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Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives - vol 197512 (Page 7)

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Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives - vol 197512
A shout of triumph


Like millions of people around the
World, my fellow-soldiers at a U.S.
Army Base were overjoyed to hear
that Hitler's forces had finally been
crushed. Yet whenever I think back
to the happy day we Americans
called V-E Day, I remember most of
all the terrible sadness that over-
whelmed me on account of my friend
Before the war Harry and I were
the closest of friends. Indeed,
although Harry was white and I am
Negro, it could be said that we were
brothers. Our kinship was based
upon a common outlook that inspired
us to become militant anti-fascists
and take part in struggles that
eventually landed us in neighboring
prison cells.
Conservative elements in our
country would later refer to Amer-
icans like us as "premature anti-
fascists." Several years before the
United States got into the war against
the Axis Powers, Harry
"prematurely" took up arms against
the fascist enemy. He went to Spain
as a volunteer soldier in the Abraham
Lincoln Brigade, half of whose men
gave their lives in the desperate
struggle to make Madrid the tomb of
By some miracle Harry survived,
though his thin body had been
stitched across by machine-gun
bullets. When he came home and I
saw the row of scars on his narrow
chest and back where the bullets had
entered and left. I kidded him by
saying: "Harry, no wonder you were
not killed - you're so skinny there
was nothing to get hit!" His answer-
ing smile was more like a crooked
grimace, because one of the bullets
had in fact hit something solid. It had
smashed his lower jaw.
Then when our country entered the
war and Harry was found to be
physically unfit for army service, he
promptly joined the merchant
marine. Since he knew that the main
blows against the German fascists
were being delivered by the armed
forces of the Soviet Union, Harry
volunteered to serve with an
American convoy carrying war
supplies to Murmansk. His ship was
torpedoed and this time there was no
miracle. Harry's frail body could not
withstand the cruel wind and sea, and
he died on the life raft on which his
shipmates survived. . .
We were celebrating late into the
night of V-E Day when suddenly,
louder than the singing and shouting
that filled our barracks, a scream of
sorrow seemed to burst within me
and I ran out into the darkness. You
did not live to see it end I ran
stumbling across the fields in the
stillness of the far reaching airfield.
On the shore of that concrete lake I
sat down and cried and cried.
As I thought of my lost young
friend and tried to bring him back to
life in memory, there flashed the
image of his crooked smile. Now I
had to smile myself at how he would
have poked fun at me for my
unmanly behavior. Then I sprang to
my feet and shouted aloud: "Harry -
your side has won!" And I continued
to yell out the joyous news until I
could shout no more, that our side
had won and that Harry and all the
others who died in the fight against
fascism must be counted among the
victors on this day of triumph.
Then, feeling good all over, I ran
back to join my fellow-soldiers as
they celebrated the end of the war.
(Editorial Note: Lloyd Brown is an
old friend of VALB. He is presently
writing the comprehensive biography
of Paul Robeson. The "Harry" of
whom he writes was Harry Steinberg
of Pittsburgh. The above is part of
Lloyd's article as it appeared in the
Soviet magazine, "Literary Gazette"
in its recent issue devoted to the 30th
anniversary of the defeat of Nazi

NEW YORK - Recent weeks have
seen an upsurge in the activities of
the VALB Speakers according to its
chairman, Larry Cane. VALB
speakers are appearing before
audiences in trade unions, colleges
and neighbor-hoods. Very often the
film "Dreams and Nightmares" is
shown as part of the program. This
illustrates the widening interest in
Spain reawakened by current events
and the great pool of latent support
for Spanish democracy.
To date our speakers have appeared
before such audiences as a teach-in
on Spain at the State University of
New York at Albany, the N.Y. Public
Library O'Donnell Center, The Fur
and Leather Workers, District 65 of
the Retail Workers, Montclair State
College, etc. Audiences have ranged
from 75 to 150 and were most
responsive. Speakers for VALB
included Maury Colow, Hy Wallach,
Lenny Lamb, Morris Brier and Tom
In prospect are December meet-
ings, including showings of the film,
at a number of colleges such as
Hamilton, Washington, Swarthmore,
Queens and Syracuse University.
Also scheduled are speakers before
the Manhattan Chapter of the
National Lawyers Guild, Bergen
County (N.J.) Committee for Latin
American Studies and Local 1199,
Drug and Hospital Workers.
Note: Speakers can be obtained by
request to VALB Speakers Bureau,
Rm. 239, 799 Broadway, New York,
N.Y. 10003.

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