Eugene David Bronstein – by Saul Freidberg

September 17, 2016

Notes from the Biographical Dictionary Project.  Saul Freidberg provided several short biographical sketches on fellow veterans.  The sketches provide insight into Friedberg as well.


Eugene David Bronstein

By Saul Freidberg, April 22, 1996

Bronstein was born in NYC about 1915. He went to CCNY, from which he was graduated in 1934, where he studied mathematical logic under Morris Raphael Cohen, the head of the philosophy department, and earned a distinguished reputation in the field. I understand he is memorialized at City College on a plaque listing the CCNY alumni who died in Spain. He told me that he was one of the demonstrators beaten by President Robinson with his umbrella in a famous incident on the steps of one of the college buildings. Bronstein entered Harvard as a graduate student in philosophy in Sept 1934. He was sent to Harvard by Cohen with a letter from Cohen to Ralph Barton Perry, head of the philosophy department at Harvard. At Harvard Bronstein plunged into political activity, joining the National Student League and the YCL and devoting more and more time to political activities. I was the organizer of the YCL at Harvard, and Bronstein and I used to walk from Cambridge to the Communist Party headquarters in downtown Boston to discuss the contents of the leaflets we were planning to distribute with CP people and mimeograph the leaflets for distribution, singing revolutionary songs at the top of our lungs as we walked. In Sep 1935 Bronstein dropped out of Harvard, got a job as a laborer in a large rubber factory in East Cambridge which he wanted to help unionize, and moved into a cold water flat in East Cambridge; he occupied the only room heated (by a kerosene stove), which was filled with Marxist literature, revolutionary posters, and pictures of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin.

I left Harvard in June 1936, going to Chicago to take part in the work of the Steel Workers Organizing Committee, leaving for Spain in March-April 1937. When I got to Spain, I found out that Bronstein had preceded me there and that he was among the Red troops going up to Brunete in July 1937; and that before Bronstein was able to participate in any action against the fascists, his young life was obliterated together with his body by a bomb dropped from a fascist airplane. Bronstein’s first name is misstated as “Jean” in Rolfe’s book, The Lincoln Battalion.