15 Octobre Copic goes to Albacete and Crespo moves up




Robert Merriman’s diary for October 15-19, 1937

Merriman caught up his diary by October 19 at the end of the Fuentes de Ebro action.  We place the remaining pages on the 15th although they could have been days later.

Merriman catches wind of Vladimir Copic wanting to leave for Albacete to take part in a party meeting in which Yugoslavian delegates would be present.  Indalecio Prieto, the Minister of War, would also be present at this high level meeting. Merriman says Copic lost interest in the action at Fuentes and just wanted to leave.  Copic wanted to push General Walter into claiming the need for a new Army Corps (which Walter would lead) that would contain all the International Brigades.  Copic feared that Walter would never make such a demand at a high level meeting and Copic wanted to go push him.   Copic reveals that the XVth International Brigade’s time on the Aragon front is coming to an end and that in a month they would return to the Center Front near Madrid.

David Lasser

David Lasser and Sander Feinberg, Photo Courtesy of the Louis Weinstock Collection, Tamiment Library, NYU

Merriman says that David Lasser, head of the Workers Alliance of America, is in Quinto and Fuentes to interview the troops.   While Copic is said to have remained in Quinto throughout the whole Fuentes de Ebro fight, Lasser came with a blue banner which must have been awarded to the Brigade.   They were, in fact, preoccupied with fighting a war at the point of his visit and Lasser had the sense to know that he was in the way.  He left and Comrade Ivan (Ivan Rujevcic or John Gerlach) slept overnight using the blue banner for a pillow.

Again, Copic and Merriman were called to a meeting to talk strategy of their “sub sector”.   These meetings don’t impress Robert Merriman.   Copic, however, used the meeting to gain permission to go to Albacete.   Quinto is left in charge of 2nd Chief of Staff Crespo. Both Copic and Merriman now call him a “Figurehead”.  Copic left for Albacete in something that looks like “Petrusha” or “Petruska”, which could be a Soviet automobile.  Also possible as a transcription would be “Patrulla” which would be a police car.

Merriman relates that the Army Corp command has been replaced.  At the start of the Aragon, the Army Corps was led by General Pozas and it is now official that he is out.   Merriman is told by Dave Doran who was at the meeting that the Aragon offensive is now over.  The Euskadi campaign also was winding down with the fall of most of the major cities in the Basque Region, so any diversionary value of the Zaragoza offensive was now over.   Consolidation of the held territory around Madrid was now imperative.

While Copic was away, Major Crespo was at play.  Crespo got himself appointed to Chief of Staff of the Army Corps jumping over the Brigade.   He will lead four brigades and the supporting artillery and armor.  Merriman is taken by surprise but not by Crespo’s careerism.  Merriman says Crespo will always find a way up and Merriman hopes it is up and out.   Merriman says that a letter arrives for Copic from “Denner” (presumably a Russian advisor) and gives the name of the replacement “advisor”.

John Givins

John Givulinovic (John Givins), ALBA PHOTO 11-0936, Tamiment Library, NYU

A name transcribed as “Garens” left for Valencia to bring up 510 new recruits.   It is more likely that this is “Givens” or John Givinovitch, who was in Transports.   Milt Wolff says that he doesn’t recall any replacements coming up but Art Landis clearly was interested in this large increase in the Brigades.¹



¹ Art Landis questioning Milt Wolff, ALBA AUDIO 66, ibid.