Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Lukács

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Anti-fascism Past and Present: Veterans of Cable Street Interviewed

'Cable Street knocked the Blackshirts’ confidence. They never tried to march through Whitechapel again. That is why it is essential to fight today’s rascists and fascists – you’ve got to stand up to them, and stop them from marching.
The police said don’t march in the 1930s as well. There were huge arguments at the time against confronting them.
My father was a Jewish immigrant who escaped from the Baltic in a hay cart – he knew from experience what the pogroms in eastern Europe were like and he was terrified.
He said, “‘Keep your head down, and keep out of the way. If you ignore them and laugh at them they will go away.’
“But we knew that staying at home wasn’t the answer”..
I was on my own, none of my family were with me. I wasn’t scared, I had been on demonstrations before. But I didn’t know what to expect – I only became acquainted with police tactics later. I was fairly innocent and wasn’t expecting trouble.
There were so many of us that you couldn’t move. I can remember the elation in the crowd that so many people were there.
The dockers came from Limehouse and Poplar – to my amazement, because they had a reputation for being antisemitic. There were cabinet-makers from Bethnal Green and tailors from Whitechapel.
There were so many different accents. Miners came from Wales and Communists from all over Britain.
“They shall not pass,” was on everybody’s lips. The sheer scale of numbers meant the fascists couldn’t get through.
Eventually, after some hours, the word went round that the fascists had been turned back.
Everyone was cheering. Where I was people were dancing and singing and throwing their arms around one another.
I think it is essential to fight. You’ve got to stand up to them, you have to be prepared to stop them from marching.'

Alice Hitchin, who was 17 at the time of The Battle of Cable Street, and who supports the anti-fascist mobilisation in Bolton this Saturday

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