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Vol. XXV, No. 4 December 2008

Lincoln Brigade vets and their families attend events commemorating

70th anniversary of Despedida (International Brigades‘ departure from
Spain) in Barcelona. Clockwise from left, vets George Sossenko, Jack
Shafran, and Matti Mattson, and Josie Yurek, daughter of vet Steve
Nelson. Photos by Jeannette Ferrary. See page 1

Sidewalk Views of the Monument, p. 4 Paul Robeson in Spain, p. 11

Despedida Celebrations, p. 5 Book Reviews, p. 17
Susman Lecture: Border Crossings, p. 10
ALBA’s ALBA Chair Peter Carroll participated in a roundtable dis-
cussion at the California World History Association
New conference in San Francisco focusing on how the subject of

Executive the Spanish Civil War (which can be taught in 10th grade
social studies) can be related to U.S. history courses (taught
Director in 11th grade) by examining the role of the Abraham
Lincoln Brigade. In this way, U.S. history directly connects
Jeanne Houck, an to world history.
experienced public historian, We hope to make further announcements after the
has been appointed New Year.
ALBA’s Executive Director,
becoming the organization’s
chief administrative officer.
A native of Maryland,
Houck earned her bachelor’s Vets Can Be Spanish Citizens
degree from George Washington University and a PhD A recent revision of Spanish law provides that veterans of
in history at New York University. She was founder and the International Brigades can receive full Spanish citizen-
president of History Works, a New York City-based public ship without renouncing their existing citizenship and
history consulting and production company. Most recently, without traveling to Spain to obtain it. According to
she served as development associate at the Intrepid Sea, Spanish officials who addressed the Brigadistas at the 70th
Air, and Space Museum. She is also executive producer of anniversary ceremonies in Barcelona in October, veterans
the NEH-sponsored film project No Job for a Woman: The should make formal inquiries at the nearest Spanish
Women Who Fought to Report World War II. She can be consulate.
reached at; (212) 674-5398.

Teaching Teachers: Update

ALBA’s key education initiative, which began last sum- The Volunteer
mer with a summer institute for New York area teachers at founded by the
New York University, will continue next year in New York Veterans of the
and in other parts of the country. It’s too early to announce Abraham Lincoln Brigade
the details, but new programs are in the planning stages an ALBA publication
for New York City and Tampa, Florida. 799 Broadway, Suite 341
In Tampa, ALBA is cooperating with the Department of New York, NY 10003
History and the Department of Social Foundations at the (212) 674-5398
University of South Florida to create a program for June Editorial Board
2009. Titled “La Retaguardia de Tampa: The Spanish Civil Peter N. Carroll • Gina Herrmann
War and Its Impact on Florida and U.S. History,” this sum- Fraser Ottanelli
mer institute will focus on the strong support for the Book Review Editor
Spanish Republic among the city’s Cuban, Spanish and Shirley Mangini
Italian communities. A selected group of high school teach-
Art Director-Graphic Designer
ers will work with original documents drawn from the Richard Bermack
ALBA archives and from the Spanish Civil War collection
Editorial Assistance
at the University of South Florida, which contains informa-
Nancy Van Zwalenburg
tion on the 26 Tampeños who volunteered to fight in Spain.
Other documents, including original documentaries, focus Submission of Manuscripts
Please send manuscripts by E-mail or on disk.
on pro-loyalist activities in the city’s working-class enclave
of Ybor City.
On the west coast, a key curriculum office is expressing
interest in developing similar programs. In November,
B a rce lona, 1938-2008

By Peter N. Carroll gratitude of the Spanish people

Photos by Jeannette Ferrary who today and tomorrow will

shout with enthusiasm—
he great speech by Dolores Long live the heroes of the
Ibarruri—“La Pasionaria of the International Brigades!
Spanish Republic”—at the fare- This year, on the anniversary of
well parade of the International that historic moment, some of those
Brigades in 1938 was quoted repeat- heroes did come back, but in num-
edly in Barcelona during the 70th bers that showed the steady toll
anniversary commemoration of the of time and the softening of
Farewell to the International public memory of their hero-
Brigadistas last October. ism. They came from Mexico,
Ibarruri's vibrant words spoke of Cuba, and the United States; from
the past and prophesized the present Russia, Bulgaria, and Rumania; from
moment. On October 28, 1938, as tens Britain, Ireland, Germany, and Italy—
of thousands of Barcelonans crowded and many of their family members
the Gran Via to bid farewell to the came as well: children, grandchildren,
International survivors who were nieces and nephews. Pasionaria's
going home or, in some cases, into daughter was there, and she reminded
exile because their home countries the Internationals how her mother had
would not allow them to return, she long praised their heroism and their
said: sacrifices for the cause of Spain’s
We shall not forget you; freedom.
and, when the olive tree of The Americans were represented
peace is in flower, entwined
by Matti Mattson, onetime ambulance
with the victory laurels of the
Republic of Spain—come driver; Jack Shafran, soldado from
back! Brooklyn; and George Sossenko,
Come back to our side French-born anarchist volunteer and
for here you will find a home- resident of Atlanta.
land—those who have no There were many speeches and
country or friends, who must
ceremonial tributes, laying of wreaths,
live deprived of friendship—all,
all will have the affection and Continued on page 2
December 2008 THE VOLUNTEER 1
Continued from page 1
hoisted glasses of wine and cava to executions as well as the dead of
honor both those who were present World War II. After a ceremonial lay-
and those who are long gone. ing of a wreath, the guests were
On Friday, October 25, at the small treated to a sumptuous dinner at the
beachside town of Sitges, half an hour Pedralbes Palace, sponsored by the
south of Barcelona, where most of the Catalan Ministry of Home Affairs.
visitors were hosted, the city inaugu- Historian Paul Preston presented the
rated “New York and the Spanish keynote speech, and a lively outdoor
Civil War.” The exhibit, originally cre- musical presentation was performed
ated by ALBA and the Museum of the by the Brossa Quartet.
City of New York, funded by the
Puffin Foundation and the Cervantes
Historian Paul Preston
Institute, is now traveling to various
sites in Spain. This was the first ver- volunteers. Indeed, as one official
sion of the exhibition that was spoke about his grandfather’s memory
translated into Catalan, and more of fighting beside the Internationals,
towns are on its itinerary in the north- the translator wept openly.
east province of Spain. The next day, the veterans jour-
neyed by bus to Barcelona for a
ceremonial event at the monument to
the International Brigades made by
U.S. sculptor Roy Shiffrin on the
Rambla del Carmel. An exuberant
crowd applauded speeches by public
officials and by Brigadistas, including
George Sossenko. Then the contingent
moved to the haunting cemetery on
Montjuic, where several memorials
Gloria Bodelón Alonso, from Ministry of
honor the victims of Franco’s Justice, speaking to crowd about Spain’s
offer of citizenship to IB vets.

The official events, both solemn

Ana Perez, head of the Association of and emotionally moving, reflected the
Amigos of the International Brigades growing importance in contemporary
A small brass band led a column Spain of overcoming the “pact of
of Brigadistas and their friends silence” about the Spanish Civil War
through the winding streets of Sitges and protecting the historical memory
to the City Hall. The crowd, too large of those who lost the war. On a private
for the accommodations, spilled into scale, these feelings seemed even more
the hallway, but an official delegation intense, as the old men and women
of government officers welcomed the who came from around the world
group. The mayor and various cultural embraced each other, signaling the
officials, including Salvador Clotas, passing of the generations and the
head of the Fundacion Pablo Iglesias, inevitable sense of loss. For three full
spoke with sincerity about the oppor- days, the warm Spanish sun mellowed
tunity to thank the surviving Amaya Ibarruri, daughter of Dolores those darker thoughts.
2 THE VOLUNTEER December 2008
Clockwise from upper left corner: Universo Lipiz (Cuba); Victor
Lovsky; daughter of Russian volunteer holding photo of
father; Yury Turzhanskiy (Russia).

