Maurice Bardèche (October 1, 1907, Dun-sur-Auron, Cher—1998) was a French essayist, literary and art critic, journalist, and one of the leading exponents of Fascism in post-War Europe. Heavily influenced by Maurice Barres, Charles Maurras, and Action Francaise, he supported the Vichy "National Revolution." French collaborator Robert Brasillach was his brother-in-law; they co-authored L'Histoire du cinéma in 1935.
A product of the educational opportunities of the Third Republic, Bardèche had received a scholarship, and completed hypokhâgne at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand. There, he met a Thierry Maulnier and his future brother-in-law Robert Brasillach, establishing lifelong connections. In 1928, he entered the École normale supérieure, completing it in 1932. A year later, he described himself as "a snail withdrawn into its shell".
Bardèche initially came to prominence as an associate of Brasillach, collaborating with him on histories of cinema and the Spanish Civil War (1939) The latter is a manifesto supporting for Francisco Franco, calling for the violent defense of order in front of "paralysing democracy, one like malaria". A professor of French literature at the Université des Sciences et Technologies de Lille from 1942-4, he became recognized for his critical works.
Initially a Royalist, Bardèche began to write for the fascist journal Je suis partout in 1938. During the German occupation he supported Marshall Petain and said the Resistance's excesses, the bombing of Dresden and post-Liberation atrocities were war crimes. He turned his attention fully to politics in 1945, following the end of Vichy France and of World War II, as well as the Brasillach's execution. He denounced his brother-in-law's killing as criminal, created his own literary publishing house, and then found a journal called right-wing Defence de l'Occident in 1952.
He wrote Lettre à François Mauriac in 1947, in which he attacked what he saw as the harsh treatment of Philippe Pétain supporters after the end of Nazi rule in France. His 1948 follow-up, Nuremberg ou la Terre Promise, which was an attack on the Nuremberg Trials, saw him sentenced to a year's imprisonment (although it was never actually served) and also saw him become recognized as one of the leading thinkers of Neo-Fascism.
He was a founder of the Mouvement social européen in 1951 and became vice-president of the organisation that brought him together with leaders such as Oswald Mosley, Karl-Heinz Priester and Per Engdahl. He also published a journal, Défense de l'Occident from 1952-1982 that espoused the same ideas of European nationalism and unity.
Unlike some of his contemporaries, Bardèche made no secret of his fascism and famously wrote in the introduction to his 1961 work Qu'est-ce que le fascisme? "I am a fascist writer". He was particularly attracted to the Italian Social Republic and sought to use that model as the basis for a more contemporary ideology that he termed fascisme amélioré ("improved fascism"). Bardèche also became a leading Holocaust denier and wrote extensively on the subject in his later life.
Upon his death in 1998 he was described as "a prophet of a European renaissance for which he had long hoped" by Jean-Marie Le Pen .