Irving Peshkin, otherwise known as Frank Peshkin or Irving Peters was born on October 16th, 1906 in Slonim, Belarus, (part of Russia at the time) to Russian-Jewish parents. Because of his early life living in Russia during the revolution, Peshkin became a supporter of communism, eventually joining the Communist Party of The United States of America. This involvement also led to Peshkin being investigated by the United States Committee on the Judiciary for Soviet Activity. Peshkin moved to the upper east side of New York City before the 1930s, attending university, although it is not known exactly where he attended. After university, he became a typographer, a job that at the time was used to describe typewriting. Peshkin’s work in the Communist Party was likely focused on writing documents.
Because he supported communism, he decided to take part in the Spanish civil war, sailing aboard the Washington on March 10, 1937. He arrived in Spain seventeen days later and trained at Tarazona Training base from September to August of that year. Peshkin served at Huesca, Aragon, Teruel, Hegra, Belchite, Tortosa, and the Ebro Offensive. During the Ebro Offensive, Peshkin served in the 3rd Division, 60 BDE, Anti-tank Battery. Peshkin was not well-liked among other Lincoln battalion volunteers. In Huesca, it is noted by Ben Iceland that Peshkin bragged about the many fronts he had been at, and how he should have been sent back home. His attitude caused him to be despised by his fellow soldiers with Louis Elliott telling him “I can’t figure out how so many good guys get bumped off, and a coño [pussy] like you is still around; you’ll probably go home and tell everybody what a hero you’ve been in Spain.” On the truck which was transporting the soldiers, Irving Peshkin got the most comfortable spot and made it more uncomfortable for everyone else. Leon Rosenburg, a fellow New Yorker, started to threaten Peshkin and call him names: “You lazy son-of-a-bitch, coño, why don’t you get yourself shot and become a hero. One of these days you’ll wake up dead, and it’ll be a good thing for everybody.” Peshkin just smiled upon hearing this, wrapped a blanket around himself, and closed his eyes. Even if the other soldiers could get him to move, he would always be back to the best spot. Sometime later, near Belchite, Rosenberg, Peshkin, and Iceland began to work digging a foxhole themselves. Rosenberg started yelling at Peshkin for not having done his share of digging and threatening to throw him out if he dared to duck into any part of the foxhole when the time came to take cover. Peshkin said nothing, just smiled. He was used to being a scapegoat for the soldier’s frustration. Sure enough, Peshkin was first in the foxhole they had dug, and Rosenberg and Iceland cursed and pummeled him to make some room for themselves. He did not listen and lay at the bottom of the trench, he said: “What are you guys so scared about?”. He returned to the United States on December 20, 1938, aboard the Ausonia. He lived in Jamaica Queens until his death at age sixty-nine in November of 1975.
“Peshkin, Irving.” SIDBRINT. Accessed June 3, 2022. https://sidbrint.ub.edu/en/content/peshkin-irving.
“Peshkin, Irving.” The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, June 21, 2020. https://alba-valb.org/volunteers/irving-peshkin/.
Jews in the Spanish Civil War. Accessed June 3, 2022. https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jews-who-served-in-the-international-brigade-in-the-spanish-civil-war.
“The Big Retreat - by Ben Iceland.” The Volunteer. Accessed June 3, 2022. https://albavolunteer.org/2015/09/blast-from-the-past-the-big-retreat/.