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Encyclopedia > Fifth column

A fifth column is a group of people who clandestinely undermine a larger group to which it is expected to be loyal, such as a nation. Fifth Column can refer to either: An allusion by National General Mola during the Spanish Civil War. ... Look up clandestine in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... For other uses, see Nation (disambiguation). ...



The term originated with a 1936 radio address by Emilio Mola, a nationalist general during the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War. As four of his army columns moved on Madrid, the general referred to his militant supporters within the capital as his "fifth column," intent on undermining the Republican government from within (see Siege of Madrid). Emilio Mola Vidal (June 9, 1887 – June 3, 1937) was a Nationalist commander during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). ... Not to be confused with the Spanish Civil War of 1820-1823. ... A military column is a formation of soldiers, marching together single file, one behind another. ... This article is about the Spanish capital. ... The word militant has come to refer to any individual or party engaged in aggressive physical or verbal combat, normally for a cause. ... Not to be confused with capitol. ... The Siege of Madrid was a three year siege of the Spanish capital Madrid, during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939. ...

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. There, fear of the "fifth Column" was used as justification for the mass internment on the Isle of Man of German nationals resident in the country, including German Jews and staunch anti-Nazis who had sought refuge in Britain after the rise of Hitler,[citation needed] as well as in the western portion of Canada and the United States in the evacuation, relocation, and internment of Japanese immigrants and naturalized citizens. Year 1939 (MCMXXXIX) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Fascism (in Italian, fascismo), capitalized, was the authoritarian political movement which ruled Italy from 1922 to 1943 under the leadership of Benito Mussolini. ... National Socialism redirects here. ... Mushroom cloud from the nuclear explosion over Nagasaki rising 18 km into the air. ... ... Adolf Hitler Adolf Hitler (April 20, 1889 – April 30, 1945, standard German pronunciation in the IPA) was the Führer (leader) of the National Socialist German Workers Party (Nazi Party) and of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. ... Jerome War Relocation Center in Jerome, Arkansas Japanese people heading off to an internment camp. ...


The term is also used in reference to a population who are assumed to have loyalties to countries other than the one in which they reside, or who support some other nation in war efforts against the country they live in, which makes them traitors (see dual loyalty.) With the grain requisition crises, famines, troubled economic conditions and international destabilization in the 1930s, the Soviet Union became increasingly worried about a possible disloyalty of diaspora ethnic groups with cross-border ties (especially Finns, Germans and Poles), residing along its western borders, which eventually led to the start of Stalin's repressive policy towards them, most notably to the national operations of the NKVD and forced population transfer.[1] During World War II, the Japanese American internment proceeded in the United States for similar reasons. German minority organizations in Poland and Czechoslovakia formed the Selbstschutz, which actively helped the Third Reich in conquering those nations and engaged in atrocities. After 1945, this was cited as justification for the wholesale expulsion of ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia, Poland and the Soviet Union, including considerable former German territories annexed to these countries after the war. Dual loyalty is a term used in political discussions to describe, a situation where a person has loyalty to two separate interests which potentially conflict with each other. ... Remember about Those Who Starve! A Soviet poster from 1921. ... Mass operations of the NKVD were carried out during the Great Purge and targeted specific categories of people. ... Not by Their Own Will. ... Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000... Jerome War Relocation Center in Jerome, Arkansas Japanese people heading off to an internment camp. ... Selbstschutz (German: ) stands for two organisations: it was (1) a name used by a number of paramilitary organisations created by ethnic Germans in Central Europe and (2) is a name for self-defence measures and units in ethnic German, Austrian, and Swiss civil defence. ... Nazi Germany, or the Third Reich, commonly refers to Germany in the years 1933–1945, when it was under the firm control of the totalitarian and fascist ideology of the Nazi Party, with the Führer Adolf Hitler as dictator. ... Germany committed war crimes in both World War I and World War II. The most notable of these is the Holocaust, where millions of people, about half of which were Jews, were murdered. ... Year 1945 (MCMXLV) was a common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar). ... Germans expelled from the Sudetenland // The flight and expulsion of Germans during and after World War II refers to the forced migration of German nationals (Reichsdeutsche) and some ethnic Germans (Volksdeutsche) from various European states and territories 1943–1945 and in the first three years after World War II 1946...

