Plausibilty Check: Fascist France

A major portion in my TL (currently I'm in the process of taking notes) involves an alternate WWII.

The setup is that France becomes fascist and forms an anti-communist pact with Italy (already fascist and more or less unchanged from OTL fascist Italy) and Britain (?).

ATL WWII mirrors Operation Barbarossa, with the German Red Army having been swept out of much of Germany by the combined invading Italian-French-British armies before making a stand in Hamburg (a reference to OTL Stalingrad)

I'm not pretending to be an expert on French and/or British history, but what would it take to make France fascist (keeping in mind that the Allied powers still won the First World War) and quite possibly Britain fascist as well?

It would be nice to have the French Popular Party seize power as an allusion to the Nazi Party's rise to power, but I don't know if this is entirey possible.

What of the February 6th Crisis?

Again, I'm not an expert in British for French history and mostly I want to focus on the ATL WWII with a fascist France serving as an ATL Nazi Germany.

Advice would be greatly appreciated. :)
The French far right was a rather confused bunch but with the ability to lure the middle class into its fold. If for example the more moderate Croix-de-feu make peace with Action Francaise in 1934 the coup will have more leverage and might succeed. A more interesting point would be a post 1934 change in power. Around 1938 there were a lot of calls for a more stable government lead by a powerful figure against the communists by the moderate right. In 1938 Maurras, the leader of Action Francaise, has also shaken some of his royalist views away, or at least don't wave them in public.

I'm watching football right know but I'll post some more ideas later.

quick edit: France might only ally with Italy against Germany, never with Germany, unless they are completely broken, see Vichy.
The French/Italian alliance is obvious (both countries being fascist in ATL), yet A) how to make Britain fascist and/or authoritarian and B) would Britain consider joining an anti-communist alliance against the USSR (which includes Germany)

Furthermore, could communists seize power in Austria (as to allow for Italian troops to break out through Austria in ATL WWII) at any point?

I know quite a bit about German and Soviet history but almost zilch about Austrian history.
Fascism in France is out of the question without a very early PoD (1918 at least i think) and even then it would be difficult. The far right is far too much dispersed and couldn't unite. Add to that that the biggest rightist movement in the interwar period was pro-democracy (even if they wanted another form of republic, they were those who formed the core of post war gaullism), you would have difficulty creating a fascist mouvement in France. In fact the more plausible right wing dictatorship would be a military one, without a real ideology.


What of the February 6th Crisis?
I recommend William Shirer’s The Collapse of the Third Republic: An enquiry into the Fall of France 1940, it covers the history of the French Third Republic in detail from its inception through to its demise.

What’s intriguing about February 6th, is just how many of the same key figures of 1940 played a role in 1934 as well. Daladier, the hard man of the Radicals, proving to be about as hard as a soufflé; Wegand, openly contemptuous of the republicans and Jews he saw ruining France, and lurking in the background Petain, having tasted political power as defence minister now keen for more.


I recommend William Shirer’s The Collapse of the Third Republic: An enquiry into the Fall of France 1940, it covers the history of the French Third Republic in detail from its inception through to its demise.
Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant book. Even better than his The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, if not nearly as well known. Took me awhile to get through, but very much worth it.
I would further recommend Eugen Weber's work on Action Fraqncaise. Although it is fairly old, 1962, it's a magnificent piece of academic literature.

Regarding a 1938 "March on Paris" by Action Francaise it is, although Weber wouldn't agree, fairly plausible. In 1937 Cagoule, a right wing terrorist league intensified their violence against socialists and almost succeeded in directing blame to a "judeo-socialist-german conspiracy". If Cagoule wasn't discovered by the police in December 1937 their terrorism, somewhat akin to SA, could create a situation tense enough for Action Francaise to capitalize on. We also have Léon Blum's short second term reviving anti-Semitism and anti-socialist feelings in a broad spectra, especially among the rich middle class and of course the upper class. In early 1938 there were also widespread calls for Petain to enter politics. The paper Le Matin (a circulation of around 300000), known later for collaborations propaganda, called for national unity and Le Figaro for a small government centred at "an incontestable national figure" (see Petain). Combine that with Maurras' entry into Academie Francaise, his peace with right wing republicans in July 1937 and his short period as a martyr in prison and you may have enough leverage to force sort of nationalist council upon France.

A mini-tl for example:

  • Italy does not approve of Germany's affairs in Austria but does not raise arms against the Anchluss in 1938 (POD)
  • Anti-German feelings due to the more aggressive Anchluss combined with the threat of communist fuel the right wing and make Maurras more likely to temporary pause his royalist work. The French nationalists with German leanings become anti-German once again.
  • Due to the imminent threat of war Weygand and Petain becomes more active in France rather than the colonies.
  • Anti-socialist violence inspired but not connected with Action Francaise triggers a spiral of violence from both sides leading to a widespread feeling of an imminent communist coup.
  • Large papers like Le Figaro calls for a uniting against the German and communist threat.
  • A somewhat united march lead by Maurras, supported by the national hero Petain, enforce a state of emergency upon France. France is now lead by a small council with Petain as the figurehead, until the threat of Germany is resolved.

Another, somewhat similar but not as straightforward can be found in my timeline (shameless commercial) later chapters in the signature.

I recommend William Shirer’s The Collapse of the Third Republic: An enquiry into the Fall of France 1940, it covers the history of the French Third Republic in detail from its inception through to its demise.

Fortunately my local college library has this book, while another library that I currently frequent has numerous books on the Third Republic and French collaborationist fascism.

Thanks for the help, everyone. ;)

Fascism in France is out of the question
I strongly disagree, and for storytelling purposes I don't see the harm in making France fascist (which IMHO isn't totally implausible, esp. if explained well in the TL) as it will allow me to set up an ATL WWII.

There were many instances where the French far-right came close to seizing power, and they certainly did try. So I don't see how fascism in France is out of the question, even without a POD in 1918 (as in France losing WWI?).
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