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Anti-fascism, Resistance and Liberation in Western Europe (HI392)

The Modern Records Centre holds many documents which relate to anti-fascist activities in Europe during the 1920s-1940s. Just a small selection of these are shown below, organised into five sections - Italy, Germany, France, Spain and Elsewhere in Europe.

How to find out more about the documents:

Click on the reference codes of the documents to go to their descriptions in our on-line catalogues. This can help you to put the documents in context and find similar items.

Where to find more sources:

Our online resources for modules on the History of Germany and the History of France contain links to documents digitised in full. More than 14,000 pages of archives on the Spanish Civil War are available through our digital collection Trabajadores: The Spanish Civil War through the eyes of organised labour, together with background information about the conflict.

Extracts from documents relating to fascism are included in the module resources for Making of the Modern World: Ideologies and States, and extracts from sources relating to Abyssinia, the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War are included in the module resources for Making of the Modern World: War, Violence and Modernity.

Information about further sources can be found through a general search of our online catalogue, or through 'ready-made' catalogue searches on Fascism in Italy, 1920s-1940s, the Italian invasion of Abyssinia, Germany between 1933-1945, Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, and Occupied France and the French Resistance (these are not comprehensive lists of everything we hold on these subjects, but a selection of relevant documents).

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Italy

Paper by Dr Matteotti on the political conditions in Italy, undated (1924?)

Paper summarising the views of Dr Matteotti on the political conditions in Italy, undated (1924?)

Dr Giacomo Matteotti, leader of the United Socialist Party in the Italian Chamber of Deputies, was killed in 1924 after he had strongly attacked the Fascists and their fraudulent practices in the 1924 election.

[Included in a file on Italy between 1924-1934, from the records of the Trades Union Congress; document reference: MSS.292/945/1]

First edition of the news sheet 'Fascism: Facts about Fascist Italy', 1928

First edition of the news sheet 'Fascism: Facts about Fascist Italy', 1928

Published in Berlin by the International Committee Against Fascism.

[Included in a file on Fascism, from the records of the Trades Union Congress; document reference: MSS.292/743/1]

Report on recent events in the trade union and political movement in Italy, 1932

Report on recent events in the trade union and political movement in Italy, 1932

This is one of several reports on the situation in Italy made by G. Sardelli to the General Council of the International Transport Workers' Federation between 1926-1938. Sardelli argues that they should now take offensive measures against fascism, "which is not confined, as originally thought, to Italy" but is speading elsewhere in Europe.

[Included in the records of the International Transport Workers' Federation, document reference: MSS.159/3/C/A/42]

Report on the status of women under the Fascist regime in Italy, 1937

Report on the status of women under the Fascist regime in Italy, 1937

Reports on other Fascist or Nazi countries, including Germany and Austria, are also included.

[Included in a file on 'Women in Industry: Fascists', from the records of the Trades Union Congress; document reference: MSS.292/134.1/4]

Manifesto of the Italian Socialist Party in Italy: 'A Call to Civil Disobedience', 1 December 1942

Manifesto of the Italian Socialist Party in Italy: 'A Call to Civil Disobedience', 1 December 1942

It attacks the "burning corpse" of Fascism and asks for an Italian revolt to end the dictatorship before they have a "liberty imposed by foreign armies".

[Included in a file on Italy between 1936-1948, from the records of the Trades Union Congress; document reference: MSS.292/945/2]

'Railwaymen's Dialogue' by R. Nissim, taken from the 'Italian Fighter and Worker Programme', 1943

'Railwaymen's Dialogue' by R. Nissim, taken from the 'Italian Fighter and Worker Programme', 1943

The text of this short radio broadcast provides advice for railway workers on cases of sabotage which are difficult to identify.

[Included in the records of the International Transport Workers' Federation, document reference: MSS.159/3/D/41]

 

 

Germany

Report on visit to Germany to meet trade union leaders following the election of Hitler, 1933

Report on visit to Germany to meet trade union leaders following the election of Hitler, 1933

The report gives some idea of the situation of union officers and the pervading atmosphere of fear. The reporter, J.H. Oldenbroek, hoped that a hard winter and "the economic collapse would sweep away Hitler's regime: it is the task of the international working class to help precipitate it".

