Lorenz Kaufman and the Eugene Victor Debs Column: The January 2, 1937 issue of the Socialist Call announced the formation of a 500-man volunteer military formation: The Eugene V. Debs Column (hereafter Debs). The Debs would serve with the Republican armed forces in Spain. The American Socialist party initiated an aggressive campaign to recruit volunteers with military or relevant technical experience. Subsequently, the party raised and provided the funds to send these volunteers to Spain.[i] Lorenz Arron Ursos Carlos Kaufman was one of the Debs volunteers.[ii]
Kaufman was born on May 15, 1908, in Oconto Falls, Wisconsin to Walter Richard Kaufman and his wife the former Helen Strouse Halstead.[iii] Lorenz Kaufman served four years in the .[iv] In 1937, when he was recruited, Kaufman lived in San Francisco with his brother Joseph Kenton Kaufman. He supplemented his small, monthly disability pension issued by the Navy Department with an occasional odd job. Kaufman applied at the offices of the Friends of the Debs Column to an advertisement in the San Francisco News seeking skilled technicians for service in Spain. He interviewed and accepted a position in a weapons-repair facility to be established by the Debs Column in Perpignan, France. The Debs assured Kaufman that he would not be required to enlist in the Spanish armed forces or do anything that would potentially jeopardize his disability payment. They advised Kaufman that he would receive five-dollars per day for wages and additional funds for expenses as required.[v]
Kaufman received $10.50 to apply for a passport. His passport application, witnessed by his brother, stated that he planned to travel in France for six months. He reported to the Van Ness Avenue office of the Socialist Party shortly after receiving his passport on January 29, 1937. His contact advised Kaufman to be ready to depart “at any time.” On February 5, he left San Francisco along with Hans Amlie, Richard Welch, and Grant Cannon. They travelled across the country by car to New York City with stops in Los Angeles and Chicago.
In Chicago, Hans Amlie spoke at a gathering of the Chicago Branch of the Friends of the Debs Column. His remarks were published in the Challenge.
“All of us are qualified for service of either a military or technical nature in Spain,” Amlie said. “One of our members is a former member of the United States Marines who saw service in South America. We desire to thank the Socialist Party and the Friends of the Debs Column for making possible our going to Spain to help defeat fascism...