The 43 Group - UK Jewish Anti-Fascist Organization

Helped destroy Mosley's British Union of Fascists

43 Group Pamphlet
43 Group Pamphlet
After World War II, a British fascist named Oswald Mosley re-emerged from internment and house arrest and he and his "black shirts," the "British Union of Fascists," began to agitate for fascist rule. Naturally anti-semitism went hand in hand with their cause. The fascists held events and rallies, and would also target Jewish shops and cemeteries with vandalism, yelling obscenities like "Get rid of the Yids" and "They didn't burn enough of them in Belsen" at the Jews.

In April 1946, shocked by the re-emergence of fascism at home, particularly after fighting a war against German and Italian fascists, a group of 43 Jewish ex-military men and women (38 men and 5 women) met at the Maccabi House, a Jewish sports club, and formed the "43 Group."

The goal for many in the group was "revenge" with the Holocaust being front of mind. At the founding meeting one of it's members, Morris Beckman, recalls, “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."

The 43 Group's philosophy was 3 D's, "Discuss, Decide and Do it!" By 1947 it was estimated they had over 1,000 members mostly Jewish ex-servicemen with some gentiles acting as infiltrators and spies. Interestingly, Vidal Sassoon--yes that Vidal Sassoon--was a member of the group and a fighter in the group's battles against the fascists.

The group disrupted fascist meetings, rallies and events and carried out hundreds of raids. One of the rally tactics was to plant infiltrators who would pretend to fight among themselves to attract the attention of the police. With the police distracted the group would form a wedge of commandos who would shut down the rally by overturning the stage.

Countless meetings were disrupted and fascists were sometimes followed home and "reprimanded." When Jewish shopkeepers were targeted by fascists they quickly found themselves confronted by members of the group who were often very physically large former commandos and Royal Marines and guards. Not, the meek tailors depicted by the fascist stereotypes.

"Knuckledusters, knives, steel-toed boots and sharpened belt buckles were wielded on both sides with devastating effect."

While many in the Jewish community disapproved of the group thinking they would be seen as extensions of "extremists" in the Irgun Zionist movement, many supported it including prominent members of Jewish society.

It is said that the "brutal" and "vicious" campaign against the fascists seems to have stopped the fascists completely with many of Mosley's group quitting rather than continue to be attacked and beaten.

In 1950, with the threat of Mosley's fascists dissipated, the group disbanded. Interesting Facts

  • In 1962, an organization patterning itself after the 43 Group calling itself the "62 Group" was formed to combat the resurgence of fascism in the UK.
Further Reading
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Meyer, Daniel. " The 43 Group - UK Jewish Anti-Fascist Organization." J-Grit: The Internet Index of Tough Jews.