The Volunteer June 2016

Page 1

Vol. XXXIII, No.2

June 2016


Investigative Journalists Receive ALBA/Puffin Award

Justice in El Salvador (p. 8)

A World without the Lincolns (p. 12) Harold Ickes, Franco & the Cold War (p. 16)

Founded by the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade 799 Broadway, Suite 341 New York, NY 10003 (212) 674-5398 Editor Print Edition Peter N. Carroll Editor Online Edition Sebastiaan Faber Associate Editor Aaron B. Retish Book Review Editor Joshua Goode Graphic Design Editorial Assistance Phil Kavanaugh Manuscripts, inquiries, and letters to the editor may be sent by email to The editors reserve the right to modify texts for length and style. Books for review may be sent to Joshua Goode Claremont Graduate University Blaisdell House, #5, 143 East 10th Street Claremont, CA 91711 The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA) is an educational non-profit dedicated to promoting social activism and the defense of human rights. ALBA’s work is inspired by the American volunteers of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade who fought fascism in the Spanish Civil War (193639). Drawing on the ALBA collections in New York University’s Tamiment Library, and working to expand such collections, ALBA works to preserve the legacy of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade as an inspiration for present and future generations.

p3 p 4 p 5 p 6 p 7 p 8 p 11 p 12 p 13 p 14 p 16 p 21 p 23


Journalists Win Human Rights Award ALBA Event Photo Album Back in School Delmer Berg (1915-2016) Geist Awarded Knighthood | Michael Ratner (1943-2016) Justice in El Salvador Discovering a Local Lincoln Legible Legacies Delmer Berg (1915-2016) The Man Wheeler Couldn’t Forget Ickes, Franco & the Cold War Book Reviews Contributions


Dear Friends and Comrades: On May 7th over 250 family, friends and supporters of the women and men of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade met at Japan Society in Manhattan for an afternoon of poetry, socializing, and song. Together we commemorated the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, the defense of Madrid, and the arrival of the first contingents of International Brigadistas. We also honored the co-recipients of the Sixth ALBA/Puffin Award for Human Rights Activism. Mexican journalist Lydia Cacho detailed her ongoing campaign to expose the connection between corruption and government impunity with violence against women and children. She also described the significant physical and emotional personal cost of her activism. Jeremy Scahill provided a detailed account of the human and political toll of the U.S.’s so-called war on terror. Fittingly, both honorees described how their commitment to exposing oppression and abuses of power was inspired by personal connections with the internationalist antifascist struggles of the past–including, in Scahill’s case, with Lincoln veteran Clarence Kailin. As always, the atmosphere of the celebration was upbeat. However, we could not ignore the fact that this was the first reunion since the death of Delmer Berg, the last known surviving veteran of the Lincoln Brigade. Del’s passing led to an outpouring of expressions of sympathy and admiration from numerous individuals (including an editorial “Homage to a Communist” in The New York Times by Senator John McCain!) and was widely reported by national and international news outlets. In her acceptance speech, Lydia Cacho said: “we know all of the Lincoln Brigade brave men died. Today I am here, alive, and I want to dedicate this award to every one of us, and ask you to remember, always, when you are afraid, when you want to give up, that you, too, are the utopia.” With the loss of our comrade, the last voice of those who left the United States to fight fascism in Spain is silent. It is up to each one of us to ensure that their history and example continue to live on. ALBA will continue to do its part to educate generations to come about the importance of the struggle for social justice. Will you continue to stand strong with us in our historic march? ¡Salud!

Fraser Ottanelli Chair of the Board of Governors

Marina Garde Executive Director

P.S. Looking forward to seeing you at our special Bay Area 80th celebration weekend October 22-24.

Investigative Journalists Highlight Anniversary Celebration in New York By the Editors

Marina Garde, Lydia Cacho, Fraser Ottanelli, Jeremy Scahill, and Neal Rosenstein

The torch has been passed. Eighty years after the Spanish Civil War inspired volunteers from 52 countries to challenge the spread of international fascism, no American veterans of that struggle are alive to bear witness, but their spirit and commitment to social justice, human rights, and anti-fascism lives on in the work of current anti-fascists around the world.


n May 7, the ALBA/Puffin Award for Human Rights Activism—a cash tribute of $100,000—honored two courageous journalists, Lydia Cacho and Jeremy Scahill, for their dedication to exposing corruption, violence, and the abuse of power which are routinely ignored by mainstream media. They do this work under life-threatening conditions of danger and risk. The day’s events, held at the Japan Society’s auditorium in Manhattan, not only honored the serious work of these journalists but revealed an emotional intensity as each described how they viewed their own activities as a continuation of the legacy of an earlier generation of the men and women who volunteered in Spain. Lydia Cacho, an award-winning independent journalist who flew from Mexico to receive her award, specializes in women’s and children’s rights and has been kidnapped, tortured, raped, jailed, and threatened by government officials for her work. Despite these horrors, she continues to write about illegal sex traf-

ficking of children, feminicide, and the abuse of human rights in her country. She has previously been awarded prizes by Amnesty International and other organizations supporting freedom of expression. Jeremy Scahill, an investigative reporter for The Intercept and widely known for his books Dirty Wars and Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, has reported from Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and other embattled countries, revealing patterns of violence and illegal activities that threaten human rights. In his acceptance speech, Scahill acknowledged the role of Lincoln veteran Clarence Kailin as well as his own father who introduced him to the left-Catholic values of Dorothy Day as role models for his anti-fascism. His latest work, The Assassination Complex, indicts the Obama administration for conducting a secret foreign policy based on drone warfare. "All Americans,” he told a reporter recently, “should be outraged at the idea that when we’re killing large numbers of people in Muslim

countries around the world without knowing who they are, that we somehow are not going to pay a price later." The ALBA/Puffin Awards were presented by ALBA Board Member Kate Doyle, recipient of the 2012 honor, and by Neal Rosenstein of the Puffin Foundation. “This award recognizes and encourages individuals whose work has a positive impact on the advancement of human rights,” said Perry Rosenstein, president of the Puffin Foundation which provides funding for these prizes. “Jeremy Scahill and Lydia Cacho have courageously used their investigative journalism to expose reactionary forces and the information they wish to conceal.” The day’s ceremonies were capped by an extraordinary musical performance by the San Francisco soprano Velina Brown and the musicians of the Brooklyn-based band Barbez along with a slideshow of volunteers of the Lincoln Brigade who are buried in Spain.


Marina Garde and photographer Alejandro FernĂĄndez

Dan Kaufman

Lydia Cacho, Marisa Carrasco, Marina Garde, Kated Doyle, Fraser Ottanelli

Ana Scahill

Velina Brown and Barbez

Event Pictures (continued from page 2)

Manus O’Riordan. Elizabeth Mahoney

Jeremey Scahill, Fraser Ottanelli

Esperanza Leon with little Carmen Jeremy Scahill, Lydia Cacho, Martin Hodgson

Patricia Cazorla, Futoshi Edith Oxfeld

Photos by Peter Cunningham, Alejandro Fernandez Carrasco, Nancy Saleme

ALBA crew

ALBA’s Anthony Geist and Gina Herrmann work with Spanish teachers in Seattle.

ALBA’s Back in School By the Editors

ALBA’s Teaching Institutes continue to break new ground across the United States, reaching more teachers in new communities, expanding opportunities, and seeing exciting results.


hanks to a special grant from New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, 20 local teachers participated in a four-day ALBA program that emphasized hands-on research with archival sources. Guided by ALBA’s faculty members—James Fernández (NYU), Carlos Ramos (Wellesley College), Fraser Ottanelli (University of South Florida), and Peter Carroll (Stanford)—these veteran teachers embarked on an intensive study of historical and literary sources that they are already incorporating into their own classroom activities. “Oh my goodness! I am so excited, thank you,” wrote Lenore Hinson, an English teacher at the High School of Economics & Finance who’s introducing Spanish Civil War stories to her students as well as screening The Good Fight. She reports that her students are deeply engaged in various projects including a field trip to the archives in the Tamiment Library. Another teacher, Geoffrey Cobb, with a passion for Brooklyn history, dug into the files of Lincoln volunteer Topsy Kozar and wrote an original article uncovering fresh historical material (see page 10). Other teachers have also arranged to bring their classes to the Tamiment Library to give their students a chance to touch the original material. “This is the work of historians,” said George Snook, teacher at Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn. “This is not just fooling around….I mean this is the real stuff, and there is something that happens when you actually can hold history; people speaking across time. And you guys are preserving something for the future that is of immeasurable value, so there is no question that this should be done, and students should be allowed to experience the process of creating something from primary source material.” As ALBA’s programs include new topics relevant to today’s classrooms, Peter Carroll joined with history teacher Eric Smith (Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy) to present an afternoon workshop at the annual Illinois state social studies teachers conference in Aurora. Their subject: teaching human rights from the Spanish Civil War through World War II, from Guernica to Nuremburg and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

