Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Quote from Franco on Fascism as an Urge to Live

"Fascism, since that is the word that is used, fascism presents, wherever it manifests itself, characteristics which are varied to the extent that countries and national temperaments vary. It is essentially a defensive reaction of the organism, a manifestation of the desire to live, of the desire not to die, which at certain times seizes a whole people. So each people reacts in its own way, according to its conception of life." 
- Francisco Franco, 1938 interview with Henri Massis

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The 1936 Meeting of Ribbentrop and Vansittart

Joachim von Ribbentrop was appointed Ambassador to Britain from 1936 to 1938. From the outset, he was charged with forging a German-English pact. One of his first meetings was with Robert Vansittart, who was Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs from 1930 until 1938. Ribbentrop, as he remarks in the excerpt below, would speak with numerous British figures during his tenure, but it was his separate meetings with Vansittart and Churchill that would leave such an impression on him that he would remark on each in due course.

His aim in meeting with Vansittart was to convey Hitler's desire for an agreement with the British government. Ribbentrop was given hope by the Anglo-German Naval Agreement in June 1935 which, along with the Italian invasion of Abyssinia starting in October of that year, ended the Stresa Front by creating a rift between Britain and France and Italy and the West, respectively. Hitler's vision of an alliance between Britain and Germany faltered on the balance of power politics of Britain and various missteps of Ribbentrop's.


The following is from 'The Ribbentrop Memoirs' [1]:
It was unfortunate that I had to do most of the talking; I felt from the start as if I were addressing a wall. Vansittart listened quietly, but was not forthcoming and evaded all my openings for a frank exchange of views. I have spoken to hundreds of Englishmen on this subject, but never was a conversation so barren, never did I find so little response, never did my partner say so little about the points which really mattered. When I asked Sir Robert to express an opinion on certain points and to criticize frankly what I had said, or to explain where exactly we differed in matters of principle or of detail, there was absolutely no reply except generalities. In the following years I often looked back on this conversation.
One thing was clear, an Anglo-German understanding with Vansittart in office was out of the question. Only once again did I have a similar feeling after a conversation. That was in 1937, after a talk with Mr. Churchill, when I was Ambassador in London, except that while Vansittart had expressed no opinion whatever, Mr. Churchill was considerably more frank. 
Vansittart, I felt, had completely made up his mind. This Foreign Office man not only advocated the balance of power theory, but was also the incarnation of Sir Eyre Crowe’s principle: 'No pact with Germany come what may.' I gained a firm impression that this man would never even attempt a rapprochement, and any discussion with him would be in vain. The Fuhrer said later that Vansittart must also have been influenced by other reasons, by questions of ideology. I do not know; I do not think so; but this will never be explained. Whatever influences he may have been subjected to, the main thing was his basic attitude: 'Never with Germany.'
Hitler had correctly suspected that Vansittart's misgivings were ideologically rooted. In his The Impact of Hitler, Cowling remarks on Vansittart's views [2]:
Vansittart treated the Franco-Soviet alliance as non-negotiable. But he assumed that a settlement would have to provide for German expansion. This he was willing to contemplate. What he rejected was the 'immoral' desire to 'satisfy Hitler's 'land hunger at Russia's expense'. It was because many had equality in Europe already that he wanted Britain to facilitate expansion in Africa.
Vansittart had deliberately obfuscated his views in his meeting with Ribbentrop. Later, in 1937, Ribbentrop met with Churchill, where he would again be disappointed.

--------------------
[1] Available on The Internet Archive: See this HTML version, for example.
[2] Maurice Cowling, The Impact of Hitler, Cambridge University Press, 1975, p. 157.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

"Hurrah for the Blackshirts," by Harold Harmsworth, or Lord Rothermere, in the January 1934 'Daily Mail'

Harold Harmsworth (1868-1940), together with his brother, developed the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror. In 1934, he contributed the article below to the Daily Mail. It provoked Jews affiliated with Lyons & Co. and Salmon & Gluckstein. In response to a threat to withdraw their advertising, Harmsworth retracted his brief support for the Blackshirts.

In his autobiography, 'My Life,' Sir Oswald Mosley remarks:
Lord Rothermere [Harmsworth] explained that he was in trouble with certain advertisers, who had not liked his support of the blackshirts, and in company with many other people had now heard of the tobacco business and liked it still less. This was war, and I reacted strongly. The card to play with Rothermere was always his brother Northcliffe, whom I had never met but who was a legend for his audacity and dynamism. I said: 'Do you know what Northcliffe would have done? He would have said, "One more word from you, and the Daily Mail placards tomorrow will carry the words: 'Jews threaten British press' "; you will have no further trouble'. 
The long struggle fluctuated, but I lost. He felt that I was asking him to risk too much, not only for himself, but for others who depended on him. He was a patriot and an outstanding personality, but without the exceptional character necessary to take a strong line towards the end of a successful life, which might have led to a political dog-fight. In my view, the matter could have been quite reasonably settled if he had stood firm. 
These Jewish interests took this action in the mistaken belief that their life and interest were threatened. Any group of men who feel this will naturally do their utmost to resist. This is no evidence of occult Jewish power, simply the determination to fight by men who in this case had the means to do it, which I had not. The whole affair was as simple as that, there was nothing obscure or mysterious about it.
Despite his public withdrawal of support for the British Union of Fascists in relation to the Daily Mail, Harmsworth continued expressing support fascist interests, including Hitler's own actions and policies in Europe, through the 1930s. When Hitler annexed the Sudetenland, for example, Harmsworth sent a telegram of support to Hitler. He also praised the creation of Protectorates in Bohemia and Moravia. Despite his advocacy of a strong British military and autonomy, he was vilified and even today the Daily Mail is ridiculed.


Hurrah for the Blackshirts
Harold Harmsworth
1st Viscount Rothermere
From the Daily Mail of January 1934 


Because fascism comes from Italy, short-sighted people in this country think they show a sturdy national spirit by deriding it.

If their ancestors had been equally stupid, Britain would have had no banking system, no Roman law, nor even any football, since all of these are of Italian invention.

The socialists especially, who jeer at the principles and uniform of the Blackshirts as being of foreign origin, forget that the founder and High Priest of their own creed was the German Jew Karl Marx.

Though the name and form of Fascism originated in Italy, that movement is not now peculiar to any nation. It stands in every country for the Party of Youth. It represents the effort of the younger generation to put new life into out-of-date political systems.

That alone is enough to make it a factor of immense value in our national affairs.

Youth is a force that for generations has been allowed to run to waste in Britain. This country has been governed since far back in Victorian times by men in the middle sixties. When prosperity was general and the international horizon calm, that mattered little, but to cope with the grim problems of the present day the energy and vigour of younger men are needed. Being myself in the middle sixties, I know how stealthily and steadily that seventh decade saps one's powers and stiffens one's prejudices.

