Fascism and Internationalism: Are they compatible? – Jacob Braun

Photo: A soldier of the Free Arabian Legion in German-occupied Greece, 1943

As far back as the aftermath of the First World War, groups of radical nationalists across Europe united to halt the revolutions sweeping across Russia and Germany, which they feared would spill over into their own countries. The idea of “Judeo-Bolshevism” would emerge in the interwar time period, serving as a justification for many devastating pogroms against Jews across the continent. 

Radical nationalists of the 20th century would be found to collaborate with one another on tackling the threat of “Judeo-Bolshevism,” but would rarely see eye-to-eye concerning other issues on the grounds of ideological differences. “Judeo-Bolshevism” served as such a unifying target for these groups, as it was already a common ground for most Europeans; it was believed that Jews were the face of the [communist] revolutions of Europe, and had to be destroyed (Hanebrink 13). Radical nationalists yearned for the maintenance of the status quo of a conservative, christian Europe, denouncing any deviation from it as part of the Jewish conspiracy. For instance, upon the emergence of the Weimar Republic after the First World War, radical German nationalists named it the Judenrepublik, or “Jewish Republic” (Hanebrink 16).

Throughout history, it has been proven that as long as there is a unifying “evil” for nationalists to campaign against, cooperation is possible. Although internationalism is comparable to a cardinal sin for fascists, as long as it supports their personal goals such a grave transgression can be tolerated. In this case, consider the numerous international brigades fielded by the Third Reich during the Second World War. Taking advantage of anticolonial sentiments across their enemies’ territories, Nazi Germany was able to cooperate with sympathetic fighters in their struggles for a new world order (Motadel 843). However, the Reich’s fascist network of alliances conflicted too much to allow for further development of these groups because of their focus on subjugation instead of self-determination.

Cooperation between fascism and internationalism is not impossible. People need a common enemy to be willing to fight together, and looking back through history to find one is usually a predictable first step. Although whenever these alliances are made, one can expect them not to last long; at some point, pragmatic cooperation between nationalists will outlive its usefulness and competition will arise.

Works Cited

Hanebrink, Paul A. A Specter Haunting Europe: The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2018, pp. 1-45.

Motadel, David. “The Global Authoritarian Moment and the Revolt against Empire.” The American Historical Review, vol. 124, no. 3, 2019, pp. 843-877.

Photo courtesy of the German Bundesarchiv.

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