Stories from History: Vidal Sassoon

So, you might know about Sassoon. Maker of hair products, creator of a company that creates such products, icon. All sorts of stuff.

Before that, he used to be part of a group that punched fascists.

He was an orphan, spent seven years growing up in an orphanage in the United Kingdom. He dreamed of being a football player, but became an assistant hairdresser during World War II.

After the war, there were plenty of veterans who were horrified of what they had seen while overseas. A group of Jewish veterans created and underground group called the 43 Group, so named because they claimed to have 43 people at the first meeting. The group was formed in response to an increase in anti-Semitic violence inn the wake of the war, and from movements pushing for a fascist England in the image of the Germany that had just ended .

The 43 Group had one overarching goal – prevent the socialization and acceptance of the far-right. To deal with this, they had several ways they handled it. They would chase people off stage when they gave anti-Jewish or anti-Democratic speeches, through the infiltration and exposing of fascist goals and agenda, and through, at times, street fighting. Who instigated the violence in the streets was different depending on the instant.

Vidal Sassoon joined the Jewish veterans in the 43 Group, and was the youngest member. He had been too young to partake in World War II, and it is interesting to think about his motivations for this. This was in 1945, and he was a member until he joined the Haganah and fought in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

These are all relatively minor footnotes in his history. He went on to build his business, to create an empire. He died just under 6 years ago at the time of writing.

There are so many stories like this, stories that can so easily be lost into the ever passing flow of history around us. Sometimes it makes sense to pause and catch some of these small stories.

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