In 1936, Spanish Nationalist (fascist) general Emelio Mola said that he had four columns of troops attacking the Spanish Republican (communist) forces trapped inside Madrid. Then he added that there was a “fifth column” within the city, sympathizing with his troops yet disguising themselves…but still working hard to defeat the troops inside Madrid.
The phrase “fifth column” may have been known and used before, but since 1936 it commonly means people who have infiltrated society and are actively engaged in undermining or committing violence against the existing government. Fifth columnists work to aid outside enemy governments or ideologies in order to destroy and replace their own government.
In history we saw fifth columnists at work in Europe in the 1930s and 40s committing sabotage on their own countries and paving the way for the National Socialists of Germany to take over. Such saboteurs were at work in Austria and Czechoslovakia when the Germans rolled in. They were also at work in Poland, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, and France… actively working against their own people so they could aid the Nazis and bring in their twisted view of Utopia.
Fifth columnists do not just sit idly by. They burrow into the fabric of society: business, government, education, places of worship, the media, entertainment, the military, and they slowly plant their propaganda to “turn hearts and minds”. When the National Socialists steamrolled their way in, the fifth columnists were ready with sabotage to help the invaders take over. The free people of Europe did not see what was going on….until it was too late.