Blacklisted! The Untimely AntiFascist Milt Felsen

by Erica P. Wissinger “We want water,” mentioned Dave. “The place in hell can we…

by Erica P. Wissinger

“We want water,” mentioned Dave. “The place in hell can we get some water?”

“There’s just one manner,” I answered. “We should pee in it.” We did, but it surely wasn’t almost sufficient. We shouted for the troopers mendacity close to us to crawl over.

“It’s essential to pee in Mom Bloor, I mentioned. “She wants you desperately.” The primary soldier made his contribution. The subsequent one refused.

“I can’t,” he mentioned, “it’s sacrilegious. My father reveres Mom Bloor. He would kill me if he heard.”

“About 200 yards from listed below are a number of hundred Moors very anxious to try this forward of your father,” mentioned Dave, “Pee, dammit!”

Very all of the sudden, as we lay as flat as we may whereas raking the opposing line with machine gun hearth and receiving it too, we heard behind us wild shouting and the thunderous gallop of many horses on the useless run. In utter astonishment, we ducked for our lives as Spanish horsemen, sporting broad-brimmed hats bedecked with the flamboyant colours of the Republic and brandishing sabers, leaped excessive over our heads and raced crazily ahead into the tooth of the enemy’s chattering machine weapons as if engaged in some timeless, existential steeplechase.

“What within the goddamn hell is that,” I mentioned.

“If I’m not mistaken,” mentioned Dave, “THAT is the Spanish Cavalry famed in track and story.”

“They’ll be massacred,” I apprehensive. “I can’t watch.”

However by a miracle, they weren’t. The Fascists have been equally astounded. Earlier than they might react, the cavalry started to chop them up and so they broke and ran. The offensive continued. By dusk, eight or 9 cities had been taken. For just a few days it went higher than deliberate, after which we got here to Mosquito Ridge.”

Milt Felsen, U.S. Veteran of WWII

There are in all probability 1,000,000 individuals on the market who’ve learn a biography of a departed warrior from the previous ~ decide a century, any century ~ and wished they might have met them or patted them heartily on the shoulder for his or her power of character. With this flock of smart outdated owls who’ve studied navy historical past far past the few books I’ve learn, little question this concept will intrigue like a vole scurrying throughout an open meadow at night time. Let me know within the feedback whom you want you possibly can have met, or the residing legends you met in individual.

One such warrior was Milt Felsen, who wrote The Anti-Warrior, a Memoir. Milt was born in 1912 in New York Metropolis, grew up on the streets of New York, after which grew up some extra within the countryside exterior New York the place he discovered the distinction between things like cows and bulls, and ended up as a scholar on the College of Iowa, the place he escaped stern punishment for his political activism by his wit and humor. Right here is an excerpt from his faculty years.

“In September of 1936, we determined to carry an anti warfare rally. We took copies [of the announcement posters] to be routinely stamped, ‘authorised by the President’s workplace’ earlier than placing them up round campus. The president’s workplace was artistically and politically shocked to its shoelaces, and refused to use its little stamp.

“I known as a gathering of the American Scholar Union (ASU) government committee, and we determined to defy the ban and put up the posters late that night time. The Iowa campus is graced by a few of the oldest, leafiest and most stunning bushes to be discovered on the inexperienced earth, and my brother Hank and I and Merle have been effectively up in considered one of them, when a strong beam of sunshine was geared toward us.

College of Iowa

“Standing beneath was your entire Iowa Metropolis police power of eight males, the sheriff and the pinnacle of the American Legion.

“‘Come down out of there!’ the shout got here from the sheriff. He was weaving a bit. He and the American Legion had been ingesting, fairly closely.

“‘Sorry,’ I mentioned, ‘we’re busy. Obtained some work to do up right here.’

“‘You’re beneath arrest, goddammit. Come down!’
“‘What’s the cost?’ I demanded. I prided myself on my information of constitutional rights.

“There was a brief, intense convention down beneath, then settlement. ‘For COMMITTING COMMUNISM!’ the sheriff shouted, waving his long-barreled pistol.
“‘Yeah,’ added the American Legion, impressed, ‘AT NIGHT.’  I consulted with Hank and Merle.

“‘It sounds to me,’ I mentioned, ‘like an actual conceptual breakthrough. I believe it could be finest to go down.’

“We have been thrown into the police automobiles and brought to the station home. We sat, whereas one of many cops twirled the barrel of his pistol menacingly, pointing it at us simply as he had seen it executed within the motion pictures. I demanded our proper to make a cellphone name. The chief got here in.

“‘And simply whom is it you want to name?’ he requested sardonically.
“‘Mayor Tom Martin,’ I mentioned. Merle and I had headed up a scholar political motion committee that had helped Martin win. A number of the air went visibly out of the chief’s balloon. Martin got here on the cellphone, half asleep. It was after 1 a.m.   I defined.