Under the inert and irresolute control of these elderly statesmen, the British Government is equally without real popularity at home and prestige abroad. In the vital matter of air-defence this country has been allowed to sink from the foremost to the lowest position among the Great Powers. While the leaders of other States are reorganising their national resources to break the crushing grip of the world-crisis our own are content to drift and dawdle. They are persistent only in preparing British abdication in India and Ceylon by the same methods as lost Southern Ireland to the Empire.

The Blackshirt movement is the organised effort of the younger generation to break this stranglehold which senile politicians have so long maintained on our public affairs. In its organisation, aims and methods it is purely British, and has no more to do with Italian Fascism than the Italian Navy has to do with the British Navy.

Such an effort was long overdue. The nation's realisation of the need for it is shown by the astonishing progress the Blackshirts are making, especially in the big industrial areas. Reports that reach me from the provinces go far to substantiate their claim to have the largest active membership in the country. A crusading spirit has come back to British politics. Yet many people who would be vastly impressed by a similar movement in France or the United States have so far failed to realise the profound importance of the new national activity which is stirring all around them.

What are these Blackshirts who hold 500 meetings a week throughout the country and whose uniform has become so familiar a feature of our political life?

They fall mainly into two distinct age-groups. One consists of those who were just old enough to take part in the war, and who have been discouraged and disgusted by the incompetence of their elders in dealing with the depression that has followed on it. The other is made up of men too young to remember the war but ready to put all their ardour and energy at the service of a cause which offers them a vigorous constructive policy in place of the drift and indecision of the old political parties.

Blackshirts proclaim a fact which politicians dating from pre-war days will never face - that the new age requires new methods and new men.

They base their contention on the simple truth that parliamentary government is conducted on the same lines as it was in the eighteenth century, though the conditions with which it deals have altered beyond recognition. They want to bring our national administration up to date.

This purpose does not rest on theory alone. It can be justified by the gigantic revival of national strength and spirit which a similar process of modernisation has brought about in Italy and Germany.

These are beyond all doubt the best governed nations in Europe to-day. From repeated visits to both under their present regime, I can vouch for it that in no other land does the overwhelming majority of the people feel such confidence and pride in its rulers.

If our own system of government were reorganised in the same way, and full scope accorded to the energy and enterprise of British youth, this country would soon regain its old position of world pre-eminence. With our present out-worn machinery of State and feeble personnel of Government the continuance of its decline is certain.

We must keep up with the spirit of the age. That spirit is one of national discipline and organisation.

The Blackshirts are the only political force in Britain that is working for these ends. Even if they were on the wrong lines, it would be to the benefit of the country that its younger citizens should be taking an active interest in national affairs. But which of our older politicians, looking back on his own record, dare assert that they are on the wrong lines?

Government by one or other of the long-established political parties had proved such a failure that over two years ago it was abandoned.

To it there succeeded an artificial alliance of the leaders of all parties. The record of this merger of political talent consists almost solely of a series of abortive international conferences in this country and abroad.

If discussion and exchange of views were an effective substitute in human affairs for action, the National Government would be the best that Britain has ever had. But the experience of the past two years has proven that these futile and time-wasting devices are no more than a screen for inertia and indecision.

The huge majority obtained by the present Government at the general election of 1931 was the last vote of confidence that the nation will ever give to Old Gang politicians. Two years from now another general election will be almost due. The whole future of Britain will depend upon its issue.

A prolongation of the present regime may be regarded in the country's present mood as out of the question. There will be a pronounced swing either to Right or Left.

If the inflated, impulsive, and largely ignorant electorate which Old Gang statesmen have brought into existence were to return the Rump of extreme Socialism to power, all hope of this country's recovery would collapse amid the confusion of Communist experiments.

At this next vital election Britain's survival as a Great Power will depend on the existence of a well-organised Party of the Right, ready to take over responsibility for national affairs with the same directness of purpose and energy of method as Mussolini and Hitler have displayed.

Such a movement, making "Action" its motto instead of "Drift", will draw a surprising measure of support from former Socialists, who have discovered that the leaders of that party also value words above deeds.

That is why I say, Hurrah for the Blackshirts! They are a sign that something is stirring among the youth of Britain. They are the symbol of that new realism in public life which alone can rouse it from its torpor.

Hundreds of thousands of young British men and women would like to see their own country develop that spirit of patriotic pride and service which has transformed Germany and Italy. They cannot do better than seek out the nearest branch of the Blackshirts and make themselves acquainted with their aims and plans.

They will soon lose any lingering idea that this campaign is trying to introduce foreign methods and principles into our country.

They will find the loyalties and aims of the Blackshirts as British as their membership, and as a striking contrast with the hesitations and compromises of all other parties, they will discover that Blackshirts do not cover faint hearts!

Young men and women may join the British Union of Fascists by writing to - 

The Headquarters, Kings Road, Chelsea, London S.W.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Ribbentrop on Hitler's Proposal for Anglo-German Alliance and Mutual Support in His Nuremberg Testimony

Below is an extract from the testimony of Joachim von Ribbentrop at Nuremberg that was entered on 29 March 1946. This extract is intended to support a prior article published on this site regarding Hitler's aim of alliance with the British Empire and his willingness to countenance German military support to preserve it as part of an alliance. This testimony also shows that it was Ribbentrop, not Churchill, that first discussed the event.

Nuremberg Trial Proceedings Vol. 10 

NINETY-FOURTH DAY

Friday, 29 March 1946

DR. HORN: Then you were appointed Ambassador to London. What led to this appointment?

VON RIBBENTROP: That came about as follows: In the time following the naval agreement, which was hailed with joy by the widest circles in England, I made great efforts to bring Lord Baldwin and the Fuehrer together, and I should like to mention here that the preliminary arrangements for this meeting had already been made by a friend of Lord Baldwin, a Mr. Jones. The Fuehrer had agreed to fly to Chequers to meet Lord Baldwin, but unfortunately Lord Baldwin declined at the last minute. What led to his declining, I do not know, but there is no doubt that certain forces in England at the time did not wish this German-British understanding.

Then in 1936, when the German Ambassador Von Hoesch died, I said to myself, that on behalf of Germany one should make one last supreme effort to come to a good understanding with England. I might mention in this connection, that at that time I had already been appointed State Secretary of the Foreign Office by Hitler and had asked him personally that that appointment be cancelled and that I be sent to London as Ambassador.

The following may have led to this decision of Hitler's. Hitler had a very definite conception of England's balance of power theory, but my view perhaps deviated somewhat from his. My conviction was that England would always continue to support her old balance of power theory, whereas Hitler was of the opinion that this theory of balance of power was obsolete, and that from now on, England should tolerate, that is, should welcome a much stronger Germany in view of the changed situation in Europe, and in view of Russia's development of strength. In order to give the Fuehrer a definite and clear picture of how matters actually stood in England-that was at any rate one of the reasons why the Fuehrer sent me to England. Another reason was that at that time we hoped, through relations with the still very extensive circles in England which were friendly to Germany and supported a German-English friendship, to make the relations between the two countries friendly and perhaps even to reach a permanent agreement.

Hitler's goal was finally and always the German-English pact.

