fifth column

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fifth column

1. (originally) a group of Falangist sympathizers in Madrid during the Spanish Civil War who were prepared to join the four columns of insurgents marching on the city
2. any group of hostile or subversive infiltrators
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Fifth Column


a term used to designate a group of General Franco’s agents who operated in the Spanish Republic during the National Revolutionary War of 1936–39.

The term “fifth column” originated in early October 1936, when the Francoist general E. Mola declared on the radio that the rebels were conducting an offensive on Madrid using four columns, while the fifth would strike from the rear at the decisive moment. The fifth column spread panic and engaged in sabotage, espionage, and diversionary activity. During World War II the term was used to designate groups of Nazi agents in various countries who aided the fascist troops in the capture of these countries.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Hemingway wrote The Fifth Column in 1937 during his second visit to Spain while serving as a war correspondent during the Spanish Civil War.
Loeffel traces the continuities in elite and public opinions about the fifth column, and ends his study by noting how the ruling Liberal Party exploited the Vladimir Petrov affair to benefit politically in the 1954 federal election.
He also referred to Britain as a US fifth column. "Could it be that the UK's exit from the EU means something bad is being prepared in Europe?," he asked rhetorically, in an apparent reference to NATO's decision to bolster its eastern flank in view of potential aggression coming from Russia.
The Fifth Column Capital, LLC strategy has been two years in the making and if initial results are as positive as anticipated, additional rounds of funding will follow.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoy-an has sharply criticized the academics for their statement, accusing them of being a fifth column of foreign power determined to undermine Turkey's national security.
"Camp R" held an unlikely assortment of German prisoners: Nazis, anti-Nazis, Jews, soldiers, merchant seamen, and refugees whom Britain feared might comprise Hitler's rumored "fifth column" of alien enemies residing within the Commonwealth.
They always were Capitalism's fifth column in Labour's ranks.
This is one of the most dangers phenomena in the Arab world that leads to igniting the Sunni-Shia conflict." "The sons of Arsal are very conscious of any fifth column and they are all with the Lebanese army," he stressed.
If it tells them that terrorists from the Islamic State group came to Russia in order to blow up the fifth column, they'll believe it.''
Fourth, the agreement creates a powerful fifth column inside Ukraine as the Donbass will have the right to be represented in Ukraine's legislature.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday denounced as a "fifth column" thousands of Arab Israelis who joined a demonstration calling for the right of return for Palestinian refugees.
they are coming after us." Christian Estrosi, the far-Right mayor of Nice, said that the event in Lyon "once again reminds us of a 'fifth column,' in France." (Ironically, the original fifth column was during the Spanish Civil War, when Franco sympathisers were waiting to join with the four columns of fascists, marching on Madrid--and to victory, in 1939.)