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Dutch resistance members with US 101st Airborne troops in Eindhoven, September 1944

Anti-fascism is opposition to fascist ideologies, groups and individuals. The anti-fascist movement began in a few European countries in the 1920s, and eventually spread to other countries around the world.


The historian dictatorship of the proletariat and was done at the time the USSR was pursuing a policy of collective security. Davies goes on to point out that with Winston Churchill as a notable exception, the concept of anti-fascism gained widespread support in the West, except that its credibility suffered a serious but temporary blow while the USSR and Germany coordinated their wars of aggression in Eastern Europe under their Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.[1]


Maquis members in 1944

In the 1920s and 1930s in France, anti-fascists confronted aggressive far-right groups such as the Action Française movement in France, which dominated the Latin Quarter students' neighborhood.[2] After fascism triumphed via invasion, the French Resistance (French: La Résistance française) or, more accurately, resistance movements fought against the Nazi German occupation and against the collaborationist Vichy régime. Résistance cells were small groups of armed men and women (called the Maquis in rural areas),[3][4] who, in addition to their guerrilla warfare activities, were also publishers of underground newspapers, providers of first-hand intelligence information, and maintainers of escape networks


Symbol of the Iron Front
Logo of Antifaschistische Aktion

In the 1920s and 1930s in Germany, Communist Party and Social Democratic Party members advocated violence and mass agitation amongst the working class to stop Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party and the Freikorps. Leon Trotsky wrote:

"fighting squads must be created ... nothing increases the insolence of the fascists so much as 'flabby [5]

Among the anti-fascist organizations formed to counter the Nazis was the Sturmabteilung. Its first leader was Ernst Thälmann, who would later die in a concentration camp and become widely honored in East Germany as an anti-fascist and socialist.

From 1961 the SED used the propaganda term "Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart" (German: Antifaschistischer Schutzwall) as the official name for the Berlin Wall, in sharp contrast to the West Berlin city government which would sometimes refer to it as the "Wall of Shame".[6][7]

After German reunification in 1990, many anti-fascist groups formed in reaction to a rise in far-right extremism and violence, such as the Solingen arson attack of 1993.[8] According to the German intelligence agency Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, the contemporary anti-fascist movement in Germany includes those who are willing to use violence.[9] One of the bigger antifascist campaigns in Germany in recent years was the effort to block the annual Nazi-marches in Dresden.


Flag of the Arditi del Popolo, a militant anti-fascist group founded in 1921
Flag of Giustizia e Libertà, an Italian anti-fascist resistance movement from 1929 to 1945

In Italy,

In [10]

Italian liberal anti-fascist Benedetto Croce wrote Manifesto of the Anti-Fascist Intellectuals, which was published in 1925.[11] Another notable Italian liberal anti-fascist around that time was Piero Gobetti.[12]

Between 1920 and 1943, several anti-fascist movements were active among the [17] and after June 1941, most of its former activists joined the Slovene Partisans.

During World War II, many members of the Italian resistance left their houses and went to live in the mountainside, fighting against Italian fascists and German Nazi soldiers. Many cities in Italy, including Turin, Naples and Milan, were freed by anti-fascist uprisings.[18]

Slovenes (in Italy and Yugoslavia occupied by Italy)

In Italy, the first anti-fascist resistance emerged within the Slovene minority in Italy (1920-1947), who the Fascists meant to deprive of their culture, language and ethnicity. The 1920 burning of the National Hall in Trieste, the Slovene center in the multi-cultural and multi-ethnic Trieste by the Blackshirts,[19] Benito Mussolini who, at the time, was yet to become Duce, praised as a being a "masterpiece of the Triestine fascism" (capolavoro del fascismo triestino...).[20] Not only in multi-ethnic areas, but also in the areas where the population was exclusively Slovene, the use of Slovene language in public places, including churches, was forbidden.[21] Children, if they spoke Slovene, were punished by Italian teachers who were brought by the Fascist State from South Italy. The Slovene teachers, writers, and clergy were sent to the other side of Italy.

The first anti-fascist organization, called TIGR, was formed in 1927 in order to fight Fascist violence. Its guerrilla fight continued into the late 1920s and 1930s when by the mid-1930s, already 70.000 Slovenes fled Italy mostly to Slovenia (then part of Yugoslavia) and South America.

