Tag Archives: Antisemitism

The Battle of Cable Street – 4th October 1936

The Battle of Cable Street is a significant moment in the history of London Jewry and has often been represented as a turning point in the struggle against Fascism in Britain. This week, commemorations for the 80th anniversary will include a march and a rally in east London – both to remember the past – and to highlight the importance of combating racism and prejudice today.

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Anti-fascist protesters run as police approach a barricade near Aldgate during the clashes – crowds had overturned a lorry in Cable Street and used building materials from a local building yard to block the road.

There were at least 100,000 Anti-Fascist protesters on the streets that day (some sources suggest as many as 250,000 people). Jews, Irish dockers, trade unionists, Communists, Independent Labour Party members, women and children turned out to form a “Human barrier to Stop Fascists” [Sunday Referee, 4 October 1936]. “LIKE A SIEGE. 84 arrests, 200 hurt” ran the headlines of the Daily Express, following clashes with police – who made baton charges into the crowds in an attempt to clear the roads.  Just one week earlier, the British Union of Fascists (BUF) had announced its intention to parade in the vicinity of the Royal Mint, where it would be drawn up in military formation and inspected by Sir Oswald Mosley. From here they planned to march through Aldgate and Whitechapel – the heart of the Jewish East End of London – before holding Fascist meetings at multiple venues in the area. [q BZ8211.P73 Parkes Cable St. press cuttings]

'Stop Racial Incitement in East London!!' poster [MS 60/15/53] – thousands of leaflets were distributed prior to the march

‘Stop Racial Incitement in East London!!’ poster [MS 60/15/53] – thousands of leaflets were distributed prior to the march

The BUF had been running a campaign of provocation and violence aimed at stirring up anti-Semitism in the East End for some time. The newly formed Jewish People’s Council against Fascism and Anti-Semitism (JPC) drew attention to inflammatory speeches, indoor and outdoor meetings, processions into Jewish and anti-Fascist districts, and incidents of violence against Jews. Their statement of policy identified the BUF with a modern political anti-Semitism which threatened the democratic rights of the British people as a whole. [MS 60/15/53]

Strenuous efforts were made by local organisations to persuade the government to prohibit the march – the mayors of five East End boroughs asked the Home Office to ban it – but without success.

Petition to the Secretary for Home Affairs [MS 116/6]

Petition to the Secretary for Home Affairs [MS 116/6]

In just 48 hours, the JPC gathered almost a 100,000 signatures for a petition which was presented to the Home Secretary, Sir John Simon. This would not have been possible without the “magnificent assistance” of local Anti-Fascist groups, including the Jewish Councils of Action, the East London Association for combating Fascism; the Ex-Servicemen’s Movement against Fascism, and the members of the Workers’ Circle.

Although the parade went ahead, the scale of the counter-demonstration and the threat of blood shed were so great, that Sir Philip Game, the Chief Police Commissioner, called off the march through the East End to prevent further breaches of the peace. Running battles continued for hours in the streets.

'Fascist Hooliganism!' poster [MS 60/15/53]

‘Fascist Hooliganism!’ poster [MS 60/15/53]

The BUF may have suffered defeat on the day but the fight against Fascism was far from won. The passage of the Public Order Act, 1936, after the disturbances, banned marching in uniform and required police consent in order for marches to go ahead. In the short term, however, historians suggest that life became worse for Jews in the East End. The prominent Jewish involvement at Cable Street and the publicity that violent opposition had produced was exploited by the Fascists to gain sympathy and support.

The story and significance of Cable Street is vividly captured in the papers of the Reverend James William Parkes (1896-1981), held here in the Special Collections at Southampton. Parkes dedicated the greater part of his life to combating anti-Semitism. He had first-hand knowledge of the situation in the East End of London and in 1936 he was meeting local people, giving educational lectures, trying to understand the problem, in order to work out possible solutions. His papers shed a fascinating light on the different approaches and viewpoints within the Jewish community and of the efforts of Gentiles and Christians to join them in the fight against prejudice.

To read about the life of the Reverend James Parkes: MS 60

Cable Street 80: http://cablestreet80.org.uk/

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Holocaust Memorial Day

27 January is Holocaust Memorial Day, the date chosen as it is the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp. 2015 is the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

The Parkes Library, created by Revd Dr James Parkes, who spent much of his life combatting anti-Semitism, contains a sizeable section of printed material on the Holocaust including general histories of the Holocaust, together with books describing events in individual countries. Published diaries and testimonials of victims and survivors are well represented and there are also sections on the interpretation of Holocaust literature and on the historiography of the subject.

