OLD-TIME FASCIST SCORNFUL OF NEW CANADIAN NAZI PARTY
BY ALEXANDER FARRELL
Source: The Gazette. Google Newspaper Archives
LANORAIE, Que. ― CP ― The flurry caused by recent reports of Fascist organization in Canada leaves one-time Fuehrer Adrien Arcand cold.
“This Sorel fellow is just a hoax,” he says of Fuehrer-Come-Lately André Bellefeuille.
Almost forgotten except for a handful of followers who still come to his white-brick house in this farm village on the north shore of the St. Lawrence 40 miles from Montreal, Arcand’s name was recalled when the CBC showed some film of Bellefeuille in a telecast Oct. 20.
The 29-year-old Bellefeuille, now suspended from his Federal Transport Department job as a draughtsman at Sorel, Que., told on the program of his party activities and his anti-Semitism.
Arcand, who once headed the Nazi-like Partie de l’Unité Nationale [sic] (National Unity Party) and spent five wartime years behind the barbed wire of an internment camp, also still talks of the “Jewish danger” but he has decided there is not much he can do about it.
Arcand, now 61, once claimed thousands of blue-shirted followers and surrounded himself with a highly-trained Iron Guard1, the counterpart of Hitler’s storm troopers. They boasted 20 years ago they would take over the Dominion.
Now L’Unité Nationale, revived by its leader after the war, has no program of political action.
“We are not a party now,” Arcand said. “We are just a study group.
“There are a few hundred of us. We have fun. We look at what is going on, and try to see what is coming.”
ARCAND SAYS BELLEFEUILLE IS A HOAX
Turning to Bellefeuille, he said the Sorel man once tried to join his movement but there was no place for him.
“Knowledge counts with us,” Arcand said. “We want nothing to do with people who lack deep convictions and just shout at the tops of their voices.”
Meanwhile, in Sorel, Bellefeuille was lying low. His wife and a self-styled “press attache” told reporters he was not well and could see no one. The press attache said the young draughtsman was “upset by the publicity given his declarations and is giving it all up.”
Arcand gave this reporter his own impression about all the fuss about Bellefeuille.
Seated before a typewriter in his living-room chair, surrounded by books and magazines, he looked out without relish upon the world scene but said, “I have done my share.”
He did not regret having spoken out against “the plans of international Jewry to dominate the world” and said his views have not changed.
He felt, in effect, that he has spoken his piece and “paid the price for it, with my liberty, my health and my reputation.”
His wartime internment he considered “unjust, for I committed no crime, I was simply put away as a danger to the state.” He was not treated roughly during the years he spent in Petawawa, Ont., and Fredericton internment camps, he said, but his health was nevertheless ruined.
During that time he had no means of supporting his wife and three sons. “They lived with the help of friends.”
His oldest son enlisted in the Army on reaching military age in 1944 and was on his way overseas when the war ended.
The gaunt, six-foot Arcand lives austerely, by his own account, eating but two meals a day and spending most of his time reading, writing and translating, his chief remunerative occupation. He speaks French, English, Italian, and can read German.
He rarely leaves his home, a stone’s throw from the river, except to go to Montreal for “study sessions” with his followers.
His routine is frequently interrupted, however, by visitors coming to discuss “politics and problems.”
He said he has always counselled against the use of violence. “Neither the Jewish problem nor any other problem can ever be settled by murder. A people seeking to dominate the world must be challenged, but not condemned to death.
“Our rules provide for the immediate expulsion of any member who uses force, or even carries any kind of weapon or liquor to a meeting.”
He wanted also to stress his loyalty to Canada.
“It is wrong to say I thought Hitler had the answers to the world’s problems. I had no association with the Nazi movement. In fact, the only German I ever corresponded with in those days was a philology professor who shared my interest in languages without sharing my interest in politics.”
At this point, Mme. Arcand, a strikingly attractive woman, came in with coffee and the conversation turned effortlessly to less controversial topics.
Arcand said he greatly admires the United States, “the country in the world which has had the most liberty for the last century and a half.
“American society, greatly superior to the Russian in his view, is the product of “the free activity of free men with initiative.”
The trouble was that the Americans had not succeeded in convincing many foreigners of this.
1. Translator’s note: Adrien Arcand’s “Iron Guard” is a topic I would like to have more time to research. The equivalence Farrell made with Hitler’s stormtroopers is a step removed from what appears to be the real inspiration for Arcand’s Legionnaires: the Legionaries and Iron Guard of Romanian patriot Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, born in 1899, the same year as Arcand. Codreanu, also in his turn, had been inspired by a slightly earlier Romanian Christian Defense movement whose members wore blue shirts.
Codreanu’s movement was Orthodox Catholic; it had a version of the Swastika as an emblem, and took the Archangel Michael for its patron. The Archangel Michael in Christian iconography led God’s armies against Satan and his armies. That would certainly have appealed to strict Roman Catholic, Adrien Arcand, who discusses Lucifer in his short book, The Universal Republic: “We call Lucifer, who was the brightest, most radiant of created beings, the ‘Prince of Darkness’. What could cause so total a reversal of this same being, a fall from the pinnacle of light to the depths of darkness, the collapse from one extreme at the summit to another extreme in the abyss?” Arcand links his Catholic understanding with politics when he goes on to say that Lucifer “proclaimed” the “liberal principle” when he defied the supremacy of God by crying “I will not serve!” (non serviam).
A study needs to be done of the sources of inspiration for Arcand’s choice of symbols and institutions; and to then contrast the way these were deployed and the differences between Arcand’s movement, the source movements, and parallel movements. To say that Arcand’s concepts are the “counterparts” of different ones chosen by Hitler, for example, does not answer the particular question of their real origin and of Arcand’s motivations, or of the particular way Arcand chose to use them. As Professor Pierre Trépanier has said, (translation:) “Despite the common features that link them, nationalisms are not conceived as exportable because each one is rooted in an original history and responds to particular conditions. They are all poles apart from Marxist internationalism.” Trépanier, P. (1991). La religion dans la pensée d’Adrien Arcand. Les Cahiers des dix, (46), 207-247. https://doi.org/10.7202/1015587ar (En dépit des traits communs qui les rapprochent, les nationalismes ne se conçoi¬vent pas comme exportables car chacun s’enracine dans une histoire originale et répond à des conditions particulières. C’est dire qu’ils se savent aux antipodes de l’internationalisme marxiste.)
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