The Slovene anti-fascist resistance in Yugoslavia during World War II was led by Liberation Front of the Slovenian People. Province of Ljubljana, occupied by Italian Fascists, saw the deportation of 25.000 people, equaling 7.5% of the total population, filling up Rab concentration camp and Gonars concentration camp and other Italian concentration camps.


In Spain. large-scale anti-fascist movements were first seen in the 1930s, before and during the Homage to Catalonia about this experience), Ernest Hemingway (a supporter of the International Brigades who wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls about this experience), and radical journalist Martha Gellhorn.

Spanish anarchist guerrilla Francesc Sabaté Llopart fought against Franco's regime until the 1960s, from a base in France. The Spanish Maquis, linked to the PCE, also fought the Franco regime long after the Spanish Civil war had ended.


Antifascistisk Aktion (AFA) is an anti-fascist group founded in Sweden in 1993. AFA's Activity Guide advocates violence against [26] such as stealing the subscriber list of the National Democrats newspaper, and threatening the subscribers.[26] Other critics say the group does not respect freedom of speech, because some members have attacked fascists and other nationalists.[27]

United Kingdom

The rise of Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists (BUF) in the 1930s was challenged by the Communist Party of Great Britain, socialists in the Labour Party and Independent Labour Party, anarchists, Irish Catholic dockmen and working class Jews in London's east end. A high point in the struggle was the Battle of Cable Street, when thousands of eastenders and others turned out to stop the BUF from marching. Initially, the national Communist Party leadership wanted a mass demonstration at Hyde Park in solidarity with Republican Spain, instead of a mobilisation against the BUF, but local party activists argued against this. Activists rallied support with the slogan They shall not pass, adopted from Republican Spain.

There were debates within the anti-fascist movement over tactics. While many east end ex-servicemen participated in violence against fascists,[28] Communist Party leader Phil Piratin denounced these tactics and instead called for large demonstrations.[29] In addition to the militant anti-fascist movement, there was a smaller current of liberal anti-fascism in Britain; Sir Ernest Barker, for example, was a notable English liberal anti-fascist in the 1930s.[30]

After World War II, Jewish war veterans in the 43 Group continued the tradition of militant confrontations with the BUF. In the 1960s, the 62 Group continued the struggle against neo-Nazis.[31]

1970s and later

In the 1970s, fascist and far-right parties such as the Campaign Against Racism and Fascism (CARF) and local groups like the Newham Monitoring Project.

The SWP disbanded the ANL in 1981, but many squad members refused to stop their activities. They were expelled from the SWP in 1981, many going on to found Red Action. The SWP used the term squadism to dismiss these militant anti-fascists as thugs. In 1985, some members of Red Action and the anarcho-syndicalist Direct Action Movement launched Anti-Fascist Action (AFA). Their founding document said "we are not fighting Fascism to maintain the status quo but to defend the interests of the working class".[34][35] Thousands of people took part in AFA mobilisations, such as Remembrance Day demonstrations in 1986 and 1987, the Unity Carnival, the Battle of Cable Street's 55th anniversary march in 1991, and the Battle of Waterloo against Blood and Honour in 1992.[36] After 1995, some AFA mobilisations still occurred, such as against the NF in Dover in 1997 and 1998. However, AFA wound down its national organisation and some of its branches, and by 2001 it has ceased to exist as a national organisation.

There was a surge in fascistic activity across Europe from 1989–91 after the old Stalinist countries collapsed. In 1991, the Campaign Against Fascism in Europe (CAFE) coordinated a large militant protest against the visit to London by French right-wing leader, National Assembly Against Racism.

In 2001, some former AFA members founded the militant anti-fascist group No Platform, but this group soon disbanded. In 2004, members of the

Woody Guthrie
American songwriter and anti-fascist Woody Guthrie and his guitar labelled "This machine kills fascists"

Although there were fascist elements in the United States (Friends of New Germany/German American Bund, Father Coughlin) in the 1930s,[37] there was no strong fascist movement and so no strong anti-fascist movement.

