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British Union of Fascists

Administrative/Biographical History

The British Union of Fascists (BUF) was formed in 1932 by Sir Oswald Mosley.  Mosley had been a Conservative MP who joined the Labour Party and served in the government of Ramsay Macdonold.  Following a 1931 visit to Italy where he met Mussolini, he became a committed fascist.  Despite some early success in winning a number of prominent supporters (by 1934 the BUF had 40,000), the BUF never won an election either locally or nationally.  In the years before the outbreak of Second World War, Mosley was moving closer to Hitler’s Germany, and when war finally arrived he was arrested and held in prison from May 1940 until November 1943.  In May 1940 the BUF was banned outright by the government and it dissolved.

Sources

  • Pamphlet collection – three boxes ref 329.9 and 329.91. These boxes contain several dozen pamphlets, all of which illustrate the range of BUF political attitudes. Interestingly there are pamphlets aimed at specific regional targets; titles such as Is Lancashire Doomed? and Yorkshire Betrayed illustrate how the BUF played on local and regional grievances to draw support.
  • Press cuttings – three boxes dating from about 1924-1981. This is a large collection of pro and anti – BUF press cuttings, the bulk of which date from the 1930s. The cuttings were collected on behalf of the Labour Party by a press agency and contain both local and national newspapers.
  • LP/FAS – in 1934 the Labour Party sent a series of questionnaires to all constituency parties relating to local fascist activity and there are almost four hundred replies, as well as other related correspondence.
  • Communist Party of Great Britain – a large amount of material relating to the BUF and the political opposition can be found across this collection as a whole; whether in the minutes of the Political Committee, or in the individual papers of prominent individuals.

 

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