[Included in the records of the International Transport Workers' Federation, document reference: MSS.159/3/C/435]

Postcard showing Hitler's 'Greater Germany', undated

Postcard showing Hitler's 'Greater Germany', undated

Caption: 'World awake! Hitler is the war!'

The archive of the International Transport Workers' Federation includes a large amount of anti-fascist and resistance material. Much of it is in German, however some documents are in other European languages, including English.

[Included in the records of the International Transport Workers' Federation, document reference: MSS.159/3/C/a/140. A French language version of this card is included in a Trades Union Congress file on 'Germany: political situation 1933-4'; document reference: MSS.292/943/41]

Statement made by Friedrich Stampfer regarding the German Social Democratic Party, 31 May 1935

Statement made by Friedrich Stampfer regarding the German Social Democratic Party, 31 May 1935

The statement was made to the Trades Union Congress General Council. It attempts to justify the Social Democratic Party's initial response to the election of the National Socialists and talks about the current situation in Germany. Stampfer emphasises that "there were ways of fighting apart from the military way; there was the spiritual way, the moral way - the way of the socialist".

[Included in a file on 'Germany: political situation 1933-34', from the records of the Trades Union Congress; document reference: MSS.292/943/41]

Report on the position of the underground movement in Germany, 1 October 1935

Report on the position of the underground movement in Germany, 1 October 1935

This three page memorandum or report contains information on the organisation of the underground in Germany.

[Included in the records of the International Transport Workers' Federation, document reference: MSS.159/3/C/a/41]

Letter from Willy Brandt of the German Seamen's Group, Oslo, to Edo Fimmen, Secretary of the International Transport Workers' Federation, 1937

Letter from Willy Brandt of the German Seamen's Group, Oslo, to Edo Fimmen, Secretary of the International Transport Workers' Federation, 1937

Willy Brandt was Chancellor of West Germany between 1969-1974 and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971 for his attempts to improve relations between the East and West. As an active socialist and anti-fascist, Brandt (born Karl Herbert Frahm) fled to Norway in 1933 to avoid arrest by the Nazi authorities. It was then that Frahm adopted the new name that he would use for the remainder of his life.

[Included in the records of the International Transport Workers' Federation, document reference: MSS.159/3/C/a/52]

'Personal impressions of meeting with X on August 6th' by Arthur Young, 1938

'Personal impressions of meeting with X on August 6th' by Arthur Young, 1938

'X' was Dr Carl Friedrich Goerdeler, former Mayor of Leipzig, and an opponent of Hitler, who was executed in February 1945. Goerdeler, through Young, tried to persuade the British administration to take determined and decisive action against Hitler, but did not make headway at the highest levels in 1938-9.

[From the 'X' documents, included in the papers of Arthur Primrose Young; document reference: MSS.242/X/RD/1/1-3]

Extracts from reports given by escaped inmates of German concentration camps, 1938

Extracts from reports given by escaped inmates of German concentration camps, 1938

The escapees were German political prisoners arrested in 1933 for producing a pamphlet about the Reichstag fire. The seven page document describes their experiences during initial interrogation and in the camp.

[Included in the records of the International Transport Workers' Federation, document reference: MSS.159/3/C/a/82]

German anti-Nazi publication, disguised as an English grammar book, undated

German anti-Nazi publication, disguised as an English grammar book, undated

German anti-Nazi publication, disguised as an English grammar book, undated

As the document above indicates, possession of anti-Nazi material in Germany could have serious consequences. The archive of the International Transport Workers' Federation includes a small collection of booklets and pamphlets disguised as more innocuous publications.

[Included in the records of the International Transport Workers' Federation, document reference: MSS.159/3/C/a/140]

Report of an interview with Wilhelm Elfes, an opponent to the Nazi regime in Krefeld, 11 March 1945

Report of an interview with Wilhelm Elfes, an opponent to the Nazi regime in Krefeld, 11 March 1945

The interview was with two representatives of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force Psychological Warfare Division. Elfes expresses disappointment with the occupying forces - "it is not so much the looting and the rape that bothers him... [it] is to see (and hear about) Americans continuing Nazis in office and treating all Germans, Nazis and anti-Nazis, alike" - their policy "is exactly like [their] bombing - frequently indiscriminate". The report also contains information about Elfes' opposition to Nazism before and during the war, and his involvement with Goerdeler's assassination attempt on Hitler.

