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Steve Nelson who was born with the name of Stephen Mesarosh or Stjepan Mesaros (1 January 1903 – December 1993) who was born in Čaglić, Croatia in 1903 - a Croat of Hungarian extraction.[1] (The Communist Party of the United States would later claim he was born in Steelton, Pennsylvania.[1])

In 1919, he emigrated to the United States, working in a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania slaughterhouse.[1] Dissatisfied with labor conditions, he joined the Socialist Labor Party, but left in 1928 to join the Communist Party of the United States.[1] . Nelson worked for better working conditions, Less hours, child labor laws, and women rights.

He studied at the Lenin Institute in Moscow, with his wife Margaret before returning to the United States to work full time for the Communist Party.[1]

He went to Spain in 1937, and was initially political commissar of the Lincoln Battalion of XV International Brigade. To get into Spain, Nelson with a group of other men climbed over the mountains between Spain and France. He became commander of the battalion on the first day (6 July 1937) of the Battle of Brunete, replacing Martin Hourihan who was badly wounded.[2]. Nelson led his men in taking a key church in the town of Belchite. In this battle Nelson was shot in the face and leg. This town still exists today in ruins. Franco wanted to leave a message to the people of Spain. Nelson once stated, if the world gave 1% of what it gave in World War II, Franco would have been stopped. Fascism would have been crippled. Only the USSR and Mexico supported the Spanish Republic.

In 1950, Nelson was confronted with the well-known jurist Michael Musmanno, whose career was taking a sharply anti-Communist turn. Nelson was at the time leading a regional branch of the American Communist Party, one of whose activists sold Musmanno a tract for $5.75. Musmanno declared that "this store is the equivalent of an advance post of the Red Army", got Nelson charged in Pennsylvania state court with sedition and used the resulting publicity to secure his own election to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

Nelson initially received a 20-year prison sentence, $10,000 in fines and $13,000 in prosecution costs, and was for a time jailed in Pittsburgh. However, in 1956, the United States Supreme Court threw out the case, saying federal law superseded the state law under which Nelson was prosecuted ((Pennsylvania -v- Nelson), 350 U.S. 497 (1956)).

Nelson was, in 1956, also a party to another U.S. Supreme Court case arising out of his membership of the Communist Party (Mesarosh -v- United States), which was of a more technical nature. Nelson later left the Communist party. Nelson realized the corruption and lies from the party were not the true socialist values and ideals he believed in.

He became national commander of the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade[3] at its 1967 convention.[4]

Nelson later retired with his beloved wife of 60 years in Cape Cod. Poor, he built two houses in his sixties to live in.



  1. ^ a b c d e Eby, pp 141-2
  2. ^ Eby, p 184
  3. ^ Last commander of Abraham Lincoln Brigade Dies at 92
  4. ^ Eby, p 435


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