Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, ALBA Digital Library

Founded in 1979 by the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (VALB), the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA) is a non profit national organization devoted to the preservation and dissemination of the history of the North American role in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and its aftermath. The Digital Library provides access to 150 letters, postcards, and telegrams in ALBA's collection.

Learn More About the Collection


On the Heights of Aragon in Spain
Paul describes the heroic actions of those who have received medals of honor.
Our Fight / Notre Combat / Nuestra Combate
The newspaper of the 15th International Brigade. Articles in English, French, and Spanish. Harold Malofsky includes a note at the top which says that he wrote the obituary for Ernest Arion, who died on July 9, 1937. Also included is an article about Steve Nelson.
Paul Sigel to Leo
Paul tells Leo about Isaac Katz, a good union worker and International Brigade hero. He thinks that Leo should get the union to send Katz things to let him know he is appreciated. The union can use Katz as a good example of what is happening in Spain. Paul discusses his training and expects to be back in action before too long.
Paul Sigel to Miriam 'Mim' Sigel
Paul complains about not getting any mail. He gives Mim news about their friends who are fighting in Spain.
Paul Sigel to Miriam 'Mim' Sigel
Paul delivers the news of Harry Malofsky's death. He writes about Harry's work ethic, as well as the songs he wrote that will be heard throughout the world as the sound of the International Brigade. There is a censor mark over the details of Harry's death, as well as Harry's name.
Paul Sigel to Miriam 'Mim' Sigel
Paul tells Mim about the fun he had with the Finns on his voyage to Europe.
Paul Sigel to Miriam 'Mim' Sigel
Paul tells Mim that she is right in guessing that he has finally found work that he enjoys. He describes the internal struggle that has raged all through college, his being torn between two jobs. Paul is glad that he has the opportunity to prove to himself (and others) his real capabilities. Paul describes the children who, even at a young age, understand the important roles they and their families play. Young and old ride the Popular Front Trucks to the fields everyday so that the people and soldiers of Spain can eat. Paul notices that the young girls sing Spanish versions of American songs like London Bridge and Oh My Darling Clementine.
Paul Sigel to Miriam 'Mim' Sigel
Paul has finally received mail from his family and it has given him the mental push he need to go on. He discusses Art Wilt, a fallen comrade, and hopes Art's mother will take solace in the fact that her son died for a better world. Paul discusses his training and how he has lost weight since arriving in Spain.
Paul Sigel to Miriam 'Mim' Sigel and friends
Paul writes that he has just had "personal regards" from George Watt, courtesy of "the gang." He discusses his training and how he is ready for the front. Paul is sending a batch of Socorro Rojo Internacional books home to his family and he explains all the work the SRI does for the International Brigades and refugees.
Paul Sigel to Miriam 'Mim' Sigel and gang
Paul writes about the disunity of the fascists, which is partly due to the propaganda being spread by Republican forces. He says that fighting amongst the fascists has been seen by some of the brigaders. Paul is glad that the brigaders are now working side by side with their Spanish comrades, giving them a chance to practice their Spanish and get a feel for the culture of the people. He recounts the story of two soldiers, one American and one German, who found themselves sharing a shell hole at the end of World War I and who have met once again in the trenches of Spain, this time, fighting for the same side.
Paul Sigel to Miriam 'Mim' Sigel, Mus, and Bert
Paul encloses a copy of The Volunteer for Liberty (not included) so that they can use the articles for their work in New York. Paul is feeling well and I enjoying the outdoor life. He writes that the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion has been on the move and he hasn't had much time to write.
Paul Sigel to Miriam Sigel
Paul writes to his sister that he has seen their friend Bernie Abraham and everyone at the front is doing well. Paul describes his last night in Paris and being moved by the beauty of the exposition, the lights, and the Seine.
Paul Sigel to Mus
Paul describes an air fight between the Fascists and the Republicans. He replies to Mus' questions about mail procedures, and answers everyone's letter in numbered points.
Paul Sigel to Mus
Paul is now in Paris after sailing across the English Channel into Oostend, Belgium. He writes this note on stationary from the Hotel Montana (still in existence). He describes the beautiful town of Oostend and plans to visit the Parisian Exposition (see Sigel40). Paul mentions his having gotten a job in Pittsburgh and lying about graduating from NYU. It appears he has to pass thermodynamics.
Paul Sigel to Mus
Paul writes a quick note to say that he will be in Oostende, Belgium, the next day. He writes that even on the immense ocean, he felt very compressed, especially without a newspaper.
Paul Sigel to Mus
Paul describes the International Brigade's offensive maneuvers to force the fascists out of Madrid. Paul discusses some of the men he has met while in Spain. He is busy doing telephone work with the signal corps, as well as continuing his military training. Paul mentions that on Sundays, the troops head into town to help the local popular front groups and farmers in the fields. He describes a big party for the children in town, where the troops finally had good cigarettes and American chocolate. Paul has realized that he took for granted the daily newspapers at home, and relishes any two-week old Daily Worker he can get his hands on. He expects to be at the front soon.