[Included in the papers of Richard Crossman MP; document reference: MSS.154/3/PW/1/124-133]

 

 

France

Report on the United Front in France, 23 August 1934

Report on the United Front in France, 23 August 1934

It comments on the acceptance of the Communist Party offer of united action against war and fascism by the French Socialist Party.

[Included in a file on the United Front, from the records of the Trades Union Congress; document reference: MSS.292/773.9/1/47]

Text of speech by Marcel Cachin on 'The fight for the People's Front in France', 1935

Text of speech by Marcel Cachin on 'The fight for the People's Front in France', 1935

The speech was given at the Seventh World Congress Communist International.

[Included in the records of the Transport and General Workers' Union, document reference: MSS.126/TG/RES/X/1048/1]

Confidential report on the situation in France, c1942

Confidential report on the situation in France, c1942

It includes information on the removal of French workers to Germany, the resistance movements and sabotage, the food situation, trade unions and political leaders.

[Included in the records of the International Transport Workers' Federation, document reference: MSS.159/3/C/a/118]

Edition of 'Le Populaire', a socialist French resistance news sheet, November 1942

Edition of 'Le Populaire', a socialist French resistance news sheet, November 1942

This is one of a series of resistance news sheets dating between 1942-3 collected by the International Transport Workers' Federation. Other titles include 'Combat', 'Les Lettres Françaises', 'L'Insurgé', 'Libération', 'Le Patriote' and 'L'Université Libre'.

[Included in the records of the International Transport Workers' Federation, document reference: MSS.159/3/C/a/118]

A copy of this publication is also included in a collection of resistance news sheets in the archive of Jimmy Deane, document reference: MSS.325/45/O/43]

French resistance leaflet hailing the martyrs of France, undated

French resistance leaflet hailing the martyrs of France, undated

This is included in a folder of leaflets, news sheets, etc., produced by the French resistance during 1942-1944 and collected by the International Transport Workers' Federation.

[Included in the records of the International Transport Workers' Federation, document reference: MSS.159/3/C/a/143/77]

"Women!": slip of paper containing anti-occupation propaganda, undated

"Women!": slip of paper containing anti-occupation propaganda, undated

It claims that the Germans (Les Boches) and their Vichy "servants" have depots bursting with food, whilst the French people are left to starve.

[Included in the records of the International Transport Workers' Federation, document reference: MSS.159/3/C/A/143/72]

'La Femme Comtoise', no.2, August 1943

'La Femme Comtoise', no.2, August 1943

News sheet of the Union of Women for the defence of the family and the liberation of the Country.

This is included in a folder of leaflets, news sheets, etc., produced by the French resistance during 1942-1944 and collected by the International Transport Workers' Federation. It also contains a copy of the news sheet 'Femmes Françaises' from January 1944.

[Included in the records of the International Transport Workers' Federation, document reference: MSS.159/3/C/A/143]

 

Spain

Press photograph of the arrival of a Russian food ship in Barcelona, October 1936

Press photograph of the arrival of a Russian food ship in Barcelona, October 1936

[Included in the papers of Tom Mann, trade union leader and socialist; document reference: MSS.334/7/6]

'The Spanish Revolution', Bulletin of the Workers' Party of Marxist Unification (POUM), 3 February 1937

'The Spanish Revolution', Bulletin of the Workers' Party of Marxist Unification (POUM), 3 February 1937

English language bulletin published in Barcelona. This edition counters Communist or Stalinist accusations against POUM. One of the inside pages also includes a reference to a visit to the offices of the publication by "the well-known British author" Eric Blair [George Orwell].

[One of a series of publications on the Spanish Civil War from the papers of Henry Sara, Trotskyist; document reference: MSS.15/3/8/255/9]

'Barcelona Bulletin', second edition, 15 May 1937

'Barcelona Bulletin', second edition, 15 May 1937

Anarchist news sheet describing the fighting between the Communists, and the anarchists and the Trotskyists (POUM) in Barcelona. It includes reports by Jane H. Patrick and Ethel Macdonald on events between 5-9 May.