“‘Let me speak to the dumb bastard,’ mentioned the mayor.

“We sat and loved the chief’s discomfiture and listened to his ‘Sure, Mr. Mayor. OK, Tom, straight away, Tom.’
“Lastly he hung up, turned to us and snapped, ‘All proper, you possibly can go dwelling now.’

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“‘We want our posters,’ mentioned Merle.
“‘No manner,’ mentioned the chief.

“‘Gimme the cellphone once more,’ I mentioned.
“The chief glared, however he gave up the posters. We nonetheless hadn’t gained, although. Not fairly but. There was a vagrancy legislation in Iowa — after 11 P.M. it was unlawful to cease transferring. Wherever we went, the cops adopted us, so we lastly went dwelling.

“A number of the most politically energetic ASU members have been within the sororities, and we known as round and defined the emergency. A dozen younger girls, amongst them the Hickenlooper sisters, eagerly accepted such an thrilling and difficult project. By 4 A.M., posters had sprouted like night time blooming flowers everywhere in the campus.

“Bourke B. Hickenlooper, proudly owning a reputation that sounded prefer it belonged within the first line of an off shade limerick, was president of the Iowa state senate and would quickly grow to be probably the most atrocious U.S. senators. He made a cellphone name to the college’s President Gilmore. In accordance with the Hickenlooper sisters, who have been mightily amused, the dialog went one thing like this.

“Hickenlooper: ‘Gilmore? I hear there’s an entire bunch of goddamn Reds operating your goddamn college down there. If you happen to don’t see to it that my daughters cease being molested by Commie New York Jews, you possibly can kiss any of these appropriations you requested for goodbye. You’ve seen your final goddamn state greenback. Perceive?’ Gilmore: ‘Sure, Sir. I perceive.’

“Shortly thereafter there was a gathering in President Gilmore’s workplace. He hinted that he had had a message from Senator Hickenlooper, chairman of the committee that appropriated, or withheld, funds for land grant establishments, of which the college was one.

“Clearly uncomfortable, he addressed his remarks to me. ‘If this college has any validity, it lies within the encouragement of free inquiry, free expresson, the pursuit of fact in an open market of concepts. I consider your group has expressed comparable targets.’ He paused. ‘The liberty of scholars is to not be inhibited, however the college should cope with the true world, with sensible issues.’ He went on to speak about appropriations and budgets and to ask of what use have been beliefs in the event that they couldn’t preserve the doorways open.

“I smiled to myself, pondering, He who pays the piper calls the tune. All of us on the committee had gotten the purpose, and I sensed it was time to make a deal. We held a powerful hand.

“‘OK, President Gilmore, we’ve got no want to embarrass the varsity. We can have a chat with the Hickenlooper sisters. We can not, after all, censure them, however we’ll attempt to get their cooperation. We count on in return that there might be no extra nonsense about stamps on our posted materials. Another factor. We’re planning a public debate entitled ‘What’s Americanism?’ We wish you to be one of many contributors.’

“President Gilmore knew when to fold the playing cards. ‘I predict for you,’ he remarked to me, ‘an excellent future within the discipline of extortion.’

“In 1936 there have been 13 thousand college students on the U of I, the overwhelming majority of whom concentrated their usually transient span of consideration on their possibilities for materials development, soccer, and informal intercourse. But nearly 800 of them attended the anti-war rally we had undergone such trauma to promote, and nearly all signed a type of the Oxford Pledge, in essence, ‘I refuse to bear arms in any warfare.’ (The practice of historical past takes many turns. Solely 5 years later, they’d neglect that they had ever made such a pledge.)”

After taking part within the Spanish Civil Struggle as an ambulance driver within the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, and assembly Ernest Hemingway, Milt returns to America and his surveillance recordsdata listed him with the dreaded, “P.A.”, stamped in large crimson serial killer letters on his file, which implies Untimely AntiFascist.

That is how the US authorities flagged union organizers and/or communist leaning residents who opposed fascism, earlier than the US introduced its approval for opposing Fascism.

The US checkered flag to oppose fascism was solely waved when America joined the warfare in opposition to Germany in 1941, but when, within the Nineteen Thirties, you opposed fascism a millisecond earlier than the checkered flag dropped, you have been stigmatized and couldn’t get a authorities job.

A evaluate of this ebook, The AntiWarrior on Goodreads by Tbfrank speaks concerning the ambivalence by nations on the fascist query:

“From [Felsen’s] perspective, the [Spanish Civil] warfare demonstrated the help of the world’s democracies for Fascism because the pure opponent to Communism. Whereas Russia supported the Loyalists, the Soviet Union was criticized for supplying weapons fairly than troops (recognized elsewhere as its customary apply – expend others fairly than your personal), then blamed as agitators for creating divisions inside the Loyalist teams.