Paul Sigel to Mus
Paul sends Mus several books from the Socorro Rojo Internacional (SRI, or Red Aid International) and hopes she can fill one out and pass the others along.
Paul Sigel to Mus
Paul writes that he has been placed in the signal corps because of his background in engineering. He is glad that he is useful and gives him the morale boost he was looking for. His battalion has just been named: the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion, consisting mainly of Canadians. Both Mackenzie and Papineau are fathers of Canadian democracy. Paul thinks that having a battalion named after two Canadian statesmen will help Spain's campaigns in Canada. Now that Paul has had some time in the International Brigade he can make first-hand comparisons of the IB army versus bourgeois armies. He is also surprised by the competition between workers in socialist countries, even compared to capitalist countries. He encloses a picture he took with some friends in Valencia (not included).
Paul Sigel to Mus
Paul writes that it has been one year since the fascists invaded Spain. He also mentions that some brigaders have just come from Palestine, expelled because they were communists. They say that Palestine is in the worst economic crisis of its history and will most likely collapse within the year. Paul writes that the treatment of Arabs in Palestine is worse than the treatment of Jews by Hitler. The Arabs are very strong supporters of the Communist Party, whereas the Jews are not on account of the suppression of Communists by the British forces.
Paul Sigel to Mus
Paul writes from aboard the "Lancastria" ocean liner. He describes his table's server, an Englishman with a thick cockney accent. Paul finds it hard to concentrate on his world politics books with so many young people on the ship. He plans to disembark the following day in Plymouth, then on to Belgium and France.
Paul Sigel to Mus
Paul describes the torrential rain but is glad that his unit is in a house, very dry and comfortable. He explains his work in the signal corps to Mus, describing the telephone work and communications he is responsible for. Paul says he and the others have gotten radio reception and will listen to some music, or perhaps the World Series.
Paul Sigel to Mus
Paul discusses the beautiful Spanish nights, which make up for the scorching hot days. He hopes Mus will write to him, as Paul has not received a letter in the five weeks he has been in Spain.
Paul Sigel to Mus
Paul has arrived in Spain and it reminds him of New York State, but there is an abundance of orange trees. Since he has just arrived he is not sure which branch of the International Brigade he will be in, but he is sure he will fit in. Paul includes his address to the Socorro Rojo Internacional (SRI) in Albacete so Mus will write to him.
Paul Sigel to Mus
Paul writes that the Spanish have joined the Americans and his Spanish language skills are improving. He is impressed that the youth have already started building "new Spain." Paul encloses (not included) pins that he picked up at a store in the square. He writes that the popular pins have busts of Stalin, Lenin, and the Spanish leaders.
Paul Sigel to Mus
Paul describes a two-day train trip with the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion. He affirms his decision to come to Spain and is truly enjoying himself. Asks Mus to send chewing gum, cigarettes, pen fillers, etc. He also warns her to be wary of death reports.
Paul Sigel to Mus
Paul thanks Mus for her long letter and is sorry to have missed Mother Bloom's birthday. Mother Bloom was a popular communist figure in the 1930's. Paul asks Mus to keep sending magazines (with chewing gum and show laces tucked in). He mentions having heard of Miriam Sigel's success at Camp Unity, a progressive camp in Upstate New York. Paul describes his days and the work he and the others perform. He also describes the various cafes in town, each run by a different political group: the Republican left, the Anarchists, and the Communists. Paul says the Communist cafe is the most popular, but the Anarchists have a radio.
Paul Sigel to his family
Letter is addressed "Salud folks." He recounts the story of Harry Malofsky being wounded at Jarama and continuing to fight for another 24 hours. Paul says that the experience has made Harry more mature. Mentions that some friends from home are also in Spain. Writes that he is now corporal of the guard.
Paul Sigel to his family
Paul tells his family how happy receiving mail makes him. He says that the men who receive newspapers or magazines are very popular on mail day, but not as popular as those who receive candy or cigarettes. Paul describes an impromptu barbecue and singing session. He mentions that a friend was grazed by shrapnel. He encloses a Volunteer for Liberty (not included).
Paul Sigel to his parents
Paul speaks to Bert in this letter which is mainly about the Young Communist League training school and the need for competent leaders. Paul discusses Marxism and the ideal Communist. Asks the family to send him papers, candy, cigarettes, and most importantly, letters.
Postcard of General Miaja
Harry writes that Miaja is the "man of the hour" and wonders if this is what he will look like when he is a general.
Postcard of Los Nacionales to Julius Blickstein
Harry tells Julius that he will get a crack at the fascists soon enough. Sends his regards to friends.
Postcard of Saint-Jacques Church
Ernie writes to Mim that he is disappointed by Paris, which is a direct result of his dire financial situation.
Postcard of stormy skies over the Place de la Concorde
Ernie has just arrived in Paris and has a slight case of sea legs. Plans to see Paris.