December 2008 THE VOLUNTEER 3

Sidewalk Views of the

By Teresa Huhle started interviewing me after I inter- Two 20-year-old men from Seattle

n a sunny Sunday afternoon viewed them. I saw them reading the Pablo
in August I spent four hours I want to share with readers of The Neruda poems very carefully. They
beside the Abraham Lincoln Volunteer what I was told. told me they didn't know what the
Brigade monument in San Francisco. I monument was for—“didn’t really pay
wanted to talk to everyone who Two young tourists from attention to it”—but they were study-
stopped and looked at the monument. Switzerland ing Spanish and liked Neruda. “We
When they were about to leave, I intro- “We were just trying to figure out were trying to translate and didn’t notice
duced myself and asked, “Why did what dictator this is about. Franco, right? the translation was right next to it,” they
you stop? What is the monument But if that's Franco, wasn’t there also a said laughing.
about? Do you like it?” Of course four dictator in ’73?” They told me they had
hours isn’t enough time to take a sta- figured it was about Spain, but they Young woman from San Diego
tistical survey. It's a snap-shot. Ten had never heard of the Abraham I saw her taking pictures of
voices. Lincoln Brigade. So I asked who they Dolores Ibarruri and Harry Bridges
The Justin Herman Plaza was thought the monument was for. “Well, quotes. But when I asked her about it,
quiet that Sunday. People who came we thought probably some Americans she didn’t know what the monument
by came with time. Only one couple helped to fight against Franco. It wouldn't was for and didn’t want to know. She
was from San Francisco. Others came make sense if it was for Spanish freedom just said, “I liked the words.”
from Switzerland, Canada, Spain, fighters.”
New York, Seattle, San Diego, Marin Two women from San Francisco
County and the Bay Area. Some I Canadian tourist with his I could tell it had a strong impact
missed while talking to others. To 10-year-old son on them. They had finished shopping,
some I spoke a minute, to others 10. He knew about the war and the and for them the monument was a
Some only answered my questions Lincoln Brigade. He said the monu- reminder to “wait a minute, pay atten-
and continued on their way. Others ment is one “that makes you think,” and tion, think about why we go to war. Who
he had stopped because it was “some- are we fighting if not our brothers. Just to
Teresa Huhle is writing her thesis, about thing to share with my son, sort of explain have a conversation with somebody is bet-
the San Francisco monument, at the a little bit more about politics and fascism ter than shooting him.”
University of Cologne.
and so forth.”
Continued next page
4 THE VOLUNTEER December 2008
Despedida Celebrations

The anniversary of the Despedida was celebrated in San

Francisco and New York with dramatic readings of veterans’
letters describing the 1938 parade and the screening of rare footage of
the event. The program was written and arranged by Bruce Barthol, with
visuals by Richard Bermack, Judy Montell, and Peter Glazer. Clockwise,
from upper left: Tessa Koning-Martínez (SF); Lisa Asher and Peter Glazer
(NY); Linda Lustig (SF); Elizabeth Martínez (SF); Arthur Holden, Bruce
Barthol, and Heather Bridger (SF).

Tourist from San Diego come. “I really think this is beautiful art History student from New York
“I am half through with For Whom work. This really improves the city’s “I think this history is pretty well
the Bell Tolls.” She didn´t know about beauty.” known.” I could tell he knew lots about
Americans in the Spanish Civil War it. “I'm not a very good judge of architec-
before she started the book. But she 23-year-old exchange student ture and monuments. I think I would have
knew Paul Robeson and admired from Madrid liked it better if there actually was like a
Langston Hughes. It seemed as if a He was the only one who didn’t talk statue of Abraham Lincoln.”
puzzle started to make sense to her. of a monument about “Spain,” but said,
She was touched by Robert Colodny’s “It's really interesting that they have a mon-
Older man from Marin County
words: “The Vietnam War, that’s the ument about the Republic.” He knew “I'm well aware how the people who
war that has shaped me.” about the International Brigades, but not fought against Franco have not been
about the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. His treated very well by many people, espe-
Photographer from the family hadn't fought in the war, he said. cially in this country. I firmly believe in
Bay Area “In Spain there are no monuments of the the things that are written here. People
“My neighbor, who is a history buff Civil War. It's really good to see it here.” An who fought against fascism deserve our
and a history teacher, told me that if I American friend who was with him thanks. It's very touching to see this.” He
come to the Ferry Building I should come thought he knew of the war, but said, “I had tears in his eyes.
see it.” And she was happy she had hadn't realized we'd sent a brigade.”

December 2008 THE VOLUNTEER 5

1938: Milton Robertson Writes Home
Editor’s Note: This newly found letter was groups lined at a corner waiting for a Somewhere ahead were the boys of
read at commemorative events held in San bus, or perhaps food rations. the Lin[coln]-Wash[ington].
Francisco and New York last November. Soon we had hit the outskirts of We waited there, exchanging
Barcelona. Already, we were being excited comments with friends
Oct. 29 1938 picked out as Int[ernationals] and thought dead, asking about all those
Hospital 101S salutes and vivas greeted us as we tore who weren’t present.
Dear Lil and Bernie, down the avenues. As we drove Perhaps an hour passed, perhaps
Yesterday I was witness and partici- deeper into the heart of town, festival more as we waited for the parade to
pant in a demonstration that I am signs became more apparent. Here a begin. While we stood there the little
determined never to forget. huge banner flapping madly in the flying planes continued to dart in and
It was the day when the people of wind, here a group of blue clad sailors, out of the sky passing quickly by with
Spain went to say good-bye to the marching along with that certain their throttling roars.
internationals. Spanish swing as their drums rolled a Far ahead I could see a long black
At the hospital there was tremen- fast rhythm. Then we tore down the car speeding down the cleared lane.
dous excitement about going to long drive. People lined the curb, wait- As it drew nearer I could make out its
Barcelona. All wanted to be included ing for the parade to deluge down occupants. Seated in the back with
in the small delegation to be chosen. upon them. Here group[s] of soldiers hand raised in salute was Dr. Negrin.
There couldn’t have been more eager- correctly uniformed waited impa- We raised our hands in answer and an
ness and enthusiasm had it been tiently on the ride. excited whisper ran about as his car
known that a boat lay at wait for us in Motorcycles tore up and down disappeared.
the harbor to take us home. At one with their usual appearance of tre- The signal came for the lines to
o’clock the group chosen (thank heav- mendous urgency. We finally arrived begin their forward movement. The
ens it included me, I don’t know why) at a point at the end of the avenue. As troops quickly formed ranks and
was finally placed in a large open our ambulance stopped a roar burst exclaiming the orders of their leaders
ambulance. I sat there nervously out overhead. Six Spanish fighting were soon pouring down the avenue.
chewing the remnants of my nails and planes, choteaus [chatos] they’re Seated on the top of the ambu-
hoping we would leave quickly. I was called, burst out from somewhere and lance, directly over the motor I could
sure that my being chosen was some were suddenly roaring across the tops see all about me.
kind of an error and they would dis- of trees, close enough for us to distin- The soldiers marching ahead, the
cover and rectify it before I could get guish the helmeted pilots. High above little whippet tanks, batteries of anti
safely away. However my doubts were them larger bi-planes circled, a stream aircraft and motor squads behind. The
eased as the motor roared and we of glittering paper, confetti or leaflets huge lines of people on either side
drew away from the hospital and the flowing from their wake. waiting for us to come by.
envious looks of the “not-going.” Then we suddenly found ourselves And as we came by they went
The day was the first taste of a in the midst of the Internationals. mad. Vivas and salutes burst in upon
coming winter. The sun, warm when Here the Garabaldi [sic] Brigade in us like rifle fire. Flowers hurtled out of
you stood still in its shine became a their usual red scarfs, hung around the crowd to fall amongst, women
useless glare as the truck pressed their necks. The Franco Gelge group with tears streaming down their faces
against a cold mountain wind. Along all wearing stiff black leather jackets rushed to embrace the passing men.
the shores of the Med[iterranean] were and khaki pants. Ahead, the Mac-Paps Girls dressed in long overalls hysteri-
isolated fishermen or boys casting dressed the same as they had been at cally danced about and finally
lines into the frothing sea. The sun lit the front. Pants torn or dirty, shirts a conquering inhibitions rushed to kiss
deep into the water glaring back with mixture of earth and little remaining the marching internationals. The roar
a deep blue light. original color. All had their blankets of cheering was continuous. It was like
We passed small towns some over their necks and their mess kits a wave that never broke, but poured
empty of people, others with small and kanteens hanging from their belt. on with our progression. Our voices

