Vidal Sassoon, antifa

Vidal Sassoon was an icon of 20th century fashion – and also beat up fascists in post-WWII London.

Vidal Sassoon
en:User:DierkA / de:Benutzer:The weaver, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

During World War II, British fascists (amongst others) were imprisoned under Defence Regulation 18B. After the war those regulations ended, and this meant a whole bunch of determined far-right fascists were regurgitated back into the United Kingdom. Over the next five years, organised groups staged anti-Semitic street parades and attempted to re-enter the politics of the country. The British antifa organisation 43 Group sprung up to fight them.

43 Group was made up mainly of Jewish soldiers, sailors, and airmen. They had returned from fighting in the war to find fascism at home, and decided to do something about it. They were explicitly anti-fascist, infiltrating the opposition, attacking parades, and breaking up meetings.

Vidal Sassoon was a poor Jewish boy. He spent several years before the war in a London orphanage, and during the war he was a messenger in London while it was being bombed. Sassoon – by now a hairdresser – was one of the youngest members of 43 Group, and the then-17-year-old enthusiastically joined in their antifa activities. In his own words:

The horror of the images coming out from Auschwitz, Dachau, Buchenwald, Belsen and seemingly so many other places: never again became a command, not just a slogan.

Vidal Sassoon

Sassoon went on to become an icon of fashion, bringing the bob cut back to Hollywood and launching the line of shampoos and conditioners that still bear his name.

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