DR. HORN: In what way was your ambassadorial activity hampered in England?

VON RIBBENTROP: I should like to say first that I was repeatedly in England in the 1930's, mainly from 1935 to 1936, and, acting on instructions from the Fuehrer, I sounded out the opinions there on the subject of a German-British pact. The basis of this pact is known. [Here follows the points from his meeting with Churchill, which I enumerate.] It was to
[1] make the naval ratio of 100 to 35 permanent. 
[2] the integrity of the so-called Low Countries, Belgium and Holland, and also France was to be guaranteed by the two countries forever and 
[3] -- this was the Fuehrer's idea -- Germany should recognize the British Empire and should be ready to stand up, if necessary even with the help of her own power, for the preservation and maintenance of the British Empire 
[4] England, in return, should recognize Germany as a strong power in Europe [that Germany would have a free hand in Eastern Europe and that Britain would remain neutral in the event of a conflict with Poland or the USSR]
It has already been said, and I should like to repeat, that these efforts in the 1930's unfortunately did not lead to any results. It was one of the Fuehrer's deepest disappointments -- and I must mention that here, for it is very important for the further course of events -- that this pact upon which he had placed such very great hopes and which he had regarded as the cornerstone of his foreign policy did not materialize in these years. What the forces were which prevented its materializing I cannot say, because I do not know. In any case we got no further.

I came back to this question several times while I was Ambassador in London and discussed it with circles friendly to Germany. And I must say that there also were many Englishmen who had a very positive attitude towards this idea.

DR. HORN: Did you also meet with any attitude that was negative?

VON RIBBENTROP: There was naturally a strong element in England which did not look favorably upon this pact or this idea of close relations with Germany, because of considerations of principle and perhaps because of traditional considerations of British policy against definite obligations of this kind. I should like to mention here briefly, even though this goes back to the year 1936, that during the Olympic Games in the year 1936 I tried to win the very influential British politician, the present Lord Vansittart, to this idea. I had at that time a very long discussion of several hours' duration with him in Berlin. Adolf Hitler also received him and likewise spoke with him about the same subject. Lord Vansittart, even though our personal relations were good, showed a certain reserve.

In the year 1937, when I was in London, I saw that two clearly different trends were gradually forming in England; the one trend was very much in favor of promoting good relations with Germany; the second trend did not wish such close relations.

There were -- I believe that I do not need to mention names, for they are well known -- those gentlemen who did not wish such close relations with Germany, Mr. Winston Churchill, who was later Prime Minister, and others.

I then made strenuous efforts in London in order to promote this idea but other events occurred which made my activity there most difficult. There was first of all, the Spanish policy. It is wellknown that civil war raged in Spain at that time and that in London the so-called Nonintervention Commission was meeting.

I therefore, as Ambassador to the Court of St. James, had a difficult task. On the one hand, with all means at my disposal, I wished to further German-English friendship and to bring about the, German-Enghsh pact, but on the other hand, I had to carry out the instructions of my government in regard to the Nonintervention, Commission and Spain. These instructions, however, were often in direct opposition to certain aims of British policy. Therefore it came about that this sort of League of Nations which the Nonintervention Commission represented at that time, and of which I was the authorized German member, prejudiced the chief aim with which Adolf Hitler had sent me to London.

But I have to say here -- if I may and am supposed to explain that period openly in the interest of the case -- that it was not only the policy regarding Spain, but that in these years, 1937 until the beginning of 1938, that section which did not want a pact with Germany, doubtless made itself constantly more evident in England; and that, today, is a historical fact. Why? The answer is very simple, very clear. These circles regarded a Germany strengthened by National Socialism as a factor which might disturb the traditional British balance of power theory and policy on the Continent.

I am convinced that Adolf Hitler at that time had no intention at all of undertaking on his part anything against England, but that he had sent me to London with the most ardent wish for really reaching an understanding with England. From London I reported to the Fuehrer about the situation. And before this Tribunal now I wish to clarify one point, a point which has been brought up very frequently and which is relevant to my own defense. It has often been asserted that I reported to the Fuehrer from England that England was degenerate and would perhaps not fight. I may and must establish the fact here, that from the beginning I reported exactly the opposite to the Fuehrer. I informed the Fuehrer that in my opinion the English ruling class and the English people had a definitely heroic attitude and that this nation was ready at any time to fight to the utmost for the existence of its empire. Later, in the course of the war and after a conference with the Fuehrer, I once discussed this subject in public, in a speech made in 1941.

Summarizing the situation in London in the years 1937 and 1938, while I was ambassador, I can at least say that I was fully cognizant of the fact that it would be very difficult to conclude a pact with England. But even so, and this I always reported, all efforts would have to be made to come by means of a peaceful settlement to an understanding with England as a decisive factor in German policy, that is, to create such a relation between the development of German power and the British basic tendencies and views on foreign policy that these two factors would not conflict.

Monday, October 16, 2017

A Quote from Codreanu on the Framework of Service

"I started with an impulse of my heart, with that instinct of defense which even the least of the worms has, not with the instinct of personal self-preservation, but of defense of the race to which I belong. This is why I have always had the feeling that the whole race rests on our shoulders, the living, and those who died for the Fatherland, and our entire future, and that the race struggles and speaks through us, that the hostile flock, however huge, in relation to this historical entity, is only a handful of human detritus which we will disperse and defeat... The individual in the framework and in the service of his race, the race in the framework and in the service of God and of the laws of the divinity: those who will understand these things will win even though they are alone. Those who will not understand will be defeated."
- Corneliu Codreanu

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Myth of the Battle of Cable Street

On 4 October 1936, Marxists and Jews organized a protest to Sir Mosley's British Union's planned march through East London. The disruption of the planned march after violence was transformed into a myth of working class and minority resistance to fascism.

On 13 October 2016, an article by Suyin Haynes was published with the title, "The Enduring Lessons of the Battle of Cable Street, 80 Years On." In it, she reminds the British people of their capitol's rich history of relinquishing living space to racial aliens by opening up projects for realizing racial diversity. East London, she boasts, was once the home of a sizable number of Jews and is now the proud host of a panoply of other racial aliens. The British Union of Fascists, she argues, fought against this effort to realize racial diversity and one of its corollaries was its failure to cow Jews and workers in East London.

Haynes quotes the anti-British Jewish socialist David Rosenberg:
Among the impoverished workers of the East End, the British Union of Fascists (BUF) built their movement in a horseshoe shape around the Jewish community...
This is the core of the myth of Cable Street: That the British Union of Fascists targeted East London because it was a nest of Jews and a place where it had little support.



In the article below, Beckwell responds to several of the claims that have been advanced as part of this myth. He points out that Sir Mosley's fascist movement owned a significant and established base of support in East London. Myths have great staying power, especially once entrenched. [1] 

Charlottesville has been compared to Cable Street in this regard, for example.