6 THE VOLUNTEER December 2008

Describing the Despedida
grew hoarse and broke with our waiting lines, reaching up to touch face. He rushed down to the street
answering vivas and our arms grew our hands, hurling kisses to us from again, his hand raised in salute, tears
tired and aching from long upheld the curb, lifting babies up to see us. still coursing. For perhaps another
salutes. But the pain of an arm, the One moment more supreme to me hour we passed along in parade,
weakness of a voice didn’t matter, than the whole combination of wild always wild, always cheering.
nothing mattered. It was a goodbye of enthusiasm. A little boy, nine or ten At last we reached the end of the
goodbyes. A never to be forgotten years old, stood on the corner. Tears line. It was all over now. We were
sight. Then we passed the reviewing streaked a dirty line down his face. wrung out. Nothing remained but
senses battered by the import of the
tremendous goodbye we had been
given. Our truck rushed us back to the
hospital. We huddled together, cold,
silent but burning inside with a never
to be forgotten memory.
Now as I write to you I thrill again
to the experience. I feel a newer, more
valuable person. I have gained some-
thing worth more than just a visual
experience. I have seen a brave people,
how brave you’ll never understand
until you have felt bombs, shaking
your homes, heard explosions tearing
against your eardrums, seen your
loved ones lying torn in pieces. I have
seen these people saying goodbye to
us and in their goodbye the promise
of a fight continued to a victory. A vic-
tory over fascism in Spain and the
world over.
To begin to write about myself
now seems kind of silly.
I couldn’t tell you anything impor-
tant or worthwhile.
Haven’t heard from you in some
time. But I suppose it doesn’t matter at
this late stage. Marie of course is com-
pletely silent. It hurts like the very
devil, but I suppose it’s a justified
stand. We grew still, proud and erect He saw our truck bearing down, saw devil.
as our hand rose in salute. There stood the bandages flash about. He dashed So goodbye until my next letter or
Dr Negrin and by his side President out, met the truck and clambered up until maybe you see me. Give hellos
Azaña of Spain. Then onward again to the side. Tears still streaming down around.
the continued cheers of the his face, he thrust his arms about me Love to you both
Barcelonians. Oh it was mad but won- and kissed me on both cheeks. I Milton
derfully so. They rushed out of their kissed him tasting his tears on his

December 2008 THE VOLUNTEER 7

War is Beautiful: Early Praise
The prestigious Library Journal editors the windshield left clear. For men like now pay it little mind compared with
picked James Neugass’s book for special Neugass, road conditions delivered the larger one that followed. But the
attention in pre-publication reviews this the pulse of the war better than any pulse of war delivered by Spain’s
fall. Officially published in November bulletin. roads to Neugass is here delivered to
2008, War is Beautiful is featured this In his journal, Neugass explained us. His narrative conveys the awful
fall in bookstores in Palo Alto, San grim realities—“No sense sewing up a alchemy of war—as he put it, “some-
Francisco, and Berkeley, California; guy’s chest if there’s a hole in the liver. thing big and something terribly
Portland, Oregon; and Seattle, Since livers will hold no stitches, human. Pity and terror, mercy and
Washington. Encouraged by this early almost all boys nicked in this organ pain, all between drawn lips”—yet
praise, The New Press upped the print run die”—and memorialized the dead. Of also speaks of the writer himself and
to 7,500 copies. Below are extracts from a former Child’s Restaurant counter- his own powers of alchemy. There was
some other early reviews. man he wrote, “Some of him lies no “mock heroism” in his work in aid
buried in the grave dug free of charge of the anti-Fascist cause, nor in his
Library Journal by a fascist bomb.” Within a mere five faith in himself as a writer.
Pick of the Month months, he ceased referring to “the One day, near the front at Teruel,
September 1, 2008 World War” that was behind and won- Neugass was “filling in a shell hole
“Real Heroics” dered about the one to come. Ever a [when] a small limousine came tearing
“If it were not for my eyes, I might self-conscious writer, he repeatedly down the road.... ‘That’s Hemingway,’
be in the infantry,” wrote James asked himself “Why did I come to said someone pointing at the vanish-
Neugass in the journal that became Spain?” ing cloud of dust.... ‘He’s a writer and
War Is Beautiful: An American Neugass returned home in April I’m a writer,’ I thought, and went back
Ambulance Driver in the Spanish Civil 1938, the leather journal with him. He to work.” Did Hemingway really leave
War. In late 1937, Neugass began serv- married, had two sons, and lived in James Neugass in the dust? Don’t be
ing in Spain with the American New York, working chiefly as a cabi- so sure.—Margaret Heilbrun
Medical Bureau, which operated light netmaker (though he had declared in
maneuverable hospital units built to his diary, “When I get back...I’m going Kirkus Reviews
serve the International Brigade’s forces to drive a taxi or a carriage. I’ll wait... September 15, 2008
supporting the Loyalist cause against in front of the Metropolitan Opera Fluent memoir by a veteran of a
Franco’s fascist Nationalist rebels. “I’m House and drive society couples war that ended 70 years ago and is
still ashamed of driving an ambu- slowly through Central Park on spring swiftly being forgotten. . . .Neugass
lance,” he continued. “I don’t like the nights”). He wrote some short stories writes carefully of the soldiers with
literary, intellectual, here-to-be- and spent years on his first novel, Rain whom he served, such as a Finnish
revolted-by-the-horror-of-war, of Ashes, published in 1949. That year driver who habitually called Francisco
later-to-write-a-book...mock heroism he suffered a heart attack and died. Franco a “shon of a bits” and another
tradition that lies behind my job.” Over 50 years later, Neugass’s ambulance crew that kept the dried
The 32-year-old native of New typescript was discovered among head of a dead enemy as a kind of
Orleans had led a privileged life, fol- what were likely the papers of socialist mascot. He also has a sense of the big-
lowed, after the stock market crash, by critic Max Eastman—evidently ger picture, of Spain as a proxy war
work that included selling shoes, Neugass’s submission to consider for fought between the Axis powers and
union organizing, and teaching fenc- publication. Save for a couple of the Soviet Union. Sometimes tele-
ing, as well as some early success as a excerpts that appeared in a 1938 pam- graphic (“Fascists have big feet. Killed
poet. In Spain he soon came to recog- phlet on the Spanish Civil War, three, five, eight of them. One with
nize his value as a driver. He called Neugass’s journal is now published for knife, others with bombs. At night.
his car “my sweetheart.” It accepted the first time. May have to kill more.”), sometimes
olive oil for its motor and dirt for cam- Since the Spanish conflict lyrical, Neugass depicts war from a
ouflage, with only a foot diameter of included relatively few Americans, we worm’s-eye view. It is most certainly

8 THE VOLUNTEER December 2008

Lincoln Vet Artists
on Display
An exhibition of the art of Irving
Norman (1906-1989), a veteran of the
Abraham Lincoln Brigade, will be on
display at the Michael Rosenfeld
Gallery in New York (24 West 57th
Street, 7th floor opening) from
October 30 to December 20.
As the exhibition catalogue
explains, Norman is noted for large
surrealist paintings that stand as
detailed critiques of contemporary
life, “a dark vision at once personal
(l-r) Peter Carroll, Diane Wachtell, Peter Glazer, and the author‘s son Jim Neugass at and prophetic. He believed that by
the Cervantes Institute reading in NY. Photo by Anne Sullivan. pointing out the inequities, horrors,
and foibles of human behavior he
not pretty, but occasionally humorous. boredom, excitement, fear, pain, and might somehow cause people to
A complement to the memoirs of loss. Published in time for the 70th consider the consequences of their
George Orwell and Ernest Hemingway, anniversary of the Great Retreats of the actions and ultimately, change.”
as well as Javier Cercas’s novel Soldiers Republican forces, this work is highly For more information about the
of Salamis (2004)—not quite in their recommended for academic libraries purchase of his work, go to www.
league, but not far from it. and libraries with Spanish civil war
collections.—Maria C. Bagshaw The family of painter Anthony
Library Journal Toney, another Lincoln vet who
September 1, 2008 Booklist painted a large number of canvases
Elegant prose, brutal description, November 15, 2008 over eight decades, has created a
and a wry sense of humor character- Tens of thousands fought in the website to display many of his works.
ize this journal by a poet and aspiring International Brigades on the His works can be found at www.
fiction writer during his months as Republican side in Spain’s tragedy of
a Spanish civil war volunteer in the 1936-39. One of them was the writer of
Abraham Lincoln Brigade. . . .Neugass this newly discovered memoir, which
records his observations with pre- had been, according to its editors, in
science and an eye to posterity. After the papers of Max Eastman, a leading Neugass’ journal reveals the quotidian
returning from Spain, he sought to American Trotskyite of the 1930s. aspects of his military experience as a
have his journal published but failed driver during the war’s decisive cam-
to do so before his untimely death paign. . . Perhaps literary aspirations
in 1949. The typescript, only recently vied with politics, but setting aside his
found, has been edited and anno- Readers can purchase War is reasons for going, Neugass produced
tated by two board members of the Beautiful directly from ALBA for a significant first-person account of the
$26.95 plus $3.00 shipping by calling
Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives. Abraham Lincoln Brigade, in whose
They fill in details about Neugass’s medical department he served.
The book can also be bought online
comrades and add notes that put his Continuing popular interest in the
through ALBA’s website, www.alba-
remarks in context. . . .This valuable Lincoln Brigade supports the ordering
addition to Spanish civil war his- of this vivid eyewitness. —Gilbert
Thank you for your support!
tory also attests to the timelessness Taylor
of a soldier’s wartime emotions—the