In Boston, Carroll worked with Carlos Ramos and Massachusetts high school teachers Kelley Brown and Amelie Baker in a one-day professional development program that included social studies and Spanish teachers and was co-hosted by the Collaborative Educational Services and the Library of Congress. Here the focus was again on primary sources, including visual documents such as Spanish Civil War posters, children’s drawings from refugee camps, and unique photographs taken by civilians during the war. Teachers used the opportunity to develop lesson plans for their own classrooms. David Gómez, for example, who teaches Latin American studies at Dover-Sherborn High School and who already introduces his students to issues of displaced persons that result from the drug wars in Colombia, used the children’s art from Spain to amplify the impact of civil wars on families. Meanwhile, ALBA’s programs have expanded on the west coast. In Seattle on April 23, ALBA Executive Committee members Gina Herrmann and Tony Geist, in collaboration with the Center for Spanish Studies at the University of Washington, led a teacher’s institute on art and literature of the Spanish Civil War for teachers of Spanish. Thirty teachers attended the four-hour workshop and were deeply engaged with the poetry of Rafael Alberti and César Vallejo, as well as with posters from both sides of the conflict. “I found this workshop to be incredibly helpful,” one participant said, “and I enjoyed particularly the chance to compare graphic representations from both the Republican and Nationalist sides, as well as examining poetry. I will definitely use these types of activities in my High School Spanish Classroom.” The institute was so successful that the participants asked Herrmann and Geist to offer another one next academic year. In San Francisco, Peter Carroll is collaborating with the educational non-profit The World As It Could Be human rights education program led by Sandy Sohcot and the staff of Balboa High School to create a semester long project that culminates a theatrical performance focusing on the Spanish Civil War and the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights. And there’s more to come! We give special thanks to supporters of these education initiatives, especially to the Puffin Foundation and the Kurz Family Foundation. June 2016 THE VOLUNTEER 5

Delmer Berg (1915 –2016)


el Berg, the last known surviving veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, died peacefully in his California home on Sunday, February 28. He was 100 years old. Berg was born in 1915 outside of Los Angeles to a family of poor farm workers. His mother’s line had long since emigrated from Bavaria while his father was a first generation Ukrainian-American. Seeking better economic opportunities, the Bergs moved to Oregon. But, as the country foundered in the Great Depression, teenage Delmer dropped out of high school to assist his father. “Being poor, being a farmer, I automatically felt part of the downturn,” he said in a 2014 interview with Friends and Neighbors Magazine. “You don’t need to go to school to learn what’s going on; just sit out on the farm and look around.”

During a stint in the 76th Field Artillery in the Presidio of Monterey, Berg became attuned to the rise of fascism in Europe. With the intention of traveling to Spain, Berg bought his discharge for $120. “It was not because I’d like to do something great but I liked the idea to help the Spanish people,” Berg said in 2013. By the winter of 1938, he was on a ship to France and would soon cross the Pyrenees into Spain, where he served in a field artillery and anti-aircraft artillery battery. In Valencia he saw the bombing of his unit’s lodgings by a fascist airplane which was aiming for a railway station. Berg convalesced from his shrapnel wounds and sailed home roughly a year after his arrival. After Spain he returned to the Army to serve in the Pacific during World War Two. Like so many other “premature antifascists,” as members of the Lincoln Brigade were dubbed, Berg was harassed by the FBI during the McCarthy era. Still, Berg persisted in the path he had taken early in life: farm labor and activism. He was involved in the United Farm Workers, the local California NAACP (he was at one time the Vice President), the Mexican American Political Association, the anti-Viet Nam War movement, the Democratic Club, the Congress of California Seniors, peace and justice committees. In his final years, Berg lived comfortably in his self-built home in the Sierra Nevada foothills. “I think staying politically active keeps me alive, too. It fills my life. I never slowed down – I’m right in the middle of things yet,” said Berg in 2014.


Fraser Ottanelli, Chair Peter N. Carroll, Chair Emeritus Dan Czitrom, Chair Emeritus Sebastiaan Faber, Chair Emeritus James D. Fernandez, Vice-Chair Gina Herrmann, Vice-Chair Ellyn Polshek, Vice-Chair Joan Levenson Cohen, Treasurer Aaron Retish, Secretary Anthony L. Geist Jo Labanyi Nancy Yanofsky


Christopher Brooks Robert Coale Burton Cohen Kate Doyle Peter Glazer



Larry Cox Henry Foner Baltasar Garzón Real Meyer Gunther Joyce Horman Gabriel Jackson Robin D.G. Kelley Howard Lurie

Jeanne Houck Timothy Johnson Josephine Nelson-Yurek Julia Newman Nancy Wallach Judy Montell Antonio Muñoz Molina Cary Nelson Michael Ratner John Sayles James Skillman Bryan Stevenson

ALBA’s Anthony Geist Awarded Knighthood Our colleague Tony Geist—the longest serving ALBA Board member, professor of Spanish at the University of Washington, author and translator—has been awarded one of Spain’s highest civil honors, membership into the Order of Isabella the Catholic with the first-class title of Caballeros de la Gran Cruz de Oficial, or Knights of the Officer’s Cross. The honor is conferred on those who have given exceptional service to the benefit of Spain. In a ceremony in Seattle on April 15, the award was bestowed on Geist by Spain’s Honorary Consul, Luis Fernando Esteban, and featured a concert by Grammy Award-winning pianist Chano Dominguez. Geist said his “enduring love affair” with Spain began with his first visit there as a junior from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Since then, he has devoted his professional life to studying and teaching the language, literature, history and culture of Spain. “The award recognizes the richness and beauty of Spanish literature and culture and its importance in the United States,” Geist said.

“I am honored to have contributed to its presence in this country and on the UW campus.” Tony Geist has published a dozen books, including La poética de la Generación del 27 y las Revistas Literarias (1980), Cartografía Poética (2004) and El Canon Abierto (2015), as well as roughly 100 articles. He was also curator and author of ALBA’s 2002 traveling exhibition and book, They Still Draw Pictures: Children’s Drawings from the Spanish Civil War to Kosovo, and a 2001 photo essay and 2006 documentary about the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. His documentary film, Souls without Borders (2006) included interviews with many veterans of the Lincoln Brigade. He was also instrumental in creating the first public monument to the Lincoln Brigade in this country in 1998. This article is an abridgement of Peter Kelley’s piece in UW Today.

From left, UW President Ana Mari Cauce; Geist; Luis Fernando Esteban, Spain’s honorary consul in Washington state; and UW Dean of Arts & Sciences Robert Stacey. Photo Angel Arbeteta

Photo Nicholas Chan

Michael Ratner (1943-2016) The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives ALBA, mourns the loss of Michael Ratner, a longtime defender of civil liberties in the United States and abroad. Ratner’s visionary leadership at the Center for Constitutional Rights, his work on behalf of prisoners at Guantánamo, his defense of whistleblowers and his lifelong fight for justice--recognized in 2007 with the Puffin/Nation prize for Creative Citizenship--leave a lasting and inspiring legacy. Ratner was a generous supporter of ALBA’s educational work. “The people who really gave me my political education,” he said at the ALBA’s annual event in 2011, “were the National Lawyers Guild and the Vets of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.” We extend our deepest condolences to his wife, Karen Ranucci, his family, his friends, and his colleagues at the CCR. June 2016 THE VOLUNTEER 7

Human Rights Column

Digging Up the Truth in the Archives: Justice in El Salvador By Angelina Snodgrass Godoy

Salvadoran survivors of state terror—crimes for which no one has been held accountable— have created an organization that helps families uncover the truth of what happened to their lost loved ones. This is no small task. But given the intense U.S. involvement in El Salvador, some of the information they seek may be available in the musty archives of our own government. The University of Washington Center for Human Rights partners with human rights organizations seeking truth, justice, and reparations. Protest against US involvement in the Salvadoran Civil War in Chicago, Illinois, in March 1989. Photo Linda Hess Miller. CC BY 3.0.


t’s been almost 25 years since the conclusion of the armed conflict in El Salvador, not that you’d guess it from talking to a woman like Milagro Martínez, whose children were forcibly disappeared in the 1981 massacre of La Quesera. When my students and I visited her in her home last February, the immediacy of her pain was apparent. Amidst the chaos of a military invasion that October day, she told us, her children were wrenched from her arms. Some children taken by the military at La Quesera were seen being thrown out of helicopters; others survived, and some were given in adoption to Salvadoran and foreign families.

