Spanish Archives - Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport

Person - Alexander, Frank Edward (1911-1996)

Alexander, Frank Edward (1911-1996)




Preferred form:

Alexander, Frank Edward (1911-1996)Other forms

Dates of existence/Biographical dates:

Nebraska (Estados Unidos)  1911-02-08 - 1996-04-15


Frank Edward Alexander was born in Nebraska on February 8, 1911.

After his mother´s death, he stayed for a short period of time with his younger brother, Hursel, who had become involved in the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) and lived in the home of the famed Communist leader, Mother Bloor. Afterwards, he moved to Los Angeles where he found lodging in a Young Communist League (YCL) flophouse. His roommates were Aaron Johnson, Otto Reeves, Norman Lisberg, Virgil Rhetta, and Alpheus Prowell, all black Communists who later served in the Spanish Civil War. He became a member Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA) in 1931, where he met John Steinbeck and Joan Crawford, who were also involved in its activities.

Alexander sailed for France on June 12, 1937. In Spain he was assigned to the Washington Battalion, but soon contracted pneumonia and was hospitalized. After his recovery, he was reassigned to the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion and appointed squad leader of a machine-gun company. Alexander was wounded twice during the fighting at Fuentes de Ebro. Alexander escaped from the hospital where he was recuperating to rejoin the 15th International Brigade.

During the fighting at Teruel, Alexander and his squad were sent on a reconnaissance patrol near the enemy's lines but were caught in the open and cut down by long-range machine gun fire. Alexander was the only survivor.

During the retreats that followed the Nationalist's rapid advance in March and April 1938, Alexander found himself behind enemy lines. After several harrowing days, Alexander made it back across the Ebro into Republican territory. During the Republic's last offensive in July 1938, he was wounded and spent the remainder of his time in Spain in a hospital. Due to the severity of his wound, he was left behind when the other Americans were withdrawn.

He was imprisoned by the French authorities while he was trying to cross the Pyrenees together with other thousands of Spanish refugees. He spent several weeks in a concentration camp around Perpignan until a U.S. embassy official arranged his passage to the United States. He finally returned to the US on March 3, 1939. He returned to Los Angeles where he met and married Lillian Perlowe.

During the Second World War, Alexander enlisted in the Army and was assigned to Company B of the 318th Engineer Combat Battalion, an African-American outfit. He was promoted to First Sergeant and served in the Pacific during the Guadalcanal campaign. Alexander returned home in December 1945.

He was a full-time Communist party functionary from 1948 to 1955. He chaired the Negro Commission of the Los Angeles Communist party and was a member of the California State Committee. During the McCarthy period, Alexander endured constant surveillance and harassment. He was indicted as one of the Los Angeles Twenty-One, a group of Communist party members charged with conspiracy. The charges against Alexander were subsequently dropped but not before he had served a short jail term.

Both Alexander and his wife resigned from the CPUSA following the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956. He became a successful shop owner and died on April 15, 1996, in Seattle, Washington.

Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939

Date of the event: 1936 - 1939





United States

Lugar de Nacimiento:

Nebraska (Estados Unidos) in 1911-02-08


Related Authorities

Brigadas Internacionales (España)

Associative relations :

Abraham Lincoln Battalion  ( He/She is a member of )


Producer of:

  • No Units of Description associated.

Related documents:

  • Centro Documental de la Memoria Histórica  (1)