Threat Of Domestic Fascism In 1930s France

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Topics: Fascism, Nazism
To what extent was there a threat of domestic Fascism in 1930s France? The ambiguous, often contradictory, nature of fascism and the gaps which often exist between fascist ideologies and policies, and the different forms in which fascism took in Europe make fascism extremely difficult to define. Between World War I and II fascism did not come to power in France, in contrast to other European countries. Yet the threat of domestic fascism in 1930s France was still very real and substantial. The 1930s saw the growth of far right leagues in membership and strength, often seen as proto-fascist if not fully fascist organisations, and the polarization of French politics as a whole. The Stavisky Riots and the events that took place in Paris on the …show more content…
One of the most prominent of these leagues was Action Française which became the main focus of the French radical right and played a vital role in the Stavisky riots. The German historian Ernst Nolte claimed that Action Française was Fascist. However this is not the case as Action Française was too monarchist, aristocratic and elitist to be genuinely fascist. 5 Nor did Action Française focus on denouncing one social or political group as the source of ills befalling France. They did however play one of the main roles in the Stavisky Riots in Paris. Much closer to fascism was Solidarité Française who imitated the German Nazi Party. The most significant of these leagues was the Croix de feu, and the debate surrounding domestic fascism in France is usually heavily weighted around them. It became a mass populist movement from February 1932, with an approximate membership of 30,000 in 1933 rising up to 1 million by April 1936, and sought to force through major changes in France.6 Croix de feu and La Rocque blamed France’s ill on conspiracies of corrupt politicians and party members, Marxists and freemasons and held a strong dislike of international capitalism. It had many fascist characteristics and shares much of the same rhetoric and characteristics of other European fascist …show more content…
The post-war parliamentary commission of enquiry concluded that ‘the intention was, by means of popular uprising, to disperse the deputies, to take possession of the Chamber and to proclaim and authoritarian government.’9 French historians have tended to downplay the importance of the riots themselves, arguing that the Republic was not under serious threat, and that the Left at the time greatly exaggerated the danger.10 In was in a climate of insurrection that Daladier decided to resign, eventually persuaded that if he stayed it would provoke a second wave of violence by members of the police, army and justice departments.11 Given the circumstances in which it came to power, the newly formed Doumergue government was widely regarded amongst the left as pre-fascist. The fact that Doumergue’s appointment defused the immediate tensions is taken as proof that the leagues were largely content with the outcome, and that for the most part they had wanted no more than they obtained, as argued by Michel Dobry. It is true that out of the right wing leagues only Action Française is directly quoted as having called for the downfall of the government, but the proclamations made by the leagues directly equated the dismissal of Chiappe as the beginning of a Left-wing coup d’état, meaning

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