In an effort to find out what happened to their missing children, Doña Milagro and other Salvadoran survivors of state terror have created an organization called Asociación Pro-Búsqueda that seeks to help families uncover the truth of what happened to their lost loved ones. This is no small task. In 1993, the UN Truth Commission for El Salvador concluded that over 75,000 civilians had been killed in the years from 1980-1992, over 85% at the hands of state forces and paramilitary death squads. Yet still today, no one has been held accountable for these crimes in El Salvador. Many

Over 75,000 civilians had been killed in the years from 1980-1992, over 85% at the hands of state forces and paramilitary death squads. 8 THE VOLUNTEER June 2016

Members of the University of Washington faculty and student team in El Salvador, with ProBúsqueda staff and Milagro Martínez (at center). February 2015

President Obama has announced his intention to declassify records relating to the dirty war in Argentina—an immensely positive step for human rights. families still lack the most basic information about the fate of their loved ones. And without knowing when, why, or where their loved ones fell, many have never been able to fully grieve their passing, let alone pursue justice or achieve closure. And yet, here in the United States, some of the information they seek may be available in the musty archives of our own government. At the University of Washington Center for Human Rights, we have been working since 2011 in partnership with Salvadoran human rights organizations seeking truth, justice, and reparations for crimes from the conflict era. As academic researchers, it is our task to produce and disseminate knowledge that can assist in Salvadoran-led efforts. Towards that end, our team has documented survivor testimony, strengthened grassroots memory efforts in communities affected by scorched earth, and filed over 200 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests of US government agencies in an effort to clarify specific cases. In many cases, these FOIA requests have led to the release of information that victims and advocates have told us makes a difference in their decades long quest for knowledge. In the massacre of La Quesera, for example, our research uncovered new evidence that US officials witnessed some of the killings from a helicopter; we are now seeking the declassification of further documents, hoping that some might contain information useful to Doña Milagro and others like her in their search. In other cases, however, US government agencies have been less cooperative. As part of our research into a different 1981 massacre, we requested information from the CIA pertaining to the officer whose troops carried out the killing. The CIA alleged that merely acknowledging the existence of documents, let alone releasing them to us, would endanger US national security. Yet our own researchers uncovered 20 already-declassified documents pertaining to this perpetrator, one of them posted on the CIA’s own website. The fact that the CIA failed to, at minimum, provide us copies of these documents already in the public domain showed they were failing to comply with the law. We filed

suit in October 2015, becoming the first university to challenge the CIA in court under FOIA; the suit is still pending. Two months ago, we heard wonderful news from El Salvador. Asociación Pro-Búsqueda located Milagro’s son Nicolás in Australia, and DNA confirmed the match. Now a grown man with children of his own, he returned to El Salvador to be reunited with his birth family. The entire community gathered to join Milagro in her joy at embracing her son for the first time in 35 years. In the photographs, her smile is radiant. Her daughter Marisol remains missing. Just weeks ago, President Obama announced his intention to declassify records relating to the dirty war in Argentina, an immensely positive step for human rights. Yet because the US government was much more intimately involved in El Salvador, US records contain even richer detail about daily operations there, including much that could be useful in the search for the disappeared. For Doña Milagro and the thousands of other Salvadorans who still search for a lost loved one, a similar initiative should be undertaken to declassify US documents relating to El Salvador. No less important, we should also do this for us. In the wake of the Snowden revelations, awareness has spread about the need for greater transparency, yet our country continues to fuel overseas conflicts without pausing to examine the legacies of past engagements. A decade ago, Donald Rumsfeld went so far as to invoke the “Salvador option” as a possible blueprint for Iraq. Today, Elliott Abrams – the same man who covered up abuses in El Salvador – is a foreign policy advisor to presidential candidate Ted Cruz. Ignorance is dangerous. As researchers and as teachers, we believe uncovering the truth about El Salvador can help heal past wounds and aid in the prevention of future ones. Angelina Snodgrass Godoy is the Helen H. Jackson Chair in Human Rights and Director of the University of Washington's Center for Human Rights. June 2016 THE VOLUNTEER 9

Tax-Free IRA Gifts Extended Permanently!

The recent tax bill passed by the House and Senate permanently extends the extraordinary opportunity to make tax-free rollover gifts from IRAs to charity. The law provides that the owner of an IRA may instruct the trustee to distribute directly to ALBA up to $100,000 without counting the distribution as taxable income. As an added benefit, the distribution will count towards the IRA owner’s required minimum distribution. To make sure that your gift will qualify for the tax-free treatment you must satisfy a few regulations: • You must be 70.5 years old or older • The transfer must come from a traditional or Roth IRA • The transfer from your IRA must go directly from your IRA to Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives • The gift cannot exceed $100,000 per year • The gift must be an outright gift* *Transfers of IRA gifts to donor advised funds, supporting organizations, charitable gift annuities, or charitable remainder trusts do not qualify. The gift is not eligible for an additional charitable income tax deduction. To make a gift from an IRA, donors should contact their IRA custodian. To fill out the form you will need our: Legal Name: Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives Federal Tax ID: 13-2996513 Address: 799 Broadway, Suite 341, New York, NY 10003 Want more information? Send an email to: 10 THE VOLUNTEER June 2016

What you leave to friends and loved ones is one way to express your hopes and dreams for the future. As you make your plans, please consider including ALBA in your will or living trust, or naming us as a beneficiary of your estate. ALBA can accept legacy gifts in any amount, large or small. Please help us to continue to expand our horizons, and your beliefs, and help us to carry our shared legacy to the next generation and beyond. If you have additional questions or would like to discuss your choices, please contact executive director Marina Garde at 212 674 5398 or mgarde@alba-valb. org. All inquires are kept in the strictest confidence. Thank you for designating ALBA in your will.

Discovering a Local Lincoln Brigade Hero By Geoffrey Cobb

While attending an ALBA institute, a veteran Brooklyn teacher discovers that a Lincoln volunteer lived just around the corner. He decides to find out more and unearths a touching story.

Kozar got into a lifeboat and was never seen again.


teach a course in New York City history and my passion is Brooklyn, particularly the area known as Greenpoint. After attending one of ALBA’s education institutes, I came across this entry: John “Topsy” Kozar, 631 Oakland Street. Wow, I thought, he lived just around the corner from me and I decided to learn more. At first, I only found basic information about Kozar. Of mixed Czech and Lakota Native American heritage, he’d been born into a mining family in 1913 in western Pennsylvania. He worked as a miner for a while, becoming a rank and file member of the United Mine workers. Then he left mining and made his way to New York where he became a merchant seaman. He took part in the strikes that helped Joseph Curran organize the National Maritime Union. He also became a member of the Communist party and an avowed foe of Fascism. He went to Spain to fight for the Republic in 1937. At this point I had more questions than answers. I even wondered if Kozar had actually lived in the area. Many Lincoln fighters gave fictitious addresses and I wondered why a merchant seaman would live in our area and not along the docks. I decided to go to the Tamiment Collection to research Kozar. Reading the Kozar file, I quickly learned that I was not the only one who had tried to piece together his life story, but first I need to digress and finish the story of Kozar’s tragic death. During World War II, Kozar, like many leftist seamen was eager to help the Soviets fight fascism. He signed on board a ship doing the dangerous run to Murmansk, but he never made it. His ship

was torpedoed in January 1942. Kozar got into a lifeboat and was never seen again. A week after his death, Kozar’s wife gave birth to a son: Thomas Kozar, and like me, Thomas was curious about his father. In the late 1970s he began to inquire of the living veterans about his father. Thanks to these efforts, it was easy for me to learn about his father’s life. Kozar, a beloved veteran, must have been intelligent because he spoke fluent Spanish, Czech, Polish and Russian. Topsy had been imprisoned twice. Once the Gestapo placed him for five months in a concentration camp in 1935 for disseminating anti-Nazi propaganda. He also got locked up in the United Kingdom when he knocked out a scab seaman in the middle of Trafalgar Square! In one of Thomas Kozar’s letters he stated how proud he was of the father he never knew and with good reason. “Topsy” went to Spain to fight and he was frustrated with being a mechanic/driver behind the lines. A few times they caught him “deserting to the front,” once being dragged out of a British machine gun nest. Life behind the lines as driver was not safe either; a fascist shell killed one of his closest friends, a driver in his unit. Thomas Kozar also wrote to Lincoln vet Alvah Bessie, the author of the great book Men in Battle who directed him to a profile within of his father, drawing a picture of a man always in good humor and always grinning. He also learned that his father had survived the torpedoing of the ship he was sailing on to Spain by swimming a mile to shore with a pound of Maxwell House Coffee between his teeth.

Going through the documents, I answered my own question about whether Kozar had really lived in Greenpoint. He not only lived there, but he was also an organizer in a famous local strike. In 1940, Greenpointers, mostly women, struck the Leviton plant for higher wages. Kozar’s brother was one of the workers on strike. The strike went on for months. When Eleanor Roosevelt heard about their job action, she came to address them. It was the first time in American history the First Lady had addressed striking workers. Thanks in large part to Mrs. Roosevelt, the Leviton workers won the strike with their demands met. I also learned that Kozar was on a ship that was in Pearl Harbor three days before the Japanese attack. He was angry that he had not been there. He had only a few weeks more to live. Kozar didn’t live to see his 30th birthday. Oakland Street where Kozar lived is right near the old Leviton plant, which shut its doors, but the building is still there. Oakland Street has now become McGuinness Boulevard, but Johnny’s apartment house is still there. Now whenever I walk by I think of “Topsy,” the brave volunteer of the Lincoln Brigade. Geoffrey Cobb is a 21-year veteran teacher of the New York City public schools. He currently teaches history, Spanish and English at the High School for Service and Learning on the historic Erasmus Campus. He is also the author of Greenpoint Brooklyn's Forgotten Past, the first history of his area of North Brooklyn written in a century.

