The Abraham Lincoln Brigade was a group of volunteers from the United States who served in the Spanish Civil War. Seeking to block the spread of Fascism, which had already engulfed Italy, Germany and other countries, they fought for the Spanish Republicans and against the Spanish Nationalists, and became known as courageous and highly-motivated soldiers. The Brigade was named for Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, in line with the general practice of contingents from different countries being each named for a national hero from their country's history whose name was associated with a liberation struggle (in Lincoln's case, the emancipation of the Black Slaves during the American Civil War).
Following the Republican defeat in the Battle of the Ebro in late 1938, the Spanish Republic's situation became hopeless - all the more so since the appeasement dominating British and French policy, manifested in the Munich Conference and the abandonment of Czechoslovakia, clearly ruled out any possibility of their aiding Republican Spain. The Lincoln Brigade, like the other international volunteers, was evacuated from Spain - where a few months later the Spanish Nationalists, aided by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, gained their final victory and extinguished the Republic, imposing a harsh dictatorship under Francisco Franco which would last until 1975. Lincoln Brigade veterans were involved in the Second World War and in various left-wing struggles in later decades.
Lincoln Brigade in The War That Came Early Edit
Leaders of the Brigade hoped that the Allies might take a more direct hand in the Spanish Civil War as a consequence of the wider war. Initially, the Republicans received a supply of munitions from France enabling the Republic to maintain the Ebro line, retake Vinaroz, and gain a new lease of life. However, as the broader European war continued, aid to both sides dried up, and the war became stalemated. Moreover, the Lincoln Brigade volunteers felt increasingly frustrated at finding themselves in a forgotten backwater, with the world's attention riveted to the struggle of French, British and exile Czechoslovak troops blocking the German offensive at the northern approaches of Paris. The Brigade's soldiers were also disheartened by the severe wounding of their admired commander Milton Wolff - nicknamed "El Lobo" ("The Wolf" in Spanish); Chaim Weinberg was involved in saving Wolff's life and getting him to urgent medical treatment.
In mid-1939, the Lincoln Brigade was moved from the deadlocked Ebro Front to Madrid, with the aim of pushing away the Nationalist forces which had posed a threat to the Spanish capital since 1936. In the following years, they had a leading role in the Republican's limited success in moving the front from the direct outskirts of the city to a line about 45 minutes' drive away, leaving the destroyed campus of the University City of Madrid - long a hotly disputed battleground - far behind their lines. However, they failed to achieve a strategic change in the long-stalemated trench war, resembling the battles of the First World War more than the fast-moving war in other parts of Europe.
In the fighting, many of the original American volunteers were killed, their places taken by Republican Spaniards - as the war in Spain was now considered a backwater and there were no new Americans arriving. All members of the brigade, whether American or Spanish, called themselves "Abe Lincolns" and were highly respected - grudgingly, also by their Nationalist foes - as one of the Republic's best units.