Modern usage

  • Today the term "Fifth column" has a pejorative connotation, whereas partisan can be considered a positive or negative term. Resistance movements (when the government they live under is clearly an authoritarian dictatorship) are looked upon more favorably than fifth columnists, but it can be argued that there is an overlap between the two. For example, from the point of view of the German occupiers and the Vichy regime, the French Resistance could have been considered "a Fifth column", whereas the members of the resistance itself considered the Vichy collaborators to be in that role.
  • During wars, citizens of enemy countries are often held or watched because of concerns that they might be a fifth column. During World War II, enemy aliens and citizens descended from immigrants from enemy countries were interned throughout Allied and Axis countries, from Japan and Japanese-occupied territories such as the Philippines, to India, Canada and Latin America. This was the justification for the Japanese American internment along the West Coast of the United States and the Japanese Canadian internment in British Columbia, Canada. Thousands of German and other enemy nationals were also held by various US authorities.
  • Jewish-Americans are increasingly seen as a fifth-column in the United States, due to the perceived subordination of American policies, specially in the Middle-East, to Israeli interests and views.
  • Politicians who act too accommodating and conciliatory to the sworn enemies of a nation may also be called part of "the fifth column." [3]

Look up partisan in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Vichy (Occitan: Vichèi) is a French commune, situated in the département of Allier and the région of Auvergne. ... The Croix de Lorraine, the symbol of the resistance chosen by de Gaulle French Resistance is the name used for resistance movements during World War II which fought the Nazi German occupation of France and the collaborationist Vichy regime. ... Jerome War Relocation Center in Jerome, Arkansas Japanese people heading off to an internment camp. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Unionism, in the context of Ireland, is a belief in the continuation of the Act of Union 1800 (as amended by the Government of Ireland Act 1920) so that Northern Ireland (created by the 1920 Act) remains part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. ... For other uses, see Troubles (disambiguation) and Trouble. ... The Guildford Four were a group of people (Paul Hill, Gerry Conlon, Patrick Paddy Armstrong and Carole Richardson), who were wrongly convicted in the United Kingdom in October 1975 for the Provisional IRAs Guildford pub bombing — which killed five people and injured sixty-five more — and imprisoned for over... The Birmingham Six were six men—Hugh Callaghan, Patrick Hill, Gerard Hunter, Richard McIlkenny, William Power and John Walker—sentenced to life imprisonment in 1975 in an infamous miscarriage of justice for two pub bombings in Birmingham, England on November 21, 1974 that killed 21 people. ... Thomas Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1856–February 3, 1924), was the twenty-eighth President of the United States. ... Irish Americans are residents or citizens of the United States who claim Irish ancestry. ... Federal courts Supreme Court Circuit Courts of Appeal District Courts Elections Presidential elections Midterm elections Political Parties Democratic Republican Third parties State & Local government Governors Legislatures (List) State Courts Local Government Other countries Atlas  Politics Portal      Further information: Politics of the United States#Organization of American political parties The Democratic... German-Americans are citizens of the United States of German ancestry. ... Hyphenated Americans are Americans who are referred to with a first word indicating an origin or ancestry in a foreign country and a second term (separated from the first with a hyphen) being American (e. ... The General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chae Ilbon Chosŏnin Chongryŏnhaphoe in Korean or Zai-Nihon Chōsenjin Sōrengōkai in Japanese), abbreviated to Chongryon (Korean: 총련, Hanja: 總聯) or Chōsen Sōren (Japanese: 朝鮮総連, Korean: 조선총련, Hanja: 朝鮮總連), is one of two main organisations for Zainichi (or Jaeil... Kim Jong-il (born February 16, 1942) has been the leader of North Korea since 1994. ... In May 2004, North Korea allowed the five children of two abducted couples to leave North Korea and join their families, who had come back to Japan for a year and a half. ... Picture of Taepodong-1 missile test from 1998 Two rounds of North Korean missile tests were conducted on July 5, 2006. ...

