Last year I posted about my grandmother – the last surviving female veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. The youngest of them have already reached their 90s and there aren’t many of them left. Their last commander in Spain died today at 95 years.
Wolff was active until the day he died. He MCed the annual reunion events for years until his hearing disability made it too difficult. He wrote many books, fiction and non-fiction, the best known being Another Hill, the title being based on the experience of crossing into Spain from France (they had to sneak into Spain illegally) which seemed endless as he and others like Bill Baily have described “we went over a hill, then another one, then another one, on and on until somebody with a map said we’d crossed the border. Everyone cheered and then we went over yet another fucking hill, and another…”
Milton was the third and last commander after Robert Merriman, who was removed from command after the Battle of Jarama (despite the songs about it, it went really badly for the Americans, most of whom were inexperienced as soldiers – Merriman himself was very badly wounded). He was replaced by Oliver Law, who was the first black American to command over white soldiers in Battle. Law was killed in the Battle of Brunete and Wolf became commander for the duration. He led the brigades at the Battle of Ebro, their last major fight.
He also fought in World War II with the British Special Operations Executive and helped to funnel weapons to the French Underground and other continental resistance groups. When the U.S. entered the war he volunteered and and fought in Burma before he was moved to the O.S.S. to coordinate military action with the Italian Underground.
Later he was hauled up before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee to testify about the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and explain his “premature antifascism.” He replied: “I am Jewish, and knowing that as a Jew we are the first to suffer when fascism does come, I went to Spain to fight against it.”
Later he was very active in the anti-Apartheid movement and helped raise money for ambulances during the U.S. sponsored Contra war against the Sandinistas. He has been active in the efforts to establish an Abraham Lincoln Brigade memorial which is going to be placed in the Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco, which will be unveiled this March. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it.
He was also an uncle of Leggett Valley resident and long time KMUD contributor Mark Drake.
He’s the one with the beard in the photograph above, presumably during a reunion trip to Spain. I have no idea who the other people are as I can’t read the Spanish. If anybody can translate any of the article, I’d be grateful. The photo of Milt in Spain is from his homepage linked above. As always, the photos enlarge when you click on them.