<BGSOUND SRC="taps.mp3" LOOP=1> 48th West Point Rites Honor Col./ Commissioner Mickey Marcus  
American Veterans of Israel, some holding the AVI banner, left, are joined by a USAG Military Police Honor Guard displaying the colors and by three Military Academy commanding officers saluting right, as a distant bugler (not in photo) plays "Taps," during the wreath laying ceremonies at the 48th grave site memorial service for Correction Commissioner / Colonel David "Mickey" Marcus in West Point cemetery. His are the only remains buried in the Academy cemetery which belong to a West Point graduate who died fighting for a foreign country. He was killed June 11, 1948, a victim of friendly fire. His grave monument reads: "A soldier for all humanity." The AVI Legacy Corporation conducted the April 27th, 2014 event. [www.correctionhistory.org site photo.]

WEBMASTER NOTE: 1,200 North Americans who served as Machal volunteers during Israel's War of Independence -- women and men; non-Jews and Jews, in all Israel Defense Forces branches -- contributed significantly to ultimate success of that struggle in which 41 of them gave their lives, including former NYC Correction Commissioner Marcus. This page, like the April 27, 2014 West Point cemetery ceremoney shown in its photos, honors him and them.

Our New York Correction History web site acknowledges and appreciates Simon (Si) Spiegelman, Machal veteran, AVILC director, past AVI president, for his assistance generally and especially his aiding with photo IDs; authoress Zipporah Porath and American Veterans of Israel Legacy Corp. (AVILC) president Jeffrey A. Margolis for granting permission to feature here extensive excerpts from her Col. Marcus biography, produced in booklet format by AVILC and distributed at the 48th annual Marcus memorial service in the West Point Jewish Chapel April 27th, 2014. The Copyright © 2010 by Zipporah Porath is retained and all rights remain reserved. None of the excerpts quoted here from her book may be reproduced or used in any form without prior permission of copyright owner. (zip@netvision.net.il)

Above is a compressed image of the Marcus bio booklet's front cover.  

Author's note in booklet:

Col. David (Mickey) Marcus, a West Point graduate, was recruited at the end of 1947 as military adviser to David Ben-Gurion and the underground Haganah defense forces. . . .

On the first anniversary of Marcus's death, Ben-Gurion, then prime minister and minister of defense of the nascent State of Israel, wished to honor Mickey's memory and the heroic role he had played in Israel's War of Independence in a written tribute. . . .

He instructed the army Publications Department, Ma'arachot, to interview those who had served with Marcus and had been close to him, while their impressions were still fresh. I was the young American journalist chosen for the assignment.

I had arrived in Jerusalem in October 1947 . . . joined the Haganah, served as a medic during the siege of Jerusalem, and stayed on to serve in the IDF and the fledgling Israel Air Force. I never met Mickey Marcus in person as he had been a well-kept military secret until his death. I would have to re-create him for readers from what others would say about him. . . . .

RegrettabIy, the original project never saw the light of day. This booklet is based on the interviews I conducted over 60 years ago with those who had recruited Mickey Marcus, with staff officers at GHQ, with ordinary soldiers who had served with him, as well as with others whose lives he touched during the 200 days he was involved in Israel's struggle for survival and independence.

Those on-the-spot interviews give a vivid, animated and authentic picture of the man, his motivation and his contribution to the Israel Defense Forces.

-- Zipporah Porath

Bugler positions himself on nearby knoll and awaits his moment in the April 27th, 2014 Marcus memorial ceremonies. The "Taps" heard upon accessing this page is MP3 audio by a different bugler, SGM Woody English, U.S. Army Band. [www.correctionhistory.org site photo.]  

Becoming Mickey Marcus

. . . Accepted at West Point on the strength of a spectacular high school athletic record, he gained fame there as a boxer when he won the Intercollegiate Welterweight title.

Mickey Marcus graduated West Point in the Class of 1924.

After the required stint of military service he went on to study law, became a crusading government lawyer, Treasury department staff attorney, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Municipal Judge - at 34, the youngest judge on the New York bench - and subsequently was rewarded for his public service by being appointed Commissioner of Correