Morris Beckman obituary

Publié le par The Guardian by Jonathan Beckman

Morris Beckman obituary
Morris Beckman’s first love was writing. During the second world war he had written his first book while in India, where he had learned to speak Hindi fluently

Morris Beckman’s first love was writing. During the second world war he had written his first book while in India, where he had learned to speak Hindi fluently

My father, Morris Beckman, who has died aged 94, was best known for his unyielding anti-fascism, which manifested itself initially in the late 1940s, when he and numerous other Jewish ex-servicemen founded the 43 Group in response to a revival in fascist activity in Britain.

The group, which included a young Vidal Sassoon, targeted all far-right bodies, in particular Oswald Mosley’s postwar party, the Union Movement, breaking up its meetings and events. Morris wrote and lectured on anti-fascist themes for many years and in his old age took great delight in being invited to give talks abroad, especially Germany, where he was feted by St Pauli, the Hamburg-based football club that has long had a strong anti-fascist tradition.

He was particularly pleased by the link because as a young man he had been a good footballer. In fact he had come through a successful trial with Spurs, but his father soon put a stop to any ambitions in that direction.

Morris was born in Hackney, north-east London, son of Joseph, a textile merchant, and Rebecca, and went to Hackney Downs school. After joining the merchant navy in 1939, he had an eventful second world war and was twice torpedoed. After hostilities ended, cajoled by his parents he went into the family textiles business, which grew from premises near Old Street to a thriving company with factories in Crawley, West Sussex, and in London, Malta and the former Yugoslavia.

His first love, however, was writing. During the war he had written his first book while in India, where he had learned to speak Hindi fluently. While pursuing business success and raising a family, he produced novellas, plays, articles, books and diaries.

In later life, worn down by the highs and lows of the textile trade, he decided to devote his life to writing, with two themes paramount: the 43 Group and the merchant navy. A devotee of the typewriter, the tips of his forefingers were bent at an angle of 45 degrees to the rest of the finger, due to his constant pounding away. His published books included Atlantic Roulette (1996), about his wartime naval experiences, and The 43 Group (1993), which recounted the organisation’s anti-fascist resistance.

He is survived by his wife, Patricia (nee Lennard), by his two sons, Andrew and me, by two grandchildren, Anna and Edmond, and by four great-grandchildren.

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