Archive/Samuel Peck

Tags: Romanian Jewish International Fur and Leather Workers Union WWI Veteran Immigrant Fur Workers Industrial Union Union Organizer Jarama SS Paris Aragon Ebro Offensive Member Of Communist Party

Researcher: Yamin Rahman, Stuyvesant '22

Samuel Peck was born on August 13 1900 in Chisinau, Russia, a city that is now the capital of Moldova. He was born to Jacob and Cecilia Peck. His father was a communist, influencing his political beliefs later in life. Samuel attended technical school before working as a mechanic in a factory in Odesa, Ukraine for 2 years. From 1917 to 1918, he fought in World War I in the Romanian army. After the war, he was influenced to become a communist in 1918 after listening to a lecture by a political commissar (P.C.) while in his home city of Chisinau. The next year, Samuel joined the Communist Party, even though the party was illegal in Romania. Samuel would go on strikes organized by the party and was arrested for these strikes, spending 9 months locked up in prison. After being released from prison in August 1920, he illegally left the country for the United States with the help of his parents.

He became a naturalized citizen in 1928 and later moved to NYC from Boston. Even in Boston, he had trouble with the law and was arrested, a repeating pattern in his life. In New York City, Samuel became a furrier and was a member of the labor union of furriers located there, called The Fur Workers Industrial Union formed in 1927. The president of the organization was a man named Ben Gold, a notorious communist labor union leader, and Samuel worked under his leadership. The union was formed after they were expelled from the national furrier union owned by the AFL for their communist ideals. In the union, Samuel climbed up the ranks to become the chairman, serving in this position for 2 years. His responsibilities included organization and education, including teaching members subjects like culture and drama. In addition, he was a member of a Jewish sports club called Maccabbees from 1922 to 1930, becoming an organizer of the club for 4 years of that period. In 1933, Samuel joined the Communist Party of New York. He would become a distributor of propaganda in the party and participate in demonstrations until he was arrested, landing him in jail from 1934 to 1935. Many of Samuels’ arrests throughout his life were due to his party affiliation. He became a member of the International Fur Workers Union when it merged with the union in New York and appointed Ben Gold as their president in 1935. During the time Samuel lived in NYC, he either lived in an apartment in Harlem (515 West 124th Street) or one in Chelsea (250 West 26th Street).

On January 6, 1937, he went aboard the SS Paris and sailed for Spain, where he arrived on January 25. The journey was arranged by the Communist Party, and his motivation for coming to Spain was to fight against the fascists. Samuel served with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, a part of Section 2 Group 3 of Company 2’s second roster, and fought in the Battle of Jarama. He was lucky enough to not become part of the 120 dead or 175 wounded from the Abraham Lincoln Brigade during that battle, where the brigade advanced onto Nationalist forces without support only to be gunned down. Due to his conduct in Jarama, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in May. He fought in the Battle of Brunete in July 1937, transferring out temporarily due to a fracture in his arm and leg. Many of his comrades suffered similar or worse fates during the battle, especially during the infamous assaults by the brigade on Mosquito Ridge. Samuel was discharged from Murcia hospital due to incompetence and insubordination in January 1938. Unaffected by this, he came back to the Brigade, continuing to fight in Aragon and the Ebro offensive. Samuel returned to the US on August 28, 1938, less than a month before the Spanish prime minister disbanded all international brigades fighting in Spain. Afterwards, he enlisted in the US Army in 1943 and served there in 1945. Samuel died in 1989 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.


Sources

Документы советской эпохи: просмотр единицы хранения. Federal Archival Agency, 2020. http://sovdoc.rusarchives.ru/sections/organizations//cards/232541/images.

Документы советской эпохи: просмотр единицы хранения. Federal Archival Agency, 2020. http://sovdoc.rusarchives.ru/sections/organizations//cards/228014/images.

“Fur Workers Industrial Union.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, February 17, 2022. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fur_Workers_Industrial_Union.

“International Fur & Leather Workers Union.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, April 27, 2022. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Fur_%26_Leather_Workers_Union.

Ink, Social. “Peck, Samuel.” The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, June 20, 2020. https://alba-valb.org/volunteers/samuel-peck/.

“Jarama Series: Organization of the Abraham Lincoln Battalion.” The Volunteer, July 13, 2016. https://albavolunteer.org/2016/02/jarama-series-organization-of-the-abraham-lincoln-battalion/.

“Veteran's Day.” The Volunteer. Accessed June 3, 2022. https://albavolunteer.org/2021/11/veterans-day/.


Images



(International Fur and Leather Workers Union Pin)