The Spanish Civil War at the end of the 1930s was called the dress rehearsal for World War II as the Germans and Italians supported Franco’s Fascists and the Soviet Union supported the Republicans or Loyalists. There were some 2800 Americans who travelled to Spain to fight with the communist Republican forces in what was called the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. About 800 of them were killed fighting on the losing side. Delmar Berg was a dishwasher in California when he saw Young Communist League billboard advertising for soldiers to serve in the conflict. He made it to Spain and was wounded in battle. He remained a communist throughout his life and died at the age of 100. He was the last remaining U.S. volunteer.
The members of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade returned to the U.S. to be treated as heroes by liberals who celebrated their service against the Fascists. In actions that would later weigh against him J. Robert Oppenheimer and his wife hosted and attended fund raising events to support the veterans. The service became a liability for the veterans during the Cold War when the “Red Scare” became a nationwide concern and anyone with ties to communism began to be viewed with suspicion.