They stood up to hatred: the 43 Group
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.*
Fascinating though this story is, I couldn’t help but be a little bewildered by the following:
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 the actions of a 21st century state have to do with a 1940s anti-fascist movement is anyone’s guess.