Other uses of the term

  • In the popular 1980s TV series V there was a faction of the invading aliens army called Fifth Column who opposed their leader's plans and collaborated with the human resistance.
  • Dr. Seuss was also very fond of using this phrase to refer to fascist sympathizers or anybody opposed to the war effort.
  • The 5th Column was the name of a villain organization in the City of Heroes video game that had ties to the original German Nazi Party (though the term "Nazi" is never actually used in any information regarding the group). It was later removed from the game, replaced by The Council, a villain group which apparently had ties to the original Italian Fascist National Party. The 5th Column will return to the game in Issue 11: A Stitch In Time.
  • The Fifth Column is the name of a political and media gossip page in Ireland's Sunday Independent. The page is currently edited by Liam Collins, the paper's news editor.
  • The Agatha Christie book 'N or M' centres around married couple Tommy and Tuppence going undercover and trying to unmask two 'Fifth Column' operatives - N and M.
  • The official AFI street team is called the 5th Column.
  • A Canadian all-girl Experimental Punk band named Fifth Column
  • A Dutch Post-Hardcore/Rock/Alternative band.
  • "The Fifth Column" is the title of episode 2.35 of the military science fiction series Exosquad.

V is a science fiction TV franchise created by American producer and director Kenneth Johnson concerning aliens known as The Visitors trying to take over Earth. ... // The Fifth Column Alliance was originally a holdover of the original Visitor republican-type government that survived the Leaders coup and attempted to retake control. ... Theodor Seuss Geisel (March 2, 1904 – September 24, 1991) was an American writer and cartoonist best known for his classic childrens books under the pen name Dr. Seuss, including The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and One Fish Two Fish Red... Paragon City, the City of Heroes setting place, and the Rogue Isles, the City of Villains locale, are full of organizations that players must confront. ... City of Heroes (CoH) is a massively multiplayer online role-playing computer game based on the superhero comic book genre, developed by Cryptic Studios and published by NCsoft. ... The National Socialist German Workers Party, (German: , or NSDAP, commonly known as the Nazi Party), was a political party in Germany between 1919 and 1945. ... Paragon City, the City of Heroes setting place, and the Rogue Isles, the City of Villains locale, are full of organizations that players must confront. ... The Fascist National Party (Partito Nazionale Fascista; PNF) was an Italian party, created by Benito Mussolini as the political expression of Fascism (previously represented by groups known as Fasci; see also Italian fascism). ... The massively multiplayer online role-playing computer games City of Heroes and City of Villains are continually being expanded by the games developers. ... For other uses, see Fifth Column (disambiguation). ... The Sunday Independent is a broadsheet Sunday newspaper published in the Republic of Ireland by Independent News and Media plc. ... AFI, in recent years short for A Fire Inside, is an American band from Ukiah, California. ... A street team is an organization called upon to advertise and promote an event or a product. ... All-women bands and Girl bands are musical groups in which women sing and play all the instruments. ... Fifth Column, from left to right: Caroline Azar, G.B. Jones, Beverly Breckenridge. ... The following is an episode list for the animated television series Exosquad produced by Universal Cartoon Studios and Will Meugniot. ... Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein is a well-known example of military science fiction. ... Phaeton, leader of the Neosapiens Exosquad was a science fiction cartoon that ran on the USA network and Fox from September 1993 to May 1995. ...

See also

Quisling, after Norwegian fascist politician Vidkun Quisling, is a term used to describe traitors and collaborationists. ... Sixth Column, also published under the title The Day After Tomorrow, is a science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein, set in a United States that has been conquered by a foreign invader. ... Eurabia is a neologism that denotes a scenario where Europe allies itself to and eventually merges with the Arab world. ...


  • "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).


  1. ^ Martin, Terry (1998). The Origins of Soviet Ethnic Cleansing. The Journal of Modern History 70 (4), 813-861.
  2. ^ "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])
  3. ^ http://www.moonbattery.com/archives/2007/01/fifth_column_ta_1.html

  Results from FactBites:
Fifth Column Artist Development | Independent Marketing (760 words)
Fifth Column is an artist development company based in Austin, TX.
Fifth Column is working to build a reputation for finding great bands and artists.
Fifth Column is vested in the ongoing success of the band/artist, and in return the band/artist gets the full benefit of working with Fifth Column - major-label level marketing, art design, street team and retail maintenance, and PR services, among other things.
Fifth column - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (479 words)
A fifth column is a group of people which clandestinely undermines a larger group to which it is expected to be loyal, such as a nation.
As four of his army columns moved on Madrid, the general referred to his militant supporters within the capital as his "fifth column," intent on undermining the Republican government from within (see also Siege of Madrid (1936-39)).
The French Underground is a particularly well-known fifth column.
  More results at FactBites »



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