On the night of 2 April, about 2,000 people gathered on the Grand Parade.

Louis WeichardtLouis Weichardt, the leader of the Greyshirts, addressed the crowd from the roof of a lorry decorated with swastikas.

One of the oldest civic gathering spaces in Cape Town, the Grand Parade had long served as a meeting ground and site of political foment.

A group of vociferous opponents, among them Jews, Coloureds, communists and trade unionists, heckled Weichardt as he spoke.

The meeting soon descended into a chaotic brawl in which two young Jewish immigrants, Max Raysman (an engraver) and Jack Rubin (a carpenter), became embroiled.

Raysman and Rubin had heard about the Greyshirt meeting while at the Maccabi club, a gym on Long Street in Cape Town’s city center, and had decided to attend in a show of strength and opposition to the anti-Semitism that characterized Greyshirt public meetings.newspaper-of-louis-weichardts-south-african-christian-national-socialist-movement-the-greyshirts-2

Both Rubin and Raysman were arrested that night for their involvement in the violence and, subsequent to being charged at the Caledon Street police station, taken to hospital for injuries sustained in the fighting.

The nature of their participation in the conflict on the Grand Parade was disputed in a case brought before the magistrates’ court in the following weeks. Dramatic newspaper coverage of the brawl and its aftermath reveal the keen public interest in the event, its sociopolitical implications, and its legal consequences.

You can find out what happened next from the excellent paper by Rebecca Hodes. You can also read it here.

Manifesto of Greyshirts