History Detectives, continued: David Fellman

September 18, 2011
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The first page of the typewritten eulogy of ALB vet Doug Roach, by vet Sol Fellman.

Editor’s Note: David Fellman, son and nephew of ALB vets Sol and Harry Fellman, was recently featured in an episode of PBS’s History Detectives, alongside ALBA’s James D. Fernández and Sebastiaan Faber. He writes to supply some additional details of his family’s story and to share some of his remaining questions.

My father, Sol was born in Omaha NE, and had 7 siblings.  My uncle, Harry was Sol’s younger brother and was working in Chicago when Sol graduated from the University ofNebraska as a chemical engineer.   Unable to find work in Nebraska, Sol joined his brother in the windy city.   Harry had a job in Chicago.  He was very artistic and aspired to be an artist.  He was also interested in politics and attended many political meetings.

Sol had finally found a job working in a chemical lab.  One of Sol’s co-workers in his company was a nazi and he was very vocal about what the nazi’s had in mind.  Sol decided to volunteer to take care of his younger brother, Harry, who was passionate about the conflict in Spain.  As a chemical engineer, Sol thought he would be making weapons for the threatened republic.

They left the US, in secret, in mid January 1937.  Sol and Harry were amongst the first to arrive.   They reached Spain in early February and were given antique rifles, 5 bullets each and sent to the front.   They had no training and were immediately fighting.  Harry was shot in the stomach and sent to a hospital.  Sol stayed at the Jarama front.

Harry was placed with a new unit being formed.  Sol left Spain in September 1937 after he thought Harry would leave and meet him in Paris.  Harry and Sol never saw each other again.  (I have read the Paul Sigel letters that mention Harry and Sol.)

Questions I still have:

Where exactly was Harry Killed?  Are there any reports?  Was the Fellman family ever notified?  Why did Harry not list his home in Omaha as next of kin?  Did ALBA ever write about Harry or Sol?

I know that Sol had retained his passport.  What were the circumstances of his leaving Spain?  Are there any pictures of Sol? In Spain or on the passage on the Paris?  (I have no evidence, but I think the brothers quarreled in July or August of 1937.)

Are there records of Sol?  I know there was a Solomon Feldman but he was from New York and came later.  I think Sol and Solomon are thought to be one person.

Sol told me that he was approached by a Soviet agent after his return, he was scared and did not reply to the request.

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One Response to “ History Detectives, continued: David Fellman ”

  1. Maria Maki on December 26, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Hi David,
    I just saw the pbs episode regarding your Dad and Uncle. I am currently doing a documentary (home-made!) on an interview I did with my Dad in 1996 who describes in detail the events of his time with the Lincoln’s, the Washington’s, and the McPap’s. I have lots of info, and maybe you would be interested in seeing some of it. I live just outside of Mpls. towards St. Cloud. I do come into Mpls. quite a lot. Just send an email if you are interested. Thanks, Maria Maki

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