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Saturday, September 2, 2006
'Dutch' Schultz: Veteran carved a fierce ideal of social justice
Elias "Dutch" Schultz had the toughness of a longshoreman, the ideals of a freedom fighter, the passion of an artist.
He was all of those things in almost a century of life. The short, wiry character was known for his intense opposition -- and salty language -- toward those who oppressed the downtrodden.
Schultz, one of the last American veterans of the Spanish Civil War and a talented sculptor, died Tuesday in Seattle, just three days after his 96th birthday.
"He was a passionate person with strong values of social justice and peace, despite his military life, and activism," said a longtime friend, Martha Brice. "One of his values in life (was) the motto of the longshoremen union, which goes, 'An injury to one is an injury to all.' "
Anthony Geist, chairman of the Spanish department at the University of Washington, described Schultz as "a crusty old bastard on first impression. A more accurate description was working-class artist, a terrific wood sculptor, a longshoreman committed to his art and to social justice."
Schultz grew up part of a German-Jewish immigrant family in Harlem.
As a young man during the Depression, he was drawn to Europe, where fascism was on the rise. He volunteered for the International Brigade, a group of citizens from more than 50 nations, including nearly 3,000 from the United States, who fought with anti-fascist Spanish forces against Francisco Franco.
"It came out of a fierce hatred for Franco and Hitler and Mussolini and the dangers they represented," said Abe Osheroff, another Seattle veteran of the group's integrated American component, known as the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.
Both Schultz and Osheroff served in the U.S. Army.
After the war, Schultz used the G.I. Bill to help pay for sculpture and woodcarving studies in Switzerland, Italy and England.
"He helped to restore the House of Commons that was damaged by bombing in World War II," Brice said.
Schultz moved to Seattle and worked as a longshoreman, but his real love was wood sculpting. He developed his own style, one that "expressed his feelings of social justice and injustice in different causes, left-wing causes, though he was never extreme," Brice said.
That came through in sculptures depicting a mother protecting her children from danger, or in one of another mother raising her arms in anguish after her son was killed in Central America.
Schultz sculpted a tribute to a colleague slain in the Spanish Civil War and another -- "Bloody Thursday" -- that commemorated the deadly West Coast maritime strike in 1934. It is on display at Odyssey, Maritime Discovery Center at Pier 66.
Osheroff said Schultz was a rare Jew working as a longshoreman, the target of some anti-Semitic comments but someone who "didn't take (expletive)" from others.
"He was very much in tune with the world, more than people who taught at universities," Osheroff said. "He did not have much formal education. But he had a lot of life experience."
Schultz is survived by a niece, Mimi Inorio of Clinton, Conn.
A funeral for Schultz was held on
Wednesday. A memorial service will be Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. at the Richard
Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave., Seattle.
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