Since World War ii, there has been a fascist fringe which has caused bouts of alarm by committing occasional atrocities or collecting some unexpected factional political support. In Europe, the attempt to create a radical Third Way, an alternative to classic capitalism and socialism, has caused numerous commentators to question whether or not these “Third Way” protagonists are but a reinvention of the old Fascisti in smart Armani suits.
The first truly fascist movement was that of renegade Italian socialist journalist Benito Mussolini. Even Adolf Hitler acknowledged his debt to Mussolini, paying respect to him as a mentor of National Socialist thought.
In its original form, as created by Mussolini, fascism was a movement which sought to impose a system of extreme right-wing, authoritarian principles on a country. It essentially had its roots in dissatisfaction with the present order of things and a desire to return to a type of “Middle Ages” past. It was styled by an hysterically nationalistic and xenophobic philosophy, passionately anti-democratic, “dreaming of blood and soil and a return to the values which modernity was disrupting” (Eric Hobsbawm, Age of Extremes).
In truth there was no fascist revolution. Fascism rose to prominence between World Wars i and ii by the connivance of the old regimes in Europe, yet paradoxically as a reaction to “l’ancien regime.” In essence it was a reaction to the “Age of Enlightenment” of the 18th century, when individualism and reason began to triumph over tradition. Hence, although fascism’s political tactics were born in dark rooms and back alleys of the cities of its spawning, the elite traditionalists, businessmen and the church of the ruling European classes supported the cause of the fascists in an arrangement of convenience to maintain their political power.
It was Edward Grey, then foreign secretary of Great Britain, who declared as he watched the lights at Whitehall on that fateful night when Britain and Germany went to war in 1914, “The lamps are going out all over Europe.” He saw the Great War as the end of an age. Yet though it proved not to be the end of the world, World War i was a major turning point in man’s history. Most of the old royal houses of Europe, during and following that war, either collapsed one by one or went into exile. The political liberalism, which had arisen in the 19th century, went into full retreat between the two world wars. Whereas there existed around 35 constitutionally elected governments on the globe in 1920, by 1938 this number had fallen to 17. At the close of World War ii it had further shrunk to around 12 out of a total of 64 states extant at that time.
For baby-boomers, a generation not strong on history, it may come as a surprise to learn that the threat to liberal institutions between the wars had not come from communism. It had, in fact, emanated from the extreme right. To the end of the Second World War, “totalitarianism,” originally coined as a self-description of Mussolini’s brand of Italian fascism, was the term applied to such right-wing regimes.
Extent of the Movement
Although it may be hard for current generation journalists, commentators and analysts to appreciate, in the 1930s fascism looked very much like the “wave of the future.” Most of the royal dictators of Eastern Europe, the rising dictators of Italy, Germany and Spain at that time, together with their military officers and bureaucrats, copied Benito Mussolini’s fascist philosophy. Not the least in this fascist wave were the most catholicized countries of Europe.
The Fascisti of Italy and Nazis of Germany had their copyists in the form of the Hungarian Arrow Cross, the Romanian Iron Guard, Croatian Ustashi, the Belgian Rex, the Finnish Lapua, in the regimes of Portugal’s Oliveira Salazar, of Generalissimo Franco in Spain and of Slovakia’s Monsignor Tiso.
The adoption of fascism by certain Latin American countries actually led to U.S. fears of Nazi encirclement from the south during World War ii. Colombia’s Jorge Eliezer Gaitan, Argentina’s Juan Peron and Brazil’s Getulio Vargas all adopted fascism. The primary outcome, apart from the modeling of their military on the German system, sometimes trained by German or even Nazi personnel, was the deification of populist leaders having a reputation for action.
Weak on reason and clear thinking, these fascist movements relied primarily on instinct, political will and strong-arm tactics. Although they varied in their methods of gaining their desired goal of achieving and maintaining power, the major difference between the fascist extreme right and the non-fascist right wing factions in politics at the time was that fascism acquired its driving force by mobilizing the masses from below.
“Fascism gloried in the mobilization of masses, and maintained it symbolically in the form of public theater—the Nuremberg rallies, the masses on the Piazza Venezia looking up to Mussolini’s gestures on his balcony…. Fascists were the revolutionaries of counter-revolution: in their rhetoric, in their appeal to those who considered themselves victims of society, in their call for a total transformation of society” (ibid., p. 117).
The fascists had no real tradition, so they invented their own. For instance, Hitler’s glorying in a “master race” did not have its roots in the purity of German or “Aryan” blood. The Germans are a hybrid nation, as any decent anthropologist knows. The Führer’s desire to breed a super-race came from a wacky hodgepodge of ideas, incorporating bits of Darwin’s theory of natural selection and gems gained from associating with the emerging science of applied genetics (eugenics). Though the weakness of intellectual argument and lack of deeply considered, legitimate research in the ranks of the fascists did not support true social and economic progress, fascism had no problem with combining crazy, lunatic fringe beliefs with technological progress in practical matters. In fact, fascism gave us modern-day “proof that men can, without difficulty, combine crack-brained beliefs about the world with a confident mastery of contemporary high technology” (ibid., p. 118).
