I loved it so much I wrote a story set in this time, with a gang of kids fighting fascism and listening to Jazz in London in 1947. Sort of Hue and Cry with Nazis. It is, sadly, one of my unpublished *cough* masterworks that has never seen the light of day.
It is a story I sort of heard snippets of from my Dad, a tailor who came to the UK in 1947 and worked in the East End for years alongside Jews and Poles and Communists, a story that made me think that when I went to my secondary school in Hampstead Garden Suburb I would find a gang of girls ready to man the barricades and yell !No Pasaran! This was, alas, sadly not true. In 1974 the Maccabbi Youth Club was a place where the girls went to meet boys and not to plot the downfall of the National Front.
Hang on, let me go back to the beginning. 1945. World War Two has just ended, Victoria and Alexandra Park in London and many others across the country are still POW camps for German soldiers (some of these men won't be going home for two years or more). Our boys and girls are coming home, working class kids to bombed out East London, tired and happy to be back but maybe just missing the excitement and danger of war.
Britain was economically bumping along the bottom, there would be rationing and making do and mending for ages. And in Bethnal Green and Hackney Oswald Mosley's Union Movement were on the streets shouting against Jews (they would move on the black immigrants in the 50s). On soapboxes at Ridley Road Market and opposite the German POW camp in Vicky Park they shouted hatred. In schools they organised meetings and rallies.
Our boys and girls just back from fighting the Nazis were furious. What had been the point? The government at the time pursued a policy of leaving well alone. But the 43 Group, forty three mostly young men, mostly Jewish, decided to fight. It began with fistfights at fascist meetings - some of these guys were ex commando - but the group grew into something bigger more successful and more subtle; there were operations with undercover agents and the destruction of fascists literature and leaflets. There was even a network of London black cab drivers ready to ferry group members anywhere at short notice.
Vidal Sassoon wasn't an ex serviceman, but he joined the 43 Group at the end of the 1940s and wrote the forward to Maurice Beckman's fabulous book. It's called The 43 Group, I hope you can still get it. But you're not having mine.