When Morris Beckman returned to Hackney after the Second World War, he – like other British Jewish servicemen – must have hoped his work was done in snuffing out fascism and the anti-Semitism that drove the Holocaust.
It did not take him long to realise that it was not. After arriving at his parents’ East London home after six years of service as a merchant seaman, during which he had been twice torpedoed, Mr Beckman sensed an unease. His father told him: “The Blackshirts are back, the fascists are back.”
Against a backdrop of smashed windows and anti-Jewish graffiti, Oswald Mosley and his supporters had re-named themselves the “British League of Ex-Servicemen and Women”. By early 1946, they were once more holding outdoor meetings and seeking to regain the pre-war momentum of Mosley’s British Union of Fascists.
While the language had changed – instead of railing against Jews, the Mosleyites used the euphemism “aliens” – it was clear that the intent to spread the poison of anti-Semitism by targeting London’s Jewish communities…