Kisch Richard

 Richard Kisch

Dr Kisch was one of several volunteers from Britain who almost immediately joined the struggle in Spain following the military rising against the Republican government. With Nat Cohen (see separate entry) and others he participated in an abortive raid on Mallorca, in which Kisch was badly injured. On their return to Barcelona, the group became the Tom Mann Centuria, under the command of Cohen.

Kisch was editor of Challenge, the journal of the Young Communist League during the early part of the Second World War. When its offices transferred to Premier House room 83-86, 150 Southampton Row London in 1941, it was said that "for years Challenge has attempted to maintain the standard for the press defined by Mr Wickham Steed, former editor of the Times"…. It can only be achieved by willing hearts and brains, by enthusiasm and by young men and women with the spirit to fight and make sacrifices for the paper" [Challenge 7th June 1941]

He was the key organiser of the Challenge conference at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, on 22nd June 1941. Some 400 delegates attended, representing 45,000.  Speakers included Eric Boon, then a rather famous and young British Light Weight Boxing Champion, Van Phillips a talented leader of his own orchestra and radio, cinema, and recording star. Phil Cardew, the conductor on Bandwaggon, a comedy and musical band programme on the radio (Bandwaggon, with Arthur Askey and others was the first radio show to use catchphrases in a big way), Beatrix Lehmann, the actress (see separate entry), Commander Edgar Young R.N (see separate entry), D. N. Pritt KC MP, John Moore, an apprentice leader, and Dick Nettleton (see separate entry).

Extraordinarily, this jamboree of a conference was held on the very day that Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union. Challenge, the conference announced is “independent and fearless, a guide, counsellor, and friend of youth”.

Kisch published his account of Second World War forces rebellion in The Days of the Good Soldiers (Journeyman Press, 1985).  He died earlier in 1998.

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