This article discusses regimes and movements that are alleged to have been either fascist
or sympathetic to fascism. It is often a matter of dispute whether a certain government is to be characterized as fascist, authoritarian, totalitarian, or a police state. The term "fascism" itself is controversial, and has been defined in various ways by different authors. Many of the regimes and movements discussed in this article can be considered fascist according to some definitions but not according to others. See definitions of fascism
for more information on that subject.
The first fascist country, it was ruled by Benito Mussolini (Il Duce
) until he was dismissed and arrested on the 25 July 1943
. Mussolini was then rescued from prison by German troops, and set up a short lived puppet state named "Repubblica di Salò" in northern Italy under the protection of the German army.
The Nazi Party
came to power in Germany as a minority party when its leader, Adolf Hitler
, was named chancellor
following the elections of 1933. Hitler moved swiftly to consolidate power, first through passage of the Enabling Act of 1933
; after the death of President Paul von Hindenburg
in 1934, the entire power of the German state was concentrated in Hitler's hands.
The Nazis cowed the populace through thuggery and intimidation, including outright persecution of the country's Jewish citizenry, ending in the Holocaust. One of Hitler's cornerstone policies was known as Lebensraum, which served as the rationale for Germany's expansionist foreign policy and ultimately led to the Second World War.
Right-wing elements in Japan, including industrialists, military officers, and the nobility, had long opposed democracy as an anathema to national unity. Military cliques began to dominate the national government starting in the 1930s. A major militarist nationalist movement in Japan from the 1920s to the 1930s was the Imperial Way Faction
" of which future wartime Prime Minister Hideki Tojo
was a part. In 1936, Japan and Germany signed the Anti-Comintern Pact
, aimed at countering the Soviet Union
and Communist International
. In 1940, Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoye
established the Imperial Rule Assistance Association
, or Taisei Yokusankai, to consolidate all political parties under a single umbrella group. That same year, Japan joined Germany and Italy in the Tripartite Pact
's idea of a "Ständestaat" was borrowed from Mussolini. Dollfuß dissolved parliament and established a clerical-fascist dictatorship which lasted until Austria was incorporated into Nazi Germany
through the Anschluss
Many historians have argued that Brazil's Estado Novo
under Getúlio Vargas
was a Brazilian variant of the continental fascist regimes. For a period of time, Vargas' regime was aligned with Plínio Salgado
's Integralist Party
, Brazil's fascist movement. However, it also showed great affinity with organized labour and leftist ideas, leaving its classification open to interpretation.
Poglavnik Ante Pavelić
, leader of the infamous Ustaše
movement, came to power in 1941 as the Croatian puppet leader under the control of Nazi Germany. Under the indirect control of Germany, the Ustaše regime was based heavily upon both upon clerical fascism and the Italian model of fascism, with elements of racial integrity and organic nationalism drawn from Nazism.
The Lapua Movement
, established in 1929, originally a nationalist movement that opposed Sweden
, turned into a fascist movement in the early 1930s. However, the party's origins could date back to the early 1920s, in anti-communist
forces during the Finnish Civil War
. They attempted a coup-d'état in 1932, after which the movement was banned. The Lapua Movement, however, affected the selection of Pehr Evind Svinhufvud
as the president
. Finland stayed a democracy throughout World War II
, despite co-operating with the Nazi Germany
. Finland is sometimes erroneously thought to have had a fascist government. This is commonly said to have been caused by Soviet propaganda, as the Soviets attempted to get rid of the image of them attacking a democracy.
The Vichy regime
of Philippe Pétain
, established following France's defeat by Germany, collaborated with the Nazis. However, the minimal importance of fascists in the government until its direct occupation by Germany makes it appear to seem more similar to the regime of Franco or Salazar than the model fascist powers. While it has been argued that anti-Semitic raids performed by the Vichy regime were more in the interests of pleasing Germany than in service of ideology, anti-semitism was a full component of the "National Revolution" ideology of Vichy.
As early as October 1940 the Vichy regime introduced the infamous statut des Juifs, that produced a new legal definition of Jewishness and which barred Jews from certain public offices. They interned Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, etc. in concentration camps as soon as 1940.
