Biographies/Jack Koble

Tags: Auto Mechanic Battle of Brunete Battle of Ebro Brooklyn Battle of Jarama WWII Veteran Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade 1st Regiment de Tren 2nd Squadron Lithuanian Romanian Young Communist League

Researcher: Anonymous Student, Stuyvesant '23

Jack Koble was born on April 20, 1913, in Brooklyn, New York, to a working-class family of Lithuanian and Romanian descent. Growing up in a Lithuanian immigrant community, he experienced cultural institutions and confronted discrimination and animosity. Jack took up the profession of an auto mechanic and joined the Young Communist League (YCL) due to his passion for social justice.

In 1937, at 23 years old, Koble responded to the Spanish Republic's plea for international assistance against General Francisco Franco's fascist troops. He acquired a passport and set sail on the Ile de France on February 20, 1937. Upon reaching Spain on March 7, Koble enlisted with the 2nd Squadron, 1st Regiment de Tren and became a member of the Lincoln Brigade—comprising over 2,800 volunteers from various backgrounds.

These Abraham Lincoln Brigade soldiers would have been part of the Republican forces defending their positions. They faced well-established opponents with superior weaponry, including tanks and artillery. The February 1937 Battle of Jarama tested their bravery and resolve. They participated in intense fighting, withstanding artillery shelling and machine gun fire while forming tight bonds with their Spanish comrades.

In July 1937, during the Battle of Brunete, the Abraham Lincoln Brigade faced new challenges as urban warfare took center stage against well-protected Nationalist positions. Engaging in close-quarters fighting against fortified enemies tested their perseverance. The soldiers bore heavy fighting, sniper attacks, and ongoing counterattack risks while demonstrating courage and determination in pursuit of their goals.
The summer of 1938 saw the Battle of Ebro as a crucial turning point in the conflict. Soldiers from the Abraham Lincoln Brigade played an essential role in this last significant offensive by the Republicans. As they crossed the Ebro River under enemy gunfire, they encountered treacherous landscapes and robust defensive setups. They faced fierce opposition and battled intensely against Franco's troops. Despite their heroic actions, the Battle of Ebro concluded in a Republican loss, emphasizing the overwhelming obstacles they encountered.

After Spain, Koble returned to the US on October 1, 1938, aboard the ship Paris. His Spanish experiences and dedication to combating fascism left an indelible mark on his life. Following World War II's outbreak, Jack Koble served in the US Army from June 24, 1943, with ground combat being an integral aspect of the war effort and infantry soldiers like Koble assuming a critical role.

Upon the war's end, Koble settled in Brooklyn, New York, where he ran an auto repair business near the corner of Bay 34th Street and Cropsey Avenue. He married Pearl E. Koble, and together they had a son named Richard (Dick) Koble. Jack Koble's journey from a working-class immigrant background to his service in Spain and the US Army exemplified the American dream. His dedication to fighting for a better world, both abroad and at home, reflects the values of courage, resilience, and a commitment to justice.
In conclusion, Jack Koble's life story encapsulates a remarkable journey. Despite facing discrimination and hostility, Koble went to war and fought to make the world a better place not once, but twice, and was able to run a business and start his own family afterwards.


"Jack Koble." Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives. Accessed June 9, 2023.

"First Wave of Lithuanian Emigration (1865-1915)." True Lithuania. Accessed June 9, 2023.

"The Lincoln Brigade." Zinn Education Project. Accessed June 9, 2023.

"Ground Combat." American Soldier in World War II. Accessed June 9, 2023.

Carroll, Peter N. "The Odyssey of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade."

Blinkhorn, Martin. "Democracy And Civil War In Spain 1931-1939."