The Myth of Cable Street
Gordon Beckwell [1]

For more than 70 years, Mosley’s enemies have maintained the myth that the East End of London rose up against the Blackshirts at the Battle of Cable Street and British Union went into decline. Nothing could be further from the truth. Arthur Mason, later British Union District Leader for Limehouse, recalled that in the two days after the banned March, 600 new members joined the East London Limehouse branch alone.

Five months later came the local elections which in those days only the heads of households could vote in. This effectively prevented Mosley’s young East End supporters from voting in what was called a ‘Dad’s and granddad’s election’. Despite this handicap, in March 1937 British Union won over 23% of the vote in Limehouse. Without that handicap it could have been over 50%. This proved conclusively that East London was a stronghold of British Union and Mosley’s Blackshirts had not been put to flight by Communists and their left-wing allies.

The ‘Observer’ newspaper commented (7/3/1937): ‘the size of their vote was a surprise even to those in touch with the East end’. The ‘Guardian’ (5/3/1937) called it ‘a surprising indication of strength’. Even the communist ‘Daily Worker’ (5/3/1937) admitted: ‘a disturbing feature is the large number of votes they recorded’. In the November 1937 Borough Elections British Union candidates moved up into second place in Limehouse putting a Tory/Liberal coalition bottom of the poll. The ‘Daily Worker’ noted (3/11/1937) : ‘For the whole of Stepney the fascist vote was 19%, an overall increase’.

In the remaining years of peace, East London remained the Blackshirt heartland. At his very last appearance in the district on May Day 1940 Mosley addressed a friendly crowd well in excess of 100,000 at Victoria Park Square.

Almost total censorship of Mosley and British Union activity in East London by the press and the BBC left the rest of Britain generally unaware of the growing strength of Mosley’s Balckshirts in this important working class area of Britain’s capital city. This assisted the left-wing created myth that East Enders stopped Mosley once and for all at the Battle of Cable Street and his support thereafter declined. This fraudulent historical view has continued to appear in history books and autobiographies for over 75 years. Only recently is the truth beginning to emerge thanks to a new generation of enquiring academics and historians unwilling to accept political myths for which there is no substantiation.


Extracts from Special Branch Police documents held at the National Archives report the following :

“The general cry is that the entire population of East London had risen against Mosley and had declared that he and his followers ‘should not pass’, and that they did not pass ‘owing to the solid front presented by the workers of East London’. This statement is, however, far from reflecting accurately the state of affairs.” – Special Branch Police Report, November 1936, The National Archives ref: MEPOL2/3043 

After the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Philip Game, banned Mosley’s East London march on Sunday 4th October 1936, the main body of Blackshirts marched west to their National Head Quarters in Westminster. But back in East London at the four places where Mosley was going to speak Blackshirt meetings DID go ahead and Blackshirts DID march through East London late in the afternoon of the ‘Battle of Cable Street’.

This fact was ‘overlooked’ in the leftist myth that East London workers rose up and drove Mosley’s Blackshirts out of the area. But the march and meetings that did take place were clearly recorded at the time in Special Branch Police reports now released at the National Archives, Kew.

Special Branch report HO144/21061 records:

‘Aske Street, Shoreditch: The platform was set up at 10am and Lionel Duncan held the pitch for British Union. At 5.30pm 1000 people were still waiting to hear Mosley. Bailey, Nagels and Bill Hunt spoke. All the Blackshirt speakers were enthusiastically received by the audience and there were many cries of ‘Shame!’ when it was learned that the march had been banned. Meeting ended at 7.35pm. No disorder.

Chester Street, Bethnal Green: Police moved the British Union meeting to this site from its proposed location at Victoria Park Square. Alf Cooper held the platform from from 12.15pm. At 5.15pm there were 400 people present and 6 in Blackshirt uniform. This increased to 1500 with 26 in Blackshirt uniform. Mick Clarke, British Union District Inspector of the 8th London Area, spoke for 30 minutes denouncing the Government ban. At 6.05pm he closed the meeting and led a march of Blackshirts and supporters for one mile through Bethnal Green back to their District Headquarters at 222 Green Street. No disorder.

Stafford Road, Bow: Alex Brandon and Eddie Turner held the platform for British Union. 300 people were still present when Turner closed the meeting at 5.50pm. No disorder.

Salmon Lane, Limehouse: Platforms in position at midnight. By 11a.m. there were 300 people waiting to hear Mosley speak. Charlie Lewis and Dave Robinson addressed the crowd which by 3.45pm had increased to 5000. At 5p.m. 200 Reds attacked the speaker and the police closed the meeting.

After Cable Street the Reds organised a ‘Victory’ meeting in Hoxton Square. Afterwards, several hundred Communist supporters tried to hold a ‘Victory’ march through East London but it stopped and dispersed in nearby Hoxton Street after a slight affray occurred involving hostile East Londoners.’

The Red ‘Victory’ March.

The Sunday after Cable Street the Communist Party tried to hold another ‘Victory’ march in East London. The Morning Post reported (13/10/1936): ‘The Victory March organised by the Socialists and Communists had a stormy progress through the East End’.

This was confirmed by Joe Jacobs, Secretary of Stepney Communist Party, in his memoirs ‘Out of the Ghetto’: ‘As we marched along Whitechapel Road the shouting grew louder. We got to Green Street, everyone braced themselves because we were about to enter the enemy’s strong-hold…the pavements were lined with Blackshirts and their supporters. They pelted us with rotten fruit and flour.’

The Blackshirt March across East London.

The Wednesday after the failure of the Red ‘Victory’ March was a day of mounting excitement in East London as rumours grew that Mosley was coming. Sure enough, the Leader of British Union appeared at an unadvertised meeting and spoke to several thousand cheering people in Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green. He then headed a march to Salmon Lane, Limehouse, which grew in numbers with every street it passed.

Special Branch report HO144/21061 records:

‘Mosley spoke at Victoria Park Square where the crowd had grown to 7,000 by 8pm. It was noticeable by the salute that 80% were his supporters. They marched to Salmon Lane, Limehouse, where the crowd swelled to 12,000…500 in British Union uniform. It was remarkable, in view of the attitude adopted by the anti-fascists towards the previous fascist march, that this procession should pass unmolested and practically unopposed…at intervals the fascist salute was given by people in doorways or on the pavements.’.

Phil Piratin, Communist Organiser, wrote of the meeting in “Our Flag Stays Red”: ‘I went along to this meeting and watched to see the support which Mosley had…what kind of people would march. The fascist band moved off and behind about 50 thugs in Blackshirt uniform. Then came the people…men, women (some with babies in arms) and youngsters marched behind Mosley’s banner. I knew some of these people, some of them wore trade union badges…Why are these ordinary working class folk supporting Mosley? Obviously because Mosley’s appeal struck a chord…above all these people were living miserable squalid lives’.

Joe Jacobs wrote in his memoirs: ‘The fascists did rally in Victoria Park Square…and did march through Mile End to Limehouse right across Stepney.’ Jacobs claimed that Stepney Communist Party had a membership of around 300 at the time. However, Special Branch report HO144/21064 states that the Blackshirt membership for Limehouse, which was just one part of Stepney, stood at 1,700. (One of their agents had broken into the British Union Limehouse District Headquarters in Essian Street at night and read the membership ledger).

