–51, 53–6, 61–2, 72–3, 83–4, 158–9, 196, 222 Bottai, Giuseppe 76, 85, 291 Box, Zira 259 Brasillach, Robert 244, 248, 251 Breuilly, John 215 Brinkley, Alan 300 Bucard, Marcel 245 Bucur, Maria 202 Burleigh, Michael 259 Camp of Great Poland (OWP, Poland) 145–50, 152–5 Carol II King of Romania 195, 203, 205–8, 322

334 Index

Carvalho, Rita 289 Case, Holly 11 Church, Catholic 82, 108, 111–12, 146–7, 150, 152, 154, 158–60, 169, 171, 176, 184, 239, 261, 265, 269, 271, 281–2, 286–90, 322; Greek-Catholic 127–30, 137; Serbian Orthodox 102, 104, 106, 112 Catholicism, and anticapitalism 25, 70; and antisemitism 26, 29, 38, 158, 250; and conservatism 39, 80, 125, 168–9, 171, 239, 259, 261, 280–1; and nationalism 9; and Italian nationalism 40; and Croatian nationalism 107, 109, 111; and Ukrainian nationalism 126, 128–30; and Polish nationalism 146–7, 149–50; and Spanish nationalism 258, 264, 267, 269; and Portuguese nationalism 288–90; and peasants 82, 108, 152 Chase, Stuart 302 Châteaubriant, Alphonse de 252 Christian Socials (Austria-Hungary) 29–30, 33, 38–41, 169 Ciano, Gian Galeazzo 88 Clemenceau, Georges 36, 240 Close, David 229 Codreanu, Corneliu Zelea 198–9, 202–4, 206, 208 Coelho, Henrique Trindade 289, 291 Cohen, Stanley 194–5 Comités de Défense Paysanne see Greenshirts (France) Confederación Española de Derechas Autonomas (CEDA, Spain) 266–7, 270 Conservatism and neo-liberal ideas 308–11 Coppola, Francesco 70, 285, 291 Corporatism, corporative system 3, 7, 39, 70, 96, 107–11, 134, 186, 203, 224, 226, 228–30, 241, 281–2, 291–3 Corradini, Enrico 70–1 Costa, Manuel Gomes da 288, 291, 294 Costa Pinto, António 3, 285, 290 Coty, François 245–6 Coughlin, Charles 306–7 Coup d’état 39, 86, 102, 145, 148, 203, 218, 221, 225, 258, 263, 267, 269, 272, 285–6, 288–9, 291–2, 326 Crainic, Nichifor 200, 203–9 Counterrevolution in Europa 7–8; in Poland 143; in Hungary 170–2, 175, 177; in Spain 258–9, 271 Crick, Bernard 310 Cristea, Miron 208 Croat Peasant Party (Croatia,Yugoslavia) 98–101, 105, 109–11

Croix de Feux (CF, France) 238 Čubrilović,Vaso 104 Cunha Leal, Francisco Pinto da 284, 286 Cuza, Alexandru C. 196–7, 203–8 Cvetković, Dragiša 101, 105 Daladier, Édouard 245, 250–1 Dalmatia 32, 73, 84, 97, 101, 109 d’Alva, Carlos 292–3 D’Annunzio, Gabriele 21, 34, 291 Darányi, Kálmán 183, 187, 189 Darlan, François 252 Daudet, Léon 239, 246 Davanzati, Roberto Forges 70, 76 Davies, Norman 145 Déat, Marcel 252 De Felice, Renzo 76, 325, 326 Delbrück, Hans 53, 58 Democracy, crisis of 4, 196, 301–3, 322, 326 Dmowski, Roman 122, 144–49, 160 Dobry, Michel 237 Dollfuss, Engelbert 39, 86, 323 Dontsov, Dmytro 119–29, 131, 133–7 Dorgères, Henri 246–7 Doriot, Jacques 248–50 Doumergue, Gaston 246–7 Dragoş, Mihail 197 Drieu la Rochelle, Pierre 134, 248, 252 Eatwell, Roger 3 Einaudi, Luigi 78–9, 309 Erlacher, Trevor 122 Estado novo (Portugal) 278–80, 286, 288–9, 291–3 Evola, Julius 134 Faisceau (France) 242–3 ONR-Falanga (Poland) 150–2, 157, 160 Falange Española (Spain) 268–70 Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las JONS (FET, Spain) 270 Falange Española de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista (FE y de las JONS, Spain) 257, 268–70 Falangism (Spain) 271 Farinacci, Roberto 76 Fasci di Combattimento (Italy) 71–3, 75, 317 Federzoni, Luigi 70, 75–6, 82, 285, 291–4 Ferro, António 278, 291–2 Finley, Moses 319 First World War, see Great War Flandin, Pierre-Étienne 244, 247, 249–52