June 2016 THE VOLUNTEER 11

Legible Legacies: A World without the Lincolns

By James D. Fernández

The legacy of the Spanish Civil War played a crucial role in the lives of Lydia Cacho and Jeremy Scahill, the winners of the ALBA/Puffin Award. But how do we ensure its transmission to younger generations, whose life world is so different that they often have trouble even reading the Lincolns’ hand-written letters? ALBA’s James Fernández reflects on tangible and less tangible legacies. Will the vets’ spirit remain legible in a time that prizes calculating individualism more than principled collective action?


ver the last fifteen years or so, I have had the privilege of helping college and high school students work with materials from the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA). The core of the ALBA collections are the personal papers of roughly three hundred of the 2,800 men and women who, between 1936 and 1938, volunteered to fight fascism in Spain. Recently, I have noticed an alarming trend; fewer and fewer young people are being taught how to read and write cursive handwriting. So even though the penmanship of many of the brigadistas is often remarkably neat and clear, I catch more and more of our students staring at manuscript letters as if they were so many indecipherable cryptograms. My mind turned to this question of legibility as I sat in the auditorium of the Japan Society, awaiting the start of the program of the 80th Annual Commemoration of the veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. I was probably primed to think about this issue by the images of ALBA’s educational outreach initiatives that were flashing on the auditorium screen while the sold-out audience filed in and found seats. In any event, because this was to be the first reunion to take place after the death of the last known surviving veteran, Del Berg, the question of the transmission of legacies— the challenge of how to keep a legacy legible—was probably on a lot of people’s minds that day. After all, the moment which for years we have both dreaded and prepared for—the post-veteran era—was finally here. Tangible Legacies The program at the 80th Reunion made it quite clear that the tangible, material legacy of the Lincoln volunteers is in 12 THE VOLUNTEER June 2016

good shape and in good hands. Thanks to the foresight of the volunteers themselves who established the archives back in 1979, and to the generosity of their family members who have been steadily donating valuable material to the collections ever since; thanks to the work of Director Tim Johnson and his staff at NYU’s Tamiment Library, the availability, relevance and longevity of the archives of the volunteers are secure for the foreseeable future. And the event also demonstrated at every turn that ALBA, the organization, has grown into a vibrant and efficient non-profit, just as we had always hoped for, ready to identify the opportunities and meet the challenges of this post-veteran era. Invisible Legacies The highlight of the program was the awarding of the ALBAPuffin Prize for Human Rights Activism. This prize, bestowed each year at the May event, aims to honor the memory of the Lincoln vets as international human rights activists in their own right. And for that reason, past awardees have been involved in human rights struggles not only in Spain, but throughout the world. This year, the award was given to two fearless investigative journalists, Lydia Cacho of Mexico and Jeremy Scahill, of the US, neither of whom has any obvious connection to the Spanish Civil War. That is why it was all the more striking to learn, during the course of the reunion program, that, unbeknownst to the prize selection committee, the legacy of the Spanish Civil War had actually played a crucial role in the political, professional and personal development of both awardees. Lydia Cacho told us how she had been educated at the Colegio Madrid in Mexico City, a school founded in 1941 by the Spanish Republican

I catch more and more of our students staring at manuscript letters as if they were so many indecipherable cryptograms.

Government in exile! If there ever was a place on the planet where the values of the Second Spanish Republic lived on beyond 1939—the values which the Lincolns had risked their lives to defend—that place would have been, and continues to be, the classrooms of the Colegio Madrid. And it was in those classrooms, Cacho told us, that her political consciousness was kindled. And the other awardee, Jeremy Scahill, told a remarkable story—also unknown to the award selection committee—of how, as a college student in Wisconsin, he once tried to establish an anti-racist and anti-fascist student group. He and his mates received invaluable moral and financial support from a mysterious elderly man, who eventually would become a long-term mentor and example to Scahill: the Lincoln veteran Clarence Kailin. Intangible legacies As I smiled and laughed and cried through the varied program of songs, projections and speeches at the 80th reunion, as I listened to Cacho and Scahill and marveled at how the antifascist legacy of the Spanish Civil War survives in inscrutable ways that can still surprise us, my mind kept circling back to that question of legibility. Not just to those students who can’t always make out the vets’ script; that kind of illegibility is certainly a handicap, but it can be overcome with a few lessons and lots of practice. We can take care of the letters of the vets’ legacy, of that I am confident; but will their spirit remain legible, now that they are no longer with us? Through the years, just as I’ve noticed the effects of the elimination of cursive from the elementary school curriculum, so too have I noticed the effects of other things that have for the most part been dropped from basic education and perhaps even from our basic moral and political vocabulary. Two traits in particular, that are central to understanding the activist legacy of the vets, seem to becoming less and less intelligible to the younger generations; indeed, the two traits I have in mind are so systematically denigrated nowadays, that many young people probably see them primarily as flaws. The band’s rousing rendition of “No pasarán” at the annual event sharply evoked the first of these traits: selective intransigence. For the vets there were always certain basic issues on which there simply could be no transaction, no compromise. And just as I can still hear echoes of their intransigent voices belting out “¡No pasarán!” so too can I can hear them saying “We don’t care what it does to the bottom line, we are not going to send printing work to a non-union shop.” End of story. No extemporizing. No slippery slopes. For many of the volunteers, Students from Bergen Academies (New Jersey) work with the ALBA collection at NYU’s Tamiment Library. Photo Juan Salas.

in certain contexts, “uncompromising” could only be a positive adjective. Not so for many of our students, though, who are so thoroughly schooled in the arts of “pragmatism” and of always trying to “meet halfway” or to “split the difference.” And in the meantime, with no clear lines drawn, we drift. And it was the singing of the “International” by several hundred people on their feet at the annual event that brought to my mind the second constitutive trait of so many volunteers: their steadfast belief in the efficacy of selfless, collective action. Without a solid appreciation of what collective action meant for the vets’ generation, their deeds and their legacy will remain largely incomprehensible—and inoperative. And yet our students—and perhaps we ourselves—have been so thoroughly schooled in the language of meritocracy, of individual achievement honed by competition, we are often remarkably quick to see any form of collective action as a misguided abdication of the sacred autonomy of the sovereign “I”. And in the meantime, the pronoun “we” fades from our vocabulary. Still aglow in the warmth generated by the reunion program, we filed out of the auditorium and back into a cold stark reality where fascism, or something eerily like it, seems once again to be in play as it was in the 30s. And there it dawned on me: Keeping the legacy of the Lincolns both legible and accessible is not just some kind of nostalgic or paleographic exercise; it could well be a matter of survival. James D. Fernández teaches at New York University and is author, with Luis Argeo, of Invisible Immigrants.

San Francisco Monument To Be Restored Efforts are ongoing to address the deterioration of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade monument in San Francisco. After initial problems of deliberate vandalism were dealt with, the elements began to take their toll on the structure. However, we have been involved in extensive conversations with different offices of the city of San Francisco for well over a year, since it belongs to the city and any change or restoration needs to go through bureaucratic channels. A local preservation company has helped us develop alternative panels that are less susceptible to vandalism and the elements. Members of the West Coast post have given us the green light to proceed. Once we get the final estimate, the next step will be to raise funds to complete the restoration. ALBA is working hard to get the Lincoln Brigade monument back in pristine shape as soon as possible so that it may continue to honor our volunteers and serve as an inspiration for future generations. We hope you will join us in this effort. If you wish to make a gift to support our efforts, designate your donation to “ALB National Monument”. For more information: June 2016 THE VOLUNTEER 13

The Man Bill Wheeler Could Not Forget

By Eunice Lipton

On May 20, 1938, Dave Lipton tells his parents that he is leaving for the Catskills to work as a waiter. Instead, he sails for Europe to join the Abraham Lincoln. Dave sends letter after letter home detailing his hopes and begging for forgiveness. He never receives a reply. Decades later, his niece Eunice Lipton stumbles upon clues that explain this silence. Her book A Distant Heartbeat, excerpted here, tells a tale of passion, heroism—and family betrayal.


