By Edmond Jabès
Literature/Jewish reviews, tr Rosmarie Waldrop
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Additional resources for A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Book
A number of British ﬁlms used the Fifth Column genre to great effect and even before the invasion of Norway many used a storyline that featured the Fifth Column being based amongst the inﬂuential in society. The 1939 ﬁlm Four Just Men had the traitor as a member of the elite in society and was widely released in Australia. Based on an Edgar Wallace novel, the Just Men were four highly connected members of society operating to protect England. They discovered that a highly placed and popular Member of Parliament was a Fifth Columnist.
A version of the British Fascists (a forerunner to the BUF) was begun in South Australia in 1926. 80 Nothing was done to further fascism in South Australia until Erich Meier, a German, took over the organisation in 1936. This group had connections in Melbourne but also a link to the UK via a sympathetic stewardess on board an ocean liner. The authorities had a ﬁrm grip on all of this and the correspondences between Meier and his fellow fascists in the UK were monitored and recorded. By 1939 it seems little had been achieved and there were few indications of any attempt to organise sabotage or paramilitary activities.
The Fifth Column term was ﬁrst used in World War II in Australia in Perth’s Daily News on 14 September 1939. 7 Amongst the public, and contrary to the Australian government’s attitude towards internment, suspicions of subversives developed; in particular, against the German population of the country. 8 These fears were soon linked to rumours and innuendo. On the day war was declared the state’s leading Nazi walked into the local police station and handed himself in. 9 Shortly after the declaration of war it was announced that several Nazi spy rings had been discovered by the Australian authorities.