Samuel Rosenbaum (1908-1979)
Samuel Rosenbaum was born on January 21, 1908 to Jewish parents who immigrated from Poland and settled in Paterson, New Jersey. He began his studies at New York University before undertaking graduate courses at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Prior to the start of World War II, Rosenbaum worked as an education director of a trade union and Field Director for a war relief agency.
Rosenbaum enlisted in the U.S. Army in May 1942. Following the D-Day landings, he served in Paris after liberation in late August 1944, and in Luxembourg during the Battle of lthe Bulge. Rosenbaum was then transferred to the intelligence section of 2nd Military Government Battalion in Germany. During this time he helped organize the Kulturgemeinde (“Culture Community”), a gathering of anti-Nazi artists, musicians, and entertainers, many of whom were Eastern European Jews. The Kulturgemeinde established a music school for children and provided tutoring in stenography and a wide range of handicrafts. Meetings were symbolically held at Eulenberg Castle in Rinteln, Germany, a former Nazi torture hall. Now repurposed for good, the castle witnessed all forms of joyful entertainment, including dancing, singing, and organized sports. In gratitude for his efforts to revitalize the spirit of Germany’s artistic community, the group appointed Rosenbaum as their first honorary member in February 1946.
While serving in military government, Rosenbaum also met his future wife, Edith “Ducky” Caspary. A German music critic turned underground resistance fighter, Caspary worked with anti-Nazi resistance groups in England, France, and Switzerland before and during the war. She was eventually captured by the Gestapo and imprisoned in France and Berlin, including nine months in solitary confinement. In April 1945, as Soviet forces approached Berlin, her captors freed every female prisoner, including Caspary. The men were shot days before the German surrender.
Upon his discharge from the U.S. Army in February 1946, Rosenbaum volunteered for service with the MFAA Section of the Office of Military Government for Bavaria (OMGB). As an Investigator at the Munich Central Collecting Point, Rosenbaum worked alongside Monuments Men Edwin C. Rae, Howard Clem, Frederick R. Pleasants, and Edgar Breitenbach to identify and sort some of the hundreds of thousands of stolen art objects. To streamline the process of investigating countless claims for looted art, Rosenbaum established an official Investigator’s Office which centralized all documents related to art intelligence. This master file included all claims for lost or looted art, files detailing the activities of suspected dealers of looted art, interrogation transcripts, and progress reports submitted by the Art Intelligence Officers. Rosenbaum also conducted investigations in the field, including a week-long trip to Prague to interrogate persons related to six separate claims for looted art. On many occasions, Rosenbaum used intelligence gathered from these interrogations to seize entire collections for further investigation at the Munich Central Collecting Point.
Following his return to the United States in early 1947, Rosenbaum helped manage his family’s home furnishing business in Paterson, New Jersey. He died in Wayne, New Jersey on October 17, 1979.
Photo courtesy of the Rosenbaum Family (private collection).