Anti-fascism is opposition to fascist ideologies, groups and individuals. The anti-fascist movement began in a few European countries in the 1920s, and eventually spread to other countries around the world. It was at its most significant shortly before and during World War II, where the fascist Axis powers were opposed by many countries forming the Allies of World War II and dozens of resistance movements worldwide. Anti-fascism has been an element of movements holding many different political positions, including social democratic, nationalist, liberal, conservative, communist, Marxist, trade unionist, anarchist, socialist, and centrist viewpoints.
With the development and spread of Italian Fascism, i.e. original fascism, the National Fascist Party's ideology was met with increasingly militant opposition by Italian communists and socialists. Organizations such as the Arditi del Popolo and the Italian Anarchist Union emerged between 1919–1921, to combat the nationalist and fascist surge of the post-World War I period.
In the words of historian Eric Hobsbawm, as fascism developed and spread, a "nationalism of the left" developed in those nations threatened by Italian irredentism (e.g. in the Balkans, and Albania in particular). After the outbreak of World War II, the Albanian and Serbian resistances were instrumental in antifascist action and underground resistance. This combination of irreconcilable nationalisms and leftist partisans constitute the earliest roots of European anti-fascism. Less militant forms of anti-fascism arose later. For instance, during the 1930s in Britain, "Christians – especially the Church of England – provided both a language of opposition to fascism and inspired anti-fascist action".
The diversity of political entities that share only their anti-fascism has prompted the historian Norman Davies to argue in his book Europe at War 1939–1945: No Simple Victory that anti-fascism does not offer a coherent political ideology, but rather that it is an "empty vessel". Davies further asserts that the concept of anti-fascism is a "mere political dance" created by Josef Stalin and spread by Soviet propaganda organs in an attempt to create the false impression that Western democrats by joining the USSR in the opposition to fascism could in general align themselves politically with communism. The motive would be to lend legitimacy to the dictatorship of the proletariat and was done at the time the USSR was pursuing a policy of collective security. Davies goes on to point out that with Winston Churchill as a notable exception, the concept of anti-fascism gained widespread support in the West, except that its credibility suffered a serious but temporary blow while the USSR and Nazi Germany coordinated their wars of aggression in Eastern Europe under their Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.
Anti-fascist movements emerged first in Italy, during the rise of Mussolini, but soon spread to other European countries and then globally. In the early period, Communist, socialist, anarchist and Christian workers and intellectuals were involved. Until 1928, the period of the United front, there was significant collaboration between the Communists and non-Communist anti-fascists. In 1928, the Comintern instituted its ultra-left "Third Period" policies, ending co-operation with other left groups, and denouncing social democrats as "social fascists". From 1934 until the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, the Communists pursued a Popular Front approach, of building broad-based coalitions with liberal and even conservative anti-fascists. As fascism consolidated its power, and especially during World War II, anti-fascism largely took the form of Partisan or Resistance movements.
In Italy, Benito Mussolini's Fascist regime used the term "anti-fascist" to describe its opponents. Mussolini's secret police was officially known as Organizzazione per la Vigilanza e la Repressione dell'Antifascismo (OVRA), Italian for "Organization for Vigilance and Repression of Anti-Fascism").
In the Kingdom of Italy in the 1920s, anti-fascists—many from the labour movement—fought against the violent Blackshirts and against the rise of fascist leader Benito Mussolini. After the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) signed a pacification pact with Mussolini and his Fascist Revolutionary Party (PFR) on 3 August 1921, and trade unions adopted a legalist and pacified strategy, members of the workers' movement who disagreed with this strategy formed the Arditi del popolo. The General Confederation of Labour (CGT) and the PSI refused to officially recognize the anti-fascist militia, while the Italian Communist Party (PCI) ordered its members to quit the organization. The PCI organized some militant groups, but their actions were relatively minor, and the party maintained a non-violent, legalist strategy. The Italian anarchist Severino Di Giovanni, who exiled himself to Argentina following the 1922 March on Rome, organized several bombings against the Italian fascist community.
Italian liberal anti-fascist Benedetto Croce wrote Manifesto of the Anti-Fascist Intellectuals, which was published in 1925. Another notable Italian liberal anti-fascist around that time was Piero Gobetti.
