Oswald Mosley’s grandson joins reunion of 43 Group survivors
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Oswald Mosley’s grandson joins reunion of 43 Group survivors

Surviving members of the 43 Group, the first Jewish Group to physically fight fascists in Britain, reunited alongside Mosley's grandson ahead of new documentary.

Surviving members of a Jewish group that fought Oswald Mosley’s fascists stood shoulder to shoulder with the notorious leader’s grandson at the unveiling last week of a new documentary which tells their story.

The 43 Group, formed by Jewish ex-service personnel after the War, was the first Jewish group to physically fight fascists in Britain, with activists breaking up meetings and engaging in street combat.

Some were inspiration for, and even helped found the 62 Group, whose activities are being dramatised in the BBC’s Ridley Road.

The group’s three surviving members Harry Kaufman, 90, Jules Konnopinski, 91, and Sam Needleman, 94, were reunited for the first time in years as they attended the screening of an upcoming documentary film, ‘Never Again’, which charts the battle against antisemitism in the 1940s.

Mr Kaufman and Mr Needleman had wrongly believed each other to be dead until they were reunited for the film by its maker Jamie Goldberg, a third-year MetFilm student.

Speaking to Jewish News, Mr Needleman told how he got involved in the group after confronting Mosley’s Union Movement following his time in the Army.

“I’ve always been fighting fascists,” he said. “Even as an eight-year-old boy at Cable Street, I was throwing marbles under the police horses because in those days you did not know if it was a member of the police or a fascist.

“Growing up in the East End fighting fascists, it wasn’t a question of being scared, we did it out of self-preservation.”

A demonstrator is taken away under arrest by police officers after a mounted baton charge, in East London, on Oct. 4, 1936, to stop fighting between anti-fascists and Sir Oswald Mosley’s blackshirts.

The 94-year-old would break up meetings with his comrades, patrol Jewish areas and physically tackle Mosley’s Union members in the street.

In one incident he was viciously beaten up by the anti-Jewish thugs after traffic separated him from his friends in a fight in Victoria.

“I saw across the road, there was about 30 or 40 of them, and we attacked,” he said. “Unfortunately traffic came along and I got separated from my boys, and I was thrown to the ground.

“One of them got my hand over my head to steal my watch, and they were putting the boot in. They cracked all my ribs.”

Speaking about the importance of the film, fellow 43 member Jules Konnopinsky said: “This is a piece of Jewish history that’s been forgotten, it’s a very important piece of Jewish history.

“It was one of the first times that Jews went on the offensive. We used any way we could even if it meant breaking the law, because the only way you were going to stop Mosley was fisticuffs.”

A handbag designer, he later helped to establish the 62 Group after driving to work and seeing a rally with a banner reading: ‘Free Britain from Jewish Control’.

Ivo Mosley, Oswald Mosley’s grandson, was among those interviewed for the film – saying his grandfather was driven by arrogance and a lust for power to be fascist.

“I’ve always felt some kind of responsibility to be an active anti-fascist,” he said.

“Having had a grandfather who was a real fascist, I’ve always felt I should stand up against it. Fascism is evil. It’s the most serious form of evil one can do to use lies to promote violence.”

Founded in 1946 in Maccabi House, the 43 Group eventually had hundreds of members, before being officially disbanded in 1950.

“The hatred the world has for the Jewish community may not have gone away but us Jews keep on improving on how we tackle it,” said Goldberg, 20. “We’re strong and resilient and we say, ‘never again.’

“Whether it’s fascism, antisemitism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, all minorities can fight their oppression from learning from the 43 Group.”

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