December 2008 THE VOLUNTEER 9

Border Crossings: The International
Brigaders Before and After Spain
By Helen Graham had left their countries of birth just “border” or “line-crossing” potential
Editor’s Note: On October 10, 2008, the before or after World War I, either for in terms of social change related to
British historian Helen Graham presented economic reasons or to flee political race, gender and sexuality. Politically,
the annual ALBA/Bill Susman Lecture at repression—and frequently both. the Brigaders’ own times (1918-45)
the King Juan Carlos I Center of New York In fighting fascism in Spain, these were running against them. It was a
University. What follows is an abridge- exiles and migrants were explicitly world that, far from opening up to
ment of that talk. taking up unfinished business that hybridity, was closing down ethni-

want to offer some thoughts about went back at least as far as the 1914-18 cally, culturally and nationally—hence
how we might frame the social and war. Its dislocations had brutalized the reason the Brigaders would
cultural history of the International politics, induc- remain in some ways political/existen-
Brigaders. Above all, I see them repre- ing the tial outsiders wherever they resided,
senting hybridity and heterodoxy: birth of East or West.
they embodied it; they often fought for the The Brigaders were not only polit-
it, in Spain and elsewhere; and they anti- ical soldiers. For this European civil
frequently suffered for it—those who demo- war was, like Spain’s own, also a cul-
survived the battlefields of Spain. cratic ture war. And as a European civil war
What the Brigaders were “about,” con- of culture, it was also a race war.
sciously or unconsciously, was This was not simply about
“crossing the lines,” which is, I German Nazism: so many of
think, as good a definition as the European regimes
one can find of how social from which brigader-
change happens. exiles had fled after 1918
Among the approximately developed forms of poli-
35,000 international volunteers tics/desired national
who fought for the Republic order based on ethnic
against Franco and his fas- segregation and purifi-
cist backers, there were cation—aimed at both
individuals from all over racial and other kinds
the world. But most, of minorities. In the
even in the two North Bill Aalto traditional, rural-dom-
American contingents, inated societies that
had their origins in Europe. A high nationalisms that had physically dis- were still the norm in east Europe,
proportion of these European placed them. In a sense, here I’m these minorities included the urban
migrants were already political exiles. identifying in the Brigades the border- lefts.
Not only Germans, Italians and crossing revolutionary spirit of an In Germany, the trade union
Austrians, but also those from other earlier age: the ghosts of 1848 if you movement that was the Nazis’ first
European countries dominated by like. After the failure of the 1848 revo- target cannot be described as a minor-
right-wing nationalist dictatorships, lution, the national idea in Europe was ity; it was a mass social force. But it’s
autocratic monarchies, and the radical increasingly co-opted into outright also true that the first German con-
(fascist) right—including Hungary, conservative, state-building agendas. centration camps set up in 1933 did
Yugoslavia, Romania, Poland and But the idea of travelling hopefully, of incarcerate and persecute German out-
Finland. The brigaders were part of a bearing change across borders, lived siders, the different, the marginal, the
mass migration of people, mainly on into the Brigades. I think we can hybrid, the heterodox (that culturally
from the urban working classes, who see this clearly if we explore the
Continued on page 14
10 THE VOLUNTEER December 2008
December 2008 THE VOLUNTEER 11
12 THE VOLUNTEER December 2008
December 2008 THE VOLUNTEER 13
Border Crossings
Continued from page 10

hybrid Germany represented so Greek, two Palestinian Arabs, and a of the Brigades made them a living
magnificently, for example, in the pho- German who, after deserting from the form of opposition to the principles of
tography of August Sander). And the Nazi army, insisted on serving with purification and brutal categorization
German international brigaders took this Jewish unit. Its members would espoused by fascism and, above all, by
to Spain at least one song—Peat Bog later fight (along with so many other Nazism. Nor was this just about doing
Soldiers (Moorsoldaten)—written by International Brigade veterans) in the battle with European demons. The
inmates of the first Nazi camps. French Resistance and in other parti- Abraham Lincoln Brigade, in which
And while these first Nazi camps san conflicts of World War II. Most around 90 African Americans fought,
inside Germany didn’t target Jews as Jewish brigaders in Spain, however, was the first non-segregated American
Jews, nevertheless many Jewish people did not fight in this Jewish company, military unit to exist, the U.S. Army
were among the incarcerated, and and many saw their antifascism as a continuing to operate segregation
once they were confined, then their
treatment was always among the
worst. That there were so many Jewish
volunteers in the Brigades—around a
quarter of the total—is unsurprising if
one considers first the long history of
anti-semitism in Europe and the way
in which it was directly shaping the
“purificatory” and social Darwinist
politics of the European right after
1918—which by the 1930s was explic-
itly manifesting itself in Spain, too (in
the Spanish right’s resolutely anti-
semitic discourse of the
“judeo-masonic-bolshevik conspiracy
against eternal Christian Spain”). And
second, one has also to compute the
longstanding and strong radical politi-
cal tradition among Jewish migrant
communities who had fled pogroms
and endemic discrimination in Russia
and east Europe—such as was the
case of Bill Susman’s own family,
many members of which (including Rudolf Michaels
his father and mother) made the jour- more important mark of personal throughout World War II. Viewed
ney from Russia to Connecticut. identity than their Jewishness (which through this optic, what the
Among the Polish brigaders in in a sense is anyway probably better International Brigades symbolized is a
Spain, too, a high proportion were defined as their Yiddish cultural iden- spirit of future possibility.
Jewish, and a specifically Jewish com- tity, since it was inseparable from their This same story of hybridity and
pany was formed within the Polish secular internationalism, Zionism difference as a form of “social change
battalion, where it attracted an inter- being too close to the other forms of in action” was also played out in resis-
national membership, including Jews nationalism they eschewed). tance movements inside Europe.
from various European countries and In racial and cultural as well as Indeed the French urban-based MOI
Palestine, but also others, including a political terms, then, the heterogeneity (Main d’oeuvre immigrée, or migrant

14 THE VOLUNTEER December 2008

labor front) traced its origins to homogeneity. Certainly in 1944, the too surprising to an audience in 2008.
International Brigade veterans— French Communist party understood But remember, this is 1940 (nearly 30
mainly escapees from the prison camp the social and cultural currency of the years before Stonewall), and Bill was
of Gurs. Along with French and Red poster and, in a bid to build a revealing something that made him
Spanish Republican fighters, MOI national coalition around the vulnerable, not because of how he felt
included Italians, Rumanians, Resistance, played up its antifascism about being gay (which was basically
Armenians, Poles, Austrians, Czechs but played down its multi-ethnic OK), but because it made him illegal.
and Hungarians. composition. So the revelation has to be a kind of
In the MOI perhaps more than Race also threads through the cul- dare or challenge: Bill refusing to play
half were Jewish. This profile put MOI tural border/line-crossing among by the rules, refusing to accept the
under greater psychological pressure North American Brigaders. Irv Goff, need to compartmentalize his life any
than any other resistance organiza- who fought in the Republican guer- more. And why this timing? It was, I
tion. A majority of its members were rilla, was in the late 1940s a freedom think, pretty conclusively related to
on the wanted list three times over: as rider avant la lettre, when as CPUSA his experience of the war.
leftists, foreigners, and Jews. district organizer in New Orleans, in Let me try to rehearse this,
In February 1944 in Paris, the his work to encourage black voter reg- because it applies not only to Bill, but
occupying forces executed 23 MOI istration, he jeopardized his life on also more widely to the Brigaders. For
fighters from a group led by the more than one occasion by ignoring the war they’d fought to have mean-
Armenian poet Missak Manouchian. southern racial customs. Goff was a ing, then life had to change. It had to
(Among the executed were several IB disciplined party operative, but that’s go beyond the sterility, colorlessness,
vets and a Republican Spaniard.) The not the whole story of his line cross- inauthenticity, not only of the political
Nazis then plastered the walls of the ing/risk taking. status quo, but also of social conven-
city with the famous “Red poster.” It These things are intrinsically tied tion. Ohio State is a kind of crossover
was an attempt to delegitimize the up with the experience of Spain, a per- for Bill Aalto. For the rest of his life,
Resistance through an appeal to fect illustration of which comes in his chiding refrain to friends would
French chauvinism (which, of course, another episode/event involving both always be, “You see life steady, but
would certainly have found an Goff and his comrade in the you see it small.” After Spain, he was
approving resonance in France). Republican guerrilla, Bill Aalto, a determined not to.
For the Nazis’ “war against working-class Finnish-American from And this story also serves to
hybridity” wasn’t waged against the the Bronx, tough, intelligent, street- remind us more generally that gender
European grain at all. Though Hitler wise, who became a guerrilla captain and sexuality was one variety of bor-
certainly ran with it, ethnic homoge- and came out of Spain with the high- der crossing that the old left of the
neity as political coherence (and est commendation of any awarded by 1930s generally balked at: a frontier/
psychological integrity) was an idea the Comintern authorities to the line-crossing too far. Look at what
shared by many people in Europe, Lincoln brigaders. One day, in the happened when Evelyn Hutchins
east, south, west and north. Indeed, spring of 1940, while Goff and Aalto applied to be sent to Spain as an
the myth of the ethnically homoge- were on an agitprop tour of U.S. col- ambulance driver. She came up
nous European nation state had been lege campuses (speaking on behalf of against entrenched prejudice. The
most powerfully represented by the Republican Spain/Republican prison- political left, though keen to further
western peacemakers of 1918-19. For ers and refugees), they were parked in racial equality, could conceive of
the message underlying all the elabo- a car near the campus of Ohio State, recruiting women to Spain only as
rate and ultimately unworkable and, quite suddenly, Bill tells Goff he’s nurses or support staff. In the end
machinery of minority protection was gay. That he should tell Goff, with Hutchins won. But hers was an isolated
that “normality” and assuring a con- whom he had a close bond from the victory. And when Hutchins applied
flict-free condition required ethnic war in Spain, perhaps doesn’t seem Continued on page 16

