In February 2020, two newspaper titles produced by the British Union of Fascists – Action and The Blackshirt – were made available on The British Newspaper Archive (BNA) website. Upon review of the content of these titles – some of which some users may find offensive and upsetting – the British Library and The BNA have decided to remove these titles from the online site.
MP Sir Oswald Mosley published this weekly paper from 1933-1939. Featuring the nationalistic slogan “Britain First,” it also served as the official paper of his party the British Union of Fascists (BUF).
In the decade leading up to the Second World War, fascism as a form of government was rising in popularity across Europe. To Mosley, Hitler’s Nationalist Socialist Party was seen as a revolutionary and necessary means to fix economic crisis, inertia in government, and to fight the threat of communism, and he used The Blackshirt to express these views with transparency from the first issue.
From a spread entitled ‘Hitler – The New Man of Germany’ to the opening paragraphs of Mosley’s introductory column, it’s clear to see what sort of message he wanted the paper to convey to the public. He begins by detailing the work necessary for the success of the fascist revolution (in his consideration the only solution for government) and the “legal and constitutional” means by which it will be achieved. And yet, ambiguously undermining that sentiment, he goes on to promise: “On the other hand, we recognise that things may be allowed to drift too far, and that other methods may thus become necessary.”
After the launch of Action, a second newspaper under the auspices of Mosley and the BUF, which offered a slightly less radical approach during a time when anti-Nazi sentiment was growing in Britain, The Blackshirt was gradually pushed to the sidelines and in 1938 was moved from a weekly to a monthly.
The Blackshirt eventually ceased publication a year later when Action became the sole focus for Mosley, but this only lasted a further year. In 1940, the BUF was banned by the government and Mosley was interned, putting an official end to all publications.
This newspaper is published by British Union of Fascists in London, London, England. It was digitised and first made available on the British Newspaper Archive in Feb 22, 2020 . The latest issues were added in Feb 22, 2020.