José Robles

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José Robles was a committed Stalinist[1] who served in the Spanish Civil War as a Colonel[2] in the Red Army[3] and interpreter for General Jānis Bērziņš[4] (alias "Grishin"),[5] head of Soviet military intelligence.[6] Robles was never seen again[7] after Bērziņš was recalled to Moscow[8] and shot in Stalin's Great Terror in 1938.[9] According to journalist Josephine Herbst, Robles had been secretly executed by the Communists.[10] He was apparently abducted and murdered[11] by a Communist "special section,"[12] according to former fellow traveler[13] John Dos Passos,[14] because he "knew too much about the relations between the Spanish war ministry and the Kremlin."[15]

Before going to fight in Spain, Robles taught Spanish at Johns Hopkins University, where one of his students was Alger Hiss. Hiss, who apparently knew Robles well enough to spend time at his home,[16] would later say he too considered going to Spain to join the forces[17] characterized as "Stalin's foreign legion."[18]


  1. Jason Powell, Review: The Breaking Point: Hemingway, Dos Passos, and the Murder of Jose Robles, eHistory at OSU (Ohio State University), January 2006
  2. Jeffrey Meyers, Hemingway: A Biography (Da Capo Press, 1999), ISBN 0306808900, p. 307; John P. Diggins, Up from Communism (Columbia University Press, 1994) ISBN 0231084889, p. 90
  3. Jason Powell, Review: The Breaking Point: Hemingway, Dos Passos, and the Murder of Jose Robles, eHistory at OSU (Ohio State University), January 2006
  4. Paul Johnson, Intellectuals (HarperCollins, 1990) ISBN 0060916575, p. 156; James R. Mellow, Hemingway: A Life Without Consequences (Da Capo Press, 1993) ISBN 020162620, p. 506; cf. Victor Alba and Stephen Schwartz, Spanish Marxism Versus Soviet Communism: A History of the P.O.U.M. in the Spanish Civil War (Transaction Publishers, 2008) ISBN 1412807336, p. 233
  5. Ronald Radosh, Mary R. Habeck, and Grigoriĭ Nikolaevich Sevostianov, Spain Betrayed: the Soviet Union in the Spanish Civil War (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001) ISBN 0300089813, p. 319
  6. Hugh Thomas, The Spanish Civil War (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994) ISBN 0671758764, p. 380; Burnett Bolloten, The Spanish Civil War: Revolution and Counterrevolution (Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1991) ISBN 0807819069, pp. 307-308, 310, 312, 838 n. 11.
  7. George Packer, "The Spanish Prisoner," The New Yorker, October 31, 2005; Soledad Fox, Constancia de la Mora in War and Exile: International Voice for the Spanish Republic (Sussex Academic Press, 2007) ISBN 1845191668, pp. 68-73
  8. Roy Aleksandrovich Medvedev, Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism [tr. George Shriver] [New York: Columbia University Press, 1989] ISBN 0231063504, p. 428
  9. David J. Nordlander, "Origins of a Gulag Capital: Magadan and Stalinist Control in the Early 1930s," Slavic Review, Vol. 57, No. 4 (Winter, 1998), pp. 791-812
  10. Robert Gorham Davis, "A Life of Passionate Commitments," The New York Times, August 5, 1984
  11. Nigel Jones, re: Spain: on Law, Morality and Amnesty, World Association of International Studies (Stanford University), February 26th, 2009
  12. Stephen Schwartz, "Intellectuals and Assassins: Annals of Stalin's Killerati," The New York Times, January 24, 1988
  13. Alice Béja, Radically American: John Dos Passos, Culture and Politics, Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary American Culture 8.1 (2008)
  14. Paul P. Reuben, Chapter 7: John Dos Passos (1896-1970), Perspectives in American Literature - A Research and Reference Guide - An Ongoing Project
  15. Stephen Koch, The Breaking Point: Hemingway, Dos Passos, and the Murder of Jose Robles (Madrid: Ediciones Palabra, 2006) ISBN 1582432813, p. 272; cf. Josephine Herbst, The Starched Blue Sky of Spain: and Other Memoirs (HarperCollins, 1991) ISBN 006016512X, pp. 150-167
  16. Tony Hiss, Laughing Last: Alger Hiss by Tony Hiss (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1977), ISBN 039524899X, pp. 37-38
  17. John Chabot Smith, Alger Hiss, the True Story (Austin, Tex.: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1976), ISBN 0030137764, p. 104
  18. Herbert Romerstein, Heroic Victims: Stalin's Foreign Legion in the Spanish Civil War (Washington: Council for the Defense of Freedom, 1994) ISBN 9994812505. Using Moscow's Comintern archives, Romerstein, chief of the U.S. Information Agency's Office to Counter Soviet Disinformation and Active Measures in the Reagan administration, documents how American volunteers (mostly Communists) were promised they were signing up for only a seven-month hitch, only to be told later they were in for the duration; those who complained were imprisoned or shot (and listed as casualties). Supposedly formed to fight fascism, in the wake of the Nazi-Soviet Pact they largely opposed Allied efforts to resist the Nazis. ("...the Nazi-Soviet Pact and the Lincolns' willingness to change their position on the antifascist struggle in order to conform to Soviet policy would forever cast a shadow on their legacy, as it would with the other elements of the Communist Left." World War II Letters from the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, Abraham Lincoln Brigades Archives, 2008)