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Benjamin Gardner

Biography

Gardner, Ben. (Pobersky, Benjamin; Ludwig, Benjamin), b. September 10, 1907, Ukraine, Russia, to the US in 1923; Russian American, Jewish, Prior service US Army, National Guard, 125th Field Artillery, 1928-29, Married, Painter; YCL 1926-1930, CP 1928 section organizer and Spanish CP, Domicile 603 Pine Street, Phliadelphia, Pennsylvania; Arrived in Spain on July 7, 1937, Served in XV BDE, Lincoln-Washington BN, Served at Quinto, Belchite,  Transferred to American personnel section at Albacete, Joined Lincoln-Washington BN in front of Quinto, joined Co. 3 under fire along with another soldier.

 Sources: Cadre, RA, ALBA 141 Benjamin Gardner Papers.

 

Biography

Benjamin Gardner was born in Uman, a small town outside of Odessa in the Ukraine, on September 10, 1907. Gardner's father immigrated to Duluth, Minnesota and once he established himself, sent for his wife and three sons in 1917. Sometime after their arrival, the family dropped the patronymic Poberesky, and assumed the name Gardner. The youngest of the three boys, Benjamin came of age and received his primary and secondary education in Duluth. An avid student, he reluctantly abandoned high school at age 17 and, at his father's instance, sought employment. For the next four years, he found steady work as an automobile painter. The end of his formal schooling marked the beginning of his political education. Under his brother's guidance he became a regular attendant at Young Communist League meetings and, in 1930, joined the Communist Party.

Throughout the early 30s, Gardner was a dedicated Party organizer, participating in strikes, and demonstrating on behalf of Ernst Thaelmann and the Scottboro Boys. In 1931, to call attention to the plight of unemployed and destitute laborers and farmers in Minnesota, he organized a march on the Duluth capitol for relief and assistance. In the same year, he traveled East to organize textile workers in Passaic, New Jersey. It was here he met Alice Ruth Hodes, and soon after, wed. In 1933 his work with the Party took him to Pennsylvania, where he organized unemployed anthracite miners, leading rallies and strikes. During these years, his activities resulted in numerous arrests, indictments, and brief imprisonments. His involvement in 1934 in an American League against War and Fascism protest at the German Consulate in Philadelphia led to a conviction that brought with it a stiff one-year sentence at Holmesburg Prison. This incarceration did nothing to deter his activism and, following his release, he resumed work with the Unemployed Councils, assisting tenants to resist eviction.

On June 19,1937 Gardner embarked from New York aboard the S.S. Berengaria and traveled to Spain, under the name Poberesky, to join the International Brigades to fight the rising tide of Fascism. During his service in Spain, he fought in the battles of Quinto and Belchite, attaining the rank of sergeant, before being transferred from the front to work in an administrative capacity with the Commissariat. Following the withdrawal of the International Brigades from Spain, Gardner awaited repatriation in Paris, returning to New York in March 1939 on the S.S. Roosevelt. Back in New York, he became the executive director of the Friends of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and worked with the North American Committee to Aid Spanish Democracy, raising funds for Spanish refugees.

By 1941 Gardner was working for R.C.A. and active in the United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers of American. He was drafted into the United States Army in September 1943, leaving Alice to care for their then nine-month-old son Steven. He was stationed at Camp Van Dorn, Mississippi for six months before shipping out to Europe in the spring of 1944. Gardner was wounded in action at Luneville, France on October 2, 1944 and was taken to a hospital in Nancy.

On October 3, 1944 he died of his wounds and later was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart. Following the war, Gardner's remains were disinterred from the cemetery in Nancy and shipped back to the United States for burial in a veterans' cemetery in Farmingdale, Long Island.

- Biography courtesy of Tamiment Library,  NYU. 

 

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Last Name Gardner
First/Middle Name Benjamin
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POW
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Additional Notes To US in 1923. Member Spanish CP.; Served a one year jail sentence for disorderly conduct prior to Spain.; (not likely only close match) BENJAMIN GARDNER 12 Sep 1907 21 Mar 1993 33009 (Hallandale, Broward, FL) Indiana ______