Between 1920 and 1943, several anti-fascist movements were active among the Slovenes and Croats in the territories annexed to Italy after World War I, known as the Julian March. The most influential was the militant insurgent organization TIGR, which carried out numerous sabotages, as well as attacks on representatives of the Fascist Party and the military. Most of the underground structure of the organization was discovered and dismantled by the Organization for Vigilance and Repression of Anti-Fascism (OVRA) in 1940 and 1941, and after June 1941, most of its former activists joined the Slovene Partisans.
During World War II, many members of the Italian resistance left their homes and went to live in the mountainside, fighting against Italian fascists and German Nazi soldiers. Many cities in Italy, including Turin, Naples and Milan, were freed by anti-fascist uprisings.
The anti-fascist resistance emerged within the Slovene minority in Italy (1920–1947), who the Fascists meant to deprive of their culture, language and ethnicity. The 1920 burning of the National Hall in Trieste, the Slovene center in the multi-cultural and multi-ethnic Trieste by the Blackshirts, Benito Mussolini who, at the time, was yet to become Duce, praised as a being a "masterpiece of the Triestine fascism" (capolavoro del fascismo triestino...). Not only in multi-ethnic areas, but also in the areas where the population was exclusively Slovene, the use of Slovene language in public places, including churches, was forbidden. Children, if they spoke Slovene, were punished by Italian teachers who were brought by the Fascist State from Southern Italy. The Slovene teachers, writers, and clergy were sent to the other side of Italy.
The first anti-fascist organization, called TIGR, was formed by Slovenes and Croats in 1927 in order to fight Fascist violence. Its guerrilla fight continued into the late 1920s and 1930s when by the mid-1930s, already 70,000 Slovenes fled Italy mostly to Slovenia (then part of Yugoslavia) and South America.
The Slovene anti-fascist resistance in Yugoslavia during World War II was led by Liberation Front of the Slovenian People. The Province of Ljubljana, occupied by Italian Fascists, saw the deportation of 25,000 people, equaling 7.5% of the total population, filling up Rab concentration camp and Gonars concentration camp and other Italian concentration camps.
In the 1920s and 1930s in the Weimar Republic, Communist Party and Social Democratic Party members advocated violence and mass agitation amongst the working class to first stop the Freikorps movements in immediate post-WW I Germany, and not long thereafter, Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party. Soviet revolutionary Leon Trotsky wrote:
[F]ighting squads must be created ... nothing increases the insolence of the fascists so much as 'flabby pacifism' on the part of the workers' organisations ... [It is] political cowardice [to deny that] without organised combat detachments, the most heroic masses will be smashed bit by bit by fascist gangs."
There were several anti-Nazi militant and paramilitary groups. These included the Social Democrat-dominated Reichsbanner Schwarz-Rot-Gold (formed in February 1924), the Communist paramilitary and propaganda organisation Roter Frontkämpferbund (Red Front Fighters League or RFB, formed in summer 1924) and the Communist Kampfbund gegen den Faschismus (Fighting-Alliance against Fascism, formed in 1930). The Roter Front was a paramilitary organization affiliated with the Communist Party of Germany that engaged in street fights with the Nazi Sturmabteilung. Its first leader was Ernst Thälmann, who would later die in a concentration camp and become widely honored in East Germany as an anti-fascist and socialist. In 1932, during the United Front period, Antifaschistische Aktion was formed as a broad-based alliance in which Social Democrats, Communists and others could fight legal repression and engage in self-defence against Nazi paramilitaries. Its two-flag logo, designed by Max Keilson and Max Gebhard, is still widely used as a symbol of militant anti-fascists globally.
In Spain, large-scale anti-fascist movements were first seen in the 1930s, before and during the Spanish Civil War. The republican government and army, the Antifascist Worker and Peasant Militias (MAOC) linked to the Communist Party (PCE), the International Brigades, the Workers' Party of Marxist Unification (POUM), Spanish anarchist militias, such as the Iron Column and the autonomous governments of Catalonia and the Basque Country, fought the rise of Francisco Franco with military force. The Friends of Durruti, associated with the Federación Anarquista Ibérica (FAI), were a particularly militant group. Thousands of people from many countries went to Spain in support of the anti-fascist cause, joining units such as the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, the British Battalion, the Dabrowski Battalion, the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion, the Naftali Botwin Company and the Thälmann Battalion, including Winston Churchill's nephew, Esmond Romilly. Notable anti-fascists who worked internationally against Franco included: George Orwell (who fought in the POUM militia and wrote Homage to Catalonia about this experience), Ernest Hemingway (a supporter of the International Brigades who wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls about this experience), and radical journalist Martha Gellhorn.
