The anarchist and Marxist group or groups that constitute Antifa and its supporters, like Chris Cuomo who compared Antifa to our soldiers invading Europe on D-Day, would like you to think that the word antifa is simply and only a shortened form of the word antifascism. They trot out memes of American soldiers invading Europe on D-Day with the word antifa on it and of General Dwight D. Eisenhower with the phrase Global Leader of Antifa, 1945 splashed across his photo. The Ike meme is not accurate because in 1945 the word antifa always referred to communists and the global leader of Antifa was Stalin not Eisenhower. And while our soldiers were anti-fascist, the idea they would have anything to do with Antifa is ludicrous.
The Etymology of the word Antifa
Most Americans believe that antifa is an abbreviated form of the word anti-fascism or anti-fascist, and that its derivation goes back to the late 20th century. A typical example, taken from the New York Times of August 15, 2017 in an article titled “Alt-Right, Alt-Left, Antifa: A glossary of extremist language” by Liam Stack states:
“Antifa” is a contraction of the word “anti-fascist.” It was coined in Germany in the 1960s and 1970s by a network of groups that spread across Europe to confront right-wing extremists, according to Pitcavage.” (Mark Pitcavage is an analyst at the Anti-Defamation League.)
In reality the word antifa is a shortened form of the German word antifaschismus which goes back much further than the 1960s. While the English words fascist, fascism and their opposites appear in the 20 volume Oxford English Dictionary, there is no entry for the word antifa. The online free version of the OED, however, states the following for the word’s origin: “1940s: shortening of anti-fascist.”
But if you go to the online German etymological site, DWDS Das Wortauskunftssystem zur deutschen Sprache in Geschichte und Gegenwart, you find that the word antifa appeared in print in Germany as early as March 1, 1931 in of all places, the Nazi newspaper, Völkischer Beobachter. It is used again in the March 3, 1931 edition. The first appearance in writing of the word antifascist or antifascists as a noun occurs in Germany in 1928 according to the DWDS.
However, Victor Klemperer who wrote the seminal philological work on the Nazi use of language, The Language of the Third Reich, based on entries from the diaries he kept throughout the 12 years of the Third Reich, may have been the first person to use the German word “antifaschistische” which translates to the adjective antifascist in English, in writing. According to the DWDS, Klemperer used the word in his diary in 1925 when he wrote “Und nun gingen wir in eine Versammlung, die antifaschistische Conferenz der Akademiker in der Rue Danton” or “And now we went to a meeting, the Anti-Fascist Conference of Academicians in Rue Danton.”
My first encounter with the word antifa was in the November 29, 1953 entry in the English translation of the Diaries of Victor Klemperer 1945-59 The Lesser Evil.
Just now, by way of a telephone call from Antifascist Committee in Berlin, the possibility […] (at once tempting and very inconvenient) has turned up of attending an Antifa Congress in Paris from 16-17 Dec. It is almost impossible to obtain a French visa at such short notice.”
Klemperer, whose diaries are among the best primary materials on Nazi rule, was a Marxist who after World War 2 stayed in East Germany because he believed it was the lesser of two evils. In other words, Klemperer chose communism over democracy.
Antifa and Communism
It appears then that early uses of the word antifa and antifascist have always been associated with communism. While the Soviet Union would sometimes refer to World War 2 as the great war against fascism, it is not something Americans said even though they too were antifascist.
Although the word antifa is loaded with marxist connotations, the people who belong to the group of groups known as Antifa, and their liberal apologists like Chris Cuomo have been working overtime to free that word from its original meaning.
But their own facebook and websites make it clear they are anti-capitalist and want to replace capitalism with “collective community power,” code words for socialism and communism.
Antifa and Violence
Although I disagree with some aspects of the ADL’s take on Antifa, they do expose Antifa’s violent history. “Today’s antifa argue they are the on-the-ground defense against individuals they believe are promoting fascism in the United States. However, antifa, who have many anti-police anarchists in their ranks, can also target law enforcement with both verbal and physical assaults because they believe the police are providing cover for white supremacists. They will sometimes chant against fascism and against law enforcement in the same breath.”
“While some antifa use their fists, other violent tactics include throwing projectiles, including bricks, crowbars, homemade slingshots, metal chains, water bottles, and balloons filled with urine and feces. They have deployed noxious gases, pushed through police barricades, and attempted to exploit any perceived weakness in law enforcement presence.”
It is unfortunate that many liberals like Chris Cuomo, and Congressman Gerald Nadler who says Antifa is imaginary, defend Antifa because if Antifa were ever to come to power, Antifa would deal with them the same way the Bolsheviks dealt with other liberal and leftist groups like the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries. Antifa is an anti-capitalist, anti-American group that believes in change through violence. They are a lawless group, and the Unites States must use every legal means to defeat them.