|Who was Maurice Rose?|
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ART Diamond, now 89, was in the 104th Infantry Division of the Seventh Corps of the 3rd Armored Division commanded by Gen. Maurice Rose in WW II.
The one and only time he saw Rose was in February, 1945 — but Diamond had no clue about his identity.
“We were responsible for clearing a roadblock on the road to Cologne, Germany,” he says. “It was very bad — mined and zeroed in — but the tanks had to get through. We were assigned the task of clearing the road.
“And there were casualties.”
Around 3 a.m., Army tanks began making their way across the road.
“The first tank passes,” Diamond says. “The second tank passes. The third tank passes.
“The fourth tank, an open half track, pulls over to the side. It was Gen. Rose.”
Rose hopped out of vehicle, went directly over to the wounded and shared words of encouragement in their darkest hour.
“I’d never seen a major general do anything like that,” Diamond says. “I asked the driver, ‘who in the world is that?’”
The driver said, “Oh, that’s General Rose. He’s our guy. He’s always at the front. We call him our point man — our spearhead man. Whenever the tanks are rolling, he’s up front.’”
There are many details of war that vanish inside a chaotic cyclone.
Yet Art Diamond never forgot the great general who stopped his jeep and comforted the wounded.
And if Diamond has anything to say about it, all of Denver will remember Maurice Rose.
THE General Maurice Rose Memorial Gallery, which opened Dec. 4, 2012, at Rose Medical Center, pays homage to a fearless military strategist and leader who was ambushed and killed on March 30, 1945, near Paderborn, Germany.
He was 45.
The gallery honoring Denver’s native son and namesake of the city’s hospital for Jewish physicians is subdued, contemplative and rather modest considering his status in 20th-century military history.
Set in a quiet space at the far end of the hospital’s main lobby, it celebrates the man described as WW II’s greatest forgotten commander. Today, only a few are aware of his stunning achievements.
Rose, who was born on erev Chanukah, 1899, spoke Yiddish and read Hebrew, was an inspiring Bar Mitzvah and had a facility for comprehending complicated Jewish texts.
He also wanted to be a soldier more than anything in the world.
He enlisted with the Colorado National Guard at age 15, hoping to join Gen. John “Black Jack” Pershing’s expedition to Mexico. His parents found out and dragged him home.
When America entered WW I on April 6, 1917, Rose reenlisted at Lowry and was accepted into officers training school. Sent overseas, he fought in the Vosges, Saint Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne campaigns. By age 17, he was promoted to second lieutenant.
He was elevated to captain after the war — and remained a captain for 16 years. Despite his proven record, his career stalled. No explanation was officially forthcoming, or necessary.
Rose understood perfectly. He was Jewish.
At some point Rose changed his religion from Hebrew to Protestant on his military records, presumably to advance to a higher rank. No documentation of conversion exists. Both his first and second wives were Christian.
In WW II, Rose acquired a reputation for leading his men from a forward position, as opposed to the back. He commanded Armored Divisions in North Africa, Sicily and the 3rd armored division in Europe. He was promoted to major general in August, 1944.
He is buried beneath a white cross in the Margratan Military Cemetery in the Netherlands.
For some Jews, Rose remains a highly controversial figure. But there is no hint of controversy in this peaceful sanctuary of praise and love.
Next to the portrait of the leather-jacketed, handsome general commissioned by artist Phil Levine is a poem written by Maurice’s father Rabbi (Rev.) Samuel Rose, a lay leader at the old Beth Joseph on 24th and Curtis Streets.
“And so I make known to the world at large
“That man can reach heights, accept the charge
“To duty divine; ready to serve with hand and heart
“In brotherhood dedicated to the healing art.”
SHORTLY after Rose’s death, members of the proposed Jewish hospital’s lay board and representatives of the Intermountain Jewish News and the Denver Post suggested the new hospital be named for General Rose.
In the memorial gallery, a who’s who of Jewish communal leaders pose solemnly for the camera: Max Grimes, David H. Stein, I.J. Shore, Joe Alpert, Phillip Miller, Lewis K. Sigman, Isidor Hilb, Lou Cohan, Ben M. Blumberg, J. L. Ambrose.
Missing are Joseph J. Amter, Henry C. Frankel, Hyman Friedman, Ira L. Quiat and Harry Rosenbaum. Maurice Shwayder, first chair of the board of trustees, has his own portrait.
Max Goldberg, former IJN publisher who was instrumental in fundraising and publicity for the hospital — including getting Eddie Cantor to headline the first gala fundraiser — smiles next to Cantor, Gen. Rose’s mother Katy and surviving son Arnold Rose in another photo.
Cantor’s appearance alone raised $95,000 for the hospital. Afterward, Goldberg attracted a royal influx of celebrities to Denver to endorse the campaign: Jack Benny, Steve Allen, Danny Kaye, Sophie Tucker, Errol Flynn, Jimmy Durante, Harry Belafonte and others.
People near and far gave what they could afford, including the soldiers of the 3rd Armored Division who donated $30,000 to commemorate their fallen leader.
The shovel Katy Rose used for the Aug. 31, 1948, groundbreaking of General Rose Memorial Hospital is on display, as is the simple corner stone.
The words of Gen. Eisenhower, who dedicated the hospital in memory of his colleague and good friend that day, leap from the white wall to extoll the significance of both man and institution:
“Here then, we have not only a building, not only a place where suffering will be relieved — we have the perpetuation of a spirit that will endure longer than these walls and this glass and the equipment that will go into this hospital . . . because each of us is saying, ‘I stand ready to do my part in [solving] those problems that are given to a citizen of the greatest, most powerful country upon the earth.’”
An elderly patient literally bumps into the gallery and walks silently past the photographs, memorabilia and inscriptions. Then he stops in front of the large mural of entertainers who raised funds for Rose Hospital in the mid- to late 1940s.
“Jack Benny!” he mutters under his breath. “Wow!”
“WE are using General Rose as a vehicle to make people aware of Jewish War Veterans Post 344 in Denver,” Art Diamond tells the IJN.
“Why? Because he’s a very popular figure. When he died, he was the highest ranking officer killed in combat of all the American troops, and the highest ranking Jewish soldier in the US Army.”
On this bitterly cold day, Diamond is joined by Dr. Ervin Moss, 86, a Navy veteran of WW II; and Jim Barnard, 70, who served in the Air Force during the Vietnam era and is commander of JWV Post 344.
“Rose came through the ranks,” Barnard says. “He was a silver mustang. He didn’t go to West Point or even to college. He rose from a private to a two star general.”