After the first Vatican council of 1870, it could be said that the Catholic Church was naturally opposed in doctrine to fascism. Yet there was strong congruence between the style of “corporate state” and Catholic social dogma as adopted in Catholic countries and the elaboration of the same in the name of fascism in Italy, in particular, where fascism had its genesis. The common link that Catholicism found with fascism was a joint hatred of the Enlightenment of the 18th century. The Enlightenment had exposed some of the more pagan and “Earth is flat” type of errant teachings of Catholicism for the untruths that they were.
“What linked the Church not only with old-fashioned reactionaries but with fascists, was a common hatred for the 18th century Enlightenment, the French Revolution and all that in the Church’s opinion derived from it…. The fascist era marked a turning point in Catholic history largely because the church’s identification with a right whose major international standard-bearers now were Hitler and Mussolini created substantial moral problems for socially minded Catholics” (op. cit., pp. 114-115).
We can now look back and observe the undeniable facts surrounding the ambiguity of the Vatican’s attitude toward Hitler’s racism. We now have reams of documentation showing that the Catholic Church was in receipt of Nazi plundered gold. We have the documented proof from Western intelligence archives, and personal testimony of many involved, that fugitive Nazis—many guilty of horrific war crimes—were given safe passage via Vatican links to Latin America, Australia, Canada and other countries, including the Arabic Middle East and Africa. We have documented this connection in past issues of the Trumpet, in particular referring to Mark Aarons’ and John Loftus’ detailed exposé in The Unholy Trinity.
“Once in power, the fascist states were eager not to jeopardize their relations with the church. On the other hand, the clergy played a crucial role in fascist or pro-fascist regimes and movements” (Walter Laqueur, Fascism, Past, Present, Future, p. 148).
The Vatican was not alone in its clerical acquiescence to fascist regimes, in particular the Nazis in Germany. Author Daniel Goldhagen is scathing in his indictment of both Protestants and Catholics: “The moral bankruptcy of the German churches, Protestant and Catholic alike, regarding Jews was so extensive and abject…. During Weimar, 70 to 80 percent of Protestant pastors had allied themselves with the anti-Semitic German National People’s Party, and their anti-Semitism had permeated the Protestant press even before the Nazis were voted into power” (Hitler’s Willing Executioners, p. 107).
But it was the Vatican that was to figure very powerfully in spiriting away large numbers of Nazis guilty of war crimes and bankrolling them to safe havens around the world. The ambiguous approach of the Vatican to the Nazi Holocaust, which slaughtered Jews under the nose of Rome, must be seen in the glaring light of their concerted, consistent and unyielding efforts to successfully lobby President Truman to cease the execution of the Nazi perpetrators of mass murder. The fact that so few, of the many who directed and oversaw the murderous actions perpetrated in the name of fascism (particularly in its extremist form, Nazism), were brought to account is an underlying reason why the Fascisti were able to perpetuate their work underground.
Now, 55 years later, they and their sons are again extant, in clothes of a different hue and cut, strutting the stage of Europe.
We have no axe to grind. We simply believe that, through the pages of this magazine, we have an obligation, a God-given duty, to expose the truth. What is rising in Europe today is simply the revival of that which went underground at the close of World War ii.
The reality is that volumes have been written exposing the dangers of what is happening in Europe since T.H. Tetens authored his bestseller The New Germany and the Old Nazis 40 years ago. A plethora of books now exists, exposing the collusion between Allied authorities and the post-war German administration in reinstating the former Nazi administration during the early years after the war under the guise of a new “democratic” Germany. The compromising efforts of the Allies to placate their “democratized” German foe in the decade following the war are about to haunt those who were the victors in history’s two greatest wars. Why is there so little concerned response from the old U.S. and British allies at this specter of fascism rising before their eyes?
Ralph Giordano, television journalist and author, writing in 1993 on the spate of neo-Nazi hate crimes against foreigners which swept Germany in the last decade, mused on what he calls Germany’s “second guilt” as the reason for the revival of old fascist sympathies in today’s Germany.
“A specter is haunting united Germany…the specter of a brown resurrection! This time, unlike its appearance in the mid-’60s, it is no temporary phenomenon, but is today deeply rooted in the society, and tomorrow will have established itself in the parliamentary structure at both the federal and provincial level…. There is a much more direct historical and political connection between the present activity of these mobile squads of German right-wing vandals and our failures of the past…. Only now are the seeds of her second guilt bearing bloodied fruit, that of the repression and denial of Hitler after 1945” (The Future of German Democracy, p. 75; emphasis mine).
