Death of David Marcus

On June 12, 1948, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Colonel David Marcus had been killed during a battle in Jerusalem:

NEW YORK, June 11 (U. P.)-Colonel David Marcus, 47, brilliant Brooklyn-born soldier-lawyer, recently named supreme commander of Israeli forces on the Jerusalem front, was killed last night while leading a battle to get food to Jewish residents of the Holy City, it was announced today.

The announcement was made by representatives of the Israeli government in New York. It was the first official disclosure that an American was in command of Israeli forces.

(United Press Staff Correspondent Leo Turner reported from Jerusalem several days ago that an American Jew had replaced the Jerusalem district commander of Haganah, the Jewish army.)

Alfred Chaisor, Marcus brother-in-law, said the West Point-educated World War II hero went to Palestine about two months ago as an unofficial War Department observer to check on the strength of Jewish and Arab forces.

News of Marcus’ death was sent to the Israeli representatives here by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion.

The manner in which Marcus died was not stated. His death ended a fabulous career during which he had served in combat, written important international treaties and worked as a racket-busting assistant U. S. attorney under Governor Dewey of New York when he was District Attorney.

Army officials at Washington described Marcus as a short, stocky, dark-haired man with a nimble mind and a tremendous store of legal knowledge. He helped draft the German-Italian and Japanese surrender terms.

Marcus and his wife Emma, 42, a Brooklyn school teacher, had been married 20 years. They had no children.

Marcus was New York City Commissioner of Correction under Mayor Fiorello La Guardia from 1933 to 1940. He drew up the military defense plan for the New York area, Later he became chief of planning of the civil affairs division of the War Department.

Israeli representatives and Marcus’ family said the officer was legal aide to the American delegations at Dumbarton Oaks, Yalta, Teheran and Potsdam.

Chaison said the family had received no official word that Marcus was heading Jewish troops in Palestine.

“We suspected it, however,” the brother-in-law said. “The Palestine was was an ideal to him. To fight for a Jewish state was the greatest thing in his life.”

Marcus was graduated from West Point in 1924 and served with the Army for several years, before taking up a private law practice. He re-entered the Army in September, 1940, and was released in March, 1947.

At a news conference at Lake Success in April, Marcus said he was much impressed with Haganah as a fighting force. With adequate modern arms, they could easily defeat the Arab nations, he said. He added their morale was the “best of any troops in the world-bar none,” but gave no indication he would be leading them soon.

Marcus saw combat service in every theater and parachuted into Normandy on D-day, where he was decorated for killing four Germans. He was with a tank column which entered Dachau concentration camp. It was there, his family said, that Marcus’ belief in Zionism was confirmed.

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