“(True or not, Alan Furst adopted a few of these concepts in two of his pre-WWII novels concerning the Spanish Civil Struggle.) Oh, and by the best way, Felsen met and pal’d round with Hemingway.

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“Between one warfare and the subsequent, Felsen turns into built-in within the financial machine he usually disparages. He comes to know the character of energy in America, who has it, and who doesn’t, as dictated by economics.”

“In Geneva,” Ernest Hemingway grunted, “the Republic is being reduce into many items. League of Nations, my ass. League of connivers. Austrian Anschluss, Munich Pact — Hitler scowls and Chamberlain feeds him one other nation.”

As of Might 2022, there are just a few copies of Felsen’s ebook for buy on the Web. There are bloody and gutsy chapters describing the 2 warfare fronts that Milt served in. Under, the prisoners’ story is for somebody on the market within the multiverse who wants to listen to it, to save lots of their life. I don’t know who, however I really feel them and I hope for his or her survival.

Wild Invoice Donovan

Wild Invoice Donovan snapped up a few of the Lincoln Brigade, together with Milt, to coach them for his newly fashioned OSS, and despatched them to Algiers in 1942.

They have been wounded and captured; and earlier than Felsen and others have been despatched to the German jail camp, Stalag 17, they have been prisoners in Italy, and have been planning a jail break, however after all their garments and sneakers had been confiscated.

“‘Very first thing we’ll want,’ mentioned Jim, ‘is our garments and sneakers.’ We determined we had higher meet with the final. Gordon Forrester was the very mannequin of an English main basic – tall and slender, with a grey moustache and a voice so higher class it was just about not possible to know a phrase he mentioned. For the six months the prisoners had been there, he had sulked concerning the ignominy of his seize, and had not often been seen exterior his non-public room.” A gathering with the final was organized.

“Ever since seize, I had tried and failed to know the European navy custom that mandated prisoners to behave as in the event that they weren’t prisoners. Foot troopers needed to salute and obey corporals, corporals obeyed sergeants, sergeants obeyed lieutenants, and so forth up the road. Their captors, in flip, gave directions for what they needed executed solely to the best rating prisoner, from whom orders went again down the road and have been carried out with out resistance, since troopers will not be within the behavior of defying their very own superiors.

“As a system for controlling hundreds of males who would possibly in any other case have thought of it their obligation to proceed to wrestle in each manner they might in opposition to the enemy, it was nearly excellent. But it surely had the odor of collaboration about it, like a pact amongst nations to guard one another’s entrenched bureaucratic institutions above all. Struggle is so instructional, I mused; they need to give a course in a few of these issues to highschool seniors simply earlier than they graduate.

“The shock was that once we lastly received to him, the final was first rate and useful. Jim grew to become the spokesman, and he got here on to the purpose.

“‘Sir,’ he mentioned, ‘the inside track is that Italy has had about sufficient of this bloody warfare and should quickly stop. However in keeping with the data that you’ve given us your self, most of Italy, together with this space, remains to be held by the Germans… The minute Italy goes, we wish out of right here. Now we have good proof the inhabitants is anti-German, and would possible assist us.’

“The final nodded. ‘Fairly proper,’ he mentioned, ‘it’s the unquestionable obligation of each prisoner no matter rank to flee and rejoin his unit. I respect figuring out your plans. However absolutely, there should be another excuse for coming to me?’

“‘Sure,’ mentioned Jim, ‘we’ve got no garments, no sneakers. And we do not know the place they’re saved. We thought you would possibly know or be capable to discover out.’

“‘Proper,’ mentioned Forrester, ‘I do know. However you want greater than that. I’ll instruct one of many officers to attract a whole schematic of the inside, indicating stairways, exits, and so forth.’ He hesitated. ‘Report back to me please, earlier than you act.’

“‘Sure, Sir.’ We saluted and left, feeling fairly good. It was September of 1943. For 2 weeks, there had been just one matter of dialog. When would give up come? Ought to those that meant to make an escape depart singly, in pairs, or in teams? We determined to go in pairs and fan out in several instructions. Then it got here, late one afternoon. Each radio station within the nation introduced that as of the subsequent morning, Italy can be out of the warfare.

“Jim and I and the remainder of the escape committee known as a gathering of your entire group. At 7:30 P.M. the assembly was drawing to a detailed, when Common Forrester’s aide de camp made his technique to the entrance of the room.

“‘Maintain it!’ he ordered. ‘Now we have new info, and Common Forrester has issued new directions.’ We waited.

“‘Twenty minutes in the past a BBC broadcast carried an official communiqué from the Allied Excessive Command. The gist of it’s that every one prisoners in all places are to stay precisely the place they’re. Particular items of the Allied forces are being dispatched instantly to launch all captives.’ The aide de camp completed, appeared round on the shocked faces, and added, ‘Orders are to get your asses again in mattress.’ He left.”