Index  335

Forţu, Grigore 202–3 Franco, Francisco 14, 257–9, 267, 270–2, 318 Frank, Karl Hermann 47–51, 53, 55, 60–2 Galicia 28, 30, 34, 120–1, 125–6, 128 Gellner, Ernest 320 Gentile, Emilio 7, 69, 323, 326 George II, King of Greece 216 German Nationalist Socialist Workers’ Party (DNSAP), Nazi Party 25, 49, 55–6, 60, 182, 229 Gerwarth, Robert 7, 224 Gheorghiu,Virgil 206 Giannopoulos, Ioannis 224 Giertych, Jędrzej 151 Gil Robles, José María 263, 266–7, 270 Gini, Corrado 81 Giunta, Francesco 74 Goga, Octavian 203–8 Goicoechea, Antonio 267 Goebbels, Joseph 50 Gömbös, Gyula 86, 175, 179, 181–3, 186, 189 Grandi, Dino 71, 86 Great Depression (and economic crisis) 2, 9, 49, 81, 101, 148, 152, 154, 158, 184, 200–1, 208, 237, 244, 247, 300, 303–4 Great War 1, 4, 6, 7–11, 26, 31–2, 34, 57, 61, 68, 76–7, 89, 97, 100, 105, 107, 120, 196, 201, 208, 215, 217, 219, 224, 237, 239, 242, 258, 260, 262, 271, 282–4, 305, 308 Greenshirts (France) 246–7, 249, 250 Gregorian, Alexandru 206, 209 Greiser, Arthur 46 Griffin, Roger 3, 9, 119, 133–4, 149 Habsburg monarchy, Habsburg Empire see Austria-Hungary Hametz, Maura 323 Hayek, Friedrich August 308–11 Hayes, Carlton J. H. 119 Heimwehr (Austria) 39, 73, 86 Henlein, Konrad 37, 46–7, 50 Henriot, Philippe 242, 247 Heydrich, Reinhard 51 Hitler, Adolf 3, 10, 21–2, 26, 29, 38, 40, 45–6, 50–1, 54–5, 59, 86–7, 103–4, 131, 133, 152, 159, 161, 184, 187–8, 190, 203, 205, 208, 216, 224, 248, 259, 267, 271, 292, 306, 318, 324, 327 Hofstadter, Richard 319 Homem Cristo Filho, Francisco 285–6, 291–2 Horne, John 7, 240

Horthy, Miklós 35–6, 171–2, 174–6, 178–9, 181–2, 189 Imrédy, Béla 182–3, 187, 189 Iordachi, Constantin 3, 112 Iorga, Nicolae 196, 197, 207 Iron Guard (Romania) 112, 161, 195, 199, 204, 323 Italian Nationalist Association (ANI, Italy) 69–70, 317 Jenkins, Brian 244 Jeunesses Patriotes (JP, France) 242–4, 246, 248 Judson, Pieter 10 Jünger, Ernst 127 Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista (JONS, Spain) 268 Kállay, Miklós 178, 183, 187–8 Kallis, Aristotle 3, 6, 134, 194, 216, 231 Kanellopoulos, Panagiotis 220 Kerillis, Henri de 243, 251 Keynes, John M. 8 Konrad, Mykola 128–9 Kruse, Kevin M. 309 Krzywicki, Ludwik 151 Kun, Béla 33, 35, 197 Kyriakos, Georgios 228 Laclau, Ernesto 327 Land reform,Yugoslavia 108; Ukraine 125; Hungary 170, 175, 180–1, 184, 189–90; Romania 202; Greece 228; landowners 146, 148, 170–1, 176, 183–4, 261, 320 Laqueur, Walter 321 La Rocque, François de 245, 247–50, 252 Larsen, Stein Ugelvik 321 Lateran Treaty 289, 290 League of Nations, 14, 58, 86, 193, 197, 219, 226 Ledesma Ramos, Ramiro 268–9 Lee, Stephen 216, 230 Legion of the Archangel Michael (Romania) 195, 199–202, 204–6, 228 Lerroux, Alejandro 266–7 Linz, Juan 326 Lippmann, Walter 310 Livezeanu, Irina 195 Ljotić, Dimitrije 101–4 Llanque, Marcus 302 Lorenzoni, Giovanni 78–9, 81 Lory, Bernard 324 Lueger, Karl 24, 29, 30, 33, 41 Lypynskyi,Viacheslav 122–3, 125–6 Lyttelton, Adrian 325

