The 43 Group was an English anti-fascist group set up by Jewish ex-servicemen after World War II. 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. Group members broke up far-right meetings, infiltrated fascist groups, and attacked the fascists in street fighting.
43 Group Wikipedia
The title "43 Group" came from the number of people in the room of Maccabi House during the group's founding meeting. Those who convened the initial meeting included:Morris Beckman, served in the Merchant Navy during World War II. He lived through two torpedo attacks during the War.
Gerald Flamberg, a middleweight boxing champion and member of 156 Battalion. Flamberg won the Military Medal at Arnhem during Operation Market Garden;
Leonard Sherman, a martial arts expert and member of the Welsh Guards;
Alec Carson, who flew Hawker Hurricanes in the Battle of Britain.
The 17-year-old Vidal Sassoon joined the group in 1947, and joined the Israeli Defence Forces to fight in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Sassoon later founded a multinational hair styling business.
The initial membership was around 300 people. The group grew to include many hundreds of men and women, not all Jewish. Many among them were decorated for bravery, including the VC (Petty Officer Tommy Gould), 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.
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. 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. 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.
The 43 Group was voluntarily disbanded on 5 April 1950, as its members considered that the immediate threat had passed.
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. However, Nigel Copsey argues in Anti-Fascism in Britain that the fascists and anti-fascists might have only radicalised each other.
In September 2015, it was announced that BBC2 & NBC were co-developing a 6-part drama series alongside surviving members of The 43 Group and produced by The Tenafly Film Company & Tiger Aspect Drama.