BiographyWeisenfeld, Nathan (Wesson, Neil) (Wessen, Neil); b. April 4, 1906 (November 2, 1906); Detroit, Michigan; Jewish; High School; High School ROTC 2 years; Single; Mechanic and Factory Worker; CP July 1935; Received Passport# 365204 which listed his address as 2061 Pladstone Avenue, Detroit, Michigan (2055 Virginia Park, Detroit, Michigan); Arrived in Spain on February 12, 1937; Served with the XV BDE, Lincoln BN, Co. 2, Section 2, Group 2; Attended OTS returned to Lincoln-Washington BN, MG Co.; BDE Estado Mayor, Chief of Brigade Runners; Mackenzie-Papineau BN; Served at Jarama, Brunete, Fuentes de Ebro, Teruel, Retreats, and the Ebro Offensive; Final Rank Teniente; Returned to the US on December 15, 1938 aboard the Paris; WWII Armed Forces; d. June 9, 1974, Royal Oak, Michigan.
Sources: Cadre; Lincoln; Voros-Jarama; RGASPI; ALBA 117 Neil Wesson Papers; USSDA; L-W Tree Ancestry. Code A
Biography: Neil Wesson, nee Nathan Weisenfeld (1906-1974) was born in Detroit, Michigan to Polish Jewish Orthodox parents. As a young adult, Wesson worked in the mailroom of the Detroit Post Office, as a lumberjack in upper Michigan, and as a chemical worker at Dow in Midland. Wesson joined the Merchant Marines in 1932 and spent several months fighting the Japanese in Shanghai. Back in Detroit in 1933, seeing the effects of the Depression, Wesson became a dedicated Marxist. He worked as an arc welder in several factories in Detroit and was an active member of the United Auto Workers and the Communist Party before going to Spain in 1937 to fight fascism. Wesson served in Spain as a sergeant in the 15th International Brigade and fought in battles at Jarama, the Ebro River, Brunete, Teruel (the Aragon Offensive) and Madrid. He was wounded several times during his service. Returning from Spain in 1939, Wesson found that he had been blacklisted and to find employment he changed his name from Nathan (Nate) Weisenfeld to Neil Wesson. Wesson got a job at the Packard Motor Car Company where he was an active union organizer. Wesson was accepted into the United States Army in 1942. He served as a weapons sergeant and reconnaissance scout with the 40th Engineer Combat Regiment. Wesson fought campaigns in France and Italy and during the Battle for Germany, he was among the first to reach and open the gates of the Dachau concentration camp. He was awarded the Legion of Merit for his service in World War II. After the war, Wesson enrolled at Wayne State University where he earned a degree in Business Administration with a major in Accounting. Finding that he preferred physical labor, Wesson returned to factory work as a welder. Once again, he was an active union member. In the 1950s Wesson began writing free-verse poetry on historical and political topics. In 1970, he published a book of poetry called Man In Ferment. He died in 1974 at the age of 68. - Courtesy of Tamiment Library, NYU.
Photographs: Nathan Weisenfeld, Chief of Brigade Runners, November 1937. The 15th International Brigade Photographic Unit Photograph Collection; ALBA Photo 11; ALBA Photo number 11-0898. Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives. Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, 70 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012, New York University Libraries; and below Weisenfeld in Spain RGASPI Fond 545, Opis 6, Delo 1010.