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The prisoners determined to go get their garments and get away anyway. Once they reached the clothes storeroom, there was a guard in entrance of the door holding an Italian rifle. The guard was an English corporal, posted there by Forrester. They argued with the guard, after which Common Forrester appeared.

“Everybody, after all, saluted. ‘Gents,’ Forrester mentioned, ‘we’ve got no alternative. The printed was very clear. The armies know precisely the place we’re, but when the prisoners have been to depart, they’d be at risk of being shot by the Germans, or by the Italians. It could additionally imply a wasteful, time consuming effort attempting to spherical up such personnel wandering round at random.’

“He spoke to an indignant, unconvinced viewers. ‘Sir, how do we all know when they may come to free us?’ requested somebody. ‘Sir, we need to take that probability. We’re imagined to take it. So far as being shot at, that’s a part of it; that’s how we received right here.’

“The speak continued, however all of us knew it wouldn’t matter. Forrester had decided as pure to him as respiratory: FOLLOW ORDERS.

“Morning got here. Exactly at 11:30 A.M. they got here, a dun-colored bike with a plump Gestapo officer within the sidecar, adopted by a half-track troop service spilling tough-looking German troopers.

“Vehicles had come, and we have been boosted and packed aboard. It had taken lower than half an hour to roust us all out.

“The BBC broadcast had been a pretend. Common Forrester had been following the orders not of the Allies, however of the North Italian Sector of the German Excessive Command. He would definitely face a courtroom martial when he received again to Britain. Because it occurred, he didn’t wait. He dedicated suicide in Offiziers Lager XII close to Breslau, in Germany. It had been a intelligent ruse by the Germans, and never solely Forrester had been fooled.”

I looked for Felsen’s obituary. He died in April 2005, in the identical month as Pope John Paul II, and my outdated buddy, The Reverend Robert D. It could appear {that a} outstanding delegation of human souls marched on to their third property in April 2005.

Milt Felsen was a producer on the flicks, Saturday Night time Fever (1977) with John Travolta; and The Bell Jar (1979) with Julie Harris; and the documentary TV sequence, The Administrators (1997-2008). He labored within the impartial film business; and lived fortunately together with his spouse in Florida till he handed on, and he or she eulogized him in a loving remark. Thanks, Milt, wherever you might be, for leaving 245 pages of written phrases for us concerning the nature of warfare and life.

I’m happy to see {that a} video interview with Milt Felsen is featured among the many Abraham Lincoln Brigade Movie Archives, Oral Historical past Assortment, on the Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives of New York College at,

NYU Digitaltamiment Albafilms Merchandise 4122 Milt Felsen

“Too many is not going to get throughout [the Ebro River],” mentioned Hemingway,
“Too many will die as a result of a superior trigger
shouldn’t be a match for superior hearth energy.”

Hitler’s Rehearsal for World Struggle II:
“I’d identified Milt Felsen for years with out figuring out he was a veteran of The Abraham Lincoln Brigade. . . The Spanish Civil Struggle shouldn’t be taught in American faculties regardless that it was Hitler’s rehearsal for WWII.” Paul Leaf, ebook reviewer.

By the best way, up within the tree with Milt was his youthful brother, Hank Felsen, who grew to become the effectively revealed creator of the Sizzling Rod automobiles sequence, which remains to be out there on Amazon.

Henry Felsen Sizzling Rod

After struggling financially in the course of the Melancholy, Hank Felsen bought 9 books and tons of of tales in his first eighteen months of full-time freelance writing within the early Nineteen Forties. After warfare service with the Marine Corps, throughout which he edited the Corps journal Leatherneck and in addition wrote journal articles whereas stationed within the Pacific.

His best-selling ebook was Sizzling Rod, considered one of a rodding sequence that additionally included Road Rod and Crash Membership and bought about eight million copies in all. He wrote about 60 books.

He’s additionally credited with one screenplay, for the 1968 movie Fever Warmth, primarily based on his novel of the identical identify which had been revealed beneath the pen identify of Angus Vicker. [Ref. Wikipedia]

Eulogy for Hank, from Jalopy Journal: “Method again after I knew Hank Felsen (aka Henry Gregor Felsen). He was a mentor… Within the mid-1960’s I used to be a journalism scholar at Drake College in Des Moines and took Hank’s artistic writing class. For a yr or two he allowed me into his life, urging me to pursue the lifetime of a novelist. I went the extra unusual route, going to work for the “Des Moines Register” which led to a 40-year profession in newspaper journalism… I’ve many fond recollections of [Hank]. He was most useful to me in my youth. I keep in mind Hank had a minimum of a son (he wrote a ebook about “Letters to a son in Vietnam” or one thing like that) and a daughter… You had a beautiful father.”