Robert Klonsky

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Robert Klonsky
Born 12 March 1918
New York City
Died September 7, 2002
Known for Abraham Lincoln Brigade
Spouse(s) Helen Wainer
Children Michael Klonsky and Fred Klonsky

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.


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.”[1] He served over a year at the federal penitentiary at Allenwood, Pennsylvania, before the Justice Department withdrew charges in 1958.[2]

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.[3] 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.[4]

Klonsky died September 7, 2002 in Chicago at the age of 84.[3][4]


  1. ^ "9 Philadelphians Convicted as Reds; Leaders Found Guilty of Plot to Overthrow Government – Trial Ran for 71 Days", New York Times, August 14, 1954 .
  2. ^ "5 Communists Freed; Judge in Philadelphia Drops Smith Act Indictments", New York Times, May 17, 1958 .
  3. ^ a b "Robert Klonsky 1918–2002" (PDF), The Volunteer: Journal of the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, XXIV (4): 21, December 2002, archived from the original (– Scholar search) on July 10, 2007 .
  4. ^ a b Robert Klonsky, Spanish Civil War vet, Philadelphia Daily News, September 11, 2002 .

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