Made for TV — how we fought post-war fas­cists

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMUNITY - BY JOSH JACK­MAN

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”

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