[One of a series of publications on the Spanish Civil War from the papers of Henry Sara, Trotskyist; document reference: MSS.15/3/8/243]

Translation of coded message about armaments, sent on 8 February 1938

Translation of coded message about armaments, sent on 8 February 1938

This is one of a series of messages sent from representatives of the Republic to Edo Fimmen, Secretary of the International Transport Workers' Federation.

[Included in the records of the International Transport Workers' Federation, document reference: MSS.159/3/C/b/5]

'Information as to the attitude of the French government towards Spanish refugees in French camps', 17 August 1939

'Information as to the attitude of the French government towards Spanish refugees in French camps', 17 August 1939

From reports received by the British Committee for Spanish Refugees about the repatriation of refugees to Spain by the French authories.

[Included in the papers of Wilfrid Roberts MP, relating to the National Joint Committee for Spanish Relief; document reference: MSS.308/3/FR/14]

First page of a list of Spanish refugees in England under the care of the British Committee for Refugees from Spain, February 1940

First page of a list of Spanish refugees in England under the care of the British Committee for Refugees from Spain, February 1940

It includes information such as name, age, location of family, profession, wartime occupation and political party.

[Included in the papers of Wilfrid Roberts MP, relating to the National Joint Committee for Spanish Relief; document reference: MSS.308/3/RP/81]

 

Pamphlet, 'Impressions of Franco's Spain' by José Rodriguez Vega, 1943

Pamphlet, 'Impressions of Franco's Spain' by José Rodriguez Vega, 1943

José Rodriguez Vega was Secretary of the Spanish General Union of Labour. He escaped from prison in Spain and, with the assistance of the Spanish underground movement, made his way to Mexico.

[Included in the papers of Victor Gollancz, document reference: MSS.157/5/E/2]

 

 

Elsewhere in Europe

Report on the political situation in Holland, 1934

Report on the political situation in Holland, 1934

This is one of sixteen reports on the political situation in Europe compiled for a meeting of the General Council of the International Transport Workers' Federation in June 1934. Countries reported on were: Britain, Holland, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, Spain, the Saar Territory, Estonia, Latvia, Denmark and Austria.

[Included in the records of the International Transport Workers' Federation, document reference: MSS.159/3/C/a/42]

Letter to Victor Gollancz, asking him to act as a patron of the exhibition of Picasso's 'Guernica' in London, 1938

Letter to Victor Gollancz, asking him to act as a patron of the exhibition of Picasso's 'Guernica' in London, 1938

The exhibition was to raise funds for the National Joint Committee for Spanish Relief.

[Included in the papers of Victor Gollancz, document reference: MSS.157/3/POL/1/81]

Dutch anti-Nazi poster, undated

Dutch anti-Nazi poster, undated

Produced by N.V. de Arbeiderspers of Amsterdam.

[Included in the records of the International Transport Workers' Federation, document reference: MSS.159/3/C/a/127]

'Underground Poland speaks', 1941

'Underground Poland speaks', 1941

Manifesto signed by "The Leadership of the Movement of the Working Masses of Poland". Published in Britain by Liberty Publications.

[This is one of four pamphlets relating to the Polish resistance which are included in the records of the Union of Post Office Workers; document reference: MSS.148/UCW/6/13/17/29-32]

'Remember the Warsaw Ghetto', 1944

'Remember the Warsaw Ghetto', 1944

Booklet published by the Federation of Polish Jews in Great Britain. It includes a report of the uprising, a list of those known to have died and a report of a national day of mourning in Britain on the first anniversary.

[Included in the papers of Victor Gollancz, document reference: MSS.157/3/JE/1/32]

'News from Hitler's Europe' no.14, issued by the National Committee for Rescue from Nazi Terror, 16 May 1944

'News from Hitler's Europe' no.14, issued by the National Committee for Rescue from Nazi Terror, 16 May 1944

This edition includes news from France, Italy, Greece and Hungary, particularly about the treatment of Jews.

[Included in the papers of Victor Gollancz, document reference: MSS.157/5/E/4]

Leaflet on anti-fascist resistance in Bulgaria, 1944

Leaflet on anti-fascist resistance in Bulgaria, 1944

Published by the Union of Democratic Control in London.

[Included in the papers of Victor Gollancz, document reference: MSS.157/5/E/3]