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A relationship in hate: postwar transatlantic fascist networks

One of the most interesting developments of the world-wide anti-communist, nationalist movement is the recent establishment of cooperation between patriots of all nations. Fighting for the same principle: national freedom and dignity, and fighting the same enemy: the internationalist drive to destroy all national boundaries and races, and to drive all mankind down into the same formless Marxist mass, these patriots of all nations have been placing themselves in close touch with each other.'

For many British and American fascists, the war made it impossible to collaborate across borders and build alliances. However, as the previous quote illuminates, the years that followed saw a blossoming of international fascist collaboration. Despite this, generally it is believed that the immediate postwar period marked a lull in far-right and fascist transatlantic cooperation. Kaplan and Weinberg, for example, while accepting that ‘attempts at continued linkage by a cadre of dedicated individuals did continue’, there ‘appears to have been a cessation in efforts to link together radical right groups active on different sides of the Atlantic’ in the immediate postwar years.2 It is Macklin who has best explored transatlantic networks in this period, showing how, ‘By the late 1950s a burgeoning transatlantic traffic in correspondences, information, and literature existed’.3 Similarly, writing in the edited volume The Post- War Anglo-American Far Right, Clive Webb correctly stated that, ‘Historians have assessed the transnational flow of tactical and philosophical ideas among civil rights activists’. Yet, less studied by scholars is the fact that ‘British racists also looked to the United States for inspiration, attempting to construct their own transatlantic political networks with southern segregationists’.4 His chapter provides an interesting and most welcome attempt to explore these postwar networks, though he mainly focuses on the late 1950s and the better-known links from the 1960s - most famously the Cotswold Agreement that set up the World Union of National Socialists in 1962.

While it is true that the number of transatlantic links blossomed in the later part of the 1950s, cooperation between far right and fascist groups and individuals existed from the late 1940s onward and was far more extensive than is at present believed. When asked about foreign connections by the undercover Armenian-American anti-fascist Avendis Derounian in 1947, John Beckett of the British People’s Party instructed his assistant to reply that ‘we have no allies or connections in other countries as the British Peoples Party is a purely British movement’.5 However, many on the British far right had a far more international outlook, and with likeminded Holocaust deniers and racists publishing such similar work on both sides of the Atlantic it is no surprise that from the second half of the 1940s onward an extensive network existed between British and American Nazi and fascist activists. Within these circles many relationships predated the war but were severed by the events of the conflict, thereby making the early postwar years a period of reconnection?

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