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Keeping the story of a war hero alive

Images courtesy of Marshall Fogel

From the first time he saw it, the World War II helmet marked by two bullet holes captured Marshall Fogel’s imagination. At age 8, he was visiting a relative at Denver’s Rose Memorial Hospital when he was drawn to the helmet on display. Fogel wondered about the man who wore it, the same man in the portrait on the wall: Gen. Maurice Rose.

Over the years, Fogel (JD ’65) learned more about Rose—that he was the highest-ranking Jewish officer to serve in the U.S. Army during World War II, as well as the highest-ranking officer to be killed in combat. He learned that Rose, who was raised in Denver, was a beloved leader respected by enlisted troops and generals alike for leading from the front and for his relentless pursuit of the enemy. 

One thing he learned left him flummoxed: “If he’s Jewish, and he’s known to be the only Jewish general, why is there a cross on Rose’s grave?” Fogel asked. He began searching for answers in 2010, and in 2018 he published a book, “Major General Maurice Rose: The Most Decorated Battletank Commander in U.S. Military History.”

So why is there a cross on Rose’s grave? 

“Anti-Semitism in the military, particularly back then, was rampant,” Fogel explains. Whenever Rose was wounded and went to a hospital, he would list his religion as Protestant to avoid anti-Semitism. Thus, when Rose died, a cross came to mark his grave at the Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten, although evidence is clear that he never converted.

Rose Memorial Hospital, now Rose Medical Center, was named in honor of the national hero. Over the years, his helmet and portrait disappeared from the hospital lobby. Fogel took it upon himself to track them down. The painting was located inside a hospital closet and the helmet in a basement in Fort Benning, Georgia. The painting has been restored and is once again prominently displayed in the lobby. The helmet is now “in a place of honor” at the National Museum of the U.S. Army near Washington, D.C., Fogel says.

Even after his book was published, Fogel continued his research. This led him to the hospital basement where he discovered, hidden in a storage closet, boxes of archival material, including Rose family scrapbooks. He knew immediately that the discovery belonged in the University of Denver’s Beck Archives, which serve as a repository of the heritage of Jewish culture and history in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region. (Fogel’s longstanding commitment to DU includes underwriting the Fogel Family Reading Room in DU’s Anderson Academic Commons as a tribute to his parents.) 

“I called Jeanne Abrams [director of the Beck Archives] and I said, ‘Look this guy’s a big deal. You are now the epicenter of the General Rose records,’” Fogel says, referring to this collection and a previous collection donated by the Rose Community Foundation.

“Now DU has the best of the best,” he adds. 

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