Hundreds of thousands of anti-fascists took to the streets of London’s East End on Sunday October 4th 1936 to stop Sir Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts marching through a prodominently Jewish part of London. The Communist Party played a major part in the mobilisation along with the Independent Labour Party and the Jewish Ex-Servicemen’s Association.
On the eve of the Mosley march the Daily Worker warned that “The fascists are pouring out unimaginable filth against the Jews. The attack on the Jews has been the well-known device of every bloodthirsty, reactionary, unpopular regime for centuries”. The issue was “not merely a question of elementary human rights…the attack on the Jews is the beginning of the attack to wipe out the socialist movement, trade unionism and democracy in Britain”.
On the day some 3,000 Blackshirts and thousands of police were met by a hostile crowd who had erected barricades to stop the fascists marching. After hours of clashes with the police and many arrests the police told Mosley the march would have to be abandoned.
The mural was started in 1976 and finally completed in 1993. The work, by a number of local artists, was attacked by vandals several times while it was being painted. The design was based on original photographs of the battle and the buildings of the day. Some of the people who took part in the battle are depicted in the mural along with others who symbolise the people of the East End today.
Mosley said he would march his militaristic columns through the East End of London. The police said yes; the Home Secretary said Yes; the Cabinet said Yes; but the workers said NO! and NO it was. Well done, historic East End of London!