Not new or unique
The concept of a united Europe was by no means a theory invented by Mosley. The idea has roots dating back as far as Abbé Dubois in 1306 and became popular between the 17th and 19th centuries, inspired by a growing consciousness of a common civilisation.48 It was, however, only during the cataclysmic destruction of the First World War that an organised movement for unification developed, supported by a section of the intelligentsia, with a view to securing a lasting peace. Groups such as The Union for Democratic Control, founded by Ramsay MacDonald, Charles Trevelyan and Norman Angell, for example, called for the establishment of a ‘European federation of states’.49 However, it was during Second World War that the drive for unity really accelerated. There is no doubt that a Nazified Europe, with a single centrally controlled economy, helped normalise the notion of continental governance, though its plainly totalitarian and racialist nature made most realise it was a contorted and ugly divergence from the existing tradition of thought concerning European unity.50 More in keeping with those who sought to avoid a repeat of World War I by rejecting traditional nationalism were the theories of integration that emerged within Resistance movements during the war. Many were fighting not just against fascism but also for a new and different future, which meant, ‘no return to the Balkanization of a continent in which each people would be enclosed behind its economic and political barriers’.51 In August 1943 the Movimento Federalista Europeo called for a system whereby ‘The maintenance of freedom and security on the entire continent should be solely in the hands of the European federation and its executive, legislative, and judiciary organs’.52 Later in August 1944, the International Programme of the Mouvement de Libération Nationale laid out their vision of European unity:
The national States must federate and transfer to the Federal Government the right to organise the economic life of Europe; the sole right to have an army and suppress any attempt to re-establish a fascist regime; to be in charge of foreign affairs; to administer such colonies as are not yet ripe for independence; to create European citizenship in addition to a national citizenship. The Federal Government shall be democratically and directly elected by the peoples, not by the national States.53
Thus, traditional nationalism was rejected outright, and the idea of a voluntary European federation with a strong federal government became the dominant position of the non-Communist Resistance groups across Europe.54
After the war, calls for a united Europe could be heard from across the political spectrum. Generally, the 1940s and 1950s saw a shift towards thinking, ‘in terms of “Europe” as an entity’ with some believing that ‘the goal could possibly be a ‘United States of Europe’.55 Many, particularly the left wing in France, were growing resentfol of Western Europe’s increasing dependency on America and so called for a united Europe to form a third force between America and the Soviet Union.’6 Simultaneously many Americans also felt that a united Europe was the best route to the continent becoming self-sufficient and reducing its reliance on American resources. John Foster Dulles, then US Secretary of State, stated that:
we understand the policy of Continental European countries is to create a union here which will make it impossible for strife to break out again. . . . The United States was interested primarily in the unification of France and Germany. ... If they [Western countries] decide to commit suicide again they may have to commit it alone.57
These calls for integration from across the spectrum went beyond theoretical discussions. The creation of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, the Treaty of Paris in 1951 and the formation of the European Coal and Steel Community are just a few examples of how this shift towards Europeanism was manifest in reality in the early postwar period.
Separate, though often not dissimilar to the mainstream tradition of Europeanism, was that within the far right. Despite often being portrayed as a revolutionary departure from his prewar ‘Britain First’ thinking, the reality is that the idea of a united Europe had long been a latent aspect of Mosley’s ideology with a nod in that direction clearly visible in his 1936 article for the Fascist Quarterly, ‘The World Alternative’.58 In it he wrote that ‘we must return to the fundamental conception of European Union’ and referred to ‘the union of Europe within the universalism of the Modern Movement’.59 While ‘Europe a nation’ was sometimes portrayed as an intellectual awakening born in the mind of an imprisoned leader, the truth is much more evolution than revelation. As with his sense of impending civilisational crisis, his great ‘new’ postwar idea was not all that new, providing another example of ideological continuity within the British fascist movement that transcends the prewar/postwar paradigm.