Mosley speaks to 12,000 people: Salmon Lane, Limehouse, October 14 1936:

‘The people of East London have created this Movement of ours in your midst. It is to the People we come and from the People we derive our strength…It is because they are so afraid of the appeal we have made to the People that they are anxious to prevent the People hearing that case…It is because the Blackshirt cause has gone straight to your hearts…They cannot meet our arguments or our case and they are terrified of my speaking…the only argument they have to the Blackshirt case is the brick and the razor…This I claim from History: whether you are for us or against us, love us or hate us, you will find in this Movement men who have stood fast against corruption and not let down the Working Class. Tonight you have given to me that kindness and comradeship that I have come to know in East London.’

After this speech Special Branch reported in MEPOL/3043: ‘There is abundant evidence that the Fascist movement has been steadily gaining in many parts of East London and has strong support in Stepney, Shoreditch, Bethnal Green, Hackney and Bow…the British Union conducted the most successful series of meetings since the beginning of the Movement…crowds estimated at several thousands of people assembled and accorded the speakers an enthusiastic reception…In contrast much opposition has been displayed at meetings held by the Communists…Briefly, a definite pro-fascist feeling has manifested itself throughout the districts mentioned since 4th October…it is reliably reported that the London membership has been increased by 2,000.’

--------------------
[1] See also Anshel Pfeffer's "The Battle of Cable Street and Other British Jewish Myths" and Daniel Tilles's "Why Victory at Cable Street Really Belonged to Mosley's Fascists."

Thursday, August 24, 2017

"Democracy: A Source of Strength for the Individual and Society," a Speech by Saddam Hussein

A speech by Saddam Hussein to the Council of Planning, 10 July 1977.


Brothers,

Your task and that of your Ministry are among the most important tasks undertaken by any Ministry in this country because they are related to what we and our people cherish most, namely youth and the students in whom the Revolution created a new sense of national and pan-Arab awareness and feelings, a belief in the socialist course, and a sense of responsibility. Such a state should be enhanced. What are then the proper means to deal with a student on a daily basis, whether in school or at home, in a manner that makes his interaction with the new requirements of education elaborate and genuine? I put it frankly: the means and remedies being used in this field have not been encouraging so far.

We do not want the student to learn in a parrotlike manner things related to the Party or the State. Loyalty to the Party is not only proved through membership or by learning Party slogans. Rather, it is expressed by showing genuine allegiance to the homeland, by carrying out one’s duty sincerely, by being very careful with time, and by adherence to the Revolution’s program in a sincere, proper, and creative way.

It is true that the Minister of Education is guided by a general line. Yet there are many things and many cases and fields that do not fall within his direct responsibility of follow-up and supervision, especially in the details of implementation when they become the responsibility of the lower departments. Hence, when these departments are active and creative the course of work will continue in the same fashion outlined by the competent minister or determined by the leadership for all departments.

We aspire to make the child a source of enlightenment within the family, which includes his parents and his siblings, so that he may bring about positive changes. He may also teach his family some of the rules of good conduct and respect that are based on the Revolution’s concepts, because the school teaches him the benefit and importance of all this. If the father is not acquainted with the rules of new conduct, the student or young pupil will be creating a new style of living. Such a style is linked to the principles of the Arab Baath Socialist Party and its approach to revolutionary change.

The basic principles of the Party are based on two main issues: creating a real national basis, and ending any form of injustice and exploitation with regard to Iraq, as well as putting Iraq within the framework of these two issues, in the service of the objectives of Arab struggle.

If we do not create real patriotism and put an end to injustice and exploitation in Iraq, we will not be able to pass on the Party’s principles beyond Iraq and not even within Iraq. Then our calls could end up like the aborted experiences of Third World countries, where the concerned leaders of national changes at the beginning of political changes clamor about nationalism, socialism, and other slogans. However, when for some reason they leave their leading positions, the opposition forces come back and take over control of the state without facing any major obstacles, because the laws prevailing when those changes took place remained as they were, and because the persons in the second positions neither brought about radical changes nor created new and firm revolutionary traditions in society and governmental departments. They come and take over affairs under various names and disguises that are legitimate and common, without causing any serious damage to interests, culture, and traditions.

Accordingly, your task is a difficult one, and the job of a primary school teacher has priority over that of the secondary school teacher. And the latter’s has priority over that of the university teacher, because a university teacher receives the students as end products whose educational bases have, to a considerable degree, been shaped. If the end products are corrupt, he will not be able to make a great and essential change. But if they are within the general line, his role will be to develop and improve on the results, putting them within the common context of the Revolution’s course and programs. Therefore, you should teach pupils and students the details of daily life, as we said, such as the proper use of knife and fork, table manners, asking their parents’ permission before coming into their room or before inviting a friend, the respect of public property (socialist property), and being careful with their money and fighting bourgeois habits. Passing on the Revolution’s traditions, customs, and directives through pupils and students to their families and safeguarding them against wornout habits that are still prevalent in these families is vital and essential. You should not consider these habits bourgeois because the principles of the Arab Baath Socialist Party do not state that whoever eats with his hand is socialist and whoever uses a fork is not a socialist. We want all people to use the fork and spoon even though our families did not teach us how to use them, because using the fork and spoon is proper and more hygienic and economical than eating by hand, and because it is so, we must integrate it into our lifestyle.

The bourgeois attitude is mainly based on exploiting man. As for socialism, it is not equality in hunger, injustice, oppression, and chaos. It is equality in welfare, strength, and freedom, for we don’t want our people to remain hungry and backward in order to be called a socialist people. We want self-sufficient, well-off, and socialist all at the same time.

We must make the young learn good habits and adopt them at home, because the homes of many of them do not provide the conditions conducive to proper education. It may seem for some these habits are insignificant: in fact, they are essential and important. They are relevant to one of the secrets of our success in building up the new society, and that is orderliness, whose serious impact is reflected in the application of ideas that are common and valid in building up this society. Discipline teaches us how to appreciate the value and importance of time. It teaches us how to respect a senior and to be kind toward a junior. Discipline also teaches a pupil why, how, and for what purpose anything is used, whether at school, at home, or in the street. All this is part of national education. Discipline teaches him how to sit in the classroom and at the table, not to leave the table before his parents, not to start eating before his parents, etc. This is part of making him an orderly person. We should get the student used to obeying discipline because there are important educational, psychological, and national aspects to that. For this reason and other well-known considerations, we find the student who is used to working under the elaborate obligations of order, when necessary, stands still in the sun with his gun night and day. And when he is called upon to confront an imperialist or hostile force in this hot region he is ready to do it because since childhood he has been used to orderly work and its numerous details, which build up and toughen his patience. If further work details within new contexts crop up he will not be annoyed by them, nor by military life and war, because an image of it has become part of his life and his general upbringing ever since he was a student or a schoolchild.

