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Abe Smorodin


Smorodin, Abraham

Smorodin, Abe. b. September 12, 1916, Jewish, Attended Boy’s High school in Brooklyn, New York, Single, Light metal worker and Clerk; CP 1935, YCL 1933, and Spanish CP, Sailed 1937 aboard the Statendam, Arrived in Spain on June 18, 1937; Served with the XV BDE, Mackenzie-Papineau BN, Runner, rank Sargento; Returned to the US on December 20, 1938 aboard the Ausonia, WWII Armed Forces, d. April 7, 2008, NYC. 

Sources: Cadre, Pay, (obituary) Fraser Ottanelli, “Abe Smorodin, 1916-2008,” The Volunteer, Volume 25, No. 2, June 2008, p. 23.

Photograph: Abraham Smorodin, Mackenzie-Papineau, August 1938. The 15th International Brigade Photographic Unit Photograph Collection; ALBA Photo 11; ALBA Photo number 11-0232. Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives. Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, 70 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012, New York University Libraries



Abe Smorodin, the last national officer of the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, died in San Francisco on April 7. Abe was among the 10 veterans who took part in the ceremony for the unveiling of the national monument to the Lincoln Brigade in the City on the Bay on March 30.

Born in 1916, Abe was a graduate of Boy’s High School in Brooklyn. He joined the Young Communist League club in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn and, along with several of his school friends, sailed for Spain in 1937. He went into action for the first time at Fuentes de Ebro with the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion and fought in every subsequent battle until the International Brigades were withdrawn from the front during the fall of 1938.

In Spain, Abe’s courage and reliability were legendary. Edwin Rolfe recounted that every time Abe’s name would be put forth for a citation for conspicuous bravery, his commanders would laugh it off: “Smorodin? ….I knew [he would] be good before we went into this. Let’s give the citation to some of the men who came through, men we thought would fold up.”

After returning to New York in December 1938, Abe married Rose Mendolowitz (sister of volunteers Leo and Joe Gordon) and took over the family’s candy store and luncheonette.

Abe’s decision to join the antifascist struggle in Spain informed the rest of his life. As he once told a reporter for the New York Times, “I am as proud of what the vets did in the half-century since Spain as of what we did in Spain.…There has been a continuity in our lives.” One of Abe’s most prized possessions was the Spanish Communist Party card he received in 1938, and he always carried in his wallet a snapshot of Bob Thompson, his commander in Spain.

In the best tradition of a true “working class intellectual,” Abe was a voracious reader, with an encyclopedic knowledge of literature, non-fiction, music, and baseball. In recent years he served on the editorial board of the Volunteer, spoke to an assortment of community and school groups about the Spanish Civil War, and was active in the leadership of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives.

The last veteran to serve on the ALBA board, Abe always displayed a wonderful combination of common sense and grace, with a wry sense of humor: in the middle of a long discussion on the organization’s finances, he smiled and quipped, “I didn’t go to Spain to build an endowment.” ~ Fraser Ottanelli

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Full Database Record

Last Name Smorodin
First/Middle Name Abe
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Education HS
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