During the United States Red Scare after the end of World War II, the term "premature anti-fascist" came into currency to describe Americans who had strongly agitated or worked against fascism, such as by fighting for the Loyalist side in the Spanish Civil War, before fascism was seen as a proximate and existential threat to the United States (which only occurred generally after the German invasion of Poland and universally after the attack on Pearl Harbor). The implication was that such persons were communists or communist sympathizers whose loyalty to the United States was suspect.[38][39][40] However, historians John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr have written that no documentary evidence has been found of the U.S. government referring to American members of the International Brigades as "premature antifascists"; FBI, OSS, and United States Army records used terms such as "Communist", "Red", "subversive", and "radical" instead. Haynes and Klehr indicate that they have instead found many examples of members of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and their supporters referring to themselves sardonically as "premature antifascists".[41]

See also

Antifa graffiti in Trnava, Slovakia


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ See ref name"French workers in Germany" in French Resistance article, WorldHeritage, Collins Weitz (1995), p. 50
  4. ^ See reference name in French Resistance article on WorldHeritage"Marquis", Kedward (1993), p. 30
  5. ^ quoted Fighting Talk no.22 October 1999, p.11
  6. ^ Berlin Wall: Five things you might not know, The Telegraph, 11 August 2011
  7. ^
  8. ^ (German) Opfer-Rechter-Gewalt
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ David Ward Antifascisms: Cultural Politics in Italy, 1943–1946
  12. ^ James Martin, 'Piero Gobetti's Agonistic Liberalism', History of European Ideas, 32, (2006), pp. 205–222.
  13. ^ Milica Kacin Wohinz, Jože Pirjevec, Storia degli sloveni in Italia : 1866–1998 (Venice: Marsilio, 1998)
  14. ^ Milica Kacin Wohinz, Narodnoobrambno gibanje primorskih Slovencev : 1921–1928 (Trieste: Založništvo tržaškega tiska, 1977)
  15. ^ Milica Kacin Wohinz, Prvi antifašizem v Evropi (Koper: Lipa, 1990)
  16. ^ Mira Cenčič, TIGR : Slovenci pod Italijo in TIGR na okopih v boju za narodni obstoj (Ljubljana: Mladinska knjiga, 1997)
  17. ^ Vid Vremec, Pinko Tomažič in drugi tržaški proces 1941 (Trieste: Založništvo tržaškega tiska, 1989)
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ De Miguel, Jesús y Sánchez, Antonio: Batalla de Madrid, in his Historia Ilustrada de la Guerra Civil Española. Alcobendas, Editorial LIBSA, 2006, pp. 189–221.
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ a b
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ Phil Piratin Our Flag Stays Red. London: Lawrence & Wishart, 2006.
  30. ^ Andrezj Olechnowicz, 'Liberal anti-fascism in the 1930s the case of Sir Ernest Barker', Albion 36, 2005, pp. 636–660
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^ AFA (London) Constitution Part 1.4
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^ Premature antifascists and the Post-war world, Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives — Bill Susman Lecture Series. King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center at New York University, 1998. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^

Further reading

  • The Black Bloc Papers: An Anthology of Primary Texts From The North American Anarchist Black Bloc 1988–2005, by Xavier Massot & David Van Deusen of the Green Mountain Anarchist Collective (NEFAC-VT), Breaking Glass Press, 2010.
  • Nigel Copsey Anti-Fascism in Britain; Palgrave Macmillan, January 2000 ISBN 978-0-312-22765-4
  • Copsey, N. (2011) 'From direct action to community action: The changing dynamics of anti-fascist opposition', in Copsey, N. and Macklin, G. D. (eds) British National Party: Contemporary perspectives. Routledge
  • Nigel Copsey & Andrzej Olechnowicz (eds.), Varieties of Anti-fascism. Britain in the Inter-war Period, Palgrave Macmillan
  • The Rise and Fall of The Green Mountain Anarchist Collective, 2015.

External links

  • ‘Fascism or Revolution !’ Anarchism and Antifascism in France, 1933–39
  • "Anti-Fascist Action 1985–2001"
  • Gilles Dauve/Jean Barrot on liberal anti-fascism
  • "Bash the Fash: Anti-Fascist Recollections 1984–1993"
  • Beating Fascism: Anarchist Anti-Fascism in Theory and PracticeInterview from
  • "Intellectuals and Anti-Fascism: For a Critical Historization" New Politics, vol. 9, no. 4 (new series), whole no. 36, Winter 2004
  • Liberal anti-fascism page at Red Action
  • Remembering the Anarchist Resistance to fascism
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