Therefore, in order not to let the parents dictate their backward ideas at home we must let the child play an enlightening role to chase out backwardness, because some fathers have got away with it for many reasons and factors. Yet we still have the child in our hands and we must make him play an effective and enlightening role within the family during all the hours he spends with the family in order to change his family’s lot for the better and keep him away from harmful imitation.

This does not conflict with true loyalty to the family, respect for one’s parents, and the family unity that we are after. Family unity should not be based on backward concepts. Rather, it should be based on and consolidated by being in harmony with the central policies and traditions applied by the Revolution in building up the new society. Whenever family unity conflicts with the proposed policies that are applied to build up the new society, this conflict must be solved in favor of the policies and traditions for building up the new society and not vice versa. Our task then is very hard and complicated, and the brush of a competent artist is needed to give the intended image its proper colors. It is easy to use the hammer in industry, the axe and the spade in farming, but in education there is no way to apply the method of using the axe, the spade, or the hammer because the whole work sometimes lies in the artist’s brush, to ensure the precise image we want to achieve and present as a new model for building up society. We must be realistic revolutionaries in raising up the new generation accordingly. We should not be surprised at the negative phenomena in society and feel too helpless or confused to treat them. Many of our people, including Party members, have not been able to cast off entirely the old society’s concepts and traditions—though they did so in terms of ideology. Casting off a code of conduct is more difficult than casting off ideas, though we assume there is always harmony between thought and behavior. If there has been a considerable tax on ideas mainly consisting of continuous sacrifices and struggle in an early stage, this “tax” has now diminished or has other directions, less serious in their general context at this stage. As for behavior, its tax continues though its form has changed. It is the tax of getting on with others at the expense of particularities that conflict with the course and interest of society. This is expressed in such-andsuch terms in the socialist field and such-and-such terms in national education or in the field of Arab struggle, etc. Therefore we believe that harmony of thoughts does not necessarily produce the required image in detail. But it is supposed to lead to the same image in the end. As for the details, we may find some drawbacks, lack of correspondence, or even contradiction. We may find a Baathist who is not at odds with us in understanding socialism, but who dissents when socialism threatens his interests or wishes. When the split comes about and disorder sets in, it will be at the expense of general creativity and not only at the expense of the Arab Baath Socialist Party’s principles. Hence we realize that the Party is a school for enhancing immunity. But nationalism is not confined to Party members, nor is loyalty. This case is similar in some aspects to examinations. Is an examination the only criterion that proves the competence of all students? The answer is no. But do we have a criterion other than this? The answer is also no. So we have no way to enhance people’s immunity, awareness, belief, and effectiveness, to lead society successfully and to achieve their pronounced national and Arab objectives, other than affiliation to the Party.

Nevertheless, this does not prevent the Arab Baath Socialist Party from stressing that nation - alism is not an exclusive right of the Arab Baath Socialist Party, nor is loyalty felt by Party members only. Accordingly and from a realistic revolutionary viewpoint, the Party has emphasized that the Baath Party’s formula is not formal. It is a formula of principles and practices related to Baathist principles. Hence, we may say that every citizen who is loyal to the homeland, loves his people and his work, and cares for them and believes in the Revolution is Baathist in his own way.

Brothers, you have done so much, but all the same, we would like you to know that we hope you will contribute yet more because your ambition, which is the Revolution’s ambition, is great.

You should win over the adults through their children as well as by other means. Teach the student and the pupil to disapprove of his parents if he heard them talk about the State’s secrets, and to inform them that this is wrong. Teach them to criticize their parents politely if they heard them talk about the secrets of Party organizations. You should place in every corner a son devoted to the Revolution, with a reliable eye and a wise mind. He would receive his directives from the Revolution’s responsible center and carry them out, store old formulas and treat them in a proper way, psychologically and socially, while he maintains and respects family unity.

Teach him to object politely if he finds one of his parents squandering the State property. He should inform his parent that it is dearer than his own property, because he can’t have his own personal property if the State doesn’t have its property, and that State property belongs to society. Hence we should be proud of it and be careful with it.

You should also teach the child at this stage to be wary of foreigners, because they act as spies for their countries and some of them are elements of subversion against the Revolution. Therefore befriending a foreigner and talking with him without supervision is not permissible. Instill in him caution against imparting State and Party secrets to a foreigner. He should politely warn others, both young and adult, not to discuss indiscreetly Party and State secrets in the presence of foreigners. In his relationship with the teacher the child is like a piece of crude marble in a sculptor’s hand. The teacher can mold him into the required shape and not leave it for time and the elements of nature. 

Thus, we are called upon to be in control of the main keys and leave the ends open for the purpose of taking initiatives. We should not leave them loose beyond the central framework of supervision and decision-making in order not to let initiatives be aborted or put an end to the required centralization in planning and supervision. This is one of the Revolution’s basic rules in dealing with the movement of building up society not only in this field but also in all other fields.

However hard we try, we always feel that we must work harder, and most of the time we feel there is more to be achieved. Why do we feel so when we have achieved many good things? We feel so because our ambition exceeds our achievements, and because our ambition is renewable. Thus, we sometimes feel as if we haven’t achieved something vital or essential, or feel we haven’t quite fulfilled our ambition. This feeling is necessary for development and initiative purposes. Nevertheless, what we want is contentment and not despair, that is, self-satisfaction that enhances confidence—but without overlooking the requirements of continuous initiative and development, so that man may not lag behind in his abilities, ideas, and policies.

Avoid being polite at the expense of doing the right thing. If you do so you will succeed and win people’s love, though you will face some difficulties. Here as we talk we are well aware of the difficulties in practical life for those who reject hypocrisy, falsehood, and mere talk. We also know that by taking such an action you will face difficulties. Some of you may stumble, may be trapped by others, or may be misunderstood because we know that such things do happen in the Party, the State, and society. Since it could happen in the Party, which is the most homogeneous circle, why shouldn’t we expect it to happen in the State and in society, which are less homogeneous than the Party? Society moves in a circle unrelated to the State and the Party. Hence its loose ends allow more freedom because there is less need for laws that control its movement even in its smaller units, compared with the demands of the Party’s inner life.

Sustaining some losses is necessary not only as part of the sacrifice and the struggle in the circumstances of the underground stage; we have also to suffer losses as we develop and build up in the course of positive action. The first Iraqi who did away with the veil was the first victim made for the sake of all Iraqi women. The first woman who worked in a factory was the first victim made for the sake of all working women. The same goes for the first woman doctor, first woman lawyer, first real revolutionary, etc.

There are circles whose interests are hurt when dealing out justice and fairness, so they reject them. Yet all people seek and want justice. But when the interests of some people clash with the requirement of justice they strive to make the one who is responsible for applying justice look unjust because their personal case won’t be settled in their favor unless that person was actually unjust. Beyond their own case they might very well like justice, but it is their personal case that conflicts with justice and makes them demand that others depart from the course of justice.

