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The 43 Group & Postwar British Fascism

Discussion in 'Post War 1945-1955' started by GRW, Oct 2, 2015.

  1. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

    Oct 26, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Stirling, Scotland
    Now this should be worth watching.
    "When Morris Beckman returned to Hackney after the Second World War, he - like other British Jewish servicemen - must have hoped his work was done in snuffing out fascism and the anti-semitism that drove the Holocaust.

    It did not take him long to realise that it was not. After arriving at his parents’ East London home after six years of service as a merchant seaman, during which he had been twice torpedoed, Mr Beckman sensed an unease. His father told him: “The Blackshirts are back, the fascists are back.”

    Against a backdrop of smashed windows and anti-Jewish graffiti, Oswald Mosley and his supporters had re-named themselves the “British League of Ex-Servicemen and Women”. By early 1946, they were once more holding outdoor meetings and seeking to regain the pre-war momentum of Mosley’s British Union of Fascists.

    While the language had changed - instead of railing against Jews, the Mosleyites used the euphemism “aliens” - it was clear that the intent to spread the poison of anti-semitism by targeting London’s Jewish communities had not. The windows of the Jewish religious school in Dalston were smashed and Jewish shops were daubed with the letters “PJ” - “Perish Judah”. Jews were taunted in the streets “Not enough Jews were burned in Belsen” and the Horst Wessel song was openly sung after pubs closed.

    Protests against the release from internment of Mosley in 1943
    For Britain’s Jewish war heroes the juxtaposition of images emerging from Auschwitz, Treblinka and other death camps with the realisation that Hitler’s British fellow travellers were once more flourishing was profoundly shocking.

    Mr Beckman said: “At that time one could be sickened by newsreel documentaries showing bulldozers in concentration camps shovelling mounds of bodies into limepits, and then later encountering fascist speaker saying things like, ‘Hitler was right, but not enough Jews were gassed’.”

    He added: “We wanted revenge - the Holocaust was in our minds. We decided we had to out-fascist the fascists.”

    What followed over the next four years was a brutal, often vicious and now long-forgotten confrontation which, its participants argue, stopped a nascent British fascism dead in its tracks while others looked away by using the only method Mosley and his supporters understood - sustained, focused and overwhelming violence.

    In February 1946, Mr Beckman and three fellow Jewish ex-servicemen including a decorated former Paratrooper wounded at Arnhem had disrupted a fascist meeting in Hampstead on the spur of the moment, making their escape to the applause of an elderly Jewish refugee. Shortly afterwards, a gathering of British Jews took place at the nearby Maccabi Sports Club to discuss how to counter the threat posed by post-war fascism.

    Mr Beckman, who died earlier this year aged 94, recalled: “They were told that the intention was to create an organisation that would be devoted to launching an all-out assault on Mosley and his fascists until they were utterly destroyed. They were told it would be a no quarter, no holding back, disciplined para-military operation. Those present were offered the option of ducking out with no hard feelings. Not a single one left the room.”

    A total of 43 Jewish ex-services personnel attended the meeting and so the 43 Group was born with the unvarnished intent of, quite literally, beating British anti-semitic activists into submission. Among these soldiers, sailors and airmen would be a teenage former British Army private who was serving an apprenticeship as a hairdresser and went by the name of Vidal Sassoon.

    The resulting conflict, fought out in London’s Jewish suburbs and beyond by what became a force of more than 1,000 Jews and non-Jews, has largely fallen from popular memory."
    SKYLINEDRIVE likes this.

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