03 January 2010

Black Shirts and Flared Skirts

The BBC has up a fascinating, but too brief, article on women and fascism in pre-World War II Britain.

The first fascist party in England--the British Fascisti--was founded in 1923 by a woman, Rotha Lintorn-Orman, and females flocked to Oswald Mosely's British Union of Fascists in the 1930s. Like Lady Diana Mitford, Mosely's wife, many of these female Blackshirts--along with the male fascists--were imprisoned during the war. The article reveals the guilt suffered by the children of these women, especially, poignantly, that of someone who, as a little girl, was instructed by her parents "to paint slogans on the walls with 'Britain Awake' and 'Perish the Jews.'"Since viewing Richard Dimbleby's reports on the liberation of Bergen-Belsen in 1945, she has felt complicit in the Holocaust.

The article gives a taste of an upcoming BBC Radio Four program, "Mother Was a Blackshirt," which, unfortunately, one can only access in the United Kingdom.

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