Observing justice and fairness is a human duty that is faced with real difficulties in one’s home, among friends in the Party or in one’s relation with the minister or in the minister’s relation with the director-general or the undersecretary. Sometimes one might even reach a stage in his career where he says to himself: “Since people want to depart from justice, why should I continue to be just?” An action such as this is certainly deviation, and it should never be part of our policy or conduct. Rather we should allow for some losses and accept a degree of sacrifice in order that the right and just course may be firmly established, because this is the way of real revolutionaries who believe in the justice of their cause and in their people.

It has been proved by experience that even the people whom you treat severely with justification would first reject you and be annoyed by you, but after a while they will like you. And when severity has nothing to do with personal intent or design to harm, they will accept it however harsh it is. Sometimes they accept some aspect of it even when it is wrong, provided that it is not related to a personal motive or a grudge, and it should not be a consistent policy.

There are many examples of this in our careers. Sometimes we deal harshly with some of our comrades and we fail in doing justice to them. Yet this comrade whom we wronged comes with his grievance to us, we who took such action against him. Such a spirit has proved, by experience, that man deep down wants justice even when it hurts him, because most people benefit from justice and finally achieve their real interest. It’s only the minority who reject it. And this is the gain we achieve with time.

Remember, brothers, that any man will find out your personal motive however hard you tried to hide it when you hurt him, because every line in your face will say it and you could never conceal it. Just as truth speaks out from its position, injustice will also cry out. Thus, it will be visible and exposed. No matter how many people you gather around you by propitiation you will inevitably lose them because you did not win them over. I am telling you this from experience and through our work in the Party and in the State. Winning people by propitiation is based on personal gain or personal interests, and personal interests are not necessarily material, because there are personal nonmaterial interests. So rallying people through propitiation and personal interests will inevitably fail as personal interests decrease or clash. Therefore, brothers, try to instill this spirit into everyone and make it part of your concerns.

I notice the development that is going on now and see how the present situation is different from what it was a year or three years ago. Within a year it will be different again. But we will always call for more and work for it. Accordingly, you must awaken the students’ and pupils’ awareness. Relate your experiences to them and interact with them. Respect their opinions and supervise their affairs carefully and in detail, because they are real specimens whom you must observe and deal with in a lively way. No man should think that he could do without others who are his subordinates, because as soon as he feels so he will be finished. Whatever his degree may be in education or in struggle, he will dry up, because with such an attitude he will cut off the sources of strength and terms and bases of true interaction and development.

There is no contradiction between democracy and legitimate power. No one should ever imagine that democracy would debilitate him or diminish respect for him and his legitimate power, because this is not true.

There is no contradiction between exercising democracy and legitimate central administrative control according to the well-known balance between centralization and democracy. It is only those who are poor in ability and knowledge who imagine that there is a contradiction between democracy and centralization, between care for others and comradely and brotherly treatment, on the one hand, and maintaining the role and position of leadership, on the other.

Democracy consolidates relations among people, and its main strength is respect. The strength that stems from democracy assumes a higher degree of adherence in carrying out orders with great accuracy and zeal. Strength in this case would not be personal but rather a principled and objective attitude. This is the main value of the result of interaction and democratic relations between seniors and juniors. Therefore, be concerned in it because it is a source of real strength for you. All other images of strength are false and are only related to a particular case and time: as soon as they end, the person finds himself unarmed and unable to stand up before the humblest and lowliest people, before the most trivial and least complex situations.

Pay attention to citizens’ demands and grievances and do not feel weary or bored by the persistence of these demands, because if you save a wronged person, partially or totally, you will be doing a great service to the people and the principles of your Party. The sense of injustice is a serious thing. There is nothing more dangerous than a human being who feels he is wronged, because he will turn into a huge explosive force when he feels that no one in the State or in society is on his side to redress the injustice. Hence, you must deal with people in a way that pleases God and society and satisfies your Party and Revolution. You should not be afraid of the truth. Bear up even with the unjustified reactions of others for the sake of truth and the great values you hold and strive to establish.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Remark from Rinosuke Ichimaru's Letter to Roosevelt

"It is beyond my imagination of how you can slander Hitler's program and at the same time cooperate with Stalin's 'Soviet Russia' which has as its principle aim the "socialization" of the world at large." 
- Rear Admiral R. Ichimaru, Japanese navy, note to Roosevelt
http://www.yoyokaku.com/note-to-Roosevelt.htm 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A Remark on Hitler in the Fullness of the German Folk

"I have never met a happier people than the Germans and Hitler is one of the greatest men. The old trust him; the young idolise him. It is the worship of a national hero who has saved his country."

- David Lloyd George, from the Daily Express, on 17 September 1936

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Right Wing '6 February 1934 crisis' in Paris

On 6 February, 1934, right wing groups organized a riot on the Place de la Concorde. Over a dozen rioters were killed by police in what leftists claimed was an attempt at a fascist coup d'état. The rioters attempted to dislodge the radical leftist and socialist Cartel des Gauches coalition then in power. I reproduce a piece on online historical writing below; it offers insights on the event and calls into question a few orthodox historical views.

Right wing rioters clashing with police in the streets of Paris, France,
on 6 February 1934; the left wing government resigned the next day,
but unfortunately a conservative, not fascist, government followed.

The significance of speculation about the extent to which the riot was genuinely fascist and prospects for success has implications for World War II revisionism. Had it succeeded and had the regime it would have spawned endured, it is unlikely that a quasifascist France would have entered into an alliance with the USSR or backed a British war guarantee to Poland, meaning that an Anglo-German war would have been unlikely. In this sense, this episode of French history was more pivotal than Marine Le Pen's recent loss.

From 'French History Online':

'6 February 1934, French fascists topple government'

As today is the 80th anniversary of the riots of 6 February 1934, I thought I’d post something on this event that redefined French interwar politics. On that night, extreme right-wing activists and war veterans descended on central Paris to protest about the alleged corruption of the ruling centre-left government. The demonstration soon turned violent. Thirteen rioters were killed and hundreds were injured as police fought off repeated attempts to storm the French parliament. The following day, the government resigned. Street violence had successfully removed the elected administration.

In 1941, French author Robert Brasillach looked back on the night of 6 February 1934 with fondness:

‘For us, we did not have to repudiate the 6 février. Every year we went to place violets on the Place de la Concorde, in front of this fountain that had become a cenotaph, in memory of the twenty-three dead. Each year the crowd diminished, because French patriots are forgetful by nature. Only the revolutionaries understood the meaning of the myths and the ceremonies. But if the 6 February was a malicious intrigue, it was a night of sacrifices, which remains in our memory with its odour, its cold wind, its pale common faces, its groups of humans on the pavement, its invincible hope for a National Revolution, the very birth of social nationalism in our country. What does it matter if, later, everything was exploited, by the right and the left, of this burning fire, of these dead who were pure. One cannot prevent from being what has been. (from Notre avant-guerre [1941])
Historians have spilled much ink over the intentions of the rioters on the night of 6 February 1934. The debate is split along the lines of what is called the ‘immunity thesis’ debate (a term coined by French political scientist Michel Dobry). The immunity thesis pertains to France’s alleged ‘allergy’ to fascism. Developed in the 1950s and 1960s, under the influence of the resistance-centric history of the Vichy years and the totalitarian model that sought to compare fascist and communist regimes in order to discredit the latter, the immunity thesis has proved robust. Defence of the immunity thesis most often entails reference to a political culture founded upon the long implantation of democracy in France. Immunity thesis historians argue that certain groups spread their values and ideas to a diverse set of social formations, especially the middle classes, and so oriented them towards democracy. One such group, the mouvement ancien combattant, was essential to the edification and maintenance of this democratic culture. Veteran anti-parliamentarianism therefore expressed a legitimate dissatisfaction with a regime that no longer functioned, rather than a desire for fascist government. The associations’ true convictions lay in their ideas on a democratic reform of the state.