However, in addition to being a latent component of Mosley’s thinking, calls for a united Europe had long been a theme among the European far right, a concession Mosley later made in his 1958 book Europe: Faith and Plan,60 thus undermining his supporters’ portrayal of Mosley as a revolutionary thinker. One interesting parallel from interwar Britain is the ideas of Rolf Gardiner. A complicated character who publicly attacked fascism yet nonetheless had considerable sympathy with German National Socialism, Gardiner called for the unity of northern Europe as a Germanic federation.61 He explained that, ‘while between, say, Whitby and Lubeck, Elsinore and Danzig, there are many superficial differences, there is something familiar to them all’and that Britain’s revitalisation required ‘a union of North Sea and Baltic, as in the heyday of the Hanseatic League’.62
Mosley was not even unique on the British far right during the 1950s. As well as Francis Parker Yockey, who is discussed at length later, was the British-based Northern League, also calling for a united Europe in the 1950s. Gerald Afanfryn-Hill and his comrades in the pan-Nationalist Northern League argued:
What we have to learn, and learn quickly, if we as Europeans are not to be annihilated as a species, is to begin to think in terms of ethnic identity, and pan-national concepts. What we must do is develop a wo rid-wide bond between our own kind, and to avoid being misled into more fratricidal wars. For the past thousand years we have been busy destroying our own kind, while those of other races sit back and laugh at us. When are we going to begin to think in terms of ethnic and racial identity?63
Some of these ideas have striking parallels with Mosleys ‘Europe a Nation’ concept, though the ideas of the Northern League lacked Mosley’s veiled references to culture and were much more explicitly racial.
If one looks abroad it becomes even clearer that Mosley’s plans for Europe were not new or unique. In the 1920s Georges Valois, founder of France’s first openly fascist party, the Faisceau, proclaimed that, ‘Fascism has a European (not merely a purely local character)’.64 His 1931 book, War or Revolution, argued that ‘Europe must be a union of equal republics’.6’ Mosley was also beaten to the punch by the French collaborationist Marcel Deat whose 1943 proclamation referred to a ‘community of European nations’ and a ‘European duty against the evils of Bolshevism and capitalism’.66
Italy also had its own tradition of fascist Europeanism, which included the Italian fascist philosopher, esotericist and long-time champion of a pan-European fascism, Julius Evola. He published essays on ‘The European Idea’ and the need for a ‘European Law’ in 1940 and 1941.67 It was also official policy of the Republican Fascist Party from November 1943 onward; indeed, a call for the ‘realisation of a European community’ was explicitly stated in the Manifesto of the Republic of Salo.68 This Europeanist tendency within Italian fascism survived into the postwar period, and while Evola disagreed with parts, he was later to endorse Imperium, the pan-European magnus opus by Francis Parker Yockey, which is discussed at length later.69 He also declared that ‘Circumstances have rendered the need for European unity imperative on our continent’70 in his 1951 article in Europea Nazi-one entitled ‘Spiritual and structural presuppositions of the European Union’. In addition, as Andrea Mammone has shown, the Ordine Nuovo (ON), led by Pino Rauti, founded a new journal called Ordine Nuovo Europeo in 1958, which talked of‘Fatherland-Europe’and ‘Nation-Europe’.71 There was also the influential journal Europa Nazione, founded by Filippo Anfuso, an MSI member of parliament in 1953, which called for ‘a free and united Europe’.72 These examples, among others, prove that the notion of Europeanism among Italian fascists went well beyond Evola.
As was the case in Britain, France and Italy, German fascism also had its own tradition of Europeanism. During the early years of the war, when it appeared it was soon to be won, Nazi policy makers including Karl Ritter, an economic adviser, met in the Foreign Ministry to discuss ‘European Grossraumivirtschaft’ (a large economic sphere of interest).71 As early as October 1939, Werner Daitz, a member of Alfred Rosenberg’s Foreign Policy Office of the NSDAP, established the ‘Society of European Economic Planning and Grossraumivirtschaft’, which called for continental European unity under German leadership, from ‘Gibraltar to the Urals and from the North Cape to the Island of Cyprus with their natural colonial extensions radiating out into Siberia and beyond the Mediterranean into Africa’.74
These proposals, written by the relatively unimportant Daitz, began to gain traction, first drawing the attention of Karl Ritter; the idea was then adopted by Reich Economics Minister, Walther Funk, in June 1940, who subsequently presented Goring with his proposals for the ‘New Order’ on 6 August 1940.7’ The ‘New Order’ was to involve the ‘integration of the occupied territories in the economy of Greater Germany and the reconstruction of a continental European economy under German leadership’.76 However, while influential, it seems that Hitler himself had little interest in these new and sophisticated forms of imperialism and preferred traditional direct exploitation.77 While never implemented, the concept of Grossraumwirtschajl is another example of fascists thinking on a continental scale. However, the ‘New Order’ was by no means a break with traditional nationalism as, though consciously couched in the language of Europeanism for practical reasons,7si it was essentially German imperialism. As a short aside, the ‘New Order’ concept was coincidentally markedly similar to Rolf Gardiner’s calls in the 1920s for a united Europe under German leadership. However, these German ideas had little in common with the calls for true European unity, often as a form of federalism, emanating from other fascists such as the Republican Fascist Party in Italy.
