Biographies/Sol Newman

Tags: Jewish Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Member Of Communist Party Brunete Offensive Aragon Front Union Organizer

Researcher: Edward Kemelmakher, Stuyvesant '22

Sol Newman was born on August 15th, 1908. He grew up in Washington Heights, New York, the youngest of five surviving children in a large Jewish family. Early on Newman developed a passionate love of baseball, the Brooklyn Dodgers in particular, and the English language. He wrote plays, poems, and novels all his life and was a gifted storyteller. Newman earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from Southern Connecticut State College. It was this experience - getting an education surrounded by like-minded socialists and Marxists - that influenced his move back to New York to work as a Taxi Driver and help run the local Transport Workers Union and American Federation of Labor offices. At the same time, Newman had also become a card-carrying member of the Communist Party of the USA where he worked in the agitation and propaganda unit. 


After hearing news of the Spanish coup d’état by nationalist forces from friends and co-workers, Newman resolved to go to Spain and sailed aboard the French Line ship SS Ile de France to France on February 20th, 1937. In France, Newman spent a week in Paris pretending to be a tourist, before trekking over the French-Spanish border into Spain, so that he could enlist with the 1st Regiment de Tren, 2nd Squadron. This specific squadron was a unit of truck drivers, transporting Spanish and International fighters to the front. 


In letters back home, Newman described his time in Spain as a mixture of relaxation and heavy, fatiguing work. Newman recalls his first week staying in an ex Duke’s former villa in Catalonia. There Newman and his fellow squad members threw lavish parties. Right after however, Newman described driving for 50 hours straight in preparation for the battle of Brunete. Newman spent the war transporting troops to and from Brunete, as well as Aragon and Madrid. It was at Brunete where Newman was pictured with some of his squad members and the famous poet and writer Langston Hughes.


When not driving or fighting, Newman spent his free time editing a paper for the members of his unit and also wrote poems and stories for various newspapers throughout the US. Newman even got one of his stories, titled Smudge on a Chinese Rug, published in Esquire Magazine while still fighting in Spain. 


Newman went back home in October of 1938 aboard the SS Paris for his father’s funeral and proceeded to stay in the United States. He got his old job as a taxi organizer for the Transport Workers Union in New York, and it was here, at a taxi strike in the Spring of 1940, that Newman met his future wife Edie. Once they got married the Newmans moved to New Haven, where Sol got a job working at the Yale University Press, and the New Haven Courier. It was here that Newman was investigated by the US Government for ties to Communism, and actively protested the Mccarthy trials, as well as the arrests of Ethel and Julian Rosenberg. Sol continued to be an ardent supporter of the Lincoln Brigade and its veterans, and a passionate socialist, who was even investigated by the government for his ties to the CPUSA. After a long life in New Haven, Sol and his wife Edie moved to the Meriter Retirement Home in Madison, Wisconsin, where he died on March 9th, 1999, at the age of 90. He is survived by three children, three grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren, and even asked that donations be made in his name to the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives.


Sol Newman, 29. Apr. 2021; ALBA 081; Sol Newman Papers: Fishman; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University,


“Newman, Sol.” SIDBRINT, University of Barcelona,


RGASPI Fond 545, Opis 6, Delo 561, II.23 (fiche); Opis 6, Delo 953, II. 59