Worse still, in May 1941 the Parisian police force had collaborated in the internment of foreign Jews. As a means of identifying Jews, the German authorities required all Jews in the occupied zone to wear a yellow badge. On the 11 June, they demanded that 100, 000 Jews be handed over for deportation.
The most infamous of these mass arrests was the so-called rafle du Vél' d'Hiv' which took place in Paris on the 16th and 17 July 1942. The Vélodrome d'Hiver was a large indoor sports arena situated on the rue Nélaton near the Quai de Grenelle in the 15th arrondissement of Paris. In a vast operation codenamed Vent printanier, the French police rounded up 12,884 Jews from Paris and its surrounding suburbs. These were mostly adult men and women but there were around 4,000 children amongst them. The rounding up was made easier by the large number of files on Jews complied and held by Vichy authorities since 1940. The French police, headed by René Bousquet, were entirely responsible for this operation and not one German soldier assisted. Pierre Laval, head of Vichy, had the children deported, against German explicit orders. A few months later, a police operation took place in Marseille, known as the Battle of Marseille, and led to massive raids in the so-called "free zone," administrated by Vichy.
Ioannis Metaxas' 1936 to 1941 dictatorship was partly fascist in its ideological nature, and might hence be characterized as quasi-fascist or authoritarian. It had a National Youth Organisation based on the Hitlerjugend, developed an armamentistic-centered economy, established a police-state akin to that of Nazi Germany (Greece received tactical and material support from Himmler, who exchanged correspondence with the Greek Minister of State Security Konstantinos Maniadakis) and brutality against communists and ethnic minorities such as the Slavophone Greeks was widespread. The Colonel George Papadopoulos' 1967 to 1974 military dictatorship, which was supported by the United States however, was less ideological and lacked a clear fascist element other than militarism.
By 1932, support for right-wing ideology, embodied by Prime Minister Gyula Gömbös
, had reached the point where Hungarian Regent Miklós Horthy
could not postpone appointing a fascist prime minister. Horthy also showed signs of admiring the efficiency and conservative leanings of the Italian fascist state under Mussolini and was not too reluctant to appoint a fascist government (with terms for the extent of Horthy's power). Horthy would keep control over the mainstream fascist movement in Hungary until near the end of the Second World War. However, Gömbös never had a truly powerful fascist base of support. Instead, the radical Arrow Cross Party
, which gained support in Budapest as well as the countryside, became a powerful political movement, gaining nearly 800,000 votes in the election of 1939. Horthy became paranoid due to his new rival, and imprisoned the Arrow Cross Party's leader, Ferenc Szálasi
. However, this action only increased popular support for the fascist movement. In another attempt to challenge the Arrow Cross, Horthy's government began to imitate the Arrow Cross Party's ideology. Starting in 1938, several racial laws, mostly against Jews
, were passed by the regime, but the extremist Arrow Cross Party, led by Ferenc Szálasi, was banned until German pressure lifted the law, and until Germany occupied Hungary during Operation Margarethe
on March 19
, 1944, no Jews were in direct danger of being annihilated. In July 1944, armour-colonel Ferenc Koszorús and the First Armour Division, under Horthy's orders, resisted the Arrow Cross militia and prevented the deportation of the Jews of Budapest, thus saved over 200,000 lives. This act impressed upon the German occupying forces, including Adolf Eichmann
, that as long as Hungary continued to be governed by Horthy, no real Endlösung
could begin. Following Horthy's attempt to have Hungary change sides on October 13
, Szálasi, with German military support, launched Operation Panzerfaust
and replaced Admiral Horthy as Head of State. The regime changed to a system more in line with Nazism and would remain this way until the capture of Budapest by Soviet troops. Over 400,000 Jews were sent by Hungary to German death camps from 1944 to 1945.
had staged a coup d'état
during the German invasion on April 9
, 1940. This first government was replaced by a Nazi puppet government under his leadership from February 1
, 1943. His party had never had any substantial support in Norway, undermining his attempts to emulate the Italian fascist state.
