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Courage Under Fire

The Spanish Civil War (“One Gave All,” summer 2016) has interested me since my dad, born in 1920, mentioned that he saw a recruiting poster for the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in Cleveland about the time Joe Selligman ’37 volunteered. My dad never joined.

No war makes sense, but some still say the Spanish Civil War was the last-ever fight between well-defined good and evil. In his memoir Men in Battle, Lincoln brigadier Alvah Bessie says that those Americans who fought in this conflict were later ostracized and persecuted as subversives and Communists after World War II. The Soviets were the only ones willing to support the duly elected Spanish Republic. The Nazis and Mussolini’s fascists openly supplied the right-wing military uprising under Francisco Franco. Despite brigade volunteers from all over the world, established democratic governments refused to act.

While I don’t support militarism of any kind, the fact that a Swarthmorean felt strongly enough about the darkening cloud of fascism to give his life impressed me. Thank you for printing his story, well-researched and written by Adam Hochschild.

—ROGER KARNY ’76, Denver, Colo.