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Joseph Hecht


Hecht, Joseph

Hecht, Joseph. b. July 14, 1906, New York; Single; Pharmacist; CP 1932; received passport# 366617 on February 11, 1937 which listed his address as 637 Saratoga Avenue, Brooklyn, New York; Sailed March 10, 1937 aboard the Washington; Attended OTS and graduated in January 1938; Served with the XV BDE, Estado Mayor, Transport, rank Soldado, Returned to the US on December 20, 1938 aboard the Ausonia; WWII US Army, Killed in action.
Sources: Sail, SACB, Cadre, Pay, RA.

Photograph: Joseph Hecht, chauffeur of Commissariat, June 1938. The 15th International Brigade Photographic Unit Photograph Collection; ALBA Photo 11; ALBA Photo number 11-1311. Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives. Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, 70 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012, New York University Libraries.


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Image of Joseph Hecht, Camp Shelby, Mississippi, 1944. Photo by Alvah Bessie, courtesy of Dan Bessie.

Full Database Record

Last Name Hecht
First/Middle Name Joseph
Ethnicity Note
Immigration Status
AKA Last Name 1
AKA First / Middle 1
AKA Last Name 2
AKA First / Middle 2
Foreign Nation
Foreign Nation City
Alt Pob State, City
Family: Name
Family: Relationship
Family: Begin Date
Family: End Date
Family: Comments
Education HS
Education College / Univ 1
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Education College/Univ 2
Graduate or Doctoral Work
Graduate or Doctoral Work Notes
Prior Military Service
Passport #
Passport Series
Passport Reported Lost in Spain
Passport Age
Passport Date
PP or Known Address Street
PP or Known Address City
PP or Known Address State
ALT City
Alt State
Sail Date
Marital Status
Marital Notes
Vocation 1
Vocation 2
Vocation 3
Party Affiliation
Date Affiliation
ALT Affiliation
ALT date
ALT affiliation 2
Arrival (in Spain) Date
Units served with
Battle action
Returned Date
Returned other
WWII Service
Place Died City
KIA/MIA/Died other
KIA/MIA/Died other Date
KIA/MIA/Died other Location
KIA/MIA/Died other Battle
Additional Notes Joe Hecht was amongst the earliest of the American volunteers to take up arms in defence of the Spanish Republic, having arrived in Spain in December 1936. He fought with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade through most of its major engagements, gaining promotion to corporal, sergeant, lieutenant and captain. Eventually, in the wake of the final Ebro retreat and having done what Alva Bessie reported was ‘more than his share of fighting’, Joe Hecht was given the less demanding duty of driving ammunition trucks. Even here he proved inspirational to his front line comrades, and Alva Bessie reported, with grateful remembrance, his dispensing of encouragement, along with comforts such as cigarettes and chocolate, to those he encountered on his ammunition deliveries. Having survived the war in Spain, Joe Hecht returned to the US where he combined a variety of jobs such as factory worker and garage mechanic, with organisational work for the union, for the Workers’ Alliance and for the Communist Party. When the USA entered the Second World War Joe’s politics and his ‘premature anti-fascist’ experience in Spain quickly proved barriers to an appropriate recognition of his acknowledged military talent. After entering the US Army in 1942, Joe’s path to officer training was repeatedly blocked and it was not until 1945 that his requests for transfer to an active theatre of war were granted. It was two and a half years after originally joining, that the Army finally sent him to France as a Technical sergeant in command of a platoon. Joe’s active service in Europe was to be short for he was killed in action on March 18th 1945 in Germany. This brief biography has been constructed by Geoff Lawes from a tribute written by Alvah Bessie and published in the May 29, 1945 edition of New Masses.