The Estado Novo
regime of António de Oliveira Salazar
borrowed many of the ideas towards military and governance from Mussolini's Fascist regime, as well as adapting to the Spanish example of paternal iconography for authoritarianism. Even though the regime was supportive of Mussolini and Hitler's efforts it kept on the political sidelines throughout the war, and instead only offered aid and business with both Italy and Germany during this period.
During the 1930s, Roman Dmowski
, a prominent Polish politician, was the leader of the National Democratic Party
, which had changed from an original conservative position to a radical
platform. However, the movement was brutally suppressed by Piłsudski
's military regime, which was more conservative than fascist. However, after Piłsudski's death, in the mist of political chaos, the National Democratic Party gradually gained more support and was linked to various anti-semitic pogroms occurring across Poland
The Iron Guard
turned more and more into a pro-Nazi and pro-German movement and took power in September 1940 when Ion Antonescu
forced King Carol II
to abdicate. However, the cohabitation between the Iron Guard and Ion Antonescu
During the 1930s, the group combined a mix of Christian
, and calls for land reform
, who still lived in a quasi-feudal
society. However, the extremely violent nature of the movement made it difficult for the Iron Guard to attract conservatives
and middle class
people, and as a result, the movement could never be as successful as the Nazi Party
The Antonescu regime that followed had elements of fascism, but it lacked a clear political program or party. It was more a military dictatorship. The regime was characterized by nationalism, anti-semitism, and anti-communism, but had no social program. Despite the Iaşi pogrom and a near-liquidation of the Jews of many parts of Moldavia, the regime ultimately refused to send the Romanian Jews to German death camps. The regime was overthrown on 23 August 1944 in a coup led by king Mihai of Romania.
The Slovak People's Party
wasn't a quasi-fascist nationalist movement. It was associated with the Roman Catholic Church and founded by Father Andrej Hlinka
. His successor Monsignor Jozef Tiso
was a president of nominally independent Slovakia in 1939-1945. His government colleagues like Vojtech Tuka or Alexander Mach collaborate with fascism. The clerical element lends comparison with Austrofascism or the clerical fascism of Croatia, though not to the excesses of either model. The market system was run on principles agreeing with the standard Italian fascist model of industrial regulation.
After the 1936 arrest and execution of its founder José Antonio Primo de Rivera
during the Spanish Civil War, the fascist Falange
Española Party was allied to and ultimately came to be dominated by Generalísimo Francisco Franco
, who became known as El Caudillo
, the undisputed leader of the Nationalist side in the war, and, after victory, head of state until his death over 35 years later. However, it was best described as an autocracy based on the Falangist fascist principles in its early years. By the mid-50s, the Spanish Miracle
and the rise of Opus Dei
in the Franco regime led to Falangist fascism being discarded and fascists minimized in importance.
Fascism in democratic nations
Prior to World War II, fascist or quasi-fascist movements also appeared in democratic nations, often taking their inspiration from the regimes established by Mussolini and Hitler.
Australia (1931 - late 1930's)
The New Guard
attempted to violently remove New South Wales Premier Jack Lang
In the 1930s, Canada had fascist fringe groups within it. One stronger group was the Parti national social chrétien
of Adrien Arcand
which had significant support. Arcand believed in the anti-Semitic policies of Hitler and called himself the "Canadian Führer". In 1934, his Quebec-based party merged with the western-based fascist Canadian Nationalist Party
. In 1938, the English Canadian
and French Canadian
fascist movements united into the National Unity Party. The only fascist politician ever to be elected in Canada was a man by the name of P. M. Campbell who ran and won under the fascist Unity Party of Alberta
in the 1937 Alberta Provincial Election
. In 1940, all fascist parties were banned under Canada's War Measures Act
The violent Rexist
movement and the Vlaamsch Nationaal Verbond
party achieved some electoral success in the 1930s. The party could be label as clerical fascist
with its roots in Catholic Conservatism
. The party gained rapid support for a brief period, focusing on the secularism, corruption, and ineffectiveness on parliamentary democracy
in Belgium. Many of its members assisted the Nazi occupation during World War II. The Verdinaso
movement, too, can be considered fascist. Its leader, Joris Van Severen
, was killed before the Nazi occupation. Some of its adepts collaborated, but others joined the resistance
. These collaborationist movements are generally classified as belonging to the National Socialist model or the German fascist model because of its brand of racial nationalism and the close relation with the occupational authorities.
