Biographies/Albert (Isidore) Robbins (Cohen)

Tags: Brunete Offensive Jewish Young Communist League George Washington Battalion Spanish Communist Party City College of New York Member Of Communist Party

Researcher: Kaiden Yeung, Stuyvesant '22

Albert Robbins aka Isidore Cohen was born on December 4th, 1909 in New York City. He spent 3 years at the City College of New York, in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), making him ready to serve his country. He became a seaman and was a part of the National Maritime Union. He joined the Youth Communist League, the Spanish Communist Party, and the Communist party in the early 1930’s. He received his passport on February 10th, 1937, setting him up for being able to go overseas to fight. Being in the Spanish Communist Party most likely taught him about Spain and the Spanish culture. He believed the principles of the republic were worth fighting for and arrived in Spain on March 17th, 1937. He served with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and the George Washington Battalion. He was an adjutant in the 3rd Company and served at Brunete. He was wounded in action and ultimately returned to the US on July 2nd, 1938. He died on January 17th, 1987 in New York and was buried in the Bronx.

The Jewish were incredibly prominent in the International Brigade. Although they were thought of as submissive, they were actually incredibly committed and went to fight Franco as a war against facism. Cohen most likely was swept up in this fervor to prove his community wrong and also to put a foot down first to stop facism and its incredibly anti-semitic beliefs. He contributed greatly to the war effort along with all the other Jews participating and this was only erased by non-Jewish war veterans not looking favorably among their jewish allies, thus influencing Spanish Civil War historians to exclude the Jewish.

As a resident of New York City, Robbins was incredibly interconnected with the city and its culture, especially the Jewish Community. He believed in the cause of stopping facism early on and enlisted into the International Brigade. Like many other Jews, he came to face the marginalization in the forces formed by the Old-fashioned Stalinists. This anti-Semitism was seen as a minimal disruptance however, as the Jewish Community agreed that the dangers of facism were much more pressing. Rising to the rank of adjutant, Robbins served at the battle of Brunete. It was a Republican attempt to alleviate pressure on the capital by diverting rebel forces from the north to Brunete. The diversion was successful but the Republicans suffered heavy losses as a result and it led to the Republicans being hurt greatly. Robbins most likely recognized the toll it took on the Republican army men and supplies as well as the political harm on the Communists as they failed to prevent the encroachment of the nationalists on the north. As a result, when he was wounded shortly after, he was most likely still filled with vigor to fight for the cause but also recognition that the fight against facism was lost at this battle and they would have to regroup and live to fight another day.