Commie Dies, Times Weeps

Another old Red bites the dust:

Milton Wolff, the last commander of the American volunteers who fought against Franco in the Spanish Civil War and the longtime commander of the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, died Monday in Berkeley, Calif. He was 92.

At first a young Communist rabble-rouser on soapboxes in New York City, Mr. Wolff was wielding a machine gun in Spain by the time he was 21. By 22, he was the ninth commander of what is commonly called the Lincoln Brigade; four of his predecessors had been killed, four wounded; none now survive, the archives confirm…

While Mr. Wolff was in Spain, he became a friend of Ernest Hemingway, who served him his first glass of Scotch; Hemingway was in Spain as a reporter and wrote fiction about the conflict as well. Later, in a pamphlet issued when sculptures of the fighters were unveiled, he called Mr. Wolff “as brave and as good a soldier as any that commanded battalions at Gettysburg.”…

Mr. Wolff never stopped defying authority. He helped lead the fight against United States support of Franco’s government and battled fiercely for civil rights and against the Vietnam War. He even offered the services of the aging veterans of the Lincoln Brigade to the North Vietnamese leader, Ho Chi Minh, who declined them…

Mr. Wolff always said he first met Hemingway after stealing his mistress, something he told Salon in 1999 that Hemingway did not mind. Hemingway minded more when he found out that Mr. Wolff had no idea who he was. For his part, Mr. Wolff resented Hemingway’s description of villagers loyal to the Republic as having murdered fascists in “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”

Mr. Wolff said he was turned down for combat duty in World War II because of concerns about his leftist politics. He later fought successfully against the “subversive” label pinned on the Lincoln veterans for decades. He personally delivered 20 ambulances to the Nicaraguan government when the Reagan administration was supporting rebels against it.

Not subversive perhaps, brave perhaps, but a fool for all that. Stand on the wrong side of the 20th century’s biggest questions and you’ll be assured of a respectful send-off in the Times. 

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