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The Last Casualty

Lawrence Bush
October 5, 2017

The last fallen member of the International Brigades in Spain, Haskel Honigstern, was given a state funeral in Barcelona on this date in 1938. The first casualty among these international volunteers who defended the government of Spain against Franco’s fascist uprising was also Jewish, Leon Baum, from Paris, killed in 1936. Jews comprised a quarter or more of the International Brigades, including 45 percent of the Polish brigade and more than a third of America’s Abraham Lincoln Brigade. (See Al Prago’s groundbreaking 1979 article in Jewish Currents at our Sid Resnick Historical Archive).

“For your freedom and ours” —Flag motto, in Yiddish, Polish and Spanish, of the Botwin Brigade, an all-Jewish contingent of the International Brigades

​​​​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.