Cyril Paskin z"l
4 November 2011
Cyril Paskin, who died on the 1st November at the age of 89, was one of the founders of the Jewish anti- fascist 62 Group that fought, and crushed, Colin Jordans neo-Nazi thugs in the early 1960s.
In January 1941, Cyril was conscripted into the RAF Regiment and went on to serve in the jungles of Burma, working on the landing strips for General Orde Wingates Chindit operation behind enemy lines. He emerged as a decorated and tough Sergeant, but with an abiding love for Burma, its people and its wildlife, which he retained all his life. After being demobbed he returned to civilian life with his mother in Balham, south east London, until his marriage.
In the early 1960s, like other Jewish ex servicemen who had fought to cleanse the world of Nazism and Fascism, he became enraged by the violent anti-Jewish activities of Colin Jordans National Socialist Movement. Their 1962 Trafalgar Square rally, called to free Britain from Jewish control, provided the spark for the Jewish community to organise once again as they had done in the pre and post War years. The Board of Deputies of British Jews, the communitys representative body, preferred a low key response but some younger Deputies and members of the Association of Jewish Ex Servicemen, at a hastily convened meeting in the Ephra Road Synagogue in south east London, determined that a direct and physical response was the only way to beat the neo-Nazis off the streets.
Thus was born the 62 Group, which over the next few years thoroughly penetrated the neo-Nazi groups and their leadership, and confronted them on the streets. Among some of the more memorable clashes were the invasion of the National Fronts inaugural meeting near Victoria which set back their formation by several years; the assault on Oswald Mosleys headquarters in Notting Hill, where his bully boys had been terrorising Caribbean immigrants; and the removal of Jordans regular public platform in Dalston. But what really characterised the 62 Group were its tight discipline and an often unbelievable level of chutzpah.
Police intelligence on the far right in the 1960s was virtually non-existent, but 62 Group information gathering was so good that it led in turn to the apprehension and conviction of a Stamford Hill yeshiva arsonist, and the arrests of several others who had perpetrated hate crimes. It was particularly efficient at unmasking the violent plans of Jordans National Socialist Movement, who aspired to develop a neo-Nazi international, and its paramilitary Spearhead offshoot.
In later years, Cyril together with Philip Green and several other 62 Group leaders turned their attention to charity. Starting with the East End boxing club in Arbour Square, they went on to establish a childrens charity, which on Greens death was renamed the Philip Green Memorial Trust. Over the years this raised hundreds of thousands of pounds to help children suffering from terminal illnesses.
Always one to lead from the front, Cyril was an inspiration to all who worked with him. His rasping voice and his barked commands could easily scare, but he had a heart of gold and his memory will be cherished by all who knew him. He is survived by his wife and two sons, who supported him in all his work.