Giordano goes on to expose one of the historical connections between the sleaziest aspects of the Allies’ approach to post-war Germany reconstruction and the rise of fascist tendencies in that country today. “With only a few exceptions these perpetrators not only were let off in the end unpunished, but they were also allowed to continue their careers with impunity…. Well into the 1970s the elite of finance, industry and government was almost identical to that under Hitler” (ibid.).
For over 30 years, post-war Germany was stabilized by the dominance of a single political party, the Christian Democratic Union (cdu). But scandal has rocked the cdu since its defeat by Chancellor Schröder’s Social Democrats in coalition with the Greens. The previous chancellor, Helmut Kohl, once the seeming behemoth of German politics, is disgraced and now sacrificed by his own party to the wolves.
These scandals have destabilized the whole nation politically. However, politics in Germany has always been under-pinned by the industrial and financial oligarchies of the Rhine and the Ruhr and by the powerful Catholic Church. It is the party behind which this influential combine swings its support that will dominate politics in Germany.
It is this conglomerate of corporate and clerical Germany which cemented an arrangement of convenience with the fascists in 1930s Germany. It has simply come through the dust and ashes of defeat in World War ii, retaining all its privileges, to regenerate Germany as the powerhouse driving the European Union.
United since the fall of the Berlin Wall, its national capital once again Berlin, sitting astride the crossroads of east and west Europe, it is the politics of Germany which powerfully influence politics in all Europe. Just as the embracing of fascism by Hitler’s government spread to become the dominant form of governance in Europe prior to World War ii, what emerges from the present-day political melee in Germany will spread to influence its EU partners in their political persuasion.
The point is that this will be ultimately due to the aiding and abetting of the Allies, particularly the U.S., in simply reinstating the old Nazis after the war back into their previous government, judicial, military, bureaucratic and professional posts.
“Almost the entire National Socialist bureaucratic structure was incorporated into the democratic administrations; unforgotten is the number of Hitler’s diplomats, his one-time economic minister for defense and his director of the military, who were allowed to proceed with their careers from promotion to promotion; unforgotten above all is that not one of the [Nazi] killing judges or attorneys ever has been convicted by a federal court, an indelible blemish on the Second German Democracy” (ibid., p. 76).
Add to this the recruitment of many of Hitler’s scientists by the Allies, ostensibly so they would not be hired by the old Soviet Union, plus the fact of a substantial number of Nazi and SS intelligence officers co-opted into service by the Central Intelligence Agency, and Ralph Giordano’s thesis is easily proven—that the resurgence of neo-Nazism and fascism, the move to the right in Germany, is but an emerging outcome of the failure of the Allies and the Second German Democracy to deal with and bury its horrific past! The problem is now exacerbated by a baby-boomer chancellor who wants the world to forget Germany’s past altogether!
Hero and Scapegoat
One of the tendencies of revisionist historians who seek to minimize the viciousness and full extent of Nazi crimes is to imply that the general population of wartime Germany was oblivious to and innocent of that nation’s great war crimes. Yet, again, this idea flies in the face of historic reality.
“The rank and file of the SS were filled with middle-class businessmen, students, teachers, ex-officers, police and civil service officials. A large number of enthusiastic Hitler Youths volunteered for the SS, eager to serve the Führer and the glorious future of the Fatherland. There were misguided idealists, sadists, convicted criminals and normal small-town burghers. The bulk was made up of the riffraff recruited from every corner of Germany and Europe” (T.H. Tetens, The New Germany and the Old Nazis, pp. 98-99).
Thirty-five years after Tetens wrote this, Daniel Goldhagen authored his masterful exposé of the average German behind Hitler’s massive executions of Jews and minorities in the Holocaust. In Hitler’s Willing Executioners, Goldhagen proves through devastating, scholarly and meticulous research, much of it obtained from the killers themselves, that those who perpetrated these heinous acts were perfectly ordinary Germans from all walks of life. Published in 1996, Goldhagen’s volume draws on hard evidence proving that the spiritual connection that largely allowed these unconscionable acts by average German citizenry was underpinned by a dominant and powerful Catholic Church which ground out its own anti-Jew propaganda at the time.
“Before and during the Nazi period, Catholic publications, whether written for the laity, clerics or theologians, disseminated the contemporary anti-Semitic litany in ways that were often indistinguishable from the Nazis’, and justified the desire to eliminate the Jewish ‘alien bodies’ (Fremdkorper) from Germany. Taking action against the Jews, according to the body of these publications, was ‘justifiable self-defense to prevent the harmful characteristics and influences of the Jewish race” (Hitler’s Willing Executioners, p. 109).
To many, the massive sin of the Holocaust is laid at the feet of Hitler and his henchmen, thus absolving the guilt of the average German citizen. It seems that Hitler is either hero to the 20 percent of the German population which subscribes to neo-Nazism and fascist tendencies, or scapegoat to the average German of today who either had no direct contact with the events surrounding World War ii or wants to absolve himself of guilt if he did in fact carry out his Führer’s murderous orders.