Bildnachweis (Ausschnitt): BMW Center for German and European Studies
Georgetown University - Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (USA)
E-Mail: brm47 [at] georgetown.edu
Reaction in a Time of Revolt: Far Right Movements in West Germany and Italy from the 1960s to the early 1980s
The dissertation project examines the trajectories of far right movements in the Federal Republic of Germany and Italy from the late 1960s into the early 1980s. In the two most prominent European nations ruled by fascist governments in the first half of the Twentieth Century, movements indebted to Nazism and Fascism in the second half of the century contended for political power in radically different societies from the ones in which the original movements had come to power. This project examines how the West German and Italian far right grappled with rapidly changing cultural and political norms, how they contended with postwar democratic societies through both parliamentary and extraparliamentary processes, particularly the use of violence, and how they perceived each other as part of a pan-European network of far right movements.
A long under-researched aspect of a period often associated with left-wing radicalism, far-right activism in West Germany and Italy proved to be as multifaceted and dynamic of a force as that on the left. The National Democratic Party of Germany won representation in seven of the eleven state parliaments in the Federal Republic between 1966 and 1968, only narrowly missing the five percent threshold for entrance into the Bundestag during the 1969 elections, while the neofascist Italian Social Movement had its best-ever showing in the 1972 federal elections in Italy, nearly surpassing the Italian Socialist Party as the third-largest party in Parliament. More radical elements of the far right, invoking an earlier spirit of fascism as a street-fighting movement, challenged the underlying postwar democratic order in the Federal Republic and Italy through violent means. Such actions are exemplified by the Bologna train station bombing in August 1980 and the Oktoberfest bombing, which took place one month later. These remain the deadliest terrorist attacks in their respective countries after 1945. In studying the far right during this period, this dissertation project breaks new ground in the study of West German and Italian history, upends long-held assumptions concerning the nature of political activism in the postwar era, and challenges historians to grapple with the endurance of far-right political movements after the defeats of Nazism and Fascism.
Während seines Aufenthalts am Leibniz-Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung Potsdam forscht Brent McDonnell in der Abteilung "Regime des Sozialen".