Made for TV — how we fought post-war fascists
Gerry Flamberg and John Wimborne celebrate their acquittal for the attempted murder of a fascist
A BBC Two TV mini-series will shed light on the experience of a group of Jewish vigilantes who fought fascists at home after defeating the Nazis on the Second World War battlefields.
Currently in development, The 43 tells the story of the ex-servicemen who banded together to combat the threat of fascism on London’s streets. Its writer, Erik Jendresen, won an Emmy for the acclaimed show, Band of Brothers.
The six-part documentary reconstructs scenes from the period between 1946-1950, when supporters of fascist figurehead Oswald Mosley attacked Jews, their businesses and homes. The 43 Group responded in kind, also infiltrating fascist organisations to disrupt events.
“You go into making TV shows and movies in the hope of being able to tell a story like this,” said one of the executive producers, Josh Sugarman.
“What was most fascinating to me was that there were Nazis in London after the war. That’s not a concept I think people in London learn about and certainly not something I knew.”
The 43 Group grew to more than 1,000 Jews and non-Jews, and counted Vidal Sassoon as one of its founders.
“There were serious hospitalisations and physical injuries [to fascists] and incredible legal jeopardy,” said the Los Angeles-based Mr Sugarman. “There were trials for attempted murder, including for one of the leading members of the group, Gerry Flamberg.”
Mr Flamberg, a decorated serviceman, and f e l l o w activist John Wimborne were acquitted of the attempted murder of British Union of Fascists member John Charles Preen.
After a failed bombing attempt on his home, Mr Flamberg changed his last name to Lambert and left the group.
Stories such as this showed “the risks they took to fight a much-needed battle”, Mr Sugarman added. “What Erik Jendresen does so well is stay faithful to what actually happened. It’s so inherently dramatic that there’s no need to make things up or fictionalise it.
“We have worked with Morris Beckman [who died this year] and many other members of the 43 Group to tell their story with them, to make sure we’re telling it right. We want them and the whole Jewish community in London to be proud of it. It was a Jewish movement and it’s about honouring that community.”
Dave Rich, deputy director of communications at the Community Security Trust, said the series would have significant educational venue.
“While we wouldn’t advocate using the methods they used because times were very different, we see ourselves as being part of that tradition of Jewish defence and standing up to antisemitism. We think the 43 Group should be remembered in that light.
“We very much admire the determination, strength and courage of the 43 in fighting antisemitism and fascism and in protecting their community, especially given what they’d been through during the war.”
“There were trials for attempted murder”