Spanish anarchist guerrilla Francesc Sabaté Llopart fought against Franco's regime until the 1960s, from a base in France. The Spanish Maquis, linked to the PCE, also fought the Franco regime long after the Spanish Civil war had ended.
In the 1920s and 1930s in the French Third Republic, anti-fascists confronted aggressive far-right groups such as the Action Française movement in France, which dominated the Latin Quarter students' neighborhood. After fascism triumphed via invasion, the French Resistance (French: La Résistance française) or, more accurately, resistance movements fought against the Nazi German occupation and against the collaborationist Vichy régime. Résistance cells were small groups of armed men and women (called the maquis in rural areas), who, in addition to their guerrilla warfare activities, were also publishers of underground newspapers and magazines such as Arbeiter und Soldat (Worker and Soldier) during World War 2, providers of first-hand intelligence information, and maintainers of escape networks.
The rise of Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists (BUF) in the 1930s was challenged by the Communist Party of Great Britain, socialists in the Labour Party and Independent Labour Party, anarchists, Irish Catholic dockmen and working class Jews in London's east end. A high point in the struggle was the Battle of Cable Street, when thousands of eastenders and others turned out to stop the BUF from marching. Initially, the national Communist Party leadership wanted a mass demonstration at Hyde Park in solidarity with Republican Spain, instead of a mobilisation against the BUF, but local party activists argued against this. Activists rallied support with the slogan They shall not pass, adopted from Republican Spain.
There were debates within the anti-fascist movement over tactics. While many east end ex-servicemen participated in violence against fascists, Communist Party leader Phil Piratin denounced these tactics and instead called for large demonstrations. In addition to the militant anti-fascist movement, there was a smaller current of liberal anti-fascism in Britain; Sir Ernest Barker, for example, was a notable English liberal anti-fascist in the 1930s.
During the United States Red Scare after the end of World War II, the term "premature anti-fascist" came into currency to describe Americans who had strongly agitated or worked against fascism, such as by fighting for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, before fascism was seen as a proximate and existential threat to the United States (which only occurred generally after the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany and universally after the attack on Pearl Harbor). The implication was that such persons were Communists or Communist sympathizers whose loyalty to the United States was suspect. However, historians John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr have written that no documentary evidence has been found of the US government referring to American members of the International Brigades as "premature antifascists"; the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Office of Strategic Services, and United States Army records used terms such as "Communist", "Red", "subversive", and "radical" instead. Haynes and Klehr indicate that they have instead found many examples of members of the XV International Brigade and their supporters referring to themselves sardonically as "premature antifascists".
Anti-fascist Italian expatriates in the United States founded the Mazzini Society in Northampton, Massachusetts in September 1939 to work toward ending Fascist rule in Italy. Political refugees from Mussolini's regime, they disagreed among themselves whether to ally with Communists and anarchists or to exclude them. The Mazzini Society joined together with other anti-Fascist Italian expatriates in the Americas at a conference in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1942. They unsuccessfully promoted one of their members, Carlo Sforza, to become the post-Fascist leader of a republican Italy. The Mazzini Society dispersed after the overthrow of Mussolini as most of its members returned to Italy.
The anti-fascist movements which emerged during the period of classical fascism, both liberal and militant, continued after the defeat of the Axis powers in response to the resilience and mutation of fascism in Europe and elsewhere. In Germany, for example, in 1944, as Nazi rule crumbled, veterans of the 1930s anti-fascist struggles formed "Antifaschistische Ausschüsse," "Antifaschistische Kommittees" or "Antifaschistische Aktion" groups (all typically abbreviated to Antifa).
After World War II, Jewish war veterans in the 43 Group continued the tradition of militant confrontations with Oswald Mosley's Union Movement. In the 1960s, the 62 Group continued the struggle against neo-Nazis.