December 2008 THE VOLUNTEER 15

Border Crossings
Continued from page 15

during World War II to serve in the museum, Rudolf’s life was traduced Cold war narrative of “eastern victims
Office of Strategic Services, she was by every state. First he was confined of Stalinism.” Rudolf’s memoirs were
turned down flat. In the world order in Nazi preventive custody. He got out eventually published under a pseud-
that emerged after 1945, the Brigaders by the skin of his teeth and went into onym in West Germany, but not until
found their heterodoxy/difference to exile in Spain, where he later joined 1980. And in East Germany, it was
be, once again, surplus to the require- the anarchist columns to fight against only in the late 1970s and 1980s that he
ments of the new Cold War political Franco. Involved in the anti-state May was able to begin speaking about his
and social order, West and East. Days rebellion of anarchists and dis- experiences of the multiplicity of anti-
In the West, the Spanish vets were sident communists in Barcelona in fascist traditions—albeit in private
viewed, either implicitly or explicitly, 1937, he was imprisoned in a Spanish talks only—as non-official, semi-pub-
as restless subversives, politically Republican state jail. Released from lic spaces for debate began to appear.
untrustworthy/malcontent, unpa- there, and having taken Spanish Elsewhere in the Eastern bloc,
triotic, potentially traitorous—the citizenship, Rudolf fought on in the the whiff of cosmopolitanism that
antithesis of the authorities’ ideal of Republican army until 1939, when adhered to “Spain” was a death sen-
a settled, demobilized, compliant he crossed the frontier to join the tence, very often literally. So many of
population from which they were Resistance in France. Later he crossed those who were consumed in the tri-
silenced and excluded in various back into Spain, where he was caught als and purges—above all in Hungary
ways. In the Eastern bloc, too, despite and imprisoned in a Francoist jail for (1949) and Czechoslovakia (1952)—had
the apparent differences, things were over five years, suffering torture and been in Spain, and the very fact of
startlingly similar for many veterans. finally being repatriated to Germany having been there opened them up to
The fight against fascism became in 1946, where he ended up back with charges of being, well, “restless sub-
the foundational myth of the new his family in Berlin. versives, politically untrustworthy/
socialist order by 1949. But it was a Rudolf Michaelis made a peace of malcontent, unpatriotic, potentially
controlled and pared-down political sorts with the new state order of the traitorous...” In Czechoslovakia in
narrative, rigorously policed by the DDR. Where else could he have gone? November 1952, the Slansky trial
state. So many Brigaders didn’t fit its Though in joining the DDR’s official focused on communists who had been
requirements. Ironically, we get in state party, SED, he was cut dead by Western emigrants, many of them
East Germany the obsessive surveil- his anarchist comrades in the West. International Brigaders. Artur London,
ling of the vets (the Spanienkämpfer), Later he was expelled from the SED in the Spain vet who’d been through
the very group which was supposedly 1951 as just too politically heterodox. Mauthausen was, when arraigned,
the antifascist aristocracy of the DDR. Nevertheless, the DDR still afforded the Czech under-secretary for foreign
They were closely observed as they Rudolf a liveable life, both in material affairs. In his account On Trial, what
wrote, and rewrote, to order, their offi- terms, and, crucially, it still offered emerges with crystal clarity is the link
cial biographies, destined for public him a means of participating in a col- between border-crossing and “con-
consumption/edification. lective memory of what Spain had tamination.” (The state authorities
This death by editorialization, the signified, which, while very reductive, were obsessively concerned that exiled
bid to reduce every Spanienkämpfer was not a lie. Nor did he suffer trial or communists had been “turned”—
to a two-dimensional Socialist Realist imprisonment in the DDR, though by everyone, so it seemed, Gestapo,
hero, was another means of silencing some East German dissident vets French and U.S. intelligence services.)
them. It led to half a lifetime of limbo would do in the late 1950s. Just what had they really been up to
for one prickly, difficult, and rather But inevitably Rudolf was con- in the cities of western exile or in the
wonderful dissenting Spanienkämpfer, fined to the margins. His life could not camps of France and Africa? The MOI
Rudolf Michaelis. An anarchist, whose be represented, indeed was literally (Main d’ouevre emigré) was uniformly
original profession was as an archaeo- unspeakable within either the state seen as contaminated/compromised
logical restorer at the Berlin state Spanienkämpfer script or the western Continued on page 20

16 THE VOLUNTEER December 2008

Book Reviews
Canadian Volunteers Troskyites and, in some cases, they
were punished or imprisoned.
In the final chapters, Petrou dis-
Renegades: Canadians in the Spanish Royal Canadian Mounted Police tried cusses the activities of several
Civil War. By Michael Petrou. Vancouver: to prevent them from going to Spain, volunteers. The most fascinating story
University of British Columbia Press,
the men went anyway. The author also is that of Dr. Norman Bethune, who is
deftly illuminates the fact that when well known for setting up the first
they returned from Spain, they were mobile blood transfusion unit in
By Shirley Mangini unfairly treated by the Canadian Spain. Petrou praises Bethune’s work

