Einsley Delmer Berg
|Born||December 15, 1915|
Anaheim, Orange County, California
|Died||February 29, 2016 (aged 100)|
|Allegiance|| Spanish Republic|
United States of America
|Service/||Oregon National Guard|
United States Army
|Years of service||1937-1939 (Spanish Civil War)|
1942-1945 (World War II)
|Unit||76th Field Artillery Regiment|
|Battles/wars||Spanish Civil War|
|Other work||Farmer, Union Organizer, Cement Finisher, landscape gardener, activist.|
Einsley Delmer "Del" Berg (December 20, 1915 – February 28, 2016) was an American soldier and union organizer who volunteered to serve with the XV International Brigade (nicknamed the Abraham Lincoln Brigade) during the Spanish Civil War. He was the last known surviving veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.
Early life and education
Born in Anaheim, California, Berg was originally a farmer, but was inspired to enlist when he saw a sign indicating that the government was looking for people to fight fascism. Berg briefly trained with the Oregon National Guard prior to going to Spain in 1937. He served in the United States Army during World War II and was stationed at Morotai Island. He became a member of the Communist Party of the United States while in a Spanish hospital, while recuperating from a shrapnel wound to his liver. He remained an interested and active party member up to the time of his last interview in 2014.
In the years following his demobilization, Berg returned to work the farm on which he had been raised. He fathered two sons from two different marriages. He began serving as a union organizer in the 1950s, and, in a 2007 interview, described the steps he took to discourage the attention of Federal Bureau of Investigation agents. Berg became an official of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), when he was elected the Vice President of the Stanislaus County branch. In the 1950s during the Red Scare, he was often harassed. In a 2007 interview with the Union Democrat, Berg described delivering a petition to the racist county sheriff, demanding his resignation. Berg described testifying at a hearing in Washington, D.C. on farm conditions as a representative of the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee.
As his comrades died Berg was sought out for more frequent interviews. Berg's decision to volunteer to travel to a foreign country to fight fascism has been described as symbolic and inspirational. He was interviewed for an episode of the PBS show History Detectives to provide background about the experience of American volunteers when a segment was focused around an artifact from the Spanish Civil War. As of 2007, Berg lived in Columbia, California. He became a centenarian in December 2015 and died on February 28, 2016, aged 100, in Columbia, California.
On March 25, 2016, approximately a month after Berg's death, United States Senator John McCain published an op-ed in the New York Times saluting him and his comrades, who had fought for the good values they believed in, in Spain, and when they returned home to the U.S.
"Death Notices for March 1, 2016". Union Democrat. 2016-02-29. Archived from the original on 2016-03-06. Retrieved 2016-03-25.
Delmer Berg, 100, died Sunday at home in Columbia.
Sam Roberts (2016-03-02). "Delmer Berg, Last of American Volunteers in Spanish Civil War, Dies at 100". New York Times. p. A21. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2016-03-24.
Asked in 2013 what his proudest moments had been since Spain, he told the weekly Anderson Valley Advertiser in Mendocino County: "When I was elected vice president of the local N.A.A.C.P. and when one of my grandsons was valedictorian at his Oregon high school graduation and said in a newspaper interview, ‘My grandfather is my inspiration. He’s a Communist!’"
- Nadya Williams (2 July 2012). "California Vets: Del Berg and Jim Benét". The Volunteer. Retrieved 31 December 2012.
Dan Kaufman (2015-03-13). "The Last Volunteer". The New York Times Magazine. p. MM38. Retrieved 2015-03-16.
Del Berg, 99, is the last known surviving veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, a contingent of nearly 3,000 Americans who fought to defend the democratically elected government during the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s.
- Cat Sieh (2007-05-10). "Activist remains staunch as ever at 91". Union Democrat. Retrieved 2015-03-16.
Henry Millstein (2014-01-28). "Spanish Civil War vet still struggling at 98". People's World. Retrieved 2015-03-16.
Del's involvement with the Communist movement goes back to before his time in Spain. After a brief stint in the Oregon National Guard, where he got military experience that served him as a Brigadista, he became involved with the Young Communist League in Los Angeles-in part because the YCL could help him get to Spain.
- Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives-Delmer Berg Berg profile, alba-valb.org; accessed January 23, 2016.
Nadya Connolly Williams (2013-10-09). "The Lincolns Are Leaving Us". Anderson Valley Advertiser. Retrieved 2015-03-16.
So what is the legacy of the Lincolns? Beyond this past history, men like Del Berg guide and inspire us to stand up and take action for what is Just. Around the world today, the sacrifice and courage of the International Brigades are remembered, honored and passed on to the young.
- "PBS'a History Detectives: A Father's Forgotton Tribute in a Spanish Civil War Eulogy". History Detectives. Retrieved 2015-03-16.
- "Feliz 100 cumpleaños, Delmer Berg" (in Spanish). foroporlamemoria.info. December 20, 2015. Retrieved December 31, 2015.
- John McCain (2016-03-25). "Salute to a Communist". New York Times. Archived from the original on 2016-03-24.
"Last known American who fought fascists in 1930s Spain dies in California". The Guardian (UK). 2016-03-02. Retrieved 2016-03-25.
He became the last known survivor after John Hovan of Rhode Island died in 2014, according to the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives.