Leo Fichtenbaum

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Leonard Joseph (Leo) Fichtenbaum born on June 7, 1924, the son of Helen Fichtenbaum and Jack Fichtenbaum, died on Nov. 27, 2011.

He is survived by wife Myrna Fichtenbaum, his three children, Rudy Fichtenbaum (Bonnie), Heidi (Antonio) and Carl Fichtenbaum (Mary Beth).[1]

Radical life

As a teenager and a member of the Young Communist League, he was active in the struggle to free the Scottsboro Boys and helped to organize the fur workers.

He fought to end fascism during World War II. As an infantryman he landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy on June 7, 1944, fighting in the Battle of the Bulge, then liberating a concentration camp. He was then appointed mayor of a city in occupied Germany and remained in the Army until his honorable discharge at the end of the war.

Under the GI Bill, he attended City College of New York (CCNY) graduating with a degree in history. While at CCNY he was active in a variety of struggles for social justice including the fight to free Willie McGee. He worked as a machinist until he was blacklisted during the McCarthy period.

He returned to school getting an MSW from the University of Connecticut. After graduation he was employed as psychiatric social worker at the Clifford Beers Child Guidance Clinic. Later he worked as a social worker and community organizer at the Connecticut Mental Health Center, while earning a master's in public health from Yale.

He was very active in many civil rights campaigns and was part of the antiwar movement, protesting the war in Vietnam. As a community organizer he spearheaded the fight to prevent lead poisoning, committing civil disobedience to bring attention to the problem in young children, particularly in the African American community.

He was also active in leading the movement to desegregate the public schools in New Haven. He helped found the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression and was active in the movement to Free Angela Davis, and the Reverend Benjamin Chavis and the Wilmington 10.[2]


In 1970, he moved to St. Louis where he worked for two neighborhood health centers, Yeatmann and Union Sara, and was an assistant professor in the Department of Community Medicine at St. Louis University until his retirement in 1986.

In St. Louis, he fought against police brutality in the African American community and against the closing of Homer G. Phillips Hospital. He campaigned for the release of prisoners unjustly jailed and for justice in Nicaragua and El Salvador.

For more than 50 years, he was a member of the Communist Party USA and was an ardent fighter for labor rights, social justice, peace and human rights.[3]

Communist Party reformer

In 1991 Leo Fichtenbaum, Missouri was one of several hundred Communist Party USA members to sign the a paper "An initiative to Unite and Renew the Party" - most signatories left the Party after the December 1991 conference to found Committees of Correspondence.[4]

CoC National Conference endorser

In 1992 Leo Fichtenbaum, Latin America Solidarity Committee, St Louis Missouri, endorsed the Committees of Correspondence national conference Conference on Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the 90s held at Berkeley California July 17-19.[5]

Committees of Correspondence

On February 26 1994 a Midwest Regional Meeting of Committees of Correspondence was held at West Lafayette Indiana.

Participants included Leo Fichtenbaum and Myrna Fichtenbaum, St. Louis Missouri.[6]