Anti-Fascists & Mildred Fish-Harnack
Posted on September 11, 2019
I was reading some articles the other day about the 1930’s and the rise of fascism across Europe. The first one centred around anti-fascists in London who had put a banner up on the BBC building in September 1934.
The banner was as a protest against the BBC. They were hosting aristocrat, Sir Oswald Moseley, and allowing him to promote a BUF (British Union of Fascists) rally in Hyde Park.
Whilst the BBC argued impartiality, it refused to offer a platform to anti-fascists. It also refused, on its broadcasts, to mention the anti-fascist rally. It is often The Daily Mail and the Rothermere family who take most of the stick about backing fascists, but it was all the rage amongst the majority of aristocrats.
Counter fascist demonstrations broke out all over British cities, notably in Manchester, Birmingham and London. The fascists were defeated and Moseley was interned. ‘The Battle of Cable Street’ should be a key section of modern history books.
Strangely it isn’t. It’s almost like the establishment don’t want kids to learn how close the UK came to be aligning with Berlin, Rome and Madrid.
In a kind of clumsy segway, this article led me to a woman called Mildred Fish-Harnack. A leading anti-fascist in what the Nazis called the Red Orchestra, Mildred recruited resistance activists and helped Jews escape from Germany.
When her and her husband, Arvid, were caught, he was sentenced to death and she was placed in a hard labour camp for six years. Hitler personally ordered a retrial (six years hard labour wasn’t enough) and, as you would expect, Mildred was sentenced to death.
We are in a time where right-wing populists such as Nigel Farage and Dominic Cummings are whipping up hate and division. Like Moseley, by claiming to be ‘men of the people’ (despite being made millionaires by tax avoiders egging them on) they are encouraging disaffected working classes to join their cause. They are threatening to smash up the traditional sovereign law they claim to protect from the dastardly EU.
They are, in so many ways, trying to succeed where Moseley failed.
Time and again I ask the same question. What is going to be so great outside a union that has been at peace since 1945?
I never get a coherent answer.