Thursday, November 07, 2013


As stated in my previous post, a group of National Socialist (nazis) and their friends plan a rally in Kansas City this weekend.  I plan to join many others at the Jackson County Courthouse where white supremacists plan to meet to let them know what the people of Kansas City think of their ilk.  A few miles away in a large park, far from the action, another group of folks including city officials, political figures, establishment community leaders, representatives of various not for profits and NGOs will hold a talk fest to talk about it all in their version of how best to fight fascism, racism, nazism.  

Scission has already made clear where it stands:

Scission believes that a disciplined, yet free, counter rally in sight of the white supremacists makes far more sense then holding some festival far from the scene.  Scission believes a large turnout at the Courthouse counter rally is important for any number of reasons, not the least of which is the safety of those counter demonstrating.  It is also important that the white supremacists see what Kansas Citians really think of them, hear directly what Kansas Citians have to say to them, understand that Kansas Citians are not afraid of them.  Scission calls upon those planning the far away event to reconsider or, at a minimum,  to let those who attend their rally know that another event is happening which will express our outrage directly without any intent of violence. 

There are in fact a whole range of tactics advocated by various and asundry forces on how best to fight white supremacists when they make an appearance.  They range from direct conflrontation, to non violent confrontation, to ignoring their presence, to demonstrating somewhere else where there are no white supremacists around, to listening to speeches, to this that and the other thing.

Today, I want to cite what a group predominately made up of ex-Jewish servicemen, some women, and some non Jews as well in Britain decided to do...and fight the spread of fascism in Britain after World War II.  They took the direct approach, but they did more than just physically break up fascist rallys in some sort of spontanious manner.  Known as The 43 Group these folks spyed on, scouted out, infiltrated, propagandized and carried out basically a military style operation to upend, succesfully I might add, the Mosely movement which was gaining a foothold in Britain at the time with its fascist, Jew hating rhetoric and physical attacks.  The 43 Group essentially said, "Not on our watch."

Posted below are two articles and a video.

First from Workers's Liberty

Fighting fascists after 1945

 Charlie Salmon

Physical confrontation with fascist organisations is a controversial matter for the main strands of anti-fascism. For groups like Unite Against Fascism, on the deliberate calculation of the dominant left force within it, the SWP, such tactics are likely to scare off their media, religious and mainstream political supporters. Searchlight has a similar problem.
On the other hand, groups like Antifa appear, at least judging by their website and reported actions, to have elevated the idea of physically confronting the BNP and parties like them to a guiding principle.
There is a substantial degree of mistrust between these three groups — some of it based on the SWP/UAF’s sectarianism, some of it on antagonism towards the perceived recklessness of Antifa — which makes any honest accounting of militant anti-fascism problematic.
But historical examples of militant anti-fascism should aid us in understanding the place of physical confrontation in a working class, political anti-fascism. One example is that of the 43 Group, who campaigned against British fascists after the Second World war. In this issue we publish an inteview with Morris Beckman from the 43 Group.

The notion that World War Two was a “war against fascism” is a popular myth used in the mainstream media and historical accounts as the ultimate justification for taking on Hitler’s Germany. This notion was held by a good many servicemen and women. Little could have done more to explode this idea than returning to post-war Britain and finding a resurgent fascist movement. Morris Beckman experienced just this after six years at sea as a merchant seaman.