Fascist sympathizers led by General Eoin O'Duffy
established the Army Comrades Association
, or “Blueshirts”, in 1932, as a veterans organization. Renamed the National Guard, it eventually became the paramilitary wing of the United Ireland Party. The Blueshirts wanted to establish a corporate state in Ireland, and frequently clashed with Republican supporters of the ruling Fianna Fáil
who were using force to disrupt that party's meetings. O’Duffy planned a parade Dublin in 1933, and the government, fearing a coup, banned the organization. The organization quickly disintegrated soon after. A few Blueshirts remained under O’Duffy’s leadership and later joined the Italian and German foreign contingents in Franco’s uprising in Spain.
The Netherlands (1923-1945)
The Verbond van Actualisten
(Union of Actualists) was the oldest fascist movement in the Netherlands. It was established on 22 January 1923
and its ideology was based on Mussolini's Italian fascist movement. It ceased all activities in November 1928 after having had no success at all. It was succeeded bij the Vereeniging De Bezem
(Association 'The Broom') which was founded on 15 December 1928
by some men who previously were active in the Verbond van Actualisten
. Its aim was to clean Dutch politics - hence the name. Its downfall in 1932 was caused by continuous discord between its leaders. On 14 December 1931 Anton Mussert
en Cornelis van Geelkerken
founded the Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging in Nederland
(NSB), the National Socialist Movement in the Netherlands. It started as a fascist movement, Italian style, but at the same time its ideology was based on Hitlers NSDAP
. In the years 1935-1936 the party embraced antisemitism
. Its best pre-war election result was 7,9% of the voters (1935). The maximum number of member of the NSB was 100,000 (around 1% of the Dutch population). Soon after the German occupation in May 1940 the NSB became the only allowed political party. Never once during the years of WW II the NSB was giving any real power, in stead the Germans used the NSB for their own purposes. After the German defeat the NSB disappeared. On 29 June 1932 Jan Baars
(previously active in the Vereeniging 'De Bezem
') founded the Algemeene Nederlandsche Fascisten Bond
(General Dutch Fascist Federation). It was the first Dutch fascist political party to gain significant election resultats and it had a considerable number of members. Its political views were quite moderate and it disapproved German Nazi racism
and antisemitism. It ended its existence in 1934. Its main successful successor was Zwart Front
(Black Front), 1934-1941. Its leaders were from Catholic origin and the party was strongly based on Italian fascism. During the pre-war period it never established a prominent position like Mussert's NSB. After the German invasion in May 1940, the number of members rose from 4,000 to 12,000. The Germans prohibited Zwart Front
in December 1941.
Other, smaller, fascist and Nazi parties were: Verbond van Nationalisten (Union of Nationalists, 1928-1934), the Nationaal-Socialistische Nederlandsche Arbeiders Partij (National Socialist Dutch Workers Party, 1931-1941), Nationaal-Socialistische Partij (National Socialist Party, 1932-1941), Nederlandsche Fascisten Unie (Dutch Fascist Union, 1933), Unie van Nederlandsche Fascisten (Union of Dutch Fascists, 1933), Oranje-Fascisten (Orange Fascists, 1933), Frysk Fascisten Front (Frisian Fascist Front, 1933), Corporatieve Concentratie (Corporative Concentration, 1933-1934), Verbond voor Nationaal Herstel (Union for National Restoration, 1933-1941), Nederlandsche Nationaal-Socialistische Partij (Dutch National Socialist Party, 1935) and the Nederlandsche Volkspartij (Dutch People's Party, 1938-1940.
Dutch fascism and Nazism is known for its lack of coherence and it was dominated by the ego's of its leaders. An important fact for its marginal position in pre-war Dutch politics was the absence of a 'lost generation' of combatants of WW I.
