This was originally published by Working Class History
On this day, 17 January 1928, Vidal Sassoon, dubbed the “anti-fascist warrior hairdresser” by the Telegraph newspaper, was born. Aged 17 he joined the militant anti-fascist organisation the 43 Group, formed by Jewish ex-servicemen, which smashed Oswald Mosley’s fascists off the streets of London after World War II. Sassoon’s weapon of choice? A pair of scissors.
Sassoon recounted the following about his involvement in the group to the Iranian Jewish Chronicle:
“Before the war there was quite a strong fascist party led by Oswald Mosley and he and his cohorts were put in detention (jail) during the war by Churchill. After the war they came out and immediately started up again with their anti-Semitism and running through the streets and having meetings, it was quite ridiculous. Many truly brave Jewish ex-servicemen started the “43 Group”… these were tough men who had been through the war… most of my friends joined the 43 Group and there were quite a few hundred of us. Truly the fascists were smashed in the streets and yes if you were scared at times because it was scary. But after we saw the pictures that came out and the whole story of the Holocaust, there was actually no way we could allow fascists to run through the streets. I was arrested one night and put in jail, the following day the judge told me ‘to be a good boy’ and let me go. That was our life in those days, we decided that we were absolutely not going to allow what happened pre-war when Jews were just beat up indiscriminately in the streets. It worked beautifully because of mainly the tough Jewish characters that were in the British armed forces during the war, they were the people that did it. But also there were quite a few gentiles who had seen the camps, the horror of Europe and fought with us.”
Learn more about the 43 Group in our podcast episodes 35-37, on every major podcast app or our website