“I’d been away for six years. On my return, I got the train to Paddington and a taxi to Hackney. My father and mother still lived in the same place.” Returning home, Morris sensed that something was wrong: “‘What’s the matter?’, I asked my father. ‘The Black Shirts are back, the fascists are back’. They’d been marching down the streets, chanting ‘we’re going to get rid of the yids’, they attacked synagogues. My mother and the neighbours were afraid to go out at night”.
For the Beckman family and the rest of the Jewish community in East London, the nightmare of the pre-war fascist movement was repeating itself. If World War Two was really a “war against fascism”, how could fascists still be marching through London?
“In the post-war period only two countries had large, organised fascist groups: Spain, where the fascists were in power; and Britain, where Oswald Mosley was attempting to re-start his British Union of Fascists. By this time everyone knew about the Holocaust.” The newsreels of concentration camp survivors, the horrific detail of the Holocaust and its consequences filled the newspapers but still, anti-semitism played a significant role in the post-war fascist revival.
For Morris and his friends there were just two topics of conversation: the fate of the Jews in Palestine and the threat to the Jewish community posed by Mosley’s re-constituted fascist group. The plight of the Palestinian Jews and those Holocaust survivors attempting to reach Palestine were influential factors in the 43 Group’s decision to fight back.
“Three years after the war thousands of Jews were still incarcerated in displaced persons camps. They could see Germans walking about free. This created an enormous amount of anger. The suicide rate in these camps was very high.” Those survivors who sought refuge in Palestine were continually blocked and harassed by Britain’s colonial forces. At the same time, the Jewish and Arab populations in Palestine suffered under a brutal colonial regime.
“The British had a habit in Palestine of flogging... one schoolboy, putting up political posters in Tel Aviv was caught by a British patrol. He was flogged”. In response, the Irgun (an underground, Zionist para-military organisation) captured and flogged four British soldiers.
On another occasion four Jewish students were sentenced to death by hanging. There was international uproar: “The French and Italians urged the British not to hang. Some MPs came out against the hanging. But Atlee ordered their hanging before the set date of execution”. In response, the Irgun captured three British soldiers and hung them.
The Irgun were certainly far, far removed from the politics of socialism — but their actions inspired Beckman and his friends to begin a fightback against fascism in Britain.
“We went up to the pub for sandwiches and saw an outdoor fascist meeting next to the Maccabi Sports Club. Jerrrey Hamm was on the platform. Britain Awake [by Oswald Moseley] was being sold. Instead of going to the pub we walked nine-abreast through the crowd, walked up to the speaker and said: ‘You’re doing a good job, I’d like to buy a couple of magazines’. Two fascists came towards us, we grabbed their heads and cracked them together. We dragged down the platform and smashed everything up.”
Beckman and friends returned to the Maccabi Sports Club to discuss what had just happened. They concluded: “The government won’t stop the fascists. The Board of Deputies won’t stop them. Only the communists are trying to stop them. There’s nobody else.” Thirty eight Jewish ex-servicemen and five women turned up to a subsequent meeting organised by word of mouth. “We had a discussion about what to do. We’d already made one attack, we decided to do it again. The meeting was a success!”
After numerous assaults on Jewish homes, shops and buildings — including a number of attacks where elderly Jews were thrown through plate-glass windows — an opposition organised itself. “The fascists didn’t expect the Jews to attack them. They didn’t expect Jews to be more violent than them. We deliberately went so hard at them that we filled A&E with very badly damaged fascists.”
Soon the original forty-three were joined by over one thousand others. “We were turning people away. We wanted seven to eight hundred who’d be an elite fighting unit. We had about 60 gentiles in our ranks. We had some contact with the Communist Party of Great Britain. Of our members, we had more than eighty different trades and professions, including doctors... We published a broadsheet called ‘On Guard’ for eighteen months. Non-Jews wrote for it including Douglas Hyde, editor of the Daily Worker... On Guard was sent out to trade unionists and some MPs.”
The 43 Group didn’t rely on stumbling into fascist activity. Their activities were very well planned and coordinated: “We infiltrated nineteen small fascist units by 1946. We had moles inside of them... We had about one hundred women who’d been in the war. They collected all the information that came in. By this time, the 43 Group wasn’t just based in London, we had branches in Newcastle and Derby.” Information came in from across the country. When the Group heard of some planned fascist activity, the organising committee met to discuss a response. Everything was planned, risks assessed and preparations made well in advance.
“When decisions were made we had six to seven hundred people ready to act. We never walked towards the fascists, we ran at them! This unhinged them. When we received information and decided a plan, we’d dish it out to our commandos who’d assemble a team. We never let up on the fascists.”
This consistent approach took its toll on the fascists: “Basically, what beat them was the fact that we were very disciplined and very flexible. We could put out ten teams of commandos all together, at the same time. We had loads of information. It worked out very well!”
As the momentum of the 43 Group grew, conditions around them changed: “By 1947 there was a tremendous surge of support from the grass-roots Jewish community. We had regular contributions coming in. At the same time, the first fascists started to come up to us, they said ‘no more fighting, we’ve finished with Mosley, can we talk?’ Sometimes we’d talk to them and they’d ask to join! We always replied ‘you’ve got to be convinced first’.”
One of the most prominent successes was the defection of Michael McClean, who left Mosley and started to speak on 43 Group platforms. “The fascists became afraid of us, they knew they couldn’t stop us. When I interviewed some of the fascists in the 1950s they told me ‘if you hadn’t destroyed us, nobody else could have’. We were the only consistent opposition, we took the only way possible to destroy them.”
The 43 Group was not founded with working class politics and was not rooted in the trade unions and political organisations of the working class; but it was a grass-roots — mainly communal — response to the regrouping fascist movement in Britain.
Its actions severely disrupted the unity and strength of Mosley’s supporters, destabilising their activities and driving a wedge between competing fascist leaders. It played a defining role in snuffing out the embers of pre-war fascism.
Although the main thrust of its efforts was the physical protection of the Jewish community and retribution for attacks on that community, none of the work would have been possible without sophisticated organisation, intelligence gathering and coordinated action.
Beckman and his colleagues started out with just forty three, and managed to build an organisation over one thousand strong. They responded to physical threats, intimidation and murder in the most effective way open to them. They met like with like.
• For more information see: The 43 Group, by Morris Beckman, Centreprise (1993). The Spiro Ark community group will hold a celebration of the 43 group early next year.