Dave was a good son. He wouldn’t just leave like that. A good kid doesn’t do that. What got into him?

ach member of my family tried to imagine where Dave was shot. They were told that it was up near Gandesa in the mountains of northeastern Spain. Some stared into small blackand-white photographs. They scanned the crushed stones and spiky brush. Others thought they could hear dull bursts of old Russian guns or feel the heat and thirst, the fear and boredom. They tried everything. But all they got was silence. No one knew anything for sure. Only that one day in May 1938, Dave boarded a ship to France without telling his parents or brothers, that he disappeared into the Spanish Civil War. The family knew he went to meetings and study groups, organized demonstrations, was earnest and committed. He 14 THE VOLUNTEER June 2016

came from a long line of European Communists. But Dave was a good son. He

wouldn’t just leave like that. A good kid doesn’t do that. What got into him? There’s a photograph of Dave in a study group. He sits with five other boys and girls between seventeen and nineteen years old, the girls in sober skirts and

starched blouses, the boys in shirts and ties and cardigans. Only Dave is in a suit and tie. They’ve probably been reading Marx. Maybe they’ll become intellectuals, teachers, labor organizers. One or two might dream big and fantasize about the Soviet Union. Dave’s was a life that could have gone almost anywhere. He was a man with the inexhaustible energy that young immigrants carried to America. Whenever Dave’s name was mentioned at home, my oldest brother, Phil shifted in his seat, my father’s eyes hardened, my mother’s eyes filled with tears. Phil said, “Of the three of us brothers, Dave is the only one that mattered. His life. His death. The rest of us are nobodies. Dave died for something. He was something.”

Top: Photo booth pictures of Dave before going to Spain. Photo courtesy E. Lipton. Bottom: Dave Lipton in a study group with a few other kids. Photo courtesy E. Lipton

“No,” Abe shakes his head. “Wheeler’s not dead.” My father, jittery and distracted, interrupted, “Listen, he was very sweet. I loved him dearly.” But he always added, “Ach, he died for nothing.” Which was it? Who was this boy? The mild-mannered, determined youngster whose life was thick with bravery and hope? Or a sweet, naïve boy who incoherently threw his life away and permanently deprived his family of their deepest consolation, their youngest son? I receive a package of Dave’s things from my brother. I sit down and undo the wrapping. The package includes letters, photographs, an announcement of a Lillian Hellman play, a newspaper fragment about minstrel shows with comments by Paul Robeson, a harmonica. There are also flyers about a memorial meeting held in Dave’s honor, and a tiny pin with a Liberty Bell. Across the top are the words, “Friend—Abraham Lincoln Brigade.” I start reading the letters. The first one is to my grandparents and is dated July 10, 1938. It begins: My dear Parents, I am sitting on a mountain among vineyards and olive trees covered with the blood of Spain. I am looking at the sunset and I weep, and weep and weep. I am crying with hot tears that are pouring out of my eyes and I don’t want to stop that flow of tears, because I think of you, my dear parents. The thought of the pain and anguish I cause you and the thought that you think of me while you are reading this letter. I cry because I could not kiss you before I left because I could not tell you where I was going and not explain why I was going and I could not tell you what Spain means to you and to the whole world. [F] orgive me, understand me and please don’t be angry.” But then there is another letter dated two days later addressed to my father. “Dearest brother Lou!!!” it starts. “It was indeed a great and unexpected joy to receive a letter from you. Even though it has the taste of a trick to it. . . . In spite of the fact that your letter was cold and brutally hard, unbrotherly and so business like, sharp and condemning. . . .” Is

this of a piece with my father's, “He died for nothing”? I decide to take the bus to Boston, where, at that time in 1996, there is an important archive of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade at Brandeis University. This archive is crammed into a corner of the Judaic Studies Department office. I introduce myself to Victor Berch, the librarian, and say that I’m doing a little research on my uncle who died in Spain, a member of the brigade. I give him some publicity about my last book and show him photographs of Dave. Then I gingerly lift up a tattered flyer for Dave’s memorial in the Bronx, on January 18, 1939. Mr. Berch is not impressed. He points to the three speakers listed on the flyer, David McKelvy White, Yale Stuart, and Bill Wheeler. “Dead. Dead. Dead,” he says, pronouncing the words with some derision, as if it were my fault. He tells me that if I’m interested, there’s a videotaped interview of Wheeler made in 1986, as well as indexes and photographs I can consult. I leave Brandeis disheartened. Nonetheless, back in New York, I decide to visit the office of the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (VALB) on East Eleventh Street. I have already spoken to Abe Smorodin, one of the Vets who works there. I also heard about him in the Wheeler video. Smorodin had been

Bill Wheeler with the Canadian volunteer Jack Steel. Photo courtesy E. Lipton

among the swiftest and most courageous runners in Spain. He’s eighty-one, with one eye nearly blind since birth and another the color of black onyx, which fixes you with unwavering attention. I remove my photos and flyers from my briefcase and, to show him how in the know I am, I point to the three names on the flyer and repeat Berch’s hortatory: “Dead. Dead. Dead.” “No,” Abe shakes his head. “Wheeler’s not dead.” “He’s not? Where is he?” I’m shouting. “I’ll get you the address and phone number.” In a few minutes, he returns, saying, “Okay, here’s the information about Bill.” When I’m almost out the door, he adds, “And where the hell were you twenty years ago? There were a lot more of us around then, and we had better memories.” Just because Wheeler spoke at Dave’s memorial doesn’t mean he knew him, I say to myself on my way home. He was probably just doing his duty, the job of attending memorial services divided up among Veterans. Still, there was that proximity, Wheeler’s name on the flyer next to Dave’s. It’s why I watched the video at Brandeis in the first place, why I scrutinized his face, his hands, the way he moved in his chair, his voice, his silences. I write to him: Dear Mr. Wheeler, I am working on a book about my uncle Dave Lipton who died in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. He was a member of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and was in the First Platoon, Company 3. He died on August 20, 1938 near Gandesa on the Sierra Pandols. I am trying to locate—at this late date alas—people who may remember him, however slightly. I’m enclosing a picture of Dave with his comrades. I hope it’s all right if I call you in a week or so and see if you can help me. I look forward to speaking to you soon. Sincerely yours . . . A week later he faxes me: “I do remember your uncle Dave Lipton and June 2016 THE VOLUNTEER 15

“Where the hell were you twenty years ago? There were a lot more of us around then, and we had better memories.” now thanks to you, he has a name that time and a flagging memory have erased. Dave’s death more than any of the too many others I have witnessed has haunted me to this day.” I can’t believe my eyes, this unexpected arrival of an outsider’s knowledge of the central enigma of my family. “Dave and I first met aboard the ship that was carrying several new volunteers and seven of us who had been sent home and were returning for the second time…. Dave and I were both assigned to the 3rd company of the Lincoln Washington battalion. After a short period of training, about the end of June or beginning of July 1938, we assembled on the banks of the Ebro River in preparation to launch the Ebro offensive. We were at rest the evening before the crossing. Dave handed me a letter written in Yiddish asking me to mail it to his brother (as I recall) if anything should happen to him. I remember telling him, ‘You will make it O.K. Just keep your head and fanny down.’ The next morning he asked for the letter back and tore it to bits. That morning we crossed the Ebro and proceeded on a three day march ….we moved on to Hill 666…. One of our squads was short handed and requested a replacement. Dave’s sergeant sent him to reinforce the squad. While with that squad Dave was sent with a detail to the bottom of the hill for grenades…. shortly after this I was checking our position at the front when Dave walked over towards me asking if he could return to his regular squad. Just as I yelled to him to get down, he was struck by a sniper’s bullet sinking slowly to the ground in front of me. In war one becomes inured to death but Dave’s has haunted me ever since. He was young, he was brave. . . .” I want to tell my father: Dad, there’s a witness. I’ve found Bill Wheeler. I found Dave’s friend. He had a friend before he died. He wasn’t alone. And Dad, Dave was brave. Wheeler says so. But then the torn up letter comes back to me. Why did he do that? Had he said something he was uncertain about? Something angry? Or were they just words of love and

ously connected yet somehow kindred. We both lived the death of my uncle but also the glory of a past long gone for one, never experienced by the other, yet cherished. “Bill, I’d like to come talk with you.” “Please,” he says. And so I come to meet Bill Wheeler, who it turns out also shared some beers on shipboard with Dave, spent a night in Paris with him, heard shy stories from the boy about his romantic and political longings. A sweet friendship that once told untied my uncle from the narrative grip of my family and offered up an uncommonly gentle, curious and brave man who far from dying for nothing died for everything.

Addendum good-bye that he thought might undermine his resolve, bring him bad luck? And more importantly why have I never found letters to Dave? Why only the letters he wrote? Surely his friends and family wrote to him. Wheeler says that he’s haunted by the boy and has been all his life. I order a copy of the video from Brandeis, and this time I watch it to the end. The last question the interviewer asks is “What stays with you the most from your experience in Spain, Bill?” Wheeler looks pensively into the camera and says again, “this boy came walking over slow and measured and he said, Bill, can I go back to my squad? He was standing there. And just as I was about to yell at him to get down, a sniper got him. He stood there yelling, No, no, no, and fell right there at my feet.” I pick up the phone and call Bill Wheeler in Athens, Georgia. I introduce myself. We are polite. We fall silent. “Bill,” I call him, “I can’t believe I’ve found you. After all these years.” “It’s odd, isn’t it?” he says. “Bill, I . . .” I’m crying. I can hear that he is too. We sit in our separate worlds, lonely for our pasts, which are so tenu-

Dave Lipton with Ben Katine. Photo courtesy E. Lipton 16 THE VOLUNTEER June 2016

Before Dave left for Spain he was active in the Young Communist League in the Bronx and was close to a young woman whom I will call Evelyn. When I track her down in the late 1990s she gasps over the phone, “Dave’s been on my mind all these years. I can’t believe you’ve found me. You’ve made my life worthwhile.” Then she confides, “I never knew a man like him, so soft and kind and good.” When I meet Evelyn and we’re sitting together on her screened-in porch, she tells me of being “early for a class and hiding behind a book. I had things to say when necessary,” she said. “But I was shy. Dave would come over and talk to me. It meant a lot. And it wasn’t easy in those situations. The men were always vying for the limelight. But not him. He wasn’t a flashy, talky, aggressive leadership type. He was dependable, constant. He never raised his voice. He listened. . . . The others could be ruthless.” I have found over the years that there are men with whom women feel comfortable, and those women are grateful. According to my mother and Evelyn, Dave was such a man, gentle, kind, patient. This was the man Bill Wheeler met and never forgot. The ranks of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade were filled with men just like that.

