43 Group

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43 Group
FormationApril 1946 (1946-04)
Dissolved4 June 1950 (1950-06-04)

The 43 Group was an English anti-fascist group set up by Jewish ex-servicemen after the Second World War. They did this when, upon returning to London, they encountered British fascist organisations such as Jeffrey Hamm's British League of Ex-Servicemen and later Oswald Mosley's new fascist party, the Union Movement. The activities of these fascist groups included antisemitic speeches in public places, and from the rank-and-file fascists, violent attacks on London Jews and Jewish property.[1] Group members broke up far-right meetings, infiltrated fascist groups, and attacked the fascists in street fighting.[2]

Their newspaper, On Guard, was published from 1947 to 1949.[3]

Early history and activities[edit]

The name "43 Group" came from the number of people in the room of Maccabi House (a Jewish sports centre in Hampstead, London) during the group's founding meeting in April 1946.[4] Those who convened the initial meeting included:

The 17-year-old Vidal Sassoon joined the group and later joined the Israeli Defence Forces to fight in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Sassoon later founded a multinational hair styling business.[7][8]

The initial membership was around 300 people. The group grew to include many hundreds of men and women, not all Jewish. Many among them had been decorated for bravery, including the VC (Petty Officer Tommy Gould[9][10]), DSO, DFC, DSM, and MM. The organisation was sometimes portrayed by its enemies as a front for either Jewish terrorists or communists, but in fact it was mostly composed of British ex-servicemen.[citation needed]

The group published On Guard, from July 1947 to December 1949, an anti-fascist paper which often published intelligence gathered by Group spies. As well as covering the activities of Oswald Mosley and the British fascists, On Guard reported on the activities of fascists all around the world and racist injustices in countries including the USA and South Africa.[3]

Relationship with other organisations[edit]

The 43 Group was viewed by established Jewish organisations, such as the Board of Deputies of British Jews, as a competitor. The Board of Deputies of British Jews also worried that the 43 Group's activities could damage the Jewish community's reputation, especially in light of the terrorist acts and guerrilla warfare carried out by militant Zionist groups such as the Irgun in British Mandate Palestine.[11] However, the 43 Group never sought to replace the more traditional groups who preferred debate and discussion, but who had failed to stop the BUF, partly due to the non-cooperation of the then British Home Secretary, James Chuter Ede.[12] Rather, 43 Group sought to prevent the Union Movement mobilising and gathering support, remembering that the Nazi party had gained prominence in a similar fashion as the Brownshirts on the streets of post-World War I Germany.

Dissolution and impact[edit]

The 43 Group was voluntarily disbanded on 4 June 1950, as its members considered that the immediate threat had passed. [13]

Mosley's Union Movement remained active throughout the 1950s, but it was not until 1962, when the unrelated 62 Group was formed in the 43 Group's image, that British fascists again encountered any significant privately organised street-level resistance.

The overall effect of 43 Group is unclear. Morris Beckman argued that it was crucial in stopping a resurgence of fascism in post-war Britain.


In 2004, the group was the subject of BBC Radio 4 programme A Rage in Dalston, part of The Archive Hour series, presented by Alan Dein.[14]

September 2015, it was announced that BBC2 and NBC were co-developing a 6-part drama series alongside surviving members of The 43 Group and produced by The Tenafly Film Company and Tiger Aspect Drama.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hillman, N. (2001). "Tell me chum, in case I got it wrong. What was it we were fighting during the war? The Re-emergence of British Fascism, 1945-58". Contemporary British History. 15 (4): 1–34. doi:10.1080/713999428.
  2. ^ Adam Lent "British Social Movements Since 1945: Sex, Colour, Peace and Power". Macmillan p19, ISBN 0-333-72009-1
  3. ^ a b Sonabend, Daniel (2019). We fight fascists : the 43 group and their forgotten battle for post-war Britain. London. ISBN 978-1-78873-324-3. OCLC 1108710216.
  4. ^ Gould, Mark (27 January 2009). "Stand Up to Hatred - survivors of the 43 Group reunited at Holocaust Memorial Day public event". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  5. ^ The Times[dead link]
  6. ^ "Jews at the Battle of Arnhem". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  7. ^ Anita Singh (21 April 2008). "Vidal Sassoon: Anti-fascist warrior-hairdresser". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 27 April 2008.
  8. ^ "Pictorial History: Acquiring Arms and Personnel". Aliyah Bet & Machal Virtual Museum. Retrieved 27 April 2008.
  9. ^ Mark Gould (22 February 2009). "Last reunion for war heroes who came home to fight the fascists". The Independent. London. Retrieved 3 March 2010.
  10. ^ "Tommy Gould VC". The Daily Telegraph. London. 7 December 2001. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  11. ^ Todd M. Endelman "The Jews of Britain, 1656 to 2000" University of California Press, 2002, p233 ISBN 0-520-22719-0
  12. ^ House of Commons Archived 27 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine[vague]
  13. ^ Daniel Sonabend "We Fight Fascists: The 43 Group and Their Forgotten Battle for Post-War Britain" Verso Books (October 2019) ISBN 978-1788733243 P.307
  14. ^ "The Archive Hour, A Rage in Dalston". BBC. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  15. ^ Wagmeister, Elizabeth (29 September 2015). "NBC Developing WWII Miniseries with BBC About Jews Who Fought Nazis in Britain". Variety. Retrieved 29 June 2018.

Further reading[edit]

  • Morris Beckman: The 43 Group. Centerprise Publication, June 2000 ISBN 0-903738-75-9
  • Daniel Sonabend: "We Fight Fascists". The 43 Group and Their Forgotten Battle for Post-War Britain. Verso Books, October 2019 ISBN 978-1788733243
  • (in German) Daniel Sonabend: Die 43 Group wurde ein Opfer ihres eigenen Erfolgs. jungle world, Berlin, #36, 2020, september 3, p. 17

External links[edit]