Rosenberg Jack & Harry
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Jack and Harry Rosenberg
The Rosenbergs were Cockney Jews, Jack born in early 1917 and Harry in 1919. The brothers were active in the Hackney Workers Sports Club from 1933 and possibly before that the Clarion Cycle Club. Harry wrote for the latter's journal in 1937. Both seemed to have joined the Young Communist League in 1936. Jack was a delegate to the 1938 YCL congress in Glasgow and married Rene Gable in early 1939, with whom he was to have two children.
A rider for the infamous Vegetarian Cycling and Athletic Club, at the age of 20 in 1939, Harry brilliantly distinguished himself in the "Solihull 25" cycle race by clocking 1 hour 0 minutes and 38 seconds. He was a "prolific seller of Challenge", the YCL's journal, Membership Organiser of Hackney YCL, and a shop steward at Rudge Whitworth,
Jack had by now become Secretary of Hackney Borough Communist Party, despite his youth. It was in this capacity, during the early days of `phony' war, Jack was supposedly arrested for his own protection three minutes into addressing a meeting at the junction of Kenmore Road and Mare Street through a loudspeaker connected to a van. His main point was the problem of shortages of food at a time when the well-to-do could simply buy food in restaurants. But the Hackney Gazette of 12 March 1941 reported that he denied making a critique of the government and its aristocratic Food Minister, which seemed to be the real reason for police interest. The subsequent claim that there was crowd hostility, though a single member of the public had called him a "Yid" seemed not to matter in that he was found guilty of using words likely to cause a breach of the peace and fined and carried costs of over six pounds, something like two weeks' wages.
Harry was in the British Expeditionary Force that was evacuated from the continent at Dunkirk. In 1942, he was killed in action in Egypt, where he was working on tank recovery. Challenge ran a story on his death in its edition of 8th August. Jack also served in the forces in the Royal Army Service Corps, which was responsible for administration, staffing, supplies and technical and military equipment.
In the post-war era, Jack was active in the Amalgamated Union of Operative Bakers, Confectioners and Allied Workers. Soon after World War Two Jack attended its national conference as a delegate from North London District Board. It was said that he specialised in final afternoon resolutions on issues such as German re-armament and nuclear weapons. According to the official history of the Bakers Union he was "a very good speaker, adding fire and punch to his no doubt sincere contributions".
In 1960 the union began to appoint full time organisers on regional basis for London No1 Region and he became a tireless worker for the union. Later, despite ill-health, he pressed on with his organising work in once well-known bakery chains such as the firms of Hales, Price, Coombs, Weston Chibnall, High Wycombe, and Neville. Many union branches established in the 1960s were down to his tireless efforts.
In 1964 the union shortened its name to simply `the Bakers Union’ but then soon after lengthened the name to what is is called today – the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU.
The cutting (above left) is a letter from the Daily Worker in December 1965 from Rosenberg, arguing strongly for Left Unity, which he indicated was a key feature of his work in the Bakers Union.
In the autumn of 1967, Jack died at the relatively young age of 50 of Huntingdon's Chorea.
In view of his wonderful work in the organising field, the London region of his union decided to name their organising shield the "Jack Rosenberg Trophy".
PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY DANIEL ROSENBERG
LEFT: Jack (on right with glasses) in Glasgow 1938 at the Young Communist League Congress.
BELOW: A family photo at the beach, dating from 1947: Jack, his wife Renee and their children, David and Vivian
Jack public speaking at Stamford Hill, London 1947
Jack in Margate with someone called Richards in 1948 at what looks to be the Baker's Union annual conference in Margate in 1948.
Sources: Michael Walker: The Bakers Union, Our history 1849-1977 - a history of the Bakers' Union, Bakers union (Welwyn Garden City) 1977 ; Daniel Rosenberg