Long-time readers of this blog will know that my interest in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39 is rooted in my family history. My father, Robert Klonsky, hitched a ride on a French freighter in 1936 at the age of 17 and volunteered to fight the fascists in Spain, a fight he knew would have great implications for a global fight against the growing fascist and Nazi movements.
My dad passed away in 2002. Our family returned his ashes to Spain in 2008.
Today’s NY Times has the story of another American veteran of the Spanish Civil War, a shrinking club. But notable none-the-less.
Ignoring an international nonintervention agreement, Mussolini and Hitler lent support to the Fascists, while the Republican side was aided for a time by the Soviet Union and Mexico. In addition, about 40,000 foreign volunteers — including 2,800 from the United States — fought on the Republican side. They formed international brigades, and the American contingent came to be known as the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.
One of those young Americans was Mr. Mattson, who is now 92 and who has lived in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, since the 1950s. On Wednesday, Mr. Mattson was awarded Spanish citizenship at the Spanish Consulate General, on East 58th Street in Manhattan.