Twentieth Century Radicalism in Minnesota Oral History Project: Interview with Clarence M. Forester
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Description BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Clarence Forester was born in 1915 in Alfred, North Dakota, into a farming family. His father died when he was young, and he grew up in relative poverty. He left school after the seventh grade to help support the family. Discouraged by the long hours and low pay of arm work, Mr. Forester went to Superior, Wisconsin in 1931, looking for a job. There he reconnected with his half-brothers, Walter and Rudolph Harju, who were both members of the Communist Party. Rudolph edited the Finnish-language newspaper "Tyomies", and Walter was the secretary for the Workers and Farmers Cooperative Unity Alliance. Under their influence, Mr. Forester's political views began to develop, so that when the Spanish Civil War broke out in July 1936, he volunteered to fight in the International Brigade. He served in the Abraham Lincoln Battalion from February 1937 through November 1938. In the meantime, the focus of Walter Harju's activities had switched to Minneapolis. Mr. Forester lived with Mr. Harju and his wife upon his return from Spain, supporting himself as a laborer and factory worker. Soon after the US entry into the Second World War, he was drafted. He served in a field artillery corps which saw front-line duty in the European theater. After this war was over, Mr. Forester came back again to Minneapolis, married, and became a machinist. Although he remained connected to the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade organization, he was not politically active. At the time of the interview he was retired and living in Minneapolis. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Memories of growing up in the depression. Impressions of Italian fascism. Opinions of U.S. neutrality in the Spanish Civil War, and the attempt to embargo arms shipments to Spain. Impressions of James Flower. Memories of the Finnish community on the north side of Minneapolis, 1930s. Legal actions resulting from the Works Progress Administration strike of 1939. Recruiting efforts for the Abraham Lincoln Battalion in Minneapolis, 1937-38. Experiences as a Lincoln Brigade volunteer: the trip to Spain, battles, reasons for leaving, conditions that led to the fighting. Reactions to the Finnish-Soviet War among Finnish Americans, 1939-40. Experiences in the Second World War: acceptance of Lincoln Brigade vets into the armed services; invasion of Europe; Battled of the Bulge; capture of Aachen, Germany; liberation of Buchenwald; reunion with the Russian army at the Elbe River. Reactions to the reform movement in the Soviet Union, 1989. Impressions of the North Dakota National Guard in the Second World War. Treatment of radicals in the army during World War II. Historical treatment and evaluation of the Spanish Civil War; its place in U.S. folklore and literature. Activities of the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigades in support of the Nicaraguan government, late 1980s. COMMENTS ON INTERVIEW: There is another interview with Mr. Forester in the Brandeis University collection about the Abraham Lincoln Battalion. There is intermittent microphone noise on the tapes.
Quantity 2 hours sound cassette
26 pages transcript
Format Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
Measurements 01:48:14 running time
Creation Interviewee: Forester, Clarence M.
Interviewer: Ross, Carl E.
Made in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, United States
Subjects Made in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, United States
Dates Creation: 07/25/1989
Holding Type Oral History - Interview
Identifiers OH 30
Accession Number AV1990.228.18
More Info MHS Library Catalog
Related Collections Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'Twentieth Century Radicalism in Minnesota Oral History Project'

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