In the 1970s, fascist and far-right parties such as the National Front (NF) and British Movement (BM) were making significant gains electorally, and were increasingly bold in their public appearances. This was challenged in 1977 with the Battle of Lewisham, when thousands of people disrupted an NF march in South London. Soon after, the Anti-Nazi League (ANL) was launched by the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). The ANL had a large-scale propaganda campaign and squads that attacked NF meetings and paper sales. The success of the ANL's campaigns contributed to the end of the NF's period of growth. During this period, there were also a number of black-led anti-fascist organisations, including the Campaign Against Racism and Fascism (CARF) and local groups like the Newham Monitoring Project.
The SWP disbanded the ANL in 1981, but many squad members refused to stop their activities. They were expelled from the SWP in 1981, many going on to found Red Action. The SWP used the term squadism to dismiss these militant anti-fascists as thugs. In 1985, some members of Red Action and the anarcho-syndicalist Direct Action Movement launched Anti-Fascist Action (AFA). Their founding document said "we are not fighting Fascism to maintain the status quo but to defend the interests of the working class". Thousands of people took part in AFA mobilisations, such as Remembrance Day demonstrations in 1986 and 1987, the Unity Carnival, the Battle of Cable Street's 55th anniversary march in 1991, and the Battle of Waterloo against Blood and Honour in 1992. After 1995, some AFA mobilisations still occurred, such as against the NF in Dover in 1997 and 1998. However, AFA wound down its national organisation and some of its branches and had ceased to exist nationally by 2001.
There was a surge in fascist activity across Europe from 1989 to 1991 after the collapse of Communism. In 1991, the Campaign Against Fascism in Europe (CAFE) coordinated a large militant protest against the visit to London by French right-wing leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen. This sparked a surge in anti-fascist organisations throughout Europe. In the UK alone, in 1992 a number of left-wing groups formed anti-fascist front organisations, such as a re-launched ANL in 1992, the Socialist Party's Youth against Racism in Europe YRE, and the Revolutionary Communist Party's Workers Against Racism. A number of black-led organisations, along with the Labour Party Black Sections and the National Black Caucus, formed the Anti-Racist Alliance in 1991, which eventually became the National Assembly Against Racism.
In August 2018, the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell called for a revival of "an Anti-Nazi League-type cultural and political campaign" following a number of far-right and racist incidents in the UK, including fascist attacks on a socialist bookshop by members of the far-right and UKIP, marches in favour of far-right activist Tommy Robinson and high-profile Islamophobia in the Conservative Party. This "welcome and timely" call to action was supported in a Guardian letter signed by the league's founders, which included former Labour minister Peter Hain, political activist Paul Holborow and leading musicians from Rock Against Racism.
Požig Narodnega doma ali šentjernejska noč tržaških Slovencev in Slovanov [Arson of the National Hall or the St. Bartholomew's Night of the Triestine Slovenes and Slavs]
Adiante - Galician Revolutionary Youth (Adiante-Mocidade Revolucionaria Galega, in Galician language) was a youth organization in Galicia (Spain) with a Galician independentist and communist ideology. According to themselves Adiante was "an autonomous youth assembliary organization, that embraced the diversity of the Galician youth problems from the perspective of national and social liberation, with the strategic horizon the construction of an independent, socialist and feminist Galician Republic."Anti-Germans (political current)
Anti-German (German: Antideutsch) is the generic name applied to a variety of theoretical and political tendencies within the radical left mainly in Germany and Austria. In 2006 Deutsche Welle estimated the number of anti-Germans at between 500 and 3,000.The basic standpoint of the anti-Germans includes opposition to German nationalism, a critique of mainstream left anti-capitalist views, which are thought to be simplistic and structurally anti-Semitic, and a critique of anti-Semitism, which is considered to be deeply rooted in German cultural history. As a result of this analysis of anti-semitism, support for Israel and opposition to Anti-Zionism is a primary unifying factor of the anti-German movement. The critical theory of Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer is often cited by anti-German theorists.The term does not generally refer to any one specific radical left tendency, but rather a wide variety of distinct currents, ranging from the so-called "hardcore" anti-Germans such as the quarterly journal Bahamas to "softcore" anti-Germans such as the radical left journal Phase 2. Some anti-German ideas have also exerted an influence on the broader radical leftist milieu, such as the monthly magazine konkret and the weekly newspaper Jungle World.Anti-authoritarianism
