Mindel Mick

Mick Mindel

A Yiddish speaker, Mindel was born on December 24th 1909, off Commercial Road in London’s east end, the son of Lithuanian immigrants from whom he gained an early political education. His father, Morris Mindel, was the leader of the London Workers’ Circle, a branch of the Jewish socialist current known as Bundism. Mick Mindel in old age would recount how, as a child, he had met Rosa Luxemburg and Emma Goldman; he also recall seeing boatloads of Jews migrating back to revolutionary Russia from London’s ports in 1917 to take part in the momentous events then unfolding.

Mick finished off his education at the Jewish Free School and he joined the Communist Party in 1929. Once a boy cricketer for the Middlesex reserves, he played football for the Young Communist League XI. On a 1933 tour of Germany, the team has fixtures against a variety of German Communists, he observed close hand the torchlight processions celebrating Hitler�s election win.

A cutter making womenswear, Mindel rapidly rose in the United Ladies Tailors Trade Union, effectively a Jewish union with a rule book in both English and Yiddish. Aged 29, he became the Chair of the union in 1938, becoming a main spokesman for Anglo-Jewish working class. David Ben-Gurion called on him to unsuccessfully ask that he lead a migration of Jews to Palestine.

Negotiating entry in the Tailor and Garment Workers Union of his own body, Mindel served from the war period as an executive member and the senior London officer and secretary of the London West End Fashion Trade branch. His membership of the Communist Party was certainly a restraint on his further progress in the union, from which he retired in 1975. The events of 1968 in Czechoslovakia, however, tested his loyalty and in old age he began to develop affection for Israel, whilst maintaining a reserve of militancy. He continued to serve his union on the relevant wages council for some time and also applied his earlier experience of organising immigrants to a new generation and ethnicity of garment workers. Mindel died on May 1st 1994, aged 84.

Source: Guardian 7th May 1994

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