Telegram (MS 175/142/1) sent to Hertz in November 1938 using the term 'Holocaust' in response to the events of Kristallnacht.

Telegram (MS 175/142/1) sent to Hertz in November 1938 using the term ‘Holocaust’ in response to the events of Kristallnacht.

There is considerable material within the Anglo-Jewish Archive collections at Southampton, ranging from a telegram sent to the Chief Rabbi Hertz in November 1938 using the term ‘Holocaust’ in response to the events of Kristallnacht, to memoirs and testimonials and papers relating to war crimes and war criminals.

The writings of Eugene (John) Heimler (MS220) on the Holocaust include some pages of his Holocaust memoir Night in the mist. The collection also includes material relating to the foundation of a Holocaust survivors’ centre. Amongst the papers of the Council of Christians and Jews (MS 65) is material of the Association of Nazi Camp Survivors and of the Holocaust Memorial Foundation Committee. Other smaller collections include an account of the war experiences of David Kutner, who was incarcerated in Lodz ghetto and subsequently Auschwitz, and papers of Rudi Kennedy who led a successful campaign for compensation for Jewish slave labourers.

The main collection relating to war crimes is MS 200 which is the papers of the International Military Tribunal and Nuremberg Military Tribunals, 1945-9. Further material on war crimes and war criminals can be found in collection MS 237-41 the Institute of Jewish Affairs and MS 137 the Anglo-Jewish Association.

The Archives and Manuscripts holds two collections of filmed interviews: the Fortunoff Video Collection of Holocaust survivors from Yale University Library, and the Association of Jewish Refugees Refugee Voices, which contains 150 filmed interviews with Jewish survivors and refugees from Nazism who have settled in Great Britain.

An event to mark Holocaust Memorial Day 2015 has been jointly organised by Southampton Solent University and the University of Southampton. For further details please visit the Parkes Institute Events page.

Reflections on war and warfare: Week 42 (15 – 21 December 2014)

As of March 2014, we are posting weekly extracts of writings on war and warfare drawn from our manuscript and printed collections. Ranging from items on the Maratha wars to the Second World War, the extracts will reflect opinions both from the battle front and from those at home. The quotes tie in with the exhibition ‘When “the days of conquest are passed”: reflections on war and warfare’, until recently on display at the Special Collections Gallery.

16 December 1914 The German Navy shell British towns
The attack by the German Navy on the north east seaport towns of Hartlepool, Scarborough and Whitby caused public outrage. Rich’s early estimate of 100 killed and wounded is modest; there were 137 fatalities and 592 casualties. The Royal Navy was criticised of the for failing to prevent the attack and “Remember Scarborough” was used in army recruitment posters.

“The war has come to England. Hartlepool, Scarborough and Whitby shelled by German warships this morning. Over 100 killed and wounded!”

MS 168 AJ 217/10 Journal of Samuel Rich


17 December 1942 United Nations proclamation about the Holocaust
On 17 December 1942, the joint declaration by Members of the United Nations, or a statement by the American and British governments on behalf of the allied powers, was issued relating to extermination of Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe.  Anthony Eden, the Foreign Secretary, read this statement to the House of Commons.  The UN statement was made in response to a document The mass extermination of Jews in German occupied Poland addressed to the allied governments by the Polish government-in-exile.

“Two important news items: The United Nations proclamation about the murder of Jews by Germans. The H[ouse] of C[ommons] stood when Eden announced it. (J. de Rothschild spoke for the Jews and the 8th army’s flanking movement).”

MS 168 AJ 217/38 Journal of Samuel Rich, 16 December 1942


19 December 1851 The continuous nature of hostilities

“The colony … is quiet …. No signs of submission are however apparent in any of the chiefs and the war seems as far from its termination as at the commencement of the hostilities.”

MS 63 A904/3 Letter from Captain Edward Wellesley to his brother, Richard, 19 December 1851


20 December 1917 Division following the Balfour Declaration
The League of British Jews was founded in November 1917, shortly after British Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour wrote a letter – later known as the “Balfour Declaration” – stating that the British Government would support the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine.  The LBJ aimed to oppose the idea that Jews constituted a political nation. At the time of writing, the British Army had occupied Palestine and Stein was serving in the Palestine Military Administration.

“I have looked at the papers rescued by the League of British Jews and must say I am not much impressed with them. Some of the more violent attendees of the Zionist Leaders certainly have been rather hurtful to English-born Jews, whose English feelings they, having been brought aboard, are naturally unable to appreciate.”