Francisco Franco and Dwight D. Eisenhower in Madrid in 1959. US National Archives, public domain.

Rejecting the Cold War Alliance with Franco By Robert Shaffer

In 1949 Harold Ickes, the Secretary of the Interior under Franklin Roosevelt, described General Francisco Franco as a “mimic of Hitler” whose regime “chokes the breath out of liberty in a police state.” Four years later, The Christian Century, a liberal Protestant magazine, called Spain “that pathetic remnant of medievalism.” The Spanish Civil War had ended years earlier, but the debate over its significance, and over how to deal with the fascist government which its outcome established, continued long afterwards.


resident Harry Truman claimed to be building a postwar democratic alliance against Communism, but powerful forces worked to include undemocratic Spain in that alliance. Franco won the Spanish Civil War in large part due to the support he received from Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany— nations that the United States and its allies went on to fight in World War II. Truman supported United Nations resolutions in 1945 and 1946 keeping Franco’s Spain out of the world organization and canceling full diplomatic recognition of his regime, and under the President’s direction the 1947 Marshall Plan to rebuild war-ravaged Europe also excluded Spain. However, the U.S. tolerated the presence in Washington of lower-level Spanish diplomats, who hired well-connected lawyers and lobbyists and cultivated relations with the Catholic leaders, right-wing legislators such as Sen. Pat McCarran, Pentagon planners, and selected U.S. exporters. By the end of 1947, important members of Truman’s administration sought a new policy of military

cooperation with Franco to counter the alleged Soviet threat to western Europe, and by early 1950 the Senate had voted to extend economic aid to Spain. U.S. policy switched decisively, however, after the outbreak of the Korean War, as Secretary of State Dean Acheson supported a U.N. resolution in late 1950 ending the ban on recognition of the Franco regime, and ever-increasing economic credits began to flow to Spain. British and French opposition kept Spain out of the nascent North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but in mid-1951 the U.S. began formal negotiations with Spain for a mutual defense agreement. The Pact of Madrid, signed in 1953, provided $1.4 billion in U.S. military and economic aid to Spain over the next 10 years in return for naval and air bases for American forces; most scholars agree that this infusion of cash helped perpetuate Franco’s reign. U.S. leadership facilitated Spain’s entrance into full U.N. membership in 1955, as part of a bargain which also saw the admission of fascist Portugal, June 2016 THE VOLUNTEER 17

Harold Ickes, Henry A. Wallace, and two other men standing in front of the White House during ceremonies marking the visit of Prince Abdul Ilah of Iraq to the United States, 8 May 1945. Photo Abbie Rowe. National Archives and Records Administration.

The 1953 Pact of Madrid provided $1.4 billion in U.S. military and economic aid to Spain. neutral Finland, Soviet-aligned Bulgaria and Romania, and 11 other nations. The symbolic high point of the U.S. alliance with Franco came in December 1959, when President Eisenhower literally embraced the Spanish dictator in Madrid. Many American progressives in the late 1940s and early 1950s recoiled against this gradual realignment of the U.S. toward the Franco dictatorship. Some of this opposition is wellknown. For example, The Nation magazine coordinated a 1946 campaign by liberal groups to isolate the Spanish government diplomatically, a campaign which dovetailed with Truman’s initial policy. Nation editor Freda Kirchway hired the former cabinet member of the Spanish Republic, Julio Alvarez del Vayo, as foreign editor, so readers were regularly reminded of the consequences of the Spanish Civil War. Two other American voices of dissent were The Christian Century, generally considered the nation’s most influential Protestant magazine, and Ickes, who was described by The New Republic in 1949 as “America’s most venerable progressive.” Examining what these two voices—both of which were critical of Communism and the Soviet Union—wrote and said about Franco’s Spain and U.S. policy reveals many common elements as well as some intriguing differences as to why these progressives felt so strongly and how they made their case to readers. Like many American liberals and progressives, when Franco launched his rebellion on July 18, 1936, neither Ickes nor The Century supported direct aid or even the sale of armaments to republican Spain. They wanted the United States to stay out of Europe’s quarrels and believed that aiding one side in any way would draw the nation into war. Ickes soon changed his mind. By 1937 he wrote that the refusal of the State Department to issue passports for an ambulance corps to help the Loyalists “makes me ashamed.” The following year he appealed to FDR to lift the embargo on the sale of weapons to the Loyalists, and he told the President that the failure to do so “constituted a black page in American history.” After the Loyalist defeat, Ickes became honorary chairperson of the Spanish Refugee League Campaign Committee, which raised funds for the resettlement of those fleeing the Fascist regime. The Christian Century in the 1930s certainly supported the Spanish Republic against the fascist uprising. In a string of editorials, the magazine stated that Franco’s open embrace of fascism, including the outlawing of strikes and the reversal of land reform, should increase support for the elected government. Nevertheless, while arguing that under international law nations could sell weapons and provide aid to a sovereign government, such as the Spanish Republic, The Century applauded FDR’s announcement that the U.S. would stay out, adding, “we can and must avoid armed intervention in quarrels not our 18 THE VOLUNTEER June 2016

own.” While later open to suggestions that U.S. neutrality laws be changed to allow weapons sales to the Republic, it was not until 1939—when the war was all but lost—that the editors retroactively criticized the State Department for vetoing aid to the Loyalists. The Protestant magazine’s most significant contribution to an analysis of the Spanish Civil War was its characterization of the conflict as a “holy war”—and its use of that term was entirely negative. Countering Spanish monarchists and Catholic officials who declared that Franco’s revolt was necessary to save Europe for Christianity, the editors in August 1936 denounced those “whose idea of a Christian social order is an absolute monarchy defended by a Pretorian guard, a feudal system of land ownership, and Catholic unity enforced by the inquisition and the police power of the state.” The Century urged readers to look beyond the slogans of the rebels to see their real threat: “Their cry is against godless communism and materialistic Marxism, but their antipathy toward any form of liberalism, republicanism, or parliamentarianism is no less.” Answering Pope Pius XI’s all-out support for Franco, the editors did not defend Communism, nor did they characterize the Spanish Republic as Communist or Communist-dominated. They did, however, call Communism, despite its evils and drawbacks, “one of many waves of revolt against the concentration of privilege,” in Spain as elsewhere, which “came to include hatred of God because those who claimed most emphatically to represent God seemed to be most habitually on the side of the privileged and the oppressors.” The Century urged Protestants to reject out of hand the Pope’s invitation to join a world-wide organization to fight communism: “It is impossible to consider this new Vatican crusade against communism apart from the struggle in Spain, where the church, after enjoying a monopoly of religion for centuries, has most to lose in property, privilege and prestige.” The Christian Century continued for the next three years to cover the civil war, with steadily increased outrage at the support for Franco by Italy and Germany which underlay his success, the escalation of attacks by their weapons and soldiers on Spanish civilians, the oppression of Spanish Protestants by the Franco-Catholic alliance, and the “betrayal” of the Republic by Britain as it manipulated world-wide “neutrality” efforts in favor of the fascists. Both Ickes and The Century, of course, supported the American and Allied cause during World War II, with Ickes even suggesting to FDR that the U.S. invade Spain as part of this anti-fascist struggle. Thus, they, like many other American progressives, expressed visceral outrage after the war ended that the Allies would temporize with the Spanish dictatorship that was so closely identified with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.

Franco and Eisenhower at the Torrejón airbase in Madrid, 1956. Phot Univ. Alcalá de Henares.