Postcard of the Arc de Triomphe to Julius Blickstein
Harry tells Julius that he had to leave New York in a hurry and is now in Paris. He promises to write once he has reached his destination.
Postcard of the Church of St. Vincent de Paul in Marseille
Harry tells Mim he spent two "dandy" days in "Paree" and says that Marseilles is as strange as the tree in the postcard.
Postcard of the S.S. Ile de France
Harry sends Mim a postcard and includes a limerick about his voyage to France.
Postcard of the Socorro Rojo Internacional
Herman explains that he has enclosed cards and a booklet about the Socorro Rojo Internacional (SRI), Red Aid, which helps both soldiers and civilians. The SRI was an international Soviet war relief organization that covertly gave help to Republican Spain.
Postcard to Mr. and Mrs. Julius Blickstein
Transcription 1937, 17, June Dear friends, Only two words to let you know that I am in very good health and ready to give the enemy a blow that he will not be able to endure. We are now only two miles away from the front and will be more when the cannons fire and [illegible] guns shoot. We wait, gun in the hands, before being called to the fight. Give my greetings to the children and to Desteny and Turewsky. Say to D. Shulius and to Raz to write more. Salud, Harry
Resolution of the Independent Auctioneers Association
A Resolution of the Independent Auctioneers Association, of which Mr. Benjamin Greenfield was a member, expressing their deepest sorry and sympathies on the death of Herman Greenfield.
Soldado de Franco! (Soldier of Franco!)
A plea to the soldiers of Franco. A description of how the Loyalists treat enemy soldiers and prisoners of war with care. They prisoners are given the choice to join the Republican ranks; if they choose not to, they are sent to a city to work and live a tranquil life.
Soldado de la Espana Rebelde (Soldier of Rebel Spain)
Sent to Miriam Sigel by Harry Malofsky. This is a plea from the Loyalists to those Spaniards who have decided to fight with Franco. It asks why they have made themselves cannon fodder to the fascists who put them in trenches and separate them from their families. They are implored to come over to the Loyalists' side.
Soldados del Ejercito Rebelde! (Soldiers of the Rebel Army!)
Asks the rebel soldier why he is fighting? To help the landowner starve the farmer, to help the capitalist kill those with tuberculosis and cloth their children with the dead's clothes? The Loyalists will succeed; they want the best for Spain's future.
Song of the I.B.
Harry Malofsky's "Song of the International Brigade" which includes two verses.
Syd Levine to Marjorie Polon
Syd mentions having received another pair of letters from Marjorie. He says that the leaf she enclosed (not included) caused several arguments over which kind of tobacco is was. Syd says that when he got to the part of her letter that explained the leaf, the arguments were settled. He discusses the recent air raids. Syd writes that he is trying to write this letter and take part in a conversation about the Soviet Union's Red Army.
Syd Levine to Marjorie Polon
Syd has just received two of Marjorie's letters and this is his first response to her. He tries to answer her questions about his age, where he went to school, and why he went to Spain. He extols the virtues of American chocolate and cigarettes. He says that Spain and its people are lovely and imagines that when the Fascists are defeated it will be even more lovely. He sends May Day greetings.
Sylvia Matthews to Mrs. Greenfield
Sympathy card from Sylvia Matthews to Mrs. Greenfield on the occasion of Herman Greenfield's death.
Vincent Sheean to Ellis Lardner
Sheean writes to Jim's mother that he has been wounded during the Ebro Offensive. He was hit by shrapnel in his thigh and lower back. Sheean assures Mrs. Lardner that Jim's hospital stay is keeping him away from the front lines where the fighting has been "pretty terrific." Sheean says that Jim's doctors at Villafranca are most likely American or British and is getting the best care available. Sheean and other war correspondents will be checking up on Jim during his convalescence. He wonders if Jim's wounds will result in his being discharged.
Vincent Sheean to Ellis Lardner
Sheean tells Mrs. Lardner that Jim is safe and describes the Spanish countryside. Sheean adds that the fascists are in the south of Spain, far away from Jim. He mentions that he will pass along the $10 she has sent for Jim. Includes the cablegram Diana Sheean sent along the same day.
Vincent Sheean to Ellis Lardner
Sheean writes to Mrs. Lardner that he has seen Jim and that he is well. He tells her that there is a good chance Jim will not see any action as the fascists have been pushed in the opposite direction of Jim's location. He thinks that if the proposal to withdraw volunteers goes through, Jim should be out of danger in a few months.
Vincent Sheean to John H. Wheeler
Copy of letter. Sheean discusses going through Jim's things after his death, destroying his papers, but keeping passport photos for himself, Walter Kerr, and Mrs. Lardner, for when she is ready. He has also doled about Jim's clothing and food to Abraham Lincoln Battalion volunteers. He mentions the idea of starting an memorial fund in Jim's name for wounded vets and hopes Wheeler can discuss this with Mrs. Lardner. Sheean mentions that a chapter in his next book will be based on Jim. This book is most likely Sheean's 1939 'Not Peace but a Sword' (New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company).


Islandora Bookmark