Fascism in Alsace, 1918-1945 / Samuel Huston Goodfellow
Includes bibliographical references (p. 450-487)
This study of fascism examines the interaction of competing fascist ideologies in Alsace, a border region with cultural and political legacies from both Germany and France. The prevailing assumption that fascism is a theoretically immutable concept does not stand up to the historical reality. On the contrary, the case of Alsace demonstrates that fascism varied considerably over time and according to its social support. The first generation of fascism in Alsace, born in 1924, was motivated by Mussolini's example and widespread disgust with the anticlerical Third Republic. By 1934 the motivations had changed to imitation of Hitler, visceral fear of the socialist Popular Front, and the cumulative effects of economic depression. As a result, the 1930s fascist movements, such as the French Francistes and the pro-Nazi Jungmannschaft. were more violent, radical, and extreme than earlier groups. These differences reflected a corresponding shift in fascism's bases of social support. The 1920s fascist movements found support primarily among industrialist and professional classes. This support continued into the 1930s, but was bolstered by the participation of lower middle-class and peasant groups. Consequently, different fascist groups catered to different social constituencies, which gave fascism in Alsace a uniquely heterogenous character. In addition, fascism in Alsace was divided into three national orientations: German, French, and Alsatian. Despite the gulf between national identities, which in Alsace coincided with important social, religious, and linguistic divisions, the different fascisms shared the idea of a corporate, organic, and powerful state where class divisions were eliminated in favor of a hierarchically structured, homogenous society. Accordingly, fascism permeated Alsatian political consciousness, yet it suffered from irreconcilable internal conflicts over cultural affiliation.
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