he title of Michael Petrou’s government. in Spain, while at the same time
ground-breaking book on the When the independent-minded attempting to clarify the controversies
Canadian volunteers in the Canadians arrived in Spain, they were surrounding him.
Spanish Civil War is telling. The viewed as unstructured and unruly Petrou concludes his study with
underlying text of this book reveals and, especially, politically ambivalent. an analysis of the unfair treatment of
why the men who went to Spain from Because of this, few were given posi- the Canadian volunteers in their own
Canada were truly “renegades,” con- tions of authority. At first many joined country after the civil war. Not only
sidered as such by their government, the Abraham Lincoln Battalion and were they considered subversives,
their countrymen, and even by some the George Washington Battalion. but they were also seen as suspect
of their military superiors in Spain. However, in the summer of 1937, the when they tried to enlist for active
In Renegades, Petrou weaves Canadian Mackenzie-Papineau duty in World War II. This treatment
human interest anecdotes gleaned Battalion—named after the two lead- continued into the 1970s, when the
from interviews with volunteers with ers who led the Canadian rebellion remaining Mac-Pap vets tried to apply
excellent historical research. He against British imperialists in 1837— for non-profit status. The government
reveals the volunteers’ double source was formed at Albacete under the refused their request, according to
of inspiration to go to Spain to fight command of Edward Cecil-Smith, a the author, because it was afraid to
fascism. The volunteers, who came journalist from Toronto. offend the enfeebled Generalíssimo
from every corner of Canada, were The Mac-Paps fought bravely in Franco. In fact, the Canadian govern-
largely working class men, mostly the Fuentes del Ebro offensive, as well ment has never officially recognized
poor and unemployed, yet politically as in the ferocious battle at Teruel, but the Mac-Paps for their war efforts.
aware of social injustice, given that German and Italian intervention The author poignantly ends his
they had suffered through the caused the retreat of the surviving book with his visit to a dying vet,
Depression. Some 80 percent of them Lincolns and Mac-Paps in the spring Maurice Constant. Constant struggles to
were also immigrants, and many lived of 1938. When they tried to regroup at describe the bitter-sweet reality of what
in relief camps, where they did public the Ebro River in the villages of Marçà the Canadian volunteers had attempted
work for pennies a day. and Falset, morale was deteriorating, to do in Spain. Petrou’s intention here, to
Petrou brings to life the despera- and many of the volunteers wanted to describe the motivations of the volun-
tion that characterized Canada in the return home. Their final brave attempt teers and their ironic fate, is carried out
1930s and how many of the volunteers to reverse the grim reality, once the masterfully, in spite of the fact that
saw the war in Spain as a way to retal- Franco forces had succeeded in divid- much of the history of those who per-
iate against those who had oppressed ing Spain in two, was disastrous, and ished—over 400 out of the 1,700 who
them in Canada and in their countries by September 1938, the Republican fought—is still a mystery.
of origin. The volunteers were encour- government decided to send the Shirley Mangini is author of Memories
aged and recruited by the Communist International troops home. Some of Resistance: Women’s Voices from the
Party of Canada and, although the Canadians were accused of being Spanish Civil War.

December 2008 THE VOLUNTEER 17

Book Reviews
For Love of Spain on the historical, economic, political,
and religious factors that shaped
Anglo-American Hispanists and the
Spanish that first spilled over in the modern Spain.
Spanish Civil War. Hispanophilia,
Commitment, and Discipline. By books of enthusiastic amateurs. Faber explores the affective and
Sebastiaan Faber. New York: Palgrave Faber argues that within the intellectual lives of four Hispanists to
Macmillan, 2008. academic community, politics and demonstrate the tensions between
scholarship tended to be compart- scholarly pursuit and political com-
By Noël Valis mentalized in the 1930s and 40s. mitment: Herbert Southworth, Paul
When the war erupted in July 1936, Patrick Rogers, E. Allison Peers, and

clearly written and solidly doc- Hispanists were torn between an ideal Gerald Brenan. Their complicated life
umented book, Anglo-American of scholarly objectivity and moral-polit- trajectories and relation to Spain make
Hispanists and the Spanish Civil ical convictions, intensified by the love for stimulating reading. Southworth
War is of interest to both Hispanists that initially inspired them to dedicate and Rogers leaned leftward, while
and non-Hispanists. In a well-articu- their professional lives to Spain, its lit- Brenan was more moderate and Peers
lated, largely even-handed argument, erature, culture and history. was a deeply religious (Church of
Faber pursues a double goal: outlin- Faber concentrates first on the England) conservative.
ing, through the institutional history institutional reaction of such organs as Both Brenan and Peers shifted
and individual case studies, the the American Association of Teachers ideologically after the war. As Faber
complicated relation between Anglo- of Spanish (Portuguese was added notes, Peers, the premier Hispanist of
American Hispanists and the Spanish later), as seen in the pages of its British academia, was “never a fully-
Civil War, and explaining the role that journal, Hispania, though I missed blown Francoist,” though many
relation played in the development of seeing the same attention paid to the considered him one, and he became
Hispanism in the English-speaking institutional case of historians. How increasingly disillusioned with the
world. While the first goal will prob- did teachers of Spanish literature react Franco regime’s repressive policies and
ably attract readers of The Volunteer to the war? They were pretty much support of the Nazis. Brenan’s position
more than the second, both parts of divided within the organization, but towards Franco became more ambigu-
his argument are noteworthy for illus- remained by and large silent in public. ous after he returned to Spain in 1953.
trating yet another ramification of the In contrast, British Hispanists were Southworth remained constant to
Spanish Civil War, the effect it had on more vocal. his political views and his devotion to
literary critics and historians whose The extent to which Hispanists Spain and the Republic.
main focus of study was Spain. Thus, spoke up depended in part on whether Rogers, a professor of Spanish at
this book is as much about Hispanism they were affiliated with an institution Oberlin College, who wrote a diary of
as it is about the Hispanist relation- of higher learning. A freelance his short visit to Spain during the war
ship to the civil war. It is also about historian like Herbert Southworth dove and stumped for the Republic, grew
how hard it is at times to separate head first into the political-ideological silent in the aftermath of the Cold War
professionalized Hispanism from fray in books such as the ground- era. We know he was trailed by the
Hispanophilia, the love for things breaking Guernica! Guernica! A Study of FBI between 1943 and the late 1960s,
Journalism, Diplomacy, Propaganda, and his travels to Mexico arousing suspi-
Noël Valis, professor of Spanish at Yale History (1977). The Anglo-Irish Gerald cions. His later trajectory also points
University, is the editor of Teaching
Brenan also went his own way with the to the growing trend towards Pan
Representations of the Spanish Civil War
(2007) and the author of the forthcoming classic Spanish Labyrinth (1943), which Americanism and the study of Latin
book, Sacred Realism. Religion and the mostly steered clear of national and America within U.S. Hispanism.
Imagination in Modern Spanish Narrative. cultural stereotyping, focusing instead
Continued on page 20
18 THE VOLUNTEER December 2008
Book Reviews
Political Intrigue, Censorship, Rolls Royce is “dreadfully noticeable on
the battlefield.” Ernest Hemingway
and Humanity treats all and sundry with “splurging
magnificence” at the Hotel Florida.
We Saw Spain Die. Foreign out. After overcoming the problems of Thwarted in love, the dissolute Basil
Correspondents in the Spanish Civil censorship in Spain, they frequently Murray acquires an ape. González
War. By Paul Preston. London, Constable had to convince their own newspaper Aguilera, a Nationalist press officer,
& Robinson, 2008. editors that the reports on Nationalist believes the war was caused by the
bombings and reprisals were not wild introduction of modern sewers for the
By Angela Jackson exaggerations but unpalatable truths. masses.
The last communication from Louis But it is the humanity of the corre-

aul Preston, highly regarded as Delaprée before he was killed on a spondents that gives the book its
the author of many outstanding flight from Spain to Paris was an warmth. Most were deeply affected by
books about the Spanish Civil indictment of the policy being imple- their experiences in Spain, from
War, now brings his encyclopedic mented by his employer, Paris-Soir. Martha Gelhorn, who would have no
knowledge to bear on a different Half of Delaprée’s reports had not truck with what she called “all that
aspect of the conflict: the foreign cor- been published, thereby leaving room objectivity shit,” to Arthur Koestler,
respondents who risked their lives for extensive coverage on the love life who wrote, “Anyone who has lived
and sometimes damage to their pro- of Edward VIII and the abdication cri- through the hell of Madrid with his
fessional careers to report on what sis in England. “You have made me eyes, his nerves, his heart and his
they saw in Spain. With his customary work for the wastepaper basket,” he stomach—and then pretends to be
skill, Preston weaves together the his- wrote. “I shall send nothing more… objective, is a liar.” However, as Paul
torical context, the work of the The massacre of a hundred Spanish Preston demonstrates, it was possible
correspondents, and their human sto- children is less interesting than a sigh to combine high professional stan-
ries behind the news. from Mrs. Simpson.” dards with a passionate belief in the
Determined detective work has Preston’s chapter on the rebel zone Spanish Republic, though this belief
unearthed new material that enriches reveals the heavy restrictions imposed brought much sadness in its wake.
the content in 12 wide-ranging chap- by Franco to prevent correspondents “We left our hearts there,” wrote
ters. The great tragedies of the war are from seeing what was happening for Herbert Matthews.
conveyed through the wonderful writ- themselves, leaving them feeling, as Paul Preston has written a book
ings of correspondents such as Jay one journalist wrote, like “a bunch of that will be valuable not only as a key
Allen, who reported on the massacre schoolgirls under the guidance of a work of reference, but also as a mov-
at Badajoz, and George Steer, who schoolmistress.” Not only was censor- ing testimony to those who had the
shocked the world with his descrip- ship much more tightly enforced by courage to bring Spain’s story to the
tion of the bombing of Guernica. the Nationalists than by the Loyalists, world.
There is political intrigue aplenty as, but the reporters also suffered a
for example, in chapters dedicated to greater degree of mistreatment if they Angela Jackson, a British historian and
evaluating the evidence in the case of stepped out of line. author of several books on the civil war,
the disappearance of José Robles and One of the great strengths inherent lives in Catalonia, where she is president
on the role of Mikhail Koltsov in in Preston’s writing is his ability to por- of the historical association “No Jubilem
Spain. tray the characters in historic dramas la Memòria” (
Especially moving are the with wit and vitality. Idiosyncratic per-
accounts of the struggles the corre- sonalities leap from the pages to
spondents faced to get their stories engage the reader. Hugh Slater’s white

