On Wednesday 25th January, from 7.30-9.30pm at The Exchange, Brick Row, Stroud (GL5 1DF), Stroud Radical Reading Group will discuss Daniel Sonabend’s “We Fight Fascists: The 43 Group and Their Forgotten Battle for Post-War Britain“. The book tells the story of the Jewish ex-servicemen who fought against Oswald Mosley after World War II. Our event will precede Holocaust Memorial Day which is held annually on January 27th (and accompany other events on the topic that week). The event will begin with an introduction by regular attendee Jeremy Green, whose father was a member of the 43 Group.
This discussion will be the first of a series looking at antifascism, both historically and in the present, running monthly till May. You are welcome to attend this session alone, though we of course recommend reading all the books in the series and coming to all the events for the full experience!
Freely available resources related to the book are available below. We like to ensure everyone can attendee our sessions and get something out of them even if they can’t afford to buy a copy of the book or the time to read it. We would encourage people to read/listen to as much as possible, but you are welcome to attend and listen along even if you are unable to engage with any of the below.
- Download the Introduction, Chapter 2, and afterword in a pdf (embedded below)
- Read Jeremy Green’s review of the book
- Listen to a 3-part podcast miniseries from Working Class History, featuring interviews with author Daniel Sonabend and Jules Konopinski, who was a member of the 43 group
- Watch a 20-minute documentary “The 43 Group – The Unfinished War” produced by the London Video History Group, featuring interviews with members of the group (embedded below)
- watch a video of author Daniel Sonabend and 43 Group veterans Jules Konopinski and Harry Kaufman in conversation with broadcaster, journalist and film-maker Bidisha, at Jewish Book Week in 2020
You can buy a paperback copy from publishers Verso with a 30% discount and free e-book (£9.09 instead of the £12.99 RRP). The ebook alone is available from Verso for £7.79 (40% of the RRP of £12.99) at the same link.
Our events are free to attend, though we will collect donations to cover the costs of venue hire on a donate-what-you-can-afford basis. We try to ensure the discussions are welcoming to new people, including people who have never been to a reading group before – and you don’t have to have been to university. You don’t even have to have read any of the book – you can just come along and listen to the discussion. Some free resources including a sample chapter we’ll focus our discussion on are included below though, and we’d encourage people to read/listen to as much as they can ahead of the session.
“In 1946 many Jewish soldiers returned to their homes in England imagining that they had fought and defeated the forces of fascism in Europe. Yet in London they found a revived fascist movement inspired by Sir Oswald Mosley and stirring up agitation against Jews and communists. Many felt that the government, the police and even the Jewish Board of Deputies were ignoring the threat; so they had to take matters into their own hands, by any means necessary.
Forty-three Jewish servicemen met together and set up a group that tirelessly organised, infiltrated meetings, and broke up street demonstrations to stop the rebirth of the far right. The group included returned war heroes; women who went undercover; and young Jews, such as hairdresser Vidal Sassoon, seeking adventure. From 1947, the 43 Group grew into a powerful troop that could muster hundreds of fighters turning meetings into mass street brawls at short notice.
The history of the 43 Group is not just a gripping story of a forgotten moment in Britain’s postwar history; it is also a timely lesson in how to confront fascism, and how to win.” – information about the book from publishers, Verso.
The Exchange has step-free access. We will keep windows open for ventilation, hand sanitiser is provided, and we ask people who are ill to stay away (whether they are ill with covid or something else). Attendees do not generally wear masks but we will be respectful to anyone who chooses to and other members may wear masks at request of other attendees – let us know your preferences in advance. Please contact us if you have any accessibility requirements, or other questions about how the events work.