Typical among the editorials in The Christian Century was “Franco and the Marshall Plan” in 1948. Noting Congress’s pressure on Truman to extend funding to Spain, the editors asserted that the President, too, bore responsibility for this betrayal of democracy because of his efforts to forge an anti-Communist alliance with the Vatican through envoy Myron Taylor. The secretive Taylor mission, which included meetings with officials in Madrid as well as in Rome, not only violated Woodrow Wilson’s standard of “open covenants openly arrived at,” but demonstrated, declared the editors, the “seesaw pattern” of U.S. diplomacy. That is, the U.S. had first hoped to use Hitler and Mussolini against Communism, then embraced the un-democratic Soviets during World War II, and then reached out to “a motley company of undemocratic and anti-liberal forces—first the Vatican itself, then a reactionary and unpopular government in Greece, then Franco.” Three years later, as the preliminary framework for a deal with Spain was signed, the magazine lamented that the U.S. had become “the partner and guarantor of fascist reaction. But what does Washington care about that, so long as the Pentagon gets more bases?” The Century placed its criticism of this new friendship with Franco in the context of the magazine’s opposition to U.S. Cold War policies, especially its military posture in Europe threatening war against the Soviets. Ickes, after his 1946 resignation from Truman’s cabinet, for three years wrote a popular thrice-weekly syndicated column, and then the self-styled “curmudgeon,” at age 75, continued his punditry with a weekly column in The New Republic until his death in February 1952. Ickes devoted more space to Spain in his essays than to any other foreign policy topic aside from the Korean War, and almost as much as to his fervent denunciations of McCarthyism. Franco’s Spain was, for example, “Fascism indecently naked,” which “spends more than 50 percent of its revenues, wrung from a half-starved population, to maintain an army of 422,000 men.” These soldiers, in turn, “constitute a privileged class whom this mimic of Hitler coddles to keep the Spanish people in dire poverty.” To be sure, Ickes did not hold out the Soviet Union as a model to which Americans should turn: we “should have no truck with either Communism or Fascism.” Nevertheless, in 1949 he observed that “Fascism, which of course includes Nazism,” has been far costlier to the U.S. than Communism, and two years later he reminded readers that “Russia had sent what aid she could to the Loyalists” while the U.S. “stood coldly by.” Like The Christian Century, Ickes castigated the Truman administration for claiming it opposed Franco while surreptitiously working to warm up relations. “To recognize the Slave Spain of Dictator Franco would be an act of cynicism that the United States could not live down in 100 years,” Ickes wrote in 1949, adding bitterly that it was “military minds” who were “managing our foreign policy these days.” Ickes denounced the

“State Department Shell Game” when the U.S. abstained on a U.N. vote about recognition of Franco’s government. Ickes, too, was especially incensed that the administration wanted Spain in NATO, as he argued that including Franco in the alliance would alienate true democrats in western Europe and that insolvent Spain would become a sinkhole for American tax dollars. Ickes linked U.S. actions in the early 1950s to Germany’s and Italy’s deeds in the 1930s: “We are making it possible for some future historian to write that, while it was the material help that Hitler and Mussolini supplied to Fascist Franco that made it possible for him to win his rebellion, it was the financial and diplomatic assistance freely supplied later by the greatest republic in the world that enabled Fascist Franco to retain power by the brutal suppression of the Spanish people.” The Christian Century added specifically Protestant arguments in opposing the rapprochement with Franco. Again and again the editors condemned the Vatican’s and Franco’s pronouncements that religious liberty in predominantly Catholic countries should be restricted to Catholics. For example, they cited a 1948 Jesuit publication from Rome, endorsed by Spanish bishops, which stated that only “truth” had rights, so Protestants in Spain “shall not be allowed to propagate false doctrines.” The 1953 concordat between Franco and the Vatican formally ratified this approach, with the Spanish dictator prohibiting any expression that might “perturb the safe and unanimous possession of religious truth in this country.” In other words, not only did Spain reintroduce Catholic teachings into all levels of education and pay Catholic officials from state funds, but it outlawed the dissemination of Protestant and other non-Catholic ideas. As part of its brief against this clerical-fascism, The Century publicized the harassment faced by the 20,000 or so Spanish Protestants: defacement and vandalism of churches, physical attacks against people attending Bible classes even in private homes, arrests during Protestant funeral services, and so on. The editors quoted one prominent New York minister who declared, after a 1948 fact-finding trip, “as a Protestant clergyman I would prefer today to be preaching in Prague behind the iron curtain than in any city in Spain.” (This editorial appeared just below one entitled “Church Unrest Behind Iron Curtain,” which reported on arrests of Lutheran ministers in Hungary and on the forced resignation of Bulgaria’s Orthodox patriarch. The Christian Century was equally critical of religious persecution in the Soviet bloc and in Spain.) The Century also highlighted Catholic dissent from Franco’s regime, to show that Catholics could overcome the bonds between the Vatican, political autocracy, economic inequality, and social conservatism. In 1951 the magazine reported that Basque priests criticized the Catholic hierarchy’s loyalty to Franco, despite the nation’s move toward economic disaster. (The editors added that Basques had resisted the Inquisition and held out June 2016 THE VOLUNTEER 19

Ickes devoted more space to Spain in his essays than to any other foreign policy topic aside from the Korean War. the longest during the Civil War.) That same year The Century urged subscribers to financially assist the independent American Catholic weekly, Commonweal, as that magazine had suffered from deviating in 1938 from the Vatican line on Franco. Just as The Century saw Franco’s Spain as a “remnant of medievalism,” it also saw it as a focal point in a still-unfinished Reformation, hoping to win over dissident Catholics to its views of religious freedom and social progress. The Christian Century recognized the interconnections between American domestic and international issues during the Cold War, noting, for example, that Franco’s main advocate in the Senate—Nevada’s Pat McCarran—also headed the Senate Judiciary Committee, on which the notorious Joseph McCarthy sat. A 1951 editorial, “Senator Begins War Chant,” observed that McCarran tied efforts to obtain more funds for Spain to cries that war with the Soviets was inevitable and that investigations against internal subversion must be increased. Among these allegedly subversive organizations was the North American Committee to Aid Spanish Democracy, whose executive secretary in the 1930s had been Congregationalist minister Herman Reissig. The Century ran Reissig’s 1951 commentary, at the height of McCarthyism, in which he not only attacked the witch-hunt but stated that Communists and those who worked with them on anti-fascist and pro-labor issues in the 1930s and 1940s were correct. “It is time,” he wrote, to “say that Americans who supported the Spanish republic against the Hitler-Mussolini-Franco alliance were doing what they ought to have done.” Reissig did make clear his disagreement with Communism, however, asserting that the 1939-41 Hitler-Stalin pact exposed its bankruptcy. Ickes, too, tied growing support for Franco to anti-Communist hysteria. He labeled McCarran a “lackey” for Franco while simultaneously assailing “the notorious McCarran thought-control bill” which established the Subversive Activities Control Board. Ickes’s most forceful criticisms of ties to Franco invoked World War II. Such ties constituted “a betrayal of democracy and a repudiation of all that we fought for and won against Franco’s fellow dictators, Hitler and Mussolini.” While the U.S. did not go to war with Spain during the global conflict, Ickes repeatedly pointed out that Franco hoped that the Axis powers would defeat the Allies. “Can it be forgotten,” he asked rhetorically in 1949, “that Franco sent his soldiers into Russia when that temporary ally of the democracies was hard put to beat off the German hordes?” And then in 1951: “Franco’s desire to help Hitler and his inhumane treatment of Allied soldiers who sought refuge in Spain during World War II were notorious.” In a half-dozen columns, Ickes aimed his sharpest barbs at José de Lequerica, Franco’s postwar representative in the U.S. Ickes expressed outrage that the State Department allowed this fascist agent to operate freely in the U.S., despite having no formal diplomatic credentials, and despite his overt anti-American actions during World War II. Lequerica “was Franco’s Ambassador to France during the dishonorable days of Vichy,” referring to France’s wartime government that was in reality subservient to 20 THE VOLUNTEER June 2016

Germany. “There he [Lequerica] was on close terms with Hitler’s intelligence service, while Franco was servicing Nazi submarines. After Japan had struck its dastardly deed at Pearl Harbor, de Lequerica ostentatiously gave a dinner to Japanese and Nazi guests to celebrate the event.” Historian Stanley Payne, in Franco and Hitler (2008), labels Lequerica “a pronounced Naziphile” who earned his nickname in France as “minister of the Gestapo.” Ickes’s campaign against Franco and Lequerica yielded enthusiastic letters from readers, including leaders of Americans for Democratic Action, a liberal group generally supportive of Cold War policies but appalled at Franco’s popularity with U.S. officials. One Spanish exile in the U.S. provided Ickes with an English translation of the newly-published memoirs of a former Franco official who had worked alongside Lequerica in France. Ickes devoted a full column to these excerpts, which pronounced Franco’s ambassador as “more German than the Germans.” However, no amount of reminders about Franco’s aid to our World War II enemies could deter Congress and the Truman administration from their embrace of the Spanish dictator. The Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives have long called attention not only to the heroism of those who fought for the Spanish Republic and against fascism, but to the broader implications of that conflict for the world. The unwarranted suffering of many Lincoln vets from McCarthyite repression has become an integral part of this story, as Washington again abandoned the struggle for democracy in Spain. The participation of Harold Ickes and of The Christian Century in the post-World War II campaign against recognition of and aid to Franco’s dictatorship—unsuccessful though it was—reminds us that the issue resonated far beyond the ranks of the Veterans, and that not only Communists or “Popular Front” groups passionately opposed the Spanish dictatorship. In the case of The Christian Century it extended even to those who had believed in the 1930s that the U.S. should stay entirely aloof from Europe’s military affairs. Ickes, meanwhile, based his fervor on a determination to rectify that “black page in American history,” when the U.S. allowed “neutrality” to be manipulated on behalf of fascism. While the Spanish Civil War and the subsequent controversy over Franco are sometimes portrayed as conflicts between “religion” and “secularism,” the Protestant Christian Century reminds us that Spanish fascism represented only one religion—and its most backward-looking version at that. Ickes’s emphasis during the Cold War on viewing the Spanish Civil War through its impact on World War II highlights the intellectual somersaults that U.S. officials performed to justify an alliance with Franco. As Ickes and The Christian Century editors engaged with the long-term repercussions of the Spanish Civil War, we see that arguments about the past became arguments about the present, and vice versa—just as is true today. Robert Shaffer is Professor of History at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania.

