Maurice Rose (1899–1945) served in the US Army during World War I and II. Raised and educated in Denver, Rose attained the rank of major general, making him the highest-ranking person of Jewish heritage in the US Army. He was known for his aggressive leadership style, directing his units from the front rather than a rear command post. Rose was killed in action in Germany during the closing days of World War II. A new Jewish hospital being planned in Denver was named the General Maurice Rose Memorial Hospital to honor the fallen Jewish general. The hospital opened in 1948 and is now known as Rose Medical Center-HealthOne.
Maurice Rose was born to Russian immigrants in New York City on November 26, 1899. Rose’s grandfather was a rabbi, and his father, Samuel Rauss, had been raised in Russia, where the family followed Orthodox Judaism. Samuel immigrated to America, changed his name from Rauss to Rose, and settled in New York, where he found work as a tailor. He married Katherin (Katy) Bronowitz, an immigrant from Warsaw, in 1893. The couple had two children, Arnold (1897) and Maurice (1899), before moving to Denver, where Samuel was treated for tuberculosis at National Jewish Hospital. The Rose family became part of the active Jewish community in Denver. Samuel recovered and opened a dress design shop frequented by socially prominent clientele. Later, through his political connections, he joined the Denver Police.
The Rose family lived in the Whittier neighborhood, where Maurice dreamed of being a soldier. People remembered his leadership abilities, spirit of adventure, and interest in all things military. Maurice was active in the Hebrew school and choir, school sports, and Boy Scouts, becoming an Eagle Scout. He attended East High School, where he was on the debate team, wrote for the school newspaper, and was an honors student. After graduating in 1916, he lied about his age (he was only seventeen) to enlist in the Colorado National Guard. He hoped to join the Mexican Expedition against Pancho Villa but was sent home after six weeks because his age was found out. He started working at a meatpacking plant, where he coordinated a lunchtime civilian drilling program. When the United States declared war against Germany in 1917, Rose was among the first Denverites to enlist in the US Army.
World War I
The army recognized Rose’s leadership potential and sent him to the First Officers Training Camp (FOTC) in Fort Riley, Kansas. Rose was enrolled in the ninety-day course and became a second lieutenant. Assigned to the All Kansas 353rd Infantry Regiment, he shipped out to France in June 1918. American forces there were under the command of General John Pershing, whose aggressive leadership style would influence Rose.
During the Saint-Mihiel Offensive in August 1918, the 353rd suffered significant losses. Rose distinguished himself in the frontline trenches but was wounded by shrapnel. Despite not being fully recovered, Rose slipped out of the hospital and rejoined his regiment. After Rose left the hospital without authorization, the War Department accidentally sent his parents a telegram stating that he had been killed in action. The mistake was corrected two weeks later when his family was in the middle of the traditional Jewish thirty-day mourning period.
Rose returned to Denver after the war ended. He was twenty years old and took a job as a traveling salesman. When he was working in Salt Lake City, he married Venice Hanson on June 12, 1920. A son, Maurice (Mike) Rose, was born in 1925. He and Venice, however, were not a good match, and they divorced in 1928.
Rose soon tired of life as a traveling salesman and decided to pursue a professional military career. On July 1, 1920, he received his second commission and was promoted to infantry captain. Rose had no formal education compared to his officer colleagues, many of whom had attended collegiate military academies, so he committed to getting a professional military education. He was promoted into various positions across the country, including running operations at Fort Logan, before working as an infantry professor for the Reserve Officers Training Corps in Kansas.
In 1930 Rose requested to be transferred from the infantry to the cavalry. He enjoyed working with the horses and was assigned to the Panama Canal Zone, where he served as a commander. There he met Virginia Barringer, and they married in an Episcopal ceremony in 1934. Their son, Maurice (Reece) Roderick Rose, was born in 1941.
In the late 1930s, with a new war looking possible in Europe, Rose attended the prestigious Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the Army Industrial College in Washington, DC. In 1940 he requested a transfer to another branch of service, the newly formed US Armored Force. He became a commander of one of the branch’s first units, the Second Armored Division Combat Command A. War had started in Europe in 1939, and with the United States on the brink of entering the conflict, Rose’s new position promised to put him in the middle of the action.
World War II
After the United States entered World War II at the end of 1941, Rose became the chief of staff at Fort Benning and was promoted to colonel. He soon learned that his division would be among the first to see action in the Mediterranean. Rose stayed behind to coordinate logistics and arrived in northern Africa in late 1942. Serving as principal staff aide to General Ernest Harmon, Rose won his first silver star for his style of leading men from the front. Rose was promoted to brigadier general and led Combat Command A in the invasion of Sicily and southern Italy in 1943.
Under Rose’s leadership, Combat Command A trained in England and was assigned to storm Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944. After the Allies gained a foothold in France, Rose established a command center in Carentan. German forces fiercely attacked the city, but Rose and his unit helped save it from recapture. Generals Omar Bradley and Dwight Eisenhower recognized Rose’s performance as outstanding.
As the Allies moved through France, Rose was the most experienced senior field armor officer in the US Army. He led Combat Command A during Operation Cobra, when Allied forces pushed from Normandy into the heart of occupied France. Involving coordinated strikes from the air and ground, the complex operation secured more of France for the Allies. Because of his outstanding performance, Rose was given command of the Third Armored Division. During fierce fighting through France and Belgium, Rose continued to put himself in the center of the action. At the Battle of Mons in Belgium, he was heralded for his tactical choices. He was promoted to the rank of major general.
As the army moved across Belgium, Rose’s Third Armored was the first American division to cross into Germany at Roentgen. It spearheaded the attack into Germany across the important Siegfried Line and served in the Battle of the Bulge, the last major German offensive of the war. Rose maintained his reputation as an excellent and demanding commander, making strategic decisions that moved the war toward its conclusion.
The Third Armored Division fought its way through Germany and participated in the liberation of Cologne on March 12, 1945. Newspapers hailed Rose as the “Captor of Cologne.” It was the peak of his career. He received the French Croix de Guerre and was saluted, decorated, and praised by his superiors and men.
On March 30, 1945, Rose, his aide, and their driver led the fight near Paderborn, Germany, when a German tank stopped them. They raised their hands in the air as a clear sign of surrender, but Rose was shot to death by a German machine pistol. His aide and driver were taken prisoner. His men grieved his loss, which was reported in newspapers across the United States. About five weeks later, on May 8, 1945, Germany surrendered, and the war in Europe was over.
During the war, Rose declared on official papers that he was a Protestant, a decision that would lead to questions and confusion after his death. Although he never informed his family of this change and was referred to as the “Jewish General,” he was ultimately buried in Margraten, Netherlands, under a white cross, to the consternation of his Jewish family.
General Maurice Rose Memorial Hospital
When news of Rose’s death reached Denver, the local Jewish community was in the middle of a fundraising campaign for a new $1 million, 150-bed, nonsectarian hospital. They decided to name the hospital after Rose as a memorial to the highest-ranking Jewish general of the war. The decision to honor Rose helped with fundraising and caught the whole country's attention. Donations had been slowing, but within three months of the naming decision, more than half of the $1 million had been raised from all over the country. General Maurice Rose Memorial Hospital was completed in Denver’s Hale neighborhood in May 1948, with General Dwight Eisenhower delivering the dedication address.
In 2021 the Colorado legislature approved plans to place a statue of Major General Maurice Rose in Lincoln Veterans’ Memorial Park, located next to the Colorado State Capitol, with state House speaker Alec Garnett calling Rose “Colorado’s proudest war hero.”