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Robert Klonsky
File:Robert Klonsky.jpg
Born (1918-03-12)March 12, 1918
Died September 7, 2002(2002-09-07) (aged 84)
Place of birth New York City, New York, United States of America
Place of death Chicago, Illinois, United States of America
Allegiance  Spanish Republic
Service/branch Emblem of the International Brigades.svg International Brigades
Unit The "Abraham Lincoln" XV International Brigade
Battles/wars Spanish Civil War
Spouse(s) Helen Wainer

Robert Klonsky (12 March 1918 – September 7, 2002) was a member of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, which fought on the side of the Spanish Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, a prelude to World War II.


Born in 1918 in a house on Eastern Parkway in the Brownsville/East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn, Klonsky's parents were poor religious Jews who had immigrated from Russia. His father was a rabbi or a cantor. Klonsky's brother Ben became the chief cantor of Reading, Pennsylvania, while his brother Mac became a Communist.[1]

Klonsky and Walter Lowenfels were defendants in a trial in the mid-1950s of nine Philadelphia members of the Communist Party. They were convicted in 1954 of violating the Smith Act, which outlawed "teaching or advocating the overthrow of the American government by force."[2] He served over a year at the federal penitentiary at Allenwood, Pennsylvania, before the Justice Department withdrew charges in 1958.[3]

After 1958, Klonsky lived in California, where he ran a bookstore near UCLA and where he remained active in organizing workers in the film industry.[4] His son Michael Klonsky also became active in politics, becoming a national secretary of the Students for a Democratic Society and later leader of the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist). Robert Klonsky supported jailed professor Angela Davis, demonstrated against the Vietnam War, and had a few acting parts in movies. He and other survivors of the Spanish war were made honorary citizens of Spain in 1998.[5]

Klonsky died September 7, 2002 in Chicago at the age of 84. His ashes were scattered off the coast of Barcelona.[4][5][6]


  1. "My Father Chose to Be a Red". Jacobin. Retrieved 2020-08-02. 
  2. "9 Philadelphians Convicted as Reds; Leaders Found Guilty of Plot to Overthrow Government – Trial Ran for 71 Days". August 14, 1954. .
  3. "5 Communists Freed; Judge in Philadelphia Drops Smith Act Indictments". May 17, 1958. .
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Robert Klonsky 1918–2002" (– Scholar search). December 2002. p. 21. Archived from the original on July 10, 2007. .
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Robert Klonsky, Spanish Civil War vet". Philadelphia Daily News. September 11, 2002. .

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