Fanny Golub was born on April 18th, 1904 into a Jewish family. Not much is known about her childhood, except that she had a strong passion for helping others. Therefore, it was no surprise when she pursued medicine and graduated in 1926 as “Fannie” Golub, from the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing on East 26th Street in Kips Bay.
Because she was so dedicated to her work, she went as far as to find a home across the street from Bellevue Hospital. She resided at 142 East 27th Street in Kips Bay throughout the following decade in order to keep her commute short. Whilst she was working at the hospital through the Great Depression, Golub found people who shared her ideology at a local communist organization. Though she was never a certified member of the Communist party, she had strong ties with the Leftist movement and was able to form lifelong connections. Between attending party meetings and working as a nurse, she moved to 142 East 18th Street in Gramercy Park by 1937 which, although further from her workplace, was larger in size. Unfortunately, most records of her affiliation to the communist organization were lost during the McCarthy era.
In 1936, news was spreading of a Nationalist rebellion led by Spanish Generals. This rebellion rose to overthrow the established Popular Front Republic in Spain. President Roosevelt’s administration was critical of any American involvement in this civil war. As the war progressed, Golub grew increasingly concerned that fascism was beginning to take hold as Adolf Hitler offered assistance to the Spanish coup d’etat leaders. Golub decided something needed to be done to stop the advance of fascism around the world. On March 24th, 1937 she received passport #378165 and, only a month later, she departed for Spain.
Golub served under Dr. Barksky’s team on the battlefront alongside other U.S. nurses, including Salaria Kea, Helen Freeman, Grace Margolis etc. During her time in Spain, it became the norm to work under pressure and with limited resources, including a lack of sterile tools. Many tragedies unfolded around Golub, including bombings, and she grew accustomed to the war-torn environment. On the 15th of April 1938, she was working directly on the Aragon front and witnessed the death of many Abraham Lincoln Brigade volunteers while tending to the wounded. After this unfortunate event, her team retreated to living and working out of a Jesuit college until June of that year. During her stay, she sometimes had to share her clothing and a cot with her fellow volunteers. Despite the many hardships faced during this war, the nurses grew to be very close friends and recalled Golub fondly.
Golub left Spain on August 13th, 1938. Unable to travel directly from Spain to the U.S. due to President Roosevelts’ restrictions, Golub crossed the border to France and spent three to five days in Paris before sailing on the RMS Aquitania to the U.S. Still, Golub’s days of fighting fascism were not yet over. In further allegiance against fascism, she served again as a nurse during World War II. Despite many years of service, Golub was discriminated against, possibly due to her gender and religion. She had to file a discrimination complaint, and yet was still determined to continue her service towards helping others.
She passed away in Kings County, Brooklyn and was buried by the Jewish Center of Hyde Park. Though she never married or had children in her lifetime, her headstone reads “Freedom Fighter” and “Loving Daughter, Sister, and Aunt”.
Board of Trustees of Bellevue. Annual Report of the Bellevue Training School for Nurses. No. 54, 1927, NYU Health Sciences Library, Medical Archives. https://archives.med.nyu.edu/islandora/object/nyumed%3A15756
Cornejo-Parriego R. Black USA and Spain: Shared Memories in the 20th Century. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2020.
Fanny Golub (- 1997). Find a Grave, 2020. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/151741609/fanny-golub
Fanny Golub. The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives. Social Ink, 2020. https://alba-valb.org/volunteers/fanny-golub/
Fanny Golub in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Plone Foundation, 2020.
Golub, Fanny. Letter of Complaints of Discrimination during World War II. March 1944. ALBA.069, Box 1, Folder 66. Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Tamiment Library & Wagner Labor Archives, New York.
Martin, Fredericka. Letters, Biographical Files and Correspondences. August 1938. ALBA.001, Box 8, Folder 20. Fredericka Martin Papers. Tamiment Library & Wagner Labor Archives, New York.
Sugarman, M. Against Fascism: Jews in the Spanish Civil War. Marxists Internet Archive, 2016.