Anti-authoritarianism is opposition to authoritarianism, which is defined as "a form of social organisation characterised by submission to authority", "favoring complete obedience or subjection to authority as opposed to individual freedom" and to authoritarian government. Anti-authoritarians usually believe in full equality before the law and strong civil liberties. Sometimes the term is used interchangeably with anarchism, an ideology which entails opposing authority or hierarchical organization in the conduct of human relations, including the state system.Antifa (United States)
The Antifa () movement is a conglomeration of left-wing autonomous, militant anti-fascist groups in the United States. The principal feature of antifa groups is their use of direct action, with conflicts occurring both online and in real life. They engage in varied protest tactics, which include digital activism, property damage, physical violence, and harassment against those whom they identify as fascist, racist, or on the far-right.Activists involved in the movement tend to be anti-capitalists and subscribe to a range of ideologies, typically on the left. They include anarchists, socialists and communists along with some liberals and social democrats. Their stated focus is on fighting far-right and white supremacist ideologies directly, rather than through electoral means.Antifaschistische Aktion
Antifaschistische Aktion (German: [ˌantifaˈʃɪstɪʃə ʔakˈtsi̯oːn]), abbreviated as Antifa (German: [ˈantifaː]), is an anti-fascist network in Germany.Antifascistisk Aktion
Antifascistisk Aktion—abbreviated as AFA—is a far-left, extra-parliamentary, anti-fascist network in Sweden, whose stated goal is to "smash fascism in all its forms". Some of its members are influenced by the theory of triple oppression, and all of its members claim to oppose sexism, racism, and classism. The point of the organization is to exchange information and to coordinate activities between local groups.
The groups' activities have included handing out flyers, organizing demonstrations, direct action, and property destruction. In line with their ideology, and as a consequence of being constantly monitored by the police, the group has no central authority. This means it has a flat organization consisting of many independent groupings, without a board or leader. AFA works with other anti-racist groups all over Europe. The groups' origins are in the heterogeneous anti-fascist groups of the late 1930s and early 1940s, mostly made up of social democrats, communists, and progressive Christians. Their ideology is libertarian socialism.Battle of Cable Street
The Battle of Cable Street was an event that took place in Cable Street and Whitechapel in the East End of London, on Sunday 4 October 1936. It was a clash between the Metropolitan Police, sent to protect a march by members of the British Union of Fascists led by Oswald Mosley, and various anti-fascist demonstrators, including local anarchist, communist, Jewish and socialist groups. The majority of both marchers and counter-protesters travelled into the area for this purpose.Friendly Fascism (book)
Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America is a book written by American social scientist and professor of political science at Hunter College Bertram Gross and published on June 1, 1980 by M. Evans & Company as a 419-page hardback book containing 440 quotations and sources. The book examines the history of fascism and, based on the growth of big business and big government, describes possible political scenarios for a future United States. According to a 1981 review in the journal Social Justice, the book is described as "timely" on a subject requiring serious consideration and is about the dangers of fascism, focusing primarily on the United States, but being aware that monopoly capitalism needs to be understood internationally since capitalism "is not a national mode of production".In 2016, the book prompted the following response right after Donald Trump was elected President of the United States: "The next wave of fascists will not come with cattle cars and concentration camps, but they'll come with a smiley face and maybe a TV show. [...] That’s how the 21st-century fascists will essentially take over".Garibaldi Battalion
The Garibaldi Battalion (Garibaldi Brigade after April 1937) was a largely-Italian volunteer unit of the International Brigades that fought on the Republican side of the Spanish Civil War from October 1936 to 1938. It was named after Giuseppe Garibaldi, an Italian military and political figure of the nineteenth century.Independent Democratic Serb Party
The Independent Democratic Serb Party (Croatian: Samostalna demokratska srpska stranka or SDSS, Serbian Cyrillic: Самостална демократска српска странка, СДСС) is a social democratic political party of Serbs of Croatia.Movement of Socialists
