Communist and trade unionist, Norbert John Fleckenstein, was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on January 14, 1912. He attended Central Catholic High School in Fort Wayne (1926-1930) and the Wilson Jr. College in Chicago (1940-1941) before he served in the U.S. Army (1942-1946). By 1936, Fleckenstein belonged to the Communist Party U.S.A (Opposition), whose members were often called "Lovestoneites" after Jay Lovestone, the founder and theoretician. Fleckenstein continued to adhere to the organization, as it successfully became the Independent Communist Labor League (ca. 1938) and finally the Independent Labor League of America (ca. 1939) before it dissolved in 1940. From 1936 to 1939, Fleckenstein was also active in attempts to organize the Wayne Novelty Company of Decatur, Indiana. He was also involved with the Workers Alliance of Indiana.
In 1948, Fleckenstein corresponded with Father Charles Owen Rice of Pittsburgh, Pa., a leading Catholic anti-Communist trade union figure. In 1949, Fleckenstien was club secretary of the Clean Labor Policy Club of Fort Wayne, whose stance seems reflected in the fact that they invited Fred Kelley, candidate of the so-called right-wing faction of the Electrical Workers Union, to address one of their meetings. In 1955, Fleckenstein was Fort Wayne Regional Representative for Region 8 of the UAW-AFL. In 1956, he was at least temporarily affiliated with the Allied Industrial Workers of America. He died on November 16, 1986.