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Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives - vol 1939 12 (Page 3)

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Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives - vol 1939 12
* P R O B L E M S F A C I N G O U R C O N V E N T I O N *
ready beginnings have been made in New
York to set up such an organization from
among the relatives of the men who fought
in Spain.
The Friends of the Abraham. Lincoln
Brigade have helped rehabilitate the 1500
men who returned. Theirs was no easy task
and we are grateful to them. They were the
expression of the wide support and
enthusiasm which developed when the
first Americans went to Spain. This
support and enthusiasm still exists today,
but the task of harnessing it is much more
difficult. The rehabilitation problem has
not been solved completely. It still exists
largely in the City of New York, where
some 25 men depend for their maintenance
on our organization - these men are totally
or partially disabled. A minimum of $250
per week will be necessary to take care of
their needs and other occasional
We in New York have the impression
that nowhere in the rest of the country is
the rehabilitation problem very serious.
But on this point we're in great need of
specific information.
Neither do we have definite reports on
the unemployment situation among the
Veterans throughout the country. We
assume that the percentage of
unemployment is the same as in the City
of New York - about 50%. Our most
successful method in finding jobs for the
men has been thru the trade unions. Our
campaign, however, was not organized so
as to bring the maximum result. Too few
unions are aware of our unemployment
situation and too many are not ready to
cooperate. We recognize, of course, that
they have their own unemployed and that
these are their first responsibility.
Nevertheless, an energetic, consistent and
vigorous campaign in the trade unions will
doubtless bring results. Our experiences in
places where such a campaign was carried
out prove this.
The cooperative enterprises, which have
been built up in New York, Cleveland,
Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Detroit,
offer great possibilities for employment.
There can be at our convention a most
helpful interchange of experiences from
which all the Posts can profit. The Posts
should officially recog-
nize and assist these projects when they
are genuinely cooperative and offer
possibilities of expansion and further
employment care must be taken to prevent
exploiting the name and reputation of the
Vets for the exclusive benefit of one or
two individuals.
We find that former methods of raising
funds along general lines are no longer
productive. Only on the basis of a specific
emergency has it recently been possible to
take care of our financial needs. When our
appeal went out to help the men on Ellis
Island to go to Chile, people responded
generously. It must be said, however, that
New York City has been bearing the brunt
of all these campaigns for the past year.
This further proves our previous
contention that organization outside of
New York City is very much needed.
The establishing of local auxiliaries will
greatly assist these campaigns. They,
together with the vets, will be able to
utilize on a new basis the remnants of the
Friends' apparatus and contacts.
Though the Spanish-war ended some 10
months ago, there are still today 7
Americans in the prison camps in fascist
Spain. These men are kept under the
pretext that they committed crimes against
the Franco regime. Many of them have
been sentenced to prison terms up to 30
years. The State Department has beep
promising to effect their release. But they
are still wasting their years behind bars.
Too few people in this country are aware
that 7 American citizens are held captive
by a totalitarian regime, long after the
cause for their incarceration disappeared.
We must plan a campaign far assistance,
not only for these Americans, but also fog
the hundreds of other International
Brigaders still held in Fascist Spain.
The undemocratic nature of the present
tear and the fascist character of Daladier
and the French government are best
illustrated by the continued retention of
4000 International Brigaders in French
concentration camps sad the attempts of
the French government to force the
Spanish refugees in the same camps to
return to Spain, where
they face the firing squad. Daladier
committed a crime against the Spanish
people by refusing the open the frontier to
allow shipments of munitions to
Republican Spain and is now committing a
more hideous crime by actually signing the
death warrant for 250,000 Spanish men,
women and children. Who in this country
is closer and more concerned with the
plight of these people than the men who
fought for their freedom end lived amongst
them for more than 2 years? We can speak
with authority on the subject of the
refugees and with bitterness too. The lives
of these people must be saved.
We are obviously unable to undertake an
independent campaign in behalf of these
refugees, but we owe our wholehearted
support to the Spanish Refugee Relief
Campaign Committee.
Our organizational problems, will be
solved only if our convention will adopt a
clear and concise program. To arrive at
such a program, we must think back to the
days, when each man made his decision to
leave this country to go to Spain. The same
ideals and principles that prompted the
men to go to Spain and for which they
were ready to give their lives should
constitute the basis of such a program.
Concretely it means that in the light of the
present situation, our organization must
continue to agitate against America's
participation in this war and against aid to
either side. The defense of civil liberties
and the democratic rights of the people
must become an integral part of our
Because of our history and our
experiences we are today called by events
to assume a great responsibility. In these
days when some of the friends who have
supported us are weakening in the face of
shifting lineups, when some are confused,
some frightened, others deserting to further
their own ends, we must stand firmer than
ever and speak out boldly.
Some of these people have turned from "their
public" to speck now to and for other groups.
We know now that they were fundamentally
always dishonest. Now they openly aid our
enemies, the enemies of the people and their
democracy. The Veterans of the Lincoln
Brigade must reassume their traditional position
in the front lines as shock troops in the fight
against Dies, Coughlin, the American
Chamberlains, Daladiers and all enemies of our
country and its people.

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