In recent years, a largely Anglophone group of historians (Dobry being a notable exception) has challenged the French orthodoxy on fascism. The anti-immunity thesis school stresses that fascism was a significant force in France on the level of ideas and political movements. Moreover, the argument for the existence of a common political culture is problematic. However widely a group may publicise its doctrine or ideology, the internalisation of such a culture on an individual level, that is to say for ‘ordinary’ citizens, is subjective. Each person has prejudices and preconceptions that would make them more or less receptive to one idea or another. One cannot credit a whole nation with the same fundamental political values.

As for the riot of 6 February 1934, some French historians argue that the failure of the rioters to install a fascist regime attested to the democratically minded French people’s rejection of fascism and their ‘immunity’ to the doctrine. For René Rémond the events of 6 February were little more than a protest that went wrong. Had the night not turned to tragedy, it would have been quickly forgotten. Serge Berstein claims that the lack of co-ordination between the nationalist leagues and the absence of a plan to invade the Chamber prove that the riot was not an attempted coup. The heterogeneity of the six février groups underlines the disjointed nature of the protest. Pierre Pellissier suggests that the rioters in no way threatened the Republic as the failed insurrection did not follow the ‘strict rules’ of past revolts, such as Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte’s coup of 2 December 1851. A successful coup requires the utmost secrecy in preparation, the selection of one supreme leader and the use of arms or the threat of armed action. The action failed in February 1934 as agitation throughout January alerted the authorities to trouble, no group would submit to the leader of another, and arms were not employed.

Brian Jenkins has specifically questioned the immunity thesis as applied to 6 February. Firstly, immunity thesis historians mistakenly equate a fascist takeover with a violent coup. This was neither true in the case of the Nazis in Germany nor the Italian fascists. Secondly, despite Berstein’s judgement on the alleged heterogeneous nature of the groups, Jenkins writes that the organisations that took part on the night shared common ideas and an anti-democratic attitude. Their memberships often overlapped and were largely drawn from the same social groups. Thirdly, there is evidence that despite the apparently disparate nature of rioting groups, a collective mood took hold as the evening progressed. Witness statements do give some indication of a common feeling among protesters. Finally, an argument that uses the outcome of events to presume the intentions of actors is dubious. In short, the failure of rioters to enter the Chamber does not prove that no such intentions existed. Moreover, the disappointment of the extreme right on one night should not neutralise the threat that it posed during the decade. In France, extra-parliamentary movements like the Croix de Feu grew while parliament gradually gave way to a government reliant on decree powers.

Admittedly, there is a lack of documentation to prove that an alliance between the various rioting groups existed. No blueprint for the overthrow the Republic has been found. Immunity thesis historians cite this shortage of evidence in their argument. However, in reference to the French penal code Marcel Le Clère argues that a plot did exist. Though it is largely futile to re-classify the riot as a plot largely based on a legal technicality, as Le Clère does, he makes several valid points. The leagues had co-operated throughout January. Activists of the Action Française (AF) and the Fédération nationale des contribuables worked together on 9 January, as did members of the Je4nesses Patriotes (JP) and the Solidarité Française on 11 January. On 23 January, the call to demonstrate saw the names of the AF, the JP and the Contribuables on the same poster. On 6 February, the arranged meeting time for each group would see them converge on the Place de la Concorde, over the river Seine from the French parliament building, between 8 and 9pm. Le Clère concludes that this synchronisation shows a devised plan and an evident entente among the groups.

Whatever the case, the riot witnessed collaboration between individuals of different groups. Town councillors Charles des Isnards and Puymaigre joined the marches of the JP and the Croix de Feu respectively. Prominent members of several groups were in regular contact and had met before the riot. The Parisian municipal council included veterans’ leaders Georges Lebecq and Jean Ferrandi. JP leader Pierre Taittinger was also a member of the council and a deputy in the Seine. His name appeared alongside veteran leader Jean Goy’s and twenty-eight other deputies at the bottom of an open letter of protest to interior minister Eugène Frot. This was turned into a poster and stuck up around Paris on the night of 5 February.

Collusion on the night should not be discounted simply because it was not ‘total’. Thus whether or not a plan existed does not mean that the riot did not undermine the Republic, which six years later gave way to an authoritarian regime. Even if their action was apparently uncoordinated the organisations nevertheless secured the eviction from power of an elected left-wing government. The riot of February 1934 is therefore best viewed as part of a longer process of political radicalisation that destabilised the democratic regime in the years preceding the defeat of 1940.

References

Numerous works were consulted for this post. There are several works in French on the 6 February 1934. The most influential, particularly for the immunity thesis, is Serge Berstein, 6 février (Paris 1975). See also Maurice Chavardès, Une campagneand Le 6 février: La République en danger (Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1966). Pierre Pellissier’s 6 février (Paris: Perrin, 2000) offers a detailed if rather dramatic account of the events. For a ‘dissenting’ interpretation in French see Marcel Le Clère, 6 février and Michel Dobry, ‘Février 1934’ (or ‘February 1934’). Books in English are lacking. The fullest treatment is that of Brian Jenkins, ‘The Paris riots of February 1934: The crisis of the Third French Republic’ (unpublished doctoral thesis, University of London, LSE, 1979). See Jenkins’ historiographical article, ‘The six février 1934 and the ‘survival’ of the French Republic’, French History, 20 (2006), pp. 333-351 and Chris Millington ‘February 6, 1934: The veterans’ riot’, French Historical Studies (2010). Works written at the time include Laurent Bonnevay, Les journées sanglantes de février 1934: pages d’histoire (Paris: Flammarion, 1935) and Philippe Henriot, Le 6 février (Paris: Flammarion, 1934). See also the collection of essays in Le mythe de l’allergie française au fascisme especially Dobry, ‘La thèse immunitaire’; William D. Irvine, ‘Fascism in France: The strange case of the Croix de Feu’, Journal of Modern History, 63 (1991), 271-295; Kevin Passmore, From liberalism to fascism: The right in a French province, 1928-1939 (Cambridge: CUP, 1997); Robert Soucy, ‘French fascism and the Croix de Feu: A dissenting interpretation’, Journal of Contemporary History 26 (1991), pp. 159-188; and French Fascism: The Second Wave (1995).