December 2008 THE VOLUNTEER 19

Border Crossings
Continued from page 16

(because of its contact with OSS), and without physically liquidating them, Mexico where, in spite of deep feelings
thus its surviving veteran fighters by making them totally unemploy- of cultural alienation, Maltz has
were seen as suspect. While this was at able, or else unemployable in anything resolved to remain, so terrified is he of
some level about tangible fears born of remotely approaching what they feel the potential effects of the draconian
a sense of political vulnerability, there called to do by virtue of their talents. Communist Control Act of 1954. “I
is also something else here, an echo of Reducing people to poverty, making have no roots here,” he tells Fast. “Our
social Darwinism; a fear of change/ life unliveable, getting them thrown lives are our language.” But Maltz has
difference/complexity. Things which out of their homes and thus indirectly been so seared by his experience of
challenged the stability of the official breaking up their families and their prison that he just can’t risk it again: “I
state, by the challenge posed to social personal relationships, all of which have to live, I have to find love. I have
uniformity/ homogeneity, all of which did follow, as we know only too well, books that I must write.”
was expressed as a fear of contamina- from McCarthyism’s legal repressive Spain haunted Maltz and Fast, as it
tion. As a crucial element of this we practices. haunted them all, because it was a site
must also note the anti-semitism Mexico, while it in some ways pro- of possibility, of becoming. And that’s
which inhabited much of the onslaught vided a refuge (though not a haven) why it haunts us still. For all the bleak-
against communist exiles and Brigade for persecuted American radicals, also ness of its aftermath, it stands as a
veterans during the purges and trials— posed many fundamental existential reminder of the possibility of becom-
Jews being seen in the official Soviet problems, especially for the cultural ing; of a “journey without maps“; of
optic as the epitome of untrustworthy, workers who loomed large among this the great Spanish poet Antonio
heterodox communists (i.e. untrust- particular exile. The writer Howard Machado’s reminder that the road does
worthy because heterodox). Fast, son of a Russian migrant, and not exist, we make it by walking, by
Thus state agendas sought to who himself served a prison term in crossing borders—that doing so hurts,
exclude/silence/pathologize the self- 1947 as part of the Lincoln vets’ but that it’s also necessary.
same progressive, questioning Spanish refugee relief committee that Helen Graham’s most recent book
dynamic that inhabited the refused to reveal to the Un-American is A Very Short Introduction to the
International Brigaders—the very Activities Committee the names and Spanish Civil War (2005).
thing that had taken them to Spain. As addresses of its donors and supporters,

the German writer and former Brigade wrote luminously about the signifi-
commander, Ludwig Renn, com- cance of the Lincolns’ leave-taking of
mented in utter perplexity in the DDR Spain in his exquisite short story Continued from page 18
in 1952: It seems that “everything con- “Departures,” which captures that cen-
nected with [Spain] is cancelled. tral feeling that so many vets the world Faber is acutely aware that the
Supposedly this is happening because over shared—namely that feeling of four individuals presented here, their
there were too many traitors there. I being burned by Spain, or transfigured, outspokenness and willingness to
don’t understand such points of view.” but never being the same, for sure, and take a public stand, are not necessarily
McCarthyism itself was not as not being able to fit again, anywhere, representative of the larger commu-
deadly as the east European trials— ever—another kind of exile, to add to nity of Anglo-American Hispanists, if
though it did certainly cause deaths, the territorial and political. the silence he perceives as especially
including some suicides. But state In Fast’s superb autobiography, indicative of U.S. Hispanism overall
repression always takes its form Being Red (1990), he relates his encoun- is indeed the case. But their enduring
according to local political culture. ter with his friend the screenwriter passion for Spain is shared among the
And there are many ways of “killing” Albert Maltz, one of the Hollywood greater community of Hispanists.
people without physically executing Ten (the film workers indicted for con- This is an excellent study that is in
them or putting them in gulags. That tempt during the late 1940s witch-hunt itself Faber’s own labor of love.
is to say, you can kill someone’s spirit in Hollywood). Fast meets him in

20 THE VOLUNTEER December 2008

Added to Memory’s Roster
settling in Chicago, he joined the from the October reunion of the
Young Communist League and International Brigades in Catalonia.
received a bachelor’s degree from the He was born in New York on
University of Chicago and a medical Christmas day, 1917. As a teenager,
degree from the University of Illinois. he became involved in union orga-
In Spain, Aaron provided surgical nizing during the Depression and
services for wounded soldiers. During was co-founder of Local 1250 of the
World War II, he enlisted in the U.S. Department Store Workers union. A
Army and worked as a chief of psychi- dozen members of that local served in
atry stateside. Spain, including Jack, who fought in
Dr. Hilkevitch also taught and 1937 and 1938 as a member of the 15th
worked with residents at the Brigade.
University of Chicago Hospitals for Jack enlisted in the U.S. Army in
many years. While his successful prac- 1940, prior to the invasion of the Soviet
tice allowed him to lead a comfortable Union. After the war he began a suc-
life, aversion to capitalism guided cessful career in the construction
almost all of his actions. “Not a penny industry.
Aaron Hilkevitch in the stock market,” his daughter During the postwar anti-commu-
Victoria remembered. nist campaign, Jack did not escape
(1912-2008) He is survived by his wife, Joyce, government harassment. Starting in
Aaron Hilkevitch, who served three daughters and two step- the 1950s, the IRS invited him for an
as a medical doctor in the Spanish children. audit of his income tax return—for 23
Republican Army during the civil years straight. “They never found a
war and was the last surviving dime out of place,” he said.
Illinois member of the Abraham Jack was denied a passport for
Lincoln Brigade, died in Chicago more than three decades. The govern-
on October 4. He was 96. ment finally relented. In 1986 Jack
Specializing in psychiatry, Aaron traveled to Spain to fulfill a pledge he
practiced in Chicago for over 50 years, had made to himself while fighting in
merging his professional work with a the Aragon.
distinctly left political point of view. One of Jack’s first stops during
“Dr. Hilkevitch saw psychoanalysis as that visit was at El Valle de los Caidos,
a route to personal freedom and integ- the military monument near Madrid
rity,” said a former colleague, Dr. where fascist leader Francisco Franco
Robert Galatzer-Levy. During the is buried. Jack had bought a small vial
Vietnam War, he was sympathetic to at a pharmacy, and at his hotel that
draft-age men seeking deferments, morning he had filled it with his own
provided free services for poor Jack Shafran urine. As he stood atop El Caudillo’s
patients, and was arrested at a protest grave he opened the vial and emptied
demonstration supporting a free local (1917-2008) its contents.
clinic. Jack Shafran, one of the youngest A memorial service will be held
Aaron was born in Odessa, Russia, volunteers in the Lincoln Brigade, died on December 6 at the Douglaston Club
but he left his homeland with his fam- on November 15 at a rehabilitation in Douglaston, Long Island.
ily when the Bolsheviks rose to power center in Connecticut. He had suf- —Steve Dinnen
in the 1917 revolution. Eventually fered a stroke shortly after returning
Memory’s Roster continued on page 22
December 2008 THE VOLUNTEER 21
Added to Memory’s Roster
John Rujevcic to study at Moscow’s University of source of information. John is also

