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A fifth column is a group of people who clandestinely undermine a larger group, such as a nation, from within, to the aid of an external enemy.

Contents

Origin

The term originated with a 1936 radio address by Emilio Mola, a Nationalist General during the 1936–39 Spanish Civil War. As his army approached Madrid, he broadcast a message that the four columns of his forces outside the city would be supported by a "fifth column" of his supporters inside the city, intent on undermining the Republican government from within (see Siege of Madrid).[1]

In fact, this supposed "fifth column" did not prove very effective, as evidenced by the fact that Madrid held out until 1939 despite very heavy fighting. Nevertheless, the term caught on and was used extensively, especially by those fighting the Fascists and Nazis. It was especially in wide use in Britain in the early stages of the Second World War. Their fear of the "fifth Column" was used as justification for the mass internment, on the Isle of Man, of German nationals who resided in the United Kingdom. The United States and Canada interned Japanese citizens around the same time (early 1940s) using similar justification.

Usage

With the grain requisition crises, famines, troubled economic conditions and international destabilization in the 1930s, the leaders of the Soviet Union became increasingly worried about the possible disloyalty of diaspora ethnic groups with cross-border ties (especially Finns, Germans and Poles), residing along its western borders; this eventually led to the start of Stalin's repressive policies towards them, most notably to the national operations of the NKVD and forced population transfer.[2]

In Europe, German minority organizations in Poland and Czechoslovakia formed the Selbstschutz, which actively helped the Third Reich in conquering those nations. After 1945, this was cited as justification for the wholesale expulsion of ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia, Poland and the Soviet Union, as well as TA return to these countries of territories which had been annexed by Germany.

Modern usage

See also

Pop culture

  • In the NBC mini-series, TV series & ABC TV series adaptions of V, a group of rebel aliens call themselves "The Fifth Column".
  • In the television series Stargate SG-1, the Jaffa resistance is sometimes referred to as the "Jaffa Fifth Column".
  • In the MMORPG City of Heroes, the Fifth Column are a Nazi-themed terrorist organisation that has infiltrated the United States.
  • Ernest Hemingway wrote a propaganda play in 1937 entitled The Fifth Column about the Spanish Civil War.

References

  1. ^ fifth column. (2008). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved January 14, 2008, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9034225
  2. ^ Martin, Terry (1998). The Origins of Soviet Ethnic Cleansing. The Journal of Modern History 70 (4), 813-861.
  3. ^ "North Koreans in Japan have long been vilified as a communist fifth column" (Hans Greimel, "Test sparks N. Korea Backlash in Japan", Associated Press dispach, October 24, 2006 [1])
  4. ^ "... a fifth column, a league of traitors" (Evelyn Gordon, "No longer the political fringe", Jerusalem Post Sep 14, 2006)
  5. ^ "[Avigdor Lieberman] compared Arab MKs to collaborators with Nazis and expressed the hope that they would be executed." (Uzi Benziman, "For want of stability", Ha'aretz undated)
  6. ^ "We were shocked to hear of the intentions of enemies from the inside..." (Ronny Sofer, "Yesha rabbis: Majadele is like a fifth column", Ynetnews October 19, 2007)
  7. ^ "[George Galloway] looks like a moderate next to Israeli fifth columnists like Bishara." (David Bedein, "Israel's Unrepentant Fifth Columnist", Israel Insider April 13, 2007)
  8. ^ "The Israeli Arabs are a time bomb." (Ari Shavit, "Survival of the fittest", Ha'aretz September 1, 2004)
  9. ^ "... many Israeli Jews view Israeli Arabs as a security and demographic threat." (Evelyn Gordon, "'Kassaming' coexistence", Jerusalem Post May 23, 2007)
  10. ^ "Why is Arab criticism always labeled as conspiracy to destroy Israel?" (Abir Kopty, "Fifth column forever?", Ynetnews April 7, 2007)
  11. ^ "... they hurl accusations against us, like that we are a 'fifth column.'" (Roee Nahmias, "Arab MK: Israel committing 'genocide' of Shiites", Ynetnews August 2, 2006)
Notes
  • "The Saturnalia" ǢBKLYN ŁCA ŶBEIJING: 5th Column Ministry of Info, 1900
  • "The German Fifth Column in Poland" London: Polish Ministry of Info, 1941
  • "Fifth Column at Work" by Bohumil Bilek, description of German minority in Czechoslovakia, London, Trinity, 1945.
  • "The German Fifth Column in the Second World War" Jong, Louis de New York Fertig, 1973
  • "The Fifth Column, and Four Stories of the Spanish Civil War" New York Scribner, 1969
  • Dr. Seuss Goes to War: The World War II Editorial Cartoons of Theodor Seuss Geisel, a selection with commentary by Richard Minnear (New Press, 2001; ISBN 1-56584-704-0).

A fifth column is a group of people who clandestinely undermine a larger group such as a nation from within, to help an external enemy.