336 Index

Maček,Vladko 100–1, 105 Maeztu, Ramiro de 264, 267 Maier, Charles 7 Maniu, Iuliu 195 Mann, Michael 9 Manoilescu, Mihail 203 Maritain, Jacques 243 Masaryk, Thomas 28, 36 Mytsiuk, Oleksandr 135 Maulnier, Thierry 245, 247, 251 Maura, Antonio 260–1 Maurras, Charles 122, 147, 239, 240, 243–4, 249, 253, 262 Maxence, Jean-Pierre 245–6 Mayer, Arno 7 Mazower, Mark 4, 196, 321–2 Melas, Spyros 219 Metaxas, Ioannis 224, 226–31 Millington, Chris 244 Minorities 6, 10–2, 31, 35–7, 41, 47, 49, 58–62, 73, 88, 144, 158, 177–8, 185, 230 Mises, Ludwig von 309–11 Mitrany, David 80 Moljević, Stevan 104–5 Mosse, George 3, 151, 321 Moţa, Ion 198–9 Motyka, Grzegorz 121 Motyl, Alexander 120 Mussolini, Benito 14, 71–6, 80–1, 83–8, 122, 131, 146, 175, 223–4, 248, 258–9, 262, 265, 267, 269, 271, 283, 285, 287–8, 291–2, 303, 305, 307, 323–5, 327 Namier, Lewis 80 Narutowicz, Gabriel 144 National Christian Defence League (LANC, Romania) 196, 198–9, 201, 203–4, 206–7 National Christian Party (Romania) 204, 206–7 National Defence (Serbia,Yugoslavia) 100, 104 National Democracy (ND, Poland) 143–50 National Fascist Party (PNF, Italy) 69, 75–6, 88, 182, 265, 317 Nationalism (or integral nationalism) and fascism, 9, 69, 119–20, 215, 317, 320–21, 327 Nationalist leagues (France) 239, 242–3, 245–8 National Party (SN, Poland) 148, 150–1, 153, 155 National Radical Camp (ONR, Poland) 150, 153, 155

National Youth Organisation (EON, Greece) 227 Nazi Germany 177, 183–6, 188, 190, 205, 208, 237, 251–2; Nazism 3, 5, 8, 12, 22, 26, 137, 195, 202, 303, 310, 318–9, 323–5 Nedić, Milan 102 New Deal 300–4 Newman, John Paul 102, 112 Nielsen, Christian Axboe 99 Niewiadomski, Eligiusz 144 Nolte, Ernest 321, 325 Numerus clausus 38, 144, 201 Oláh, György 184 Olmsted, Kathryn S. 308 Onatskyi,Yevhen 132, 135–6 Ortega y Gasset, José 264, 268 Osborne, Peter 127 Organisation Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN, Ukraine) 118–9, 122–5, 127, 129–36 Pacheco, António Carneiro 293 Pais, Sidónio 280–3, 286 Pancu, Constantin 197–8, 201 Papacosma, S.Victor 216, 229 Papadakis,Vassileios 222 Paramilitary violence in post-WWI period 7–8; in Central Europe 48, 61, 86; in Italy 72–3; in Jugoslavia 110; in Poland 151, 155, 157, 161; in Hungary 174–5, 179; in Romania 199 Parti Populaire Français (PPF, France) 248–50, 252 Parti Social Français (PSF, France) 238, 248–5 Party of Hungarian Life (MÉP, Hungary) 182–3 Partido Nacional Republicano (PNR, Portugal) 282, 284, 286 Partido Social Popular (PSP, Spain) 263–4 Passmore, Kevin 237 Pavelić, Ante 86, 100–1, 106–7, 109, 111 Pavone, Claudio 326 Payne, Stanley 3, 133, 215–6, 230 Peasant parties, movements, in Italy 77–82; in Yugoslavia 98–101, 107–9; in Poland 152–4; in Hungary 176, 180, 189; in Romania 195, 200; in Greece 227–8, 230 Pétain, Henri-Philippe-Omer 252, 258 Piasecki, Bolesław 151–2, 157, 160 Piłsudski, Józef 145–7, 155–6 Poincaré, Raymond 239, 241, 243, 244 Polanyi, Karl 8