Later in the war, when the Wehrmacht found itself on the back foot in Eastern Europe, Rosenberg and Daitz floated new ideas involving a united Europe using Africa for its resources, which obviously has striking parallels with Mosley’s postwar ideas.79 Other parallels can be found with the writings of Karl Heinz Pfeffer, President of the German Institute for Foreign Affairs. Even as Germany found itself increasingly on the back foot towards the end of 1944, he believed that the achievements of‘the first four years of this war cannot be nullified by the setbacks of the fifth. From Narvik to Athens and from Reval to Bordeaux, German soldiers have carried a message that can no longer die. Europe today knows that it is a single entity’.80 However, similarly to what Mosley would later espouse, Pfeffer saw European unity not as a replacement for traditional nationalism but rather as an extension of it.
The first basic realization is that European nationalism cannot be dispensed with. The European community must not destroy the nationalism of European peoples but must sublimate it in the Hegelian sense, so that it continues to exist but becomes a living element in a larger unity'.81
Pfeffer’s ideas diverged from the ideas of Daitz in that he talked of numerous European nationalisms working in accord rather than merely a united Europe under German rule. The concept of a federal Europe consisting of nationalist states became increasingly popular among the European far right in the postwar period.
As was the case in Italy, when the war came to an end and the total defeat of Nazism became inevitable, other German fascists joined Pfeffer in shifting their ambitions for a postwar world towards a pan-continental European federation, quite different to the German dominated ‘New Order’. There was ‘The German Freedom Movement’, a blueprint for a postwar pan-European fascist state drafted in April 1945 by a former officer in the SS Totenkopfverbande, and head of the Personnel Section of Himmlers RSHA. Franke-Gricksch. The German Freedom Movement’s 12-point policy programme called for the creation of a new ‘Sworn European Community’ of peoples that would operate as a European federation.82 Unsurprisingly, with such similar ideas, a relationship came to exist between Franke-Gricksch and Mosley, though the former’s Eastward orientation was a source of tension.8’ In addition there was SS Brigadier General Franz Alfred Six who called for a united Europe in his book Europe’s Civil Wars and the Present War of Unification and Europe: Tradition and Future and SS Lieutenant General Werner Best, another strong advocate of pan-European fascism.84
The ideological shift towards Europeanism among portions of the fascist movement soon resulted in attempts to build pan-national fascist organisations. The first of these was instigated by the MSI in Rome in March 1950. The ensuing conference, called to discuss the future of Europe, was attended by Mosley from Britain, Maurice Bardèche from France, Anna Maria Mussolini, Karl Heinz Priester from Germany and Sweden’s Per Engdahl.85 A follow up conference was held in Malmo, Sweden in 1951, which resulted in the creation of the Mouvement Social Européen (MSE), chaired by Engdahl and also known as the Malmo International. The venture was a short-lived one and was largely defunct by the end of the decade, though it did provide a useful structure for the transnational transfer of pannationalist ideas in the postwar period.86
It is clear that when placed in its proper historical context Mosley’s shift to pan-European nationalism in the postwar period was by no means revolutionary, but rather it sat comfortably within an existing fascist tradition that simply became more prominent in the postwar period thanks to the fascists’ pragmatism in accepting the unalterable failure of the narrow nationalism of the interwar period. It also sat comfortably in a wider non-fascist tradition of Europeanism. Interestingly, the concept of a united Europe offered by Oswald Mosley, with its vision of a truly united continent, not run in the interest of a single country, had far more in common with the ideas of the wartime resistance movements than it did with the Nazi ideas of a ‘European Grossraumwirtschaff and the ‘New Order’, which were more akin to traditional imperialism. Thus, Mosley’s gradual ideological shift from narrow British nationalism to European unity was by no means revolutionary or unique as some of his followers and supporters believed.