cover image We Fight Fascists: The 43 Group and Their Forgotten Battle for Post-War Britain

We Fight Fascists: The 43 Group and Their Forgotten Battle for Post-War Britain

Daniel Sonabend. Verso, $34.95 (400p) ISBN 978-1-78873-794-4

Historian Sonabend delivers a spirited account of the 43 Group, an organization founded by Anglo-Jewish soldiers to fight the revival of fascist groups in post-WWII England. Though a 1940 crackdown banned former member of parliament Oswald Mosley’s British Union and other pro-Nazi groups, as the war progressed and the threat of German invasion diminished, Mosley’s followers reemerged to spread their anti-Semitic and anti-Communist views. In May 1946, four Jewish ex-soldiers fought with a fascist speaker and his bodyguards at a London park; later that month, they detailed the encounter in a letter published in the Jewish Chronicle. Drawing other veterans frustrated by the unwillingness of the British government and mainstream Jewish groups to oppose what they called “anti-Jewish activities,” the “ragtag band” became “a real anti-fascist organisation,” Sonabend writes. (Accounts vary as to whether the group’s name was arbitrarily chosen or based on the number of people at its first official meeting.) Members, including future celebrity hair stylist Vidal Sassoon, created a sophisticated intelligence operation and engaged in violent street battles with fascists. Sonabend’s granular level of detail may be best suited to readers with a specialized interest in the subject, but he presents an eye-opening portrait of the era’s political and social turmoils. Modern-day antifascists will find valuable lessons in this movement history. [em](Nov.) [/em]