MS 170 AJ244/119 Letter from Leonard Stein to his family

Human Rights and the Women’s Campaign for Soviet Jewry

Human Rights Day is observed annually across the world on 10 December. It marks the date the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (10 December 1948), the first global enunciation of human rights. The Declaration begins by recognising that “the inherent dignity of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”. It declares that human rights are universal – to be enjoyed by all people, no matter who they are or where they live. Today, the Declaration continues to inspire the human rights movement and has had a profound influence on the development of international human rights law.

Members of the 35’s demonstrating for the release of Raiza Palatnik

Members of the 35’s demonstrating for the release of Raiza Palatnik

The Soviet Jewry movement emerged in response to the Soviet Union’s Jewish policy which was seen as a violation of basic human and civil rights, including freedom of immigration, freedom of religion, and the freedom to study one’s own language, history and culture. The Women’s Campaign for Soviet Jewry, known as the 35’s, was a pressure group established in London in 1971 with the aim of assisting Russian Jews wishing to leave the country but refused permission. It was originally formed in response to the arrest of Raiza Palatnik, a 35 year old librarian from Odessa. Raiza had been sent to prison after being convicted of “slandering the Soviet Union” for applying to leave for Israel. The group was primarily made up of relatively young middle-class Jewish housewives from North West London. They were a unique phenomenon among the Jewish community in Britain and were active at a time when it was unheard of for Jewish women to go out and demonstrate.

They maintained direct contact with refusniks (an unofficial term for Soviet Jews denied permission to emigrate) to give them moral support, and worked tirelessly to highlight their position. They achieved this through a series of active and unexpected demonstrations, particularly at Soviet cultural events. One such demonstration took place at a performance by the Bolshoi Ballet in London where the women revealed slogan t-shirts beneath their blouses as a mark of protest. In addition to such demonstrations they lobbied government officials and Members of Parliament.

The collection held by the Special Collections Division contains files of biographical information and case papers for refusniks; campaign correspondence, including letters to Members of Parliament; master copies of publications produced by the Campaign; newspapers; photographs, banners and other items, including handcuffs, from demonstrations.

Reflections on war and warfare: Week 37 (10 – 16 November 2014)

As of March 2014, we are posting weekly extracts of writings on war and warfare drawn from our manuscript and printed collections. Ranging from items on the Maratha wars to the Second World War, the extracts will reflect opinions both from the battle front and from those at home. The quotes tie in with the exhibition ‘When “the days of conquest are passed”: reflections on war and warfare’, currently on display at the Special Collections Gallery.

10 November 1813 Advance towards France
With the capture of the city of San Sebastian in September 1813, Wellington’s Anglo-Allied army were in a position to push Marshal Soult’s forces towards the French-Spanish frontier. As they pursued the French out of Spain they achieved further success at the Battle of the Bidassoa on 7 October, and the Battle of Nivelle on 10 November. As noted in the below passage, the French suffered a further defeat with the surrender of the city of Pamplona to the Spanish on 30 October.

“The fall of Pamplona must have relieved you from some anxiety, considering the state of the season. Your advance into France will come at a very seasonable time, although Buonaparte has effected his escape to Mayence. It is impossible to judge by the French papers with what force he has been able to retreat. There cannot be any doubt of Blücher having defeated part of the army on the 21st.”

MS 61 WP1/379 Letter from Henry Bathurst, third Earl Bathurst, Secretary for War and the Colonies, Downing Street, to Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, first Marquis of Wellington, 10 November 1813


11 November 1918 Germany signs armistice, formally ending the First World War
Known as the Armistice of Compiègne, the agreement was the official signal of World War One ending, after four years. On 29 September 1918 Kaiser Wilhelm II and Imperial Chancellor Count Georg von Herling were informed by the German Supreme Army Command that the military situation facing Germany was hopeless. Quartermaster Erich Ludendorff claimed that he could not promise that the front would hold for another 24 hours, and heavily recommended Germany to accept the fourteen points made by of US President Wilson in January 1918. Such points related to the withdrawal of German troops to behind their own borders, a promise of reparations, the disposition of German warships and submarines, and the discontinuance of hostilities. Despite the Germans registering their formal protest at the harshness of the Allied terms, they were not in a position to refuse the armistice. This was due to the abdication of the Kaiser, and the threat of revolution looming in various parts of Germany. Thus, the armistice went into effect on 11am on 11 November 1918, marking a triumph for the Allies and a defeat for Germany.

“The child had gone to school, Amy to the shop – I reading a novel ‘The Game’ by J. London, when bang went the maroons, and guns and rockets. Alone in the house, I could only guess what it portended – a raid! Soon Amy came along and disabused me. The war is over! The war is over! The flags flutter from every house; Con brought home one for her half-holiday – W.T. has a big one at his shop. Armistice signed at 5am today, Sidney spent his half-holiday in going to Sutton to Ansells – I persuaded to go down to W.T.S for a drink of wine. We shut our shop ‘in consequence of victory’; the high road full of cheering crowds – all carry flags.”

