January 18, 2008


Milton Wolff, 92, Dies; Anti-Franco Leader (DOUGLAS MARTIN, 1/17/08, NY Times)

Milton Wolff, the last commander of the American volunteers who fought against Franco in the Spanish Civil War and the longtime commander of the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, died Monday in Berkeley, Calif. He was 92. [...]

At first a young Communist rabble-rouser on soapboxes in New York City, Mr. Wolff was wielding a machine gun in Spain by the time he was 21. By 22, he was the ninth commander of what is commonly called the Lincoln Brigade; four of his predecessors had been killed, four wounded; none now survive, the archives confirm.

Mr. Wolff found himself holding together the remnants of North American volunteers on a counteroffensive that moved across the Ebro River to the violent Hill 666 in the Sierra Pandols. It was a last gasp by foreign troops supporting the elected leftist government of Spain against the revolt led by Gen. Francisco Franco. The Americans soon left Spain; Madrid fell in March 1939, and the war was over.

While Mr. Wolff was in Spain, he became a friend of Ernest Hemingway, who served him his first glass of Scotch; Hemingway was in Spain as a reporter and wrote fiction about the conflict as well. Later, in a pamphlet issued when sculptures of the fighters were unveiled, he called Mr. Wolff “as brave and as good a soldier as any that commanded battalions at Gettysburg.”

After the exhausted volunteers arrived in New York aboard the ocean liner Paris on Dec. 15, 1938, it was Mr. Wolff who laid a wreath outside the railing of Madison Square Park, kept out of the park for want of a permit.

Mr. Wolff never stopped defying authority. He helped lead the fight against United States support of Franco’s government and battled fiercely for civil rights and against the Vietnam War. He even offered the services of the aging veterans of the Lincoln Brigade to the North Vietnamese leader, Ho Chi Minh, who declined them.

Imagine reading the Black Book of Communism and realizing you'd cheered on nearly every death therein?

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 18, 2008 7:31 AM

Ah, one more good Communist.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 18, 2008 11:56 AM