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July 5: Abraham Lincoln Brigade

Lawrence Bush
July 5, 2010
imageMoe Fishman, general secretary of the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (VALB) from 1950 until his death in 2007 at age 92, was severely wounded by a sniper on this date in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War’s Battle of Brunete. Fishman took three years to recover and was left with a lifelong limp. When VALB was sanctioned as a “subversive organization” during the McCarthy period, Fishman and Milton Wolff, another American fighter in Spain, led the organization’s defense, which resulted in the U.S. Attorney General’s entire list of “subversive organizations” being declared unconstitutional in the 1970s. VALB then experienced a renaissance as an activist organization, engaged with the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa and with defense of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, among other causes. Of some 35,000 “premature anti-fascists” (the majority of them active communists) who joined the International Brigades to fight in defense of the Spanish Republic, a quarter or more were Jews. In all, nearly 10,000 brigadistas were killed in action, and nearly 8,000 more were wounded. (For more on the subject, see Dr. Albert Prago’s groundbreaking 1979 Jewish Currents article, “Jews in the International Brigades”.) “He carried the vitality of a young man’s cause into his old age.” — Peter Carroll

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.