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Del Berg - Last Survivor of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.
#1


NY Times Sunday Magazine, Mar. 15 2015
The Last Volunteer

(Del Berg, 99, is the last known surviving veteran of the Abraham
Lincoln Brigade, a contingent of nearly 3,000 Americans who fought to
defend the democratically elected government during the Spanish Civil
War of the 1930s.)

It was 1937, and the Fascists had already revolted in Spain. I was
walking down a street in Hollywood when I saw a sign ? ?Friends of the
Abraham Lincoln Brigade? ? written on the side of a building. I turned
the corner, opened the door and went in. The people inside said, ?What
can we do for you?? I said, ?I want to go to Spain.? They couldn?t
legally send people to Spain, they told me, but did I want to help? I
did. My life started with poverty and then came the Depression. I felt a
certain responsibility to help the Spanish workers and farmers.

They told me to go to an organization called the Medical Bureau to Aid
Spanish Democracy. I was put to work there helping organize meetings and
collecting clothes for the Republic. There was a younger guy working
with me. One day he turned to me and said, ?Do you want to go to Spain??
I said yes, I sure do. He said, ?I?ll tell you whom to go see.?

The next day, I opened one of the office doors at the bureau, and there
was a guy sitting in a chair, expecting me. He had been in the First
World War and lost part of his arm. He just kept looking at me and not
saying much. Nobody could tell if I was there for a solid reason or if I
was a stooge. Finally, I flatly told him I wanted to go to Spain. He
said, O.K.: Go get your birth certificate. He sent me to a doctor for a
physical examination, and then I got on a bus to New York.

From there, four of us boarded the French ocean liner Champlain. That?s
the first time in my life that I ever had fancy food. We had a chance to
go around Paris a little bit, and I went up the Eiffel Tower. Then they
put us on a bus across France and took us to a fortress with three- or
four-feet-thick walls.

We were given rooms there, but it wasn?t long before the French national
police came and picked us up. They couldn?t do anything about us
Americans because we had legal visas and passports to be in France.
There were German volunteers with us, and I was worried that they would
be sent back to be finished off by the Nazis, but the French Communist
Party was very strong then and wouldn?t allow the police to send them
back to Germany.

We were all put on a raggedy bus, about 30 miles from the Spanish
border. Along the way, the bus got a flat tire. We just sat there, in
the middle of the night, waiting to cross the Pyrenees, while they fixed
it. We were taken to an open valley along the mountains, and French
smugglers guided us over the border on foot. I was a little scared we?d
be discovered. Every time we went by a farmhouse, the dogs started
barking, but the people inside ignored them and let us pass.

It was a beautiful, sunny morning when we crossed into Spain and boarded
buses that took us to a fortress near Barcelona. They put us on
battalion communications, laying telephone lines from one battery to the
other. As the Fascists began their drive to the Ebro River, we were sent
to Valencia and set up in a monastery on the outskirts of town.

We had our headquarters on the second floor of the monastery, where the
monks went to discuss things. This is where I got hit. The bomb tore up
that whole dormitory. One Italian guy was a little too old for the
infantry, so they had sent him to our outfit. He was killed.

I didn?t know I was hurt. There?s a lot of confusion with a bomb
explosion; you?re kind of disoriented. We all started climbing down a
pipe that led from the dormitory to the ground floor. I was the last
one, and as I hung on that pipe, it put pressure on my chest. When I got
down to the ground, I noticed that I had blood all over my front. The
shrapnel had hit my liver, and I was bleeding heavily.

By then Franco?s troops had already taken over most of the Republic. We
could do nothing to influence the outcome, so we were sent home. I felt
so strongly about the Spanish people?s struggle that when I got back to
the United States, I wanted to do the same thing here, in my own way. I
wanted to remain active in the working people?s movement.

I became a switchboard operator in the Army during the Second World War
and was part of the effort to defeat Fascism. After the war, I worked
with the United Farm Workers, and later was elected vice president of
the local chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. It bothers me a little that at 99
you?re going to die any minute, because I have a lot of other things I
want to do.

As the last living veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, I feel a
little isolated, but I cannot worry about that. I get a lot of letters
from all over the country. Younger people write me ? they want to know
what happened. Can you tell me, they ask? You were there. All the rest
of them are dead now.
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
Reply
#2
And volunteers are going to the Donbass doing the same thing -- fighting fascists.
"We'll know our disinformation campaign is complete when everything the American public believes is false." --William J. Casey, D.C.I

"We will lead every revolution against us." --Theodore Herzl
Reply
#3
Indeed they are and one of them is Spanish.
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
Reply


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