Archive/Hyman Jacob Katz

Tags: Belchite Jewish Member Of Communist Party Aragon Battle of Belchite KIA Polish Austrian Battle For Teruel

Researcher: Jeffrey Liu, Stuyvesant '22

Hyman Jacob Katz was born 01/03/1914 in New York City. His father was Elimelech Katz, an Austrian immigrant born 1890. His mother was Leah Katz(Feller), a Polish immigrant that immigrated to New York circa 1902-1908. Both parents were Jewish and worked as insurance agents.

Katz’ residence was 1550 55th Street, Brooklyn, New York, in Borough Park, a predominantly Jewish neighborhood. His family was deeply religious, and he attended a Yeshiva in Boro Park. He would later say that this Jewish education would color his experiences and activities for the rest of his life. He joined the Communist Party in 1934, becoming a financial secretary, and worked as a rabbi and teacher.

Katz was particularly concerned with anti-semitic and fascist movements growing abroad and home, which was his primary motive for joining the International Brigades, as explained in a letter to his mother. He explained that fascism would spread across the world if left unchecked, and as a Jewish communist, he would be their first target, saying “If I permitted such a time to come as a Jew and a progressive, I would be among the first to fall under the axe of the fascists; all I could do then would be to curse myself and say, “Why didn’t I wake up when the alarm clock rang?” The anti-fascist struggle resonated with him, as he saw the threat of fascism looming over his parents’ home countries of Austria and Poland. His family was deeply involved in leftist activism, as his uncles Joseph and Michael Feller were involved with the Young Communists League and Communist Party, although it is not confirmed that Katz himself joined the YCL.

Katz set sail for Spain aboard the RMS Queen Mary on July 7th, arriving in Setcases on the 18th. He served with the Lincoln battalion, a unit that had been battered and destroyed several times over during the fighting in Jarama and Brunette. He participated in the defense of Aragon around Belchite in the fall of 1937, being wounded on October 13. His letter to his mother was written during his hospital stay in Albacete in November. By January, he had recovered and joined the fighting at Teruel, where his company was cited for a special mention. His unit remained on the Teruel front throughout February. He was killed in action on March 3rd, 1938, in the 2nd Battle of Belchite, just prior to the mass retreat of Republican forces from Aragon.


Sources

Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives Vertical Files: Individuals. Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive, New York University, New York, NY
http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/html/tamwag/alba_vf_002/dscaspace_ref1234.html#aspace_ref1763.

Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives Photograph Collection. Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive, New York University, New York, NY
http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/html/tamwag/alba_photo_015/dscaspace_ref595.html

“Feller, Joseph Samuel.” The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives. Alba, July 26, 2020. https://alba-valb.org/volunteers/feller-joseph-samuel/.

“Feller, Michael.” The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives. ALBA, July 26, 2020. https://alba-valb.org/volunteers/michael-mike-feller/.

“Katz, Hyman Jacob.” The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives. ALBA, August 7, 2020. https://alba-valb.org/volunteers/hyman-jacob-katz/.

Seidler-Feller, Shaul Moshe. “Leah Katz.” geni_family_tree. Geni, April 29, 2022. https://www.geni.com/people/Leah-Katz/6000000140755591911.

Seidler-Feller, Shaul Moshe. “Max Katz.” geni_family_tree. Geni, April 28, 2022. https://www.geni.com/people/Max-Katz/6000000140838899833.
 


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