From the Guardian

They stood up to hatred

Mark Gould meets veterans of the 43 Group, an organisation of Jewish ex-servicemen who waged a five-year war against Oswald Mosley's fascists
Harry Kaufman demonstrates how to turn a copy of the Guardian into a useful cosh. A tap across the palm gives a hint of the damage it would cause if it were swung in anger.
"This of course was only for self-defence," he smiles. "If you were arrested, you simply dropped it on the floor and it was just a newspaper. Others carried bits of lead piping, iron bars and things."
Kaufman, 77, stocky and full of life, is one of the younger survivors of a violent guerrilla army of British Jews who for five years waged war against Oswald Mosley's fascists on the streets of London and other big cities. Tonight, on Holocaust Memorial Day, Kaufman will be reunited with former comrades at a special event to commemorate the 43 Group.*
Morris Beckman, 88, one of the founder members, explains why it was set up. "I had been in the merchant navy, survived two torpedo attacks on the Atlantic convoys, and I came back home to Amhurst Road, Hackney to hugs and kisses. My mother went out to make some tea and my dad said, ' The bastards are back – Mosley and his Blackshirts'."
He, like thousands of British Jews, came home from the war thinking fascism was buried. Each week they saw fresh newsreel evidence of the Nazi genocide. But they were sickened to find Mosley released from internment and reviving the British Union of Fascists, which had flourished in Jewish areas such as the East End before the war. He says:
"The Talmud Torah (religious school) in Dalston had its windows smashed. Jewish shops were daubed 'PJ' (Perish Judah). You heard, 'We have got to get rid of the Yids' and 'They didn't burn enough of them in Belsen'."
With the Labour home secretary James Chuter Ede refusing to take action and the Jewish establishment urging peaceful protest, the demobbed Jews had had enough.
In April 1946, Beckman was one of 43 people (38 men and five women) who met at Maccabi House, a Jewish sports club in south Hampstead, and the 43 Group was born. "We wanted revenge – the Holocaust was in our minds. We decided we had to out-fascist the fascists," he says.
By 1947, the group had over 1,000 members – all war veterans — in London, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and Newcastle, including 100 women and a network of gentile spies who infiltrated fascist organisations.
The toughest – former Royal Marines, paratroops and Guards – became the commandos, on call day and night to disrupt meetings and carry out raids. A network of London black-cab drivers provided eyes, ears and transport.
Ridley Road market in Hackney drew crowds of 700 to hear Mosley and junior demagogues rage against the "alien" menace. Beckman says the 43 Group would "salt" the crowd with infiltrators who would distract the police by fighting among themselves. Then two flying wedges of commandos would drive through from either side aiming to overturn the platform. If the meeting was disrupted the police were forced to close it down."
He estimates more than 2000 meetings were disrupted in this way. "They saw us as stereotypes, the nervous Jewish tailor clutching a bag of money, when we were young men, trained to fight. I interviewed some fascists years later and they said they left Mosley because they didn't want to get a beating. We made a lot of people A&E cases."
Money flooded in from prominent Jews such as the boxing promoter Jack Solomons and the businessman Sir Charles Clore. Every month Bud Flanagan (born Reuben Weintrop and a member of the Crazy Gang comedy quartet) sent a £30 cheque with a note saying "Good work, boys".
Kaufman signed up for the 43 Group after seeing a newspaper headline: "Jewish war heroes arrested after Mosley protest".
The group's team of forgers may have saved him from prison. "I was on top of somebody whacking him and a police officer grabbed me and said sort of 'You're nicked'. Behind me, Reggie Morris, a big bloke in a white mac, showed the officer a card: "Special branch. I'll take this one.
He marched me around the corner and said 'Now fuck off'."
He was arrested again in Tottenham and says he was only spared jail because he had been called up for national service in the RAF.
Jules Konopinski, 79, was a commando veteran of Ridley Road. He came to Hackney from Poland with his family in 1939. His mother's nine brothers and sisters died in the extermination camps. In 1946, his uncle, a survivor of Auschwitz, moved in. "I had eyewitness evidence of the Holocaust and there were these Nazis walking around saying the Jews are like rats."
When asked if he seriously injured anyone he will only say "Yes". He took part in raids on fascist homes, staked out cemeteries that had been the target of fascist daubings. "We visited one fascist at home after an attack and severely reprimanded him. We said if any one of ours is hurt again we will come back to find 10 of you."
Today, amid denunciations of Israeli aggression in Gaza, Beckman, Kaufman and Konopinski have no regrets and say they are proud of fighting fascism. Beckman concludes: "We defended the community by making it impossible for the fascists to terrorise us."

 "What we did by stopping these people was change the tide of history."

The '43 Group

The '43 Group


Hels said...

Fascinating story! I wonder why the Beckman book was not published until 1993 and I wonder why I, an avid reader of British history, had never heard of The 43 Group.

Thanks for the link
Art and Architecture, mainly

Hels said...

Fascinating story! I wonder why the Beckman book was not published until 1993 and I wonder why I, an avid reader of British history, had never heard of The 43 Group.

Thanks for the link
Art and Architecture, mainly