Contents

Origin

The term originated with a 1936 radio address by Emilio Mola, a Nationalist General during the 1936–39 Spanish Civil War. As his army approached Madrid, a message was broadcast that the four columns of his forces outside the city would be supported by a "fifth column" of his supporters inside the city, intent on undermining the Republican government from within (see Siege of Madrid).[1] The term was used as the title of Ernest Hemingway's only play, which he wrote while the city was being bombarded; the play was published in 1938 in his book The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories.[2]

In fact, this supposed "fifth column" did not prove very effective, as demonstrated by the fact that Madrid held out until 1939 despite very heavy fighting. Nevertheless, the term caught on and was used extensively, especially by those fighting the Fascists and Nazis.

The term was in wide use in Britain in the early stages of the Second World War where the fear of the fifth Column was used as justification for the mass internment, on the Isle of Man, of German nationals who resided in the United Kingdom. The United States and Canada interned U.S. and Canadian citizens of Japanese, German, and Italian descent around the same time (early 1940s), using similar justification.

Usage

With the grain requisition crises, famines, troubled economic conditions, and international destabilization in the 1930s, the leaders of the Soviet Union became increasingly worried about the possible disloyalty of diaspora ethnic groups with cross-border ties (especially Finns, Germans and Poles), residing along its western borders; this eventually led to the start of Stalin's repressive policies towards them, most notably to the national operations of the NKVD and forced population transfer.[3]

In Europe, German minority organizations in Poland and Czechoslovakia formed the Selbstschutz and the Sudeten German Free Corps respectively , which actively helped the Third Reich in conquering those nations. After 1945, this was cited as justification for the wholesale expulsion of ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia, Poland and the Soviet Union, as well as return to these countries of territories which had been annexed by Germany.

Modern usage

  • Terry Sanderson, President of Britain's National Secular Society, alleged the existence of "a fifth column of Catholics whose primary, indeed seemingly only, loyalty is to their Church." He went on to say that, having "so comprehensively abused its place in the corridors of power, it now needs to be banished from them."[5]

See also

Pop culture

  • Author and Radio Personality Michael Savage frequently claims that in the United States the Fourth Estate has now become the Fifth Column.
  • In the classic Twilight Zone episode The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street, the mob suggest that one of the neighbors may be some sort of "fifth column" for a coming alien invasion.
  • In the NBC mini-series, TV series & ABC TV series adaptions of V, a group of rebel aliens and humans call themselves "The Fifth Column".
  • In the television series Stargate SG-1, the Jaffa resistance is sometimes referred to as the "Jaffa Fifth Column".
  • In the MMORPG City of Heroes, the Fifth Column were a Nazi-themed terrorist organisation that had infiltrated the United States & survived until recently. They were subsequently written out of the game's setting so that the game could be released in Germany.
  • The "Fifth Column" was a recurring nemesis for the Green Lama in his 1940s comic book adventures.
  • In the television series Jeremiah, forces of the Army of Daniel that infiltrated the Thunder Mountain complex of the Western Alliance were referred to as the "Fifth Column".
  • The Agenda, a current affairs television program aired by TVOntario, has a blog called "The Fifth Column" [2]
  • There was a (now defunct) industrial music label named "Fifth Colvmn Records."

References

  1. ^ fifth column. (2008). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved January 14, 2008, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9034225
  2. ^ The Fifth Column and Forty-Nine Stories. The Literary Encyclopedia. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
  3. ^ Martin, Terry (1998). "The Origins of Soviet Ethnic Cleansing". The Journal of Modern History 70 (4), 813-861.
  4. ^ "North Koreans in Japan have long been vilified as a communist fifth column" (Hans Greimel, "Test sparks N. Korea Backlash in Japan", Associated Press dispatch, October 24, 2006 [1])
  5. ^ http://www.secularism.org.uk/after-the-chesney-revelations-ir.html
  6. ^ "... they hurl accusations against us, like that we are a 'fifth column.'" (Roee Nahmias, "Arab MK: Israel committing 'genocide' of Shiites", Ynetnews August 2, 2006)
  7. ^ "... a fifth column, a league of traitors" (Evelyn Gordon, "No longer the political fringe", Jerusalem Post Sep 14, 2006)
Notes
  • "The Saturnalia" ǢBKLYN ŁCA ŶBEIJING: 5th Column Ministry of Info, 1900
  • "The German Fifth Column in Poland" London: Polish Ministry of Info, 1941
  • "Fifth Column at Work" by Bohumil Bilek, description of German minority in Czechoslovakia, London, Trinity, 1945.
  • "The German Fifth Column in the Second World War" Jong, Louis de New York Fertig, 1973
  • "The Fifth Column, and Four Stories of the Spanish Civil War" New York Scribner, 1969
  • Dr. Seuss Goes to War: The World War II Editorial Cartoons of Theodor Seuss Geisel, a selection with commentary by Richard Minnear (New Press, 2001; ISBN 1-56584-704-0).







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