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Making Anti-Fascism Transnational: The Origins of Communist and Socialist Articulations of Resistance in Europe, 1923–1924

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 October 2016

KASPER BRASKÉN
Affiliation:
Åbo Akademi University, Arken, History Department, Tehtaankatu 2, FIN-20500 Turku, Finland; kasper.brasken@abo.fi
Corresponding
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Abstract

Conventionally, the starting point of socialist and communist resistance to fascism in Europe and the creation of a European ‘culture of anti-fascism’ is dated to the 1930s in the context of the establishment of the Third Reich in 1933 and the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936. The hypothesis of the article is that the initiatives and debates of 1923 played a pivotal role in the creation of the transnational anti-fascist movement that transferred cultures of anti-fascism across borders in Europe and the world. The aim of the article is to analyse the first, but hitherto forgotten, efforts to make anti-fascism a transnational phenomenon in the early 1920s. Further, the article will discuss whether there are clear continuities or discontinuities in the anti-fascist articulations of 1923 and the ones created after 1933.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016 

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References

1 ‘Gegen den Faschismus! Gegen reaktionäre Schreckensherrschaft und weißen Terror! Aufruf zur Gründung einer Internationalen Antifaschistischen Liga’, Chronik des Faschismus, 8 (7 Nov. 1923).

2 ‘Gegen den Faschismus!’.

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17 A significant exception is the work by Ceplair, Larry, Under the Shadow of War: Fascism, Anti-Fascism, and Marxists, 1918–1939 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1987)Google Scholar. Unfortunately, it was written well before the opening of the archives in Moscow and Berlin and is therefore outdated.

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27 For a broad overview see, Wunderer, Hartmann, Arbeitervereine und Arbeiterparteien: Kultur- und Massenorganisationen in der Arbeiterbewegung (1890–1933) (Frankfurt: Campus Verlag, 1980)Google Scholar. On the IAH and the MOPR see, Gruber, Helmut, ‘Willi Münzenberg's German Communist Propaganda Empire 1921–1933’, Journal of Modern History, 38, 3 (1966).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

28 Der Kampf gegen den Faszismus, RGASPI 534/3/50, 49.

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30 Speech by Zetkin in Frankfurt a.M., 23 Mar. 1923. Reproduced in Pirker, Theo, ed., Komintern und Faschismus: Dokumente zur Geschichte und Theorie des Faschismus (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1965), 115–8.Google Scholar

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34 Clara Zetkin, Resolutionsentwurf über den Faschismus [1923], RGASPI 495/161/53, 1–5, here 4–5.

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38 Sekretariat des EKKI to the Zentrale der KPD; [Moscow], 21 Apr. 1923, SAPMO–BArch, RY 5/I 6/3/93, 41. See further in Pirker, Komintern und Faschismus, Gutjahr, Wolf-Dietrich, Revolution muss sein. Karl Radek – die Biographie (Köln: Böhlau Verlag, 2012), 570–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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40 RGASPI 480/3/7, 21–2.

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42 Münzenberg to Radek, 9 June 1923, RGASPI 495/18/181, 97–99.

43 ‘Are you on the Fence?’, Workers’ Weekly, 36 (12 Oct. 1923).

44 Münzenberg to Aktionsausschluss der Komintern und Profintern & Exekutive der Komintern; Berlin, 14 May 1923, RGASPI 534/3/50, 63; Münzenberg to the Executives of the Profintern, the Comintern and the Aktionsausschuss der Kom. und Profintern; Berlin, 14 May 1923, RGASPI 534/3/50, 64; Münzenberg to Kuusinen, 13 Aug. 1923, RGASPI 538/2/19, 109.

45 Münzenberg to Piatnitsky, 26 Jul. 1923, RGASPI 538/2/19, 102–102ob.

46 Münzenberg to Präsidium der Komintern, 2 Aug. 1923, RGASPI 538/2/19, 103–5.

47 See further in Langkau-Alex, Ursula, Deutsche Volksfront 1932–1939: Zwischen Berlin, Paris, Prag und Moskau, I: Vorgeschichte und Gründung des Ausschusses zur Vorbereitung einer deutschen Volksfront (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2004), 110–3.Google Scholar

48 See, further, papers in Bayerlein, Bernhard H., Babicenko, Leonid G., Firsov, Fridrich I. and Ju. Vatlin, Alexander, eds., Deutscher Oktober 1923: Ein Revolutionsplan und sein Scheitern (Berlin: Aufbau-Verlag, 2003)Google Scholar; Angress, Werner T., Stillborn Revolution: The Communist Bid for Power in Germany, 1921–1923 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1963)Google Scholar.

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63 Münzenberg to ‘Werte Genossen’, 23 Aug. 1923, RGASPI 538/2/19, 111.

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65 Münzenberg to Lozowsky, Berlin, 28 Aug. 1923, ‘Beilage: Die gegenwärtigen Stand unserer Arbeit’, Berlin, 27 Aug. 1923, RGASPI 534/3/53, 27.

66 Münzenberg to ‘WG’ [Comintern]; Berlin, 4 Dec. 1923, RGASPI 495/18/181, 163. Sadly, this unique archive has not been located.

67 Münzenberg to ‘Lieber Genosse’, 7 Sep. 1923, RGASPI 538/2/19, 119. Münzenberg claimed that the edition had been 250,000 copies in a report sent to Lozowsky, 28.8.1923, RGASPI 534/3/53, 28.

68 Münzenberg to Exekutive der Komintern, 28 Oct. 1923, RGASPI 495/18/181, 152–152ob.

69 For print runs, see further in Braskén, The International Workers' Relief, Communism, and Transnational Solidarity, 73, 122–3.

70 See further in Cuevas-Wolf, Cristina, ‘Montage as Weapon. The Tactical Alliance between Willi Münzenberg and John Heartfield’, New German Critique, 36, 2 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar and Coles, Anthony, John Heartfield: Ein politisches Leben (Köln: Böhlau Verlag, 2014)Google Scholar.

71 John Heartfield, ‘Absturz im Westen / Aufstieg im Osten’, Hakenkreuz, 1 (Sept. 1923).

72 ‘Dichtung und Wahrheit’, Hakenkreuz 1 (Sept. 1923).

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74 Hakenkreuz, 1–3 (1923).

75 On the analysis of images and visual sources, see Paul, Gerhard, BilderMACHT: Studien zur Visual History des 20. und 21. Jahrhunderts (Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 2013)Google Scholar; idem, ‘Das Jahrhundert der Bilder: Die visuelle Geschichte und der Bildkanon des kulturellen Gedächtnisses’, in idem, ed., Das Jahrhundert der Bilder: 1900 bis 1949 (Göttingen: Vanderhoeck & Ruprecht, 2009), 14–39 and Burke, Peter, Eyewitnessing: The Uses of Images as Historical Evidence (London: Reaktion Books, 2001)Google Scholar.

76 Sichel und Hammer, 5 (1923).

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78 See further in May, Rainhard, ‘Proletarisch-revolutionäre “Öffentlichkeit”, die IAH und Willi Münzenberg’, in May, Reinhard and Jackson, Hendrik, eds., Filme für die Volksfront: Erwin Piscator, Gustav von Wangenheim, Friedrich Wolf – antifaschistische Filmemacher im sowjetischen Exil (Berlin: Stattkino, 2001), 3285 Google Scholar.

79 See, for example, Fronczak, Joseph, ‘Local People's Global Politics: A Transnational History of the Hands Off Ethiopia Movement of 1935’, Diplomatic History, 2 (2015), 245–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

80 Stone, Dan, Goodbye to All That? The Story of Europe since 1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 711.Google Scholar

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