MS 168 AJ 217/14 Journal of Samuel Rich, 11 November 1918


12 November 1939 Nazi violence against the Jewish people

“Mr. Bruno spoke on the music of the Reformgemeinde [reform community] at Berlin – destroyed by Nazi gangsters on the night of Nov 9/10 last year. He spoke well – the whole thing was most moving. There were only 25 present, mostly Germans. […] All the Germans present (men) had been in concentration camps. Their wives present. Mrs Shapski told me quite simply that she had walked from Smithfields that morning:- yet she had been a “very wealthy” woman! But no fussing. These are the real people.”

MS 168 AJ 217/35 Journal of Samuel Rich, 12 November 1939

Reflections on war and warfare: Week 36 (3 – 9 November 2014)

As of March 2014, we are posting weekly extracts of writings on war and warfare drawn from our manuscript and printed collections. Ranging from items on the Maratha wars to the Second World War, the extracts will reflect opinions both from the battle front and from those at home. The quotes tie in with the exhibition ‘When “the days of conquest are passed”: reflections on war and warfare’, currently on display at the Special Collections Gallery.

3 November 1812 Madrid is retaken
Having liberated Madrid on 12 August 1812, Wellington made the decision to move against French forces in northern Spain in the hope of capturing the strategically important stronghold of Burgos. However, the castle proved too tough a target and Wellington raised the siege on 21 October. As French relief armies moved in Wellington ordered his forces to withdraw towards Ciudad Rodrigo. He ordered Lieutenant General Rowland Hill to abandon Madrid and march to join him. This allowed Joseph Bonaparte to re-enter the capital on 2 November.

“I do not know how the French can contrive to keep together the force which they have brought against us; but at all events as we have got together they cannot do us much harm and sooner or later they must separate and we then shall resume again the upper hand.

At all events although the evacuation of Madrid is a material deterioration of the campaign, its effects on the contest in the Peninsula are still most important.”

MS 61 WP1/351 Letter from General Sir Arthur Wellesley, first Marquis of Wellington, Rueda, to Robert Banks Jenkinson, second Earl of Liverpool, Prime Minister, 3 November 1812


4 November 1939 Opposing Fascism

“Coming back from service, we came upon a Fascist meeting at the corner by W.H.Smiths opp. The lib[rar]y.  The speaker wanted a general election: the people to vote peace or war. Mosley for peace.  I noticed a “supporter” abuse a non-Jewish member of the crowd by calling him a Jew “you were in a synagogue being yitched when the last war was on!”  A large crowd was hostile to the speaker & the police stopped him & the meeting.”

MS 168 AJ 217/35 Diary of Samuel Rich, 4 November 1939


5 November 1918 The Armistice of Villa Giusti
As a result of being defeated at the Battle of Vittorio Veneto, the troops of Austria-Hungary were finished as a combat force. This state of the army made it imperative for Austria-Hungary to secure an immediate armistice. On 1 November the rough draft of the armistice conditions were disseminated to the Austro-Hungarian Armistice Commission by General Badoglio, Assistant Chief of the Italian General Staff and Chairman of the Italian Armistice Commission. The conditions included Austria-Hungary reducing her army to 20 divisions on a peace footing, surrendering over half of her artillery, and releasing all prisoners of war. On 3 November the Austro-Hungarians accepted the peace terms.

“There was quite a lot of excitement in Cairo yesterday at the news of the Armistice with Austria – particularly among the Cairene Italians.”

MS 116/8 AJ 14 Volume of typescript ‘excerpts’ from letters from H.D. Myer, 5 November 1918


4 November 1852 Winning the peace
Faced with the problem of how to retain peace in areas conquered by the British in South Africa for the long term, the best way of settling the colony was investigated. One suggestion was to move Swiss settlers into the area.

“An Englishman always looks forward to returning home and that his residence in a colony is only temporary, but if you could transplant a community of Swiss who would make the Amatola mountains their home, you only effectively render them inaccessible to the Kafirs, but secure to yourself an industrious sober population a most certain safeguard on your most exposed border.”

MS 63 A904/3/23 Letter from Captain Edward Wellesley to his brother Richard, 4 November 1852

50th Anniversary of the arrival of the Parkes Library

Consisting of over 4000 books, 2000 pamphlets and 140 journals, the private library of Revd. Dr James Parkes was transferred to Southampton University Library in 1964, making 2014 the 50th anniversary of the transfer.