Book reviews

Ángel Viñas, La otra cara del Caudillo. Mitos y realidades en la biografía de Franco, Barcelona: Crítica, 2015, pp. 439. Reviewed by Antonio Cazorla-Sánchez


ngel Viñas has a long and distinguished record as a historian who does exhaustive archival research. He is also known for having strong convictions and for expressing them in a direct manner, both about the Franco regime and fellow historians. These are traits that the reader will find again in his new book. Like similar recent works on Franco, this book appeared last year to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the dictator’s death (November, 20, 1975). (Full disclosure: I am the author of another biography: Franco: the Biography of the Myth, Oxon/ New York: Routledge, 2013). And without doubt, in both content and tone, this is one of the more openly hostile towards Franco. However, Viñas’ hostility is not limited to his subject: he also has plenty to say about historians who either do not share his ideas or who, according to him, are too timid in their critiques of Franco. This is why, apart from the dictator, the main target of his criticism is another biography by Stanley Payne and Jesús Palacios, Franco. A Personal and Political Biography (2014). What is truly new in this book is the discovery in the archive of the Royal Palace of important information about Franco’s business transactions during the war and afterwards that has allowed Viñas to point out, in my opinion quite convincingly, Franco’s corruption. Put differently, he has demonstrated that the dictator amassed significant amounts of money and properties during the war by trafficking in coffee and cigarettes, among other items. What Franco did—blackmarketing, pocketing public funds, and stealing from various victims—was not very different from what many of his fellow generals, politicians, and businessmen did during and after the war. In other words, Viñas has demonstrated that Franco was very much a typical crook of his time. As in the case of Chile’s Augusto Pinochet, it is likely that his corruption will bother both his supporters and other conservatives in Spain quite a bit more than the deaths of hundred of thousands of people. Certainly, this is the aspect that has most attracted the

attention of the general public in Spain who have been buying Viñas’s book. Most controversial is how Viñas interacts with the reader and how he portrays other people’s work. His style is very informal, highlighted by the rather blunt way he criticizes other historians. As we already have pointed out, the worst of Viñas’ attacks is directed at Stanley Payne and Jesús Palacios, not just at their biography of Franco but also at the authors themselves. I will not comment on personal attacks. However, there is no doubt that Payne and Palacios have produced a book that is extremely forgiving of and at times openly apologetic of Franco. They systematically give the benefit of the doubt to the dictator and too often accept as true the regime’s official versions of events. This is, to say the least, a curious attitude when analyzing a dictatorship. Perhaps Payne and Palacios think that this one was better or less bad than most others. But that is a big perhaps. As often happens with biographies, most of what Viñas has to say about Franco has been said before, some of it by Viñas himself. Such is the case with the description of the regime’s manipulation of the past, the use of theories about leadership (Führerprinzip), the role of the Army in the regime, and the dictator’s pro-Nazi policies, later hidden after the Axis defeat in 1945. In addition, Viñas repeats the theory he first introduced in his La conspiración del general Franco y otras revelaciones sobre una guerra civil desfigurada (2012), that Franco was directly involved in the death of General Amadeo Balmes in the Canary Islands in July 1936. Viñas presents Balmes´ death as an assassination that made it possible for Franco to start his rebellion against the Republic. Balmes’ death has always been regarded as suspicious because of the manner in which it transpired, its timing and because it gave Franco a perfect alibi to leave Santa Cruz de Tenerife to attend the General’s funeral in Las Palmas. It is from Las Palmas to Morocco that Franco flew in a pre-arranged chartered British plane to take command of the rebellious Spanish colonial army. However, I still believe (even at the risk of looking gullible in Viñas’ eyes) that what he calls proofs are no more than very interesting, and quite plausible, hypotheses. I doubt that any court could rule in Viñas’s favor purely on the basis of the evidence available. In conclusion, Viñas has written a polemical book that helps to expand our knowledge of Franco, the man and the ruler. We know that Franco was a murderous tyrant and that he, more than anybody, contributed to Spain’s wartime ruin and postwar misery. We know that Franco was vaguely corrupt and, particularly, that he allowed people around him to steal with impunity. But we always thought that this was simply Franco’s strategy: to control people by reminding them everyday, sometimes very explicitly, that they owed him. What Viñas has discovered is even sadder: Franco was just another thief in a country where they reproduced like flies feeding on the corpse of a destroyed, traumatized nation. The selfproclaimed Saviour of Spain was a well-rounded scoundrel. Perhaps it takes Viñas’ acerbic prose to convey this most fully. Antonio Cazorla Sánchez is a Professor of History at Trent University in Canada. He is the author of numerous books on 20th century Spanish history, including Fear and Progress: Ordinary Lives in Franco’s Spain (2009). June 2016 THE VOLUNTEER 21

Ángel Luis Arjona Márquez, Las Brigadas Internacionales a través del cómic: 1977-2012 (Albacete: Instituto de Estudios Albacetenses “Don Juan Manuel,” 2014) Reviewed by Carl-Henrik Bjerstrom


ngel Luis Arjona Márquez’s Las Brigadas Internacionales a través del cómic: 1977-2012 offers a new perspective on one of the most symbolically and ideologically charged aspects of the Spanish Civil War: the mobilization of thousands of volunteers who travelled to Spain to defend the progressive ideals associated with the Second Republic. Using comics as primary source material, Arjona hints at some interesting socio-cultural questions. How have representations of these international defenders of the Spanish Republic changed during the decades following Spain’s transition to democracy? In what ways can these representations be said to reflect Spanish society’s changing relationship to its own contemporary history? More specifically, in what ways do representations of the International Brigades found in comics differ from their portrayal in other media? These questions were no doubt present as the author conducted his investigations, yet it will be up to future research to deliver the answers. This book does not provide broad socio-cultural analysis. Instead, being the first investigation of its kind, the author has understandably focused on establishing the concrete facts relating to his subject. On this score, the book delivers impressively. After extensive research, the author has identified not only titles in which the International Brigades appear as the main protagonists, but also comics in which the International Brigades play a peripheral role. Even if the reader is reminded that new relevant titles may still be found, the list presented seems exhaustive for the time period covered (1977-2012). The author also describes the development of the comic in Spain and provides brief biographies of many writers and illustrators. The 160-page Appendix, which includes many color reproductions of extracts from relevant comics, as well as extensive lists of a wide variety of sources (including many Internet-based options), adds significant value to the book and will clearly be useful for future researchers. But for readers with more general historical interests, the book suffers from certain weaknesses. First, the book contains several, and sometimes lengthy, introductory sections that oblige the reader to wait a long time before encountering any concrete information. More could also have been done to analyze the most important 22 THE VOLUNTEER June 2016

comics in this context. The section devoted to comics based on the history of the International Brigades is mostly descriptive, consisting of plot summaries listed one by one. Historical information is added to place the action within the overarching development of the Spanish Civil War, but the book could have benefited from a more developed thematic analysis. Finally, as hinted above, the author says little regarding the question of what these representations in themselves may say about collective memories of the Spanish Civil War. Such questions can only be given speculative and preliminary answers in a work like this, but it is a shame that the author does not attempt a more elaborate exploration in this regard. Still, it would be wrong to end on a negative note. Ángel Luis Arjona is knowledgeable about both comics and the history of the International Brigades. His book is a valuable reference for anyone interested in visual representations of the Spanish Civil War during the transition and more recent decades. Carl-Henrik Bjerstrom is a Lecturer in Modern European History at Birkbeck, University of London. Professor Bjerstrom studies cultural mobilisation during the Spanish Civil War, which was the subject of his Ph.D dissertation 'Re-imagining the Nation: Josep Renau and the Politics of Culture in Republican Spain, 1931-1939,” completed at Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2014.

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June 2016 THE VOLUNTEER 23

Michael Organek from Virginia

Susman Lecture travels to Detroit! Adam Hochschild: Spain in our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1906 - 1939

Friday, June 17, 2016 at 1 pm Birmingham Temple | 28611 Twelve Mile Rd Farmington Hills, MI 48334 Reception to follow. This event is free and open to the public. RSVP With the support of the Wayne State University Abraham Lincoln Brigade Veterans Scholarship Committee and the Society of Active Retirees.