, the Kataeb Party
(Phalange) was formed in 1936, with inspiration of the Spanish Falange
and Italian Fascism
. The founder of the party, Pierre Gemayel
, founded the party after returning from a visit at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
. The party is still active, but is not a fascist party today.
United Kingdom (1932-1940)
Sir Oswald Mosley
, an admirer of Mussolini, established the British Union of Fascists
in 1932 as a nationalist alternative to the three mainstream political parties in Britain. Though the BUF achieved only limited success in some local elections, its paramilitary blackshirts engaged in street brawling and violence against Jewish citizens, trade unionists, and Communists. Alarmed at the organization’s violence, the government banned the blackshirts in 1936. Sympathy for the organization evaporated rapidly as war with the Axis approached. The BUF was banned in 1940 and Mosely was jailed for the duration of the war. However, the relative stability of democratic institutions, the long-time assimilation of Jews
, and the lack of a strong, threatening Communist movement, made it difficult for fascism to succeed in Britain
Few people in the United States ever identified themselves as "fascists" or openly supported fascism. Fascists rarely, if ever, refer to themselves as "fascist." Official fascist groups tended to be small and existed mostly during the 1930s. For example, the Silver Legion of William Dudley Pelley and the German-American Bund of Fritz Kuhn openly supported Nazi Germany in the 1930s. At the same time, Catholic radio host Father Charles Coughlin began to show sympathy towards Nazism and strong anti-semitism. The American Nazi Party of George Rockwell was a small fringe group during the following decades, supporting white power and opposing the growing civil rights movement.
However, there have been numerous claims that certain people, organizations or institutions in the United States exhibited similarities to fascism, particularly in the 1930s while fascism was on the rise in Europe. Governor and Senator Huey Long was accused of setting up a strong-arm regime in the state of Louisiana. The Fascist sympathies, and support for Germany and Italy, of many of the richest families in America were noted in the letters of William Dodd, the American ambassador to Germany, as were payments to newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst for favorable articles about Nazi Germany in the American press. Concerns about such attractions to fascism were reflected in the semi-satirical novel, It Can't Happen Here, by Sinclair Lewis, published in 1935.
In 1933, there was an alleged conspiracy to overthrow President Franklin D. Roosevelt by military coup. This was known as the Business Plot, because it involved the industrial and financial elite whose interests were supposedly threatened by the New Deal. The Business Plot became known to the public when retired Marine Corps General Smedley Butler testified to the McCormack-Dickstein Committee of the U.S. Congress that he had been approached by a group of wealthy business interests, led by the Du Pont and J. P. Morgan industrial empires, to orchestrate a fascist coup against Roosevelt.
On the other hand, there are claims by certain conservatives and libertarians that Roosevelt himself borrowed some ideas from European fascism in the 1930s. Comparisons are drawn between the cartelisation of Italian industry by Mussolini and the 'cartelisation' of American industry by Roosevelt under the National Recovery Act. Most fascist governments adopted economic policies favorable to big business. They sought to consolidate large corporations in their countries by bringing business leaders together and encouraging them to form monopolies and oligopolies. This was part of the fascist policy known as corporatism. Some of Roosevelt's critics accuse him of having pursued similar policies in the hope that the combined effort of American big business would be able to bring the country out of the Great Depression. For more information on this view, see The New Deal and corporatism.
Differences among fascist movements
Despite the arousal of fascist
movements across Europe and the world, many were different in their nature in ideology. Some like the Iron Guard
and Arrow Cross Party
had strong support among the proletariat
, unlike Nazism
and Italian Fascism
, which relied more on the support of the middle class. Meanwhile, some regimes, especially those appointed by Hitler
like Vichy France
, was made up of the conservative
elite. Others also had different degrees of Catholic
elements. Some groups, like the ones in Croatia
, and Slovakia
, had its roots in reactionary
and populist Catholicism
. The Iron Guard
also had strong religious infleuences and was defined, by its leaders, as more of a religious order than a political party
. Violent fascist leaders like Francisco Franco
and Vidkun Quisling
tried to stage direct military coups, while other fascist groups formed political parties and contested elections.
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