Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Lincoln’s Underground Railroad Brigade


It is well-known that FDR’s Democratic administration by 1936 had absorbed many American communists; soon many sailed for Spain in a brigade named for a previous American revolutionary in the White House. The communist international’s (Comintern) goal was exporting revolution and undermining capitalism, today the US government exports this revolution to all regions of the globe.  Bernhard Thuersam

Lincoln’s Underground Railroad Brigade

“in 1936 . . . the Spanish Civil War catalyzed the battle against fascism worldwide, many in the (American Communist] Party [CPUSA] decided that more was required of them than just raising money, picketing consulates or, as in the case of communist seamen, smuggling literature into fascist countries.  Steve Nelson, who left the Pennsylvania anthracite fields to become political commissar of the XV Brigade, recalled in his memoirs:

“When Franco, Hitler and Mussolini attacked Spain, the die was cast.  No longer could our campaigns be confined to agitation.  Many in the United States knew we had to move beyond passing resolutions that urged our government to aid Spain.”

In the late fall of 1936, the CPUSA began its own recruiting drive for the International Brigades. The first organized group of volunteers from the United States sailed from New York on the Normandie on Christmas Day, 1936.  There was a high percentage of communists among them (in higher command positions), but the Brigade’s variety of ideologies demonstrated how pervasive anti-fascism had become.  Most of the Americans volunteers were in their early twenties. 

Because of the extension of the Neutrality law to the Spanish war, they traveled as tourists or students on their way to Europe, not declaring their real destination.  Once in France, an underground railroad took them to Spain. 

In the Jarama Valley in February 1937, the Lincoln’s, as they were soon called, underwent their trial of fire . . . Out of 450 that went into battle, 120 were killed and 175 were wounded. The Lincoln’s, who [were] disparagingly referred to as “premature anti-fascists,” paid a very heavy price for their commitment . . . fewer than half of all the Americans who had gone to Spain [survived].” 

(The Communist Party of the United States, Fraser M. Ottanelli, Rutgers University Press, 1991, pp. 175-177)

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