Revd Dr James Parkes devoted his life to combating anti-Semitism, which he first encountered in European universities while working for the International Student Service. He helped rescue Jewish refugees during the 1930s and campaigned for the Jews of Europe during the Holocaust. During the Second World War he helped found the Council of Christians and Jews and worked throughout his career in promoting religious tolerance and mutual respect.

Official opening of the Parkes Library

Official opening of the Parkes Library

As part of his campaigning, he built up the Parkes Library and associated archive, and completed a thesis entitled The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue: a study in the origins of anti-Semitism. This publication of this work established him as a specialist in the fields of Jewish-Christian relations and the history of anti-Semitism.

The Parkes Library is now one of the largest Jewish documentation centres in Europe and the only one in the world devoted to Jewish/non-Jewish relations. It has led to the development of the Parkes Institute, which provides teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate level, as well as having a thriving doctoral programme and a range of outreach activities engaging the general public, local communities and colleges.

Along with the Parkes Library, Revd James William Parkes also transferred his papers to the University of Southampton (MS 60). These contain correspondence and notes relating to his publications, as well as newspaper cuttings on significant events such as the Suez crisis of 1956, the Palestine question, anti-Semitism and fascism. Other sections of the archive include the personal financial papers relating to the administration of the Parkes Library.

Reflections on war and warfare: week 12 (19 – 25 May 2014)

As of March 2014, we are posting weekly extracts of writings on war and warfare drawn from our manuscript and printed collections. Ranging from items on the Maratha wars to the Second World War, the extracts will reflect opinions both from the battle front and from those at home.

19 May 1939 Anti-Semitic propaganda
The persecution of the Jewish population in Germany had begun as early as 1933 with the boycott of Jewish businesses and shops. On 30 January that year Hitler gave a speech in the Reichstag, announcing that: “If the international Jewish financiers inside and outside Europe should succeed in plunging the nations once more into a world war, then the outcome will not be the victory of Jewry, but rather the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe!” By 1939, anti-Semitic propaganda had become so widely distributed and accessible, that it could also be viewed outside of Germany.

“I.I.M sent me ‘What are the Jews?’ to be published on Monday. I’ve read heartily 140 pages already. Clearly written – incisive – it should create quite a stir. The anti-Zionist polemic very powerful – he had M.L.P. in mind!”

MS 168 AJ 217/35 Journal of Samuel Rich, 19 May 1939


23 May 1917 The no annexations question
In 1917, Russia’s political and economic problems were augmented by the war. As warfare continued, Nicholas II abdicated and a provisional government led by liberals and moderate socialists was formed. These leaders wished to participate in the war more efficiently, resulting in them wanting to commit to a general peace minus annexations or indemnities. This was a plan that neither the Allies or Germany would accept.

“Something of an argument with Jeff on the question of ‘no annexations’. I think the allies ought to restate their terms in view of the entry of U.S.A. and of the Russian Revolution.”

MS 168 AJ 217/13 Journal of Samuel Rich, 23 May 1917


23 May 1854 The destruction of HMS Tiger
HMS Tiger had been part of the allied squadron that had been involved in the bombardment of Odessa. It was part of a squadron that was detached on 11 May to cruise off Odessa but was quickly separated from the others due to fog. It was fired on by the Russians from shore and was damaged. A number of crew members were seriously injured, including Captain Henry Giffard, who later died of wounds. The crew were well treated by the Russians, to whom they surrendered, but the Tiger was blown up when the Russians reopened fire on the vessel.

“The Russians have totally destroyed the ‘Tiger’ which vessel ran on shore in a fog near Odessa and the Captain Giffard after being wounded was taken prisoner with all his men.”

MS 63 A904/4/25 Letter from Major Edward Wellesley to his wife, Annot, 23 May 1854


25 May 1811 Report by the Secretary at War on the Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro
Lord Palmerston held the position of Secretary at War from 1809 to 1828. The Secretary at War was responsible for running the War Office which oversaw the administration and organisation of the Army. In the extract below Palmerston reports on the Allied success at the Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro where French forces failed to relieve the besieged city of Almeida.

“Dispatches have been received from [Lord] Wellington […] by which it appears that the enemy’s whole army, consisting of the 2nd, 6th and 8th Corps and all the cavalry which could be collection in Castile and Leon including 900 of the Imperial Guard together with some battalions of the 9th Corps […] made two desperate attacks on the British army for the purpose of relieving Almeida.

The contest though very severe, especially on the 5th, terminated in the complete repulse of enemy, and the allied army continued to hold its position.”

MS 62 PP/WO/1 Report by Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, Secretary at War, on the Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro, 25 May 1811