Gerlach the National Minorities of the West

in 1935 and 1936, where he gained
described as a Croatian Hero in a his-
torical work by the Croatian historian
(1915-2008) skills in engineering and political Juro Gajdek. His war memoir, “Behind
science, encompassing Marxism and Enemy Lines,” was published in the
Leninism—skills that would perma- VALB anthology, Our Fight.
nently and dramatically inform and John leaves behind his wife,
alter his life. Sonya, of Oxnard Shores and four
In December 1936, back in New sons and their respective families. He
York City, John R. Gerlach was is dearly remembered for his satirical
recruited by his former Moscow pro- wit, earthy charm, winning smile and
fessor, Mirko Markovic, to serve in the zesty passion for friends and family,
International Brigades defending the as well as for his wide love of world
Spanish Republic. In Spain, John was literature.
immediately named Lieutenant and —Quentin Guerlain
Intelligence Officer responsible for
English-speaking and South-Slav-
speaking Affairs, working at the Max Gerchik
International Brigade base in Albacete.
Using the nom de guerre of “Ivan,” he
later served as 15th Brigade Staff Max Gerchik, who served in the
Officer and Head of Intelligence and medical units during the Spanish Civil
Counter-Intelligence at the front, War, died in southern California on
From Quentin Guerlain Collection where he personally took Ernest September 21.
Hemingway, Martha Gellhorn and Max was born in Brooklyn, New
John R. Gerlach, former Herbert Matthews to the front lines in York, on January 16, 1911. He attended
Intelligence Officer of the 15th Brigade, his staff car. schools in New York and enrolled in
which included the Abraham Lincoln John is listed and pictured in his- medical school at the University of
Battalion, died on August 12 at the age tory books alongside prominent Berne in Switzerland. When civil war
of 93 in Camarillo, California. Lincoln Brigade officers Major Robert began in Spain, he immediately
Born Ivan Rujevcic in Vurota, Merriman and Commissar Dave dropped out of medical school (tempo-
Croatia, where he lived until the age Doran. He is cited in many books for rarily), and he had joined the
of 13, John came to the U.S. in 1928. In his heroic role in leading a column of Republican forces on the Zaragoza Front
Detroit he reunited with his mother, some 100 top Americans out of a fas- by day two of the war. The times he
Maritza Rujevcic, and his stepfather, cist encirclement toward the Ebro spent fighting Franco and the rise of fas-
Anthony Gerlach, then a labor union River, which many of them lived to cism in Europe were among the
organizer and a national Croatian cross. At that time, John also guided proudest moments of his life, and times
political leader as well as Secretary two Americans to the banks of the he talked about right until the end.
of the International Workers Order. Ebro, where he spotted a canoe and He is survived by his wife, Reca,
Under the guidance of his stepfather, rowed them across the swollen river at and their children.
John became a union organizer him- dawn, only to be greeted by foreign
self at the age of 20, and he organized correspondents Hemingway and
the restaurant workers on Greek Vincent Sheean. Hemingway recorded
Street in Detroit. Soon after, he trav- John’s account in the New York Times, www.alba-valb
eled to Moscow with a scholarship citing the “Scout Officer Ivan” as his

22 THE VOLUNTEER December 2008

Supporter ($1,000 - $4,999)
• Charles Chatfield-Taylor • Carmen De Zulueta Greenebaum •

Friend ($500 - $999)

• Robert Leedy •

Patron ($100 - $499)

• Peter N. Carroll in memory of Aaron Hilkevitch • Henry and Judy Jacobs • Marvin Lee in honor of Wayne
A. Bowers • Fred and Claire Lisker in memory of Bill Sennett • Jay Nadel in memory of Paul Blane, MD • Ellyn
Polshek • Eileen and Ted Rowland in memory of Steve and Margaret Nelson • Leonore Veltfort in memory of Ted
Veltfort • Sydney T. Wright in memory of Aaron Hilkevitch •

Donor ($1 - $99)

• Joshua Barnett • Jose Emilie Benjamin • Tobyanne Berenberg • Rosemary Blieszner in memory of Aaron
Hilkevitch • Jonathon Brauer in memory of Aaron Hilkevitch • Alan Bromberg and Myrna Brier in memory of
Morris Brier • Kevin Cathcart • Darlene Ceremello • Wendy Chavkin • Alice Correll • Abe Cotton • De Goff
family in memory of David Smith • Dydia Delyser • Genevieve Dishotsky • Noel and Catherine Folsom • Paul
E. Gottlieb • Linda Grant • Louise Graziani • Linda Grossman in memory of Aaron Hilkevitch • Victor Grossman
• Elyne Handler • Earl Harju • Dale Hopper in memory of Albert John Baumler, Harold Edward Dahl, and Frank
Glasgow Tinker, Jr. • Robert Inget • Gabriel Jackson • Shirley Katz-Cohen in memory of Ben Barsky • Lisa Keiner
in memory of Max Katz • Frederic La Croix • Jo Labanyi • Betty Levitin in memory of Margaret McMurray •
Consuelo Lopez-Morillas in memory of Aaron Hilkevitch • Gerri Matusewitch • Bess and Phyllis Meisler in memory
of Alice Blaustein • Benjamin Nahman in memory of Sara Nahman Blaustein • Stanley Ofseuit • Roberta Oliff in
memory of Aaron Hilkevitch • Ann and Vittorio Ottanelli • Fraser Ottanelli in memory of Bob Thompson • Adele
and Henry Pollard • Morris and Matilda Rosen in memory of Abe Osheroff • William L. Rukeyser in memory of
Frank Tinker • Mark Samara in memory of Alice Blaustein • Rose and Carl Silverman in memory of Max Silverman
• Richard Simmons • Ada Solodkin in memory of Leo Solodkin • Jean Sowa • William D. Strong • Michael Tanzer
• Murray Underwood • Carol Wells and Ted Hajjar • Janet Zampieri in memory of Ted Veltfort •


• Pearl G. Baley • Darlene Ceremello • Dydia Delyser • Thomas Graff • Rafael Inigo • • Jo Labanyi • Betty
Levitin in memory of Margaret McMurray • Cecilia London • Lois Lowenstein • Ruth Maguire • Shaun O’Connell •
Ann and Vittorio Ottanelli • Ellyn Polshek • August and Joanne Ricca • Marie Runyon • Luise S. Stone • Patricia R.
Tanttila • Gloria Waldman • Vivian Weinstein •

The above donations were made from August 1 through October 31, 2008. All donations made after October 31
will appear in the March 2009 issue of The Volunteer.

Your continued support of ALBA and its important projects is so appreciated!

December 2008 THE VOLUNTEER 23

Join ALBA’s Guernica Society
The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives’ Guernica Society is a charitable gift annuity

How a gift annuity works

The concept of a gift annuity is simple. A person wishing to support ALBA makes a gift of
cash or marketable securities worth a minimum of $5,000. ALBA reinvests the assets and
pays you or your designated beneficiaries a fixed income for life. Upon the death of the last
beneficiary, the remaining funds are deposited into ALBA’s endowment.

Currently, gifts must be made by persons over the age of 60. If you are under 60, you can still
set up an annuity and defer the payments until any day after your 60th birthday. This gives
you an immediate tax deduction for your gift while guaranteeing you a regular stream of
payments in the future.

The transaction is partly a charitable gift and partly a purchase of the income interest.
Annuity payments are determined by the age or ages of the beneficiaries.

What are the advantages of a Charitable Gift Annuity?

Income for Life

You have the benefit of a lifetime income for yourself and another person, if you choose.

Tax Deduction Savings

The portion of the transaction that is considered a gift qualifies as a charitable income tax

Tax-Free Income
Part of the annual income is considered a tax-free return of capital, excluding it from gross
income until you reach your life expectancy.

Capital Gains Tax Savings

If you contribute appreciated securities, you will need to pay some capital gains taxes for the
“sale” portion of the transaction, but it is payable over your life expectancy - rather than
being due all at once.

Significant Support for ALBA

The ability to support ALBA to a greater degree than you might have thought possible.

For more information, contact Jill Annitto, Director of Operations, at (212) 674-5398.

24 THE VOLUNTEER December 2008

Preserving the past…
to change the present.
Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives
The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA) is an independent, nonprofit
educational organization devoted to enlightening the American people about
our country's progressive traditions and democratic political values. Over the past
25 years ALBA has created the largest U.S. collection of historical sources relating
to the Spanish Civil War, including letters, diaries, public documents, photographs,
posters, newspapers, videos, and assorted memorabilia. This unique archive is
permanently housed at New York University's Tamiment Library, where students,
scholars, and researchers may learn about the struggle against fascism.
For more information go to:

Yes, I wish to become an ALBA

Associate, and I enclose a check for
$40 made out to ALBA (includes a one
year subscription to The Volunteer).

Name _______________________________

Address ____________________________

City________________ State ___Zip_________

q I’ve enclosed an additional donation of _____.
I wish q do not wish q to have this donation
acknowledged in The Volunteer.
Please mail to: ALBA, 799 Broadway, Suite 341,
New York, NY 10003
Hilda Roberts, one of the few surviving vets, at
the San Francisco Bay Area Despedida event.
See page 5. Photograph by Richard Bermack.

New York and the Spanish Civil War exhibition in

Barcelona. Photograph by Jeannette Ferrary.

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