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“To Unity [Mitford], National Socialism was a Left Wing revolution and Hitler was a champion of the downtrodden masses.” – Virginia Cowles
This quote comes from the book Looking for Trouble, Cowles memoirs of her years as a war correspondent between 1936 and 1941. The book originally appeared in 1941.
Unity Mitford was one of the Mitford sisters, a family of British aristocrats from the middle of the twentieth century. Five of the sisters, including Unity, were known for supporting fascism in the 1930s. (The sixth became a communist.) Sister Diana Mitford married Sir Oswald Mosley, the leader of the British Union of Fascists. (Oswald Mosley was satirized by P. G. Wodehouse as Sir Roderick Spode, the leader of the Black Pants movement) Unity became a Hitler fangirl, so much so that when Britain went to war with Nazi Germany in 1939, Unity attempted suicide. (This left Unity crippled. She died from complications of the suicide attempt in 1948.)
Cowles wrote the quote in describing an encounter with Mitford in Germany in 1937, during the first Sudetenland crisis. It struck me because it described fascism as a left-wing phenomenon. Today, if you ask whether fascism was right wing or left wing, most people would tell you it was right wing. In truth, the only thing it was to the right of was Stalinist Communism. Really and truly, only a little to the right of that. Mussolini, fascism’s father, was a red diaper baby. (His full name was Benito Juarez Mussolini. He was named by his socialist father after the left-wing Mexican revolutionary.)
Hitler was a man of the left, something recognized at the time. Even Great Britain’s foremost fascist families recognized that. In that sense, there seems a lot of similarity between 1930s British fascists and today’s “Antifa” anarchists. In both cases, the activists come from upper-class, well-to-do, and politically connected families. They attempted to dismantle the system by which their families accumulated wealth and turn over control of the economy. education, and life to a strong central government, led by the “best and brightest” (themselves, of course), who would dictate to everyone what they wanted – or else.Published in