The Movement of Socialists (Serbian: Покрет социјалиста, Pokret socijalista, PS) is a socialist political party in Serbia. Founded in 2008, it is currently led by Aleksandar Vulin, a former member of Yugoslav Left. It is a part of the governing coalition with the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS). It is formed by former members of the Socialist Party of Serbia because they disagreed with the pro-EU policy of the party. However, It was a member of the pro-EU SNS-led coalitions in the 2012 parliamentary election (as part of Let's Get Serbia Moving alliance) and in the 2014 parliamentary election.National Liberation Committee
The National Liberation Committee (Italian: Comitato di Liberazione Nazionale, CLN) was a political umbrella organization and the main representative of the Italian resistance movement fighting against the German occupation of Italy in the aftermath of the armistice of Cassibile. It was a multi-party entity, whose members were united by their anti-fascism.Nizkor Project
The Nizkor Project (Hebrew: נִזְכּוֹר, "we will remember") is an Internet-based project run by B'nai Brith Canada which is dedicated to countering Holocaust denial.OVRA
The Organizzazione per la Vigilanza e la Repressione dell'Antifascismo (OVRA; Italian for "Organization for Vigilance and Repression of Anti-Fascism") was the secret police of the Kingdom of Italy, founded in 1927 under the regime of Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini and during the reign of King Victor Emmanuel III. The OVRA was the Italian precursor of the German Gestapo. Mussolini's secret police were assigned to stop any anti-Fascist activity or sentiment. Approximately 50,000 OVRA agents infiltrated most aspects of domestic life in Italy. The OVRA was headed by Arturo Bocchini.People's Olympiad
The People's Olympiad (Catalan: Olimpíada Popular, Spanish: Olimpiada Popular) was a planned international multi-sport event that was intended to take place in Barcelona, the capital of the autonomous region of Catalonia within the Spanish Republic. It was conceived as a protest event against the 1936 Summer Olympics being held in Berlin, which was then under control of the Nazi Party.
Despite gaining the support from some athletes; and most significantly Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union and the Communist International organization; the People's Olympiad was never held, as a result of the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. Fifty-two years later, Barcelona hosted the 1992 Summer Olympics.
The Soviet Union did not participate in the Olympics until 1952 considering them a "bourgeois" event. However, the Communist government later used the Olympics to further its political agenda.Post-World War II anti-fascism
Antifa movements () and Anti-Fascist Action networks are groups that describe themselves as anti-fascist. Such movements have been active in several countries in the second half of the 20th and early 21st century.Redskin (subculture)
In the context of the skinhead subculture, a redskin is a marxist or anarchist skinhead. The term combines the word red, (a slang term for socialist or communist) with the word skin, which is short for skinhead. Redskins take a militant anti-fascist and pro-working class stance.
The most well-known organization associated with redskins is Red and Anarchist Skinheads (RASH). Other groups that have had redskin members include Anti-Fascist Action, Red Action and Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice (although SHARP does not have an official leftist ideology). Bands associated with redskins include: The Redskins, Angelic Upstarts, Blaggers I.T.A., Kortatu, Skalariak, Banda Bassotti, The Burial, Negu Gorriak, Opció K-95, Los Fastidios, Kaos Urbano, Brigada Flores Magón, Nucleo Terco and The Press. One record label associated with the subculture is Insurgence Records.Searchlight (magazine)
Searchlight is a British magazine, founded in 1975 by Gerry Gable, which publishes exposés about racism, antisemitism and fascism in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.
Searchlight's main focus is on the British National Party (BNP), Combat 18, the English Defence League (EDL) and other sections of the far right in the United Kingdom, as well as covering similar entities in other countries. The magazine is published and edited by Gerry Gable.Strafgesetzbuch section 86a
The German Strafgesetzbuch (Criminal Code) in section § 86a outlaws "use of symbols of unconstitutional organizations" outside the contexts of "art or science, research or teaching". The law does not name the individual symbols to be outlawed, and there is no official exhaustive list. However the law has primarily been used to outlaw Nazi and Communist symbols. The law was adopted during the Cold War and notably affected the Communist Party of Germany, which was banned as unconstitutional in 1956, and several tiny far-right parties.
The law prohibits the distribution or public use of symbols of unconstitutional groups—in particular, flags, insignia, uniforms, slogans and forms of greeting.