George Sossenko (1918-2013)

June 20, 2013
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George Sossenko in Sitges, Catalonia, 2008. Photo Jeannette Ferrary

George Sossenko, who joined the fight in Spain at the young age of 16 and remained active in the fight for social justice until the end of his life, died March 14 in Atlanta, Georgia. He was 94.

Sossenko was born in Odessa, Russia in 1918 but grew up mostly in Paris. In 1936, while his family was vacationing near the Spanish border, the teenage Sossenko heard the guns of war in Spain. Once he discovered what the conflict was about, he left a note for his parents and ran away to enlist in the cause.

His age made it difficult to enlist: he was turned away by the French Communists and Socialists. But the anarchist Durruti Column of the International Brigades was pleased to accept him. Sossenko joined under an alias, but a year later his father tracked him down and George returned to France with him.

During World War II, George served with the Free French forces in North Africa and with the U.S. Fifth Army in Italy and France.

After the war, George lived in Argentina where he spoke out against dictator Juan Perón—and was jailed as a result.

George had a varied work life. Educated as a mechanical engineer, he worked for Michelin in South America, developed a sugar cane plantation and headed a mining company in Brazil. He eventually moved to the United States, settling in Atlanta in the early 1970’s. He supervised radial tire development for American cars and became an international consultant on the manufacture of tires.

He remained active in political causes throughout his work life. Once George retired, he became a full-time fighter for social justice. In recent years, despite failing health, he attended weekly vigils against the Iraq War in Atlanta with his wife Bernice Bass, also a lifelong activist. George also served as president of the Atlanta chapter of Veterans for Peace.

George Sossenko published his memoir in 2004, a Spanish-language book entitled Aventurero Idealista. In 2011, it was published in English as The Idealistic Adventurer.

He is survived by his wife Bernice “Birdie” Bass of Atlanta, a sister and six grandchildren.

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2 Responses to “ George Sossenko (1918-2013) ”

  1. Char Prieto on June 26, 2013 at 10:05 am

    RIP my dear. You will not be forgotten. Thanks for going to my county to fight fascism. Salud camarada!

  2. Duncan Longstaff on January 26, 2017 at 9:51 am

    I was interested to find that both my father fought in the ranks of the International Brigade but also in the Ranks of the American 5th Army led by General Mark Clark. For some reason the 7th Rifle Brigade of the British Army was under the direct command of the 5th Army in the Italian campaign, why this was I do not know, however Dad was awarded an American Bronze Star medal.

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