Index  337

Populism 319–20, 327 Porter -Szücs, Brian 160 Preto, Rolao 283, 294 Primo de Rivera, José Antonio 268–9 Primo de Rivera, Miguel 258, 260, 263–5, 268, 271 Prónay, Pál 175, 179 Race Defenders (Hungary) 173, 175, 180–2, 186, 189 Radić, Stjepan 98–9, 106, 108 National Radical Party (Serbia,Yugoslavia) 96, 98, 105 Rădulescu, Ilie 204 Rapallo Treaty 73 Redondo Ortega, Onésimo 268 Renovación Española (Spain) 267–9 Reynaud, Paul 243, 251–2 Ribbentrop, Joachim von 88 Riley, Dylan 5 Rocco, Alfredo 70, 76, 81 Rogger, Hans 5 Röpke, Wilhelm 309–10 Rosenberg, Alfred 46–7, 56 Rossi Doria, Manlio 79 Rossoliński-Liebe, Grzegorz 128 Roosevelt, Franklin Delano 300–3, 305, 308, 311–2 Russian Empire (or Russia) 10, 32–4, 45–7, 51–57, 72–3, 84, 120, 126, 197 Rydz-Śmigły, Edward 157 Sadoveanu, Mihail 206–7 Salandra, Antonio 70, 75 Salazar, António Oliveira 15, 216, 223, 251, 278–80, 282–3, 285–6, 288–94 Salvatorelli, Luigi 69 Salvemini, Gaetano 75, 325 Sanacja regime (Poland) 145, 147–8, 150, 152–3, 155–7, 159–60 Sandu, Traian 205 Scheubner-Richter, Max Erwin von 46, 53, 61 Schiemann, Paul 47, 56–60, 62 Schönerer, Goerg Ritter von 22, 24–6, 29, 32, 40 Schuschnigg, Kurt 39 Second World War 6, 7, 8, 12, 37, 46, 89, 96, 98, 103–4, 106, 123, 169, 183, 186–7, 208, 220, 237, 250–1, 310–1, 321, 324 Seipel, Ignaz 39 Serb Cultural Club (Serbia,Yugoslavia) 97, 104–5, 111 Serpieri, Arrigo 78, 82 Serrano Súner, Ramón 257, 270

Sheptytsky, Andrei 125, 130 Shtykalo, Dmytro 124, 129 Şiancu, Emil 201 Simons, Henry 310 Skoropadskyi, Pavlo 125–6 Sławoj-Składkowski, Felicjan 156 Smallholdings, Italy 77–8, 80–1; Hungary 174, 180; Greece 228; Spain 261 Snyder, Timothy 3 Solidarité française (SF, France) 245–6 Somaten Nacional (Spain) 263 Sonnino, Sidney 70 Sophoulis, Themistocles 219 Soviet Union 2–3, 45–6, 121, 184, 188, 251, 271, 303–4, 309, 318 Spaho, Mehmed 98 Stahl, Zdzisław 148, 150 Steigmann-Gall, Richard 259 Stein, Franz 25 Stelescu, Mihai 204 Sternhell, Zeev 4, 321 Stoecker, Adolf 168 Stojadinović, Milan 101, 103, 113 Stsiborskyi, Mykola 118, 123–4, 130, 134 Stumpp, Karl 45, 47, 62 Suvich, Fulvio 87 Sudeten German Home Front (then Sudeten German Party, SdP) 46, 50 Sudetenland 36–7, 46, 48, 50, 87 Szabó, Dezső 173–4 Szálasi, Ferenc 189–90 Szekfű, Gyula 176–7, 184 Taittinger, Pierre 242, 247–9 Tamaro, Attilio 71, 84–5 Tasca, Angelo 321, 325 Treaty of Brest-Litovsk 53 Treaty of Lausanne 217–18 Treaty of Saint Germain 48 Treaty of Versailles 44, 52 Tătărescu, Gheorghe 195, 202–3, 205–6 Taylor, Alan J.P. 21 Teleki, Pál 174, 176, 179, 181–3, 186–90 Thorp, Willard L. 302 Tiso, Jozef 40 Tooze, Adam 8 Totalitarianism 3–5, 76, 107, 118–120, 123, 137, 147, 150, 216, 226–7, 230–1, 268–70, 290, 304, 310, 318–19, 322–3 Tugwell, Rexford 301–3 Uhlig, Carl 44–5 Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA, Ukraine) 118

338 Index