Tributes paid to veteran Cable Street campaigner who has died aged 103

Max Levitas aged 96 at an anti-racist rally in Whitechapel. Pic: Mike Brooke

Max Levitas aged 96 at an anti-racist rally in Whitechapel. Pic: Mike Brooke - Credit: Archant

Tributes have been paid to a Cable Street campaigner who has passed away aged 103.

Max Levitas celebrating his 99th birthday with family and friends. Pic: Isabel Infantes

Max Levitas celebrating his 99th birthday with family and friends. Pic: Isabel Infantes - Credit: Archant

Max Levitas was a Jewish Communist who stood up against the British fascist leader Oswald Mosley and his supporters in the Battle of Cable Street in 1936.

His friend, Glyn Robbins, said: “He was an impressive man. Every decision he made in his political life was based on whether or not it was good or bad for the people of the East End.

Mr Robbins, a housing campaigner, said Cable Street highlighted that commitment.

Born in Dublin on June 1, 1915, to eastern European emigrants Harry Levitas and Leah Rick, the family moved to London, via Glasgow, in 1927.


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In 1936, about 20,000 anti-fascist demonstrators took to the streets clashing with police bent on allowing Mosley and up to 3,000 anti-semitic followers to march through a largely Jewish area of the East End.

Mr Levitas was a runner carrying messages between the protest organisers about the police and marchers’ movements.

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“He wasn’t the one manning the barricades, but was doing work behind the scenes, which is often the most important work,” Mr Robbins said.

The protestors triumphed sending Mosley and his marchers packing.

Following his death on November 2, tributes have been made including by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn who tweeted: “Max was one of that wonderful generation that helped to defeat fascism in the 1930s. All communities take strength in how Max, a proud Jewish socialist, stood up to the fascists at Cable Street.”

Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs commented that Mr Levitas embodied the spirit of the East End fighting against facism at Cable Street, serving the borough as a councillor for 17 years and dedicating his life to progressive politics.

Cllr Rabina Khan said: “Max Levitas was an inspiration to us all, not least because of his tireless campaigning against racism and fascism.

“I had the privilege of joining Mr Levitas when he unveiled a plaque making the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street and spoke when I was campaigning for the Cable Street mural to be restored, following years of fascist vandalism. “He will be greatly missed by so many, but he leaves behind a legacy of devotion, passion and activism.”

Mr Robbins said: “He’s of a generation that’s all but gone now. We owe it to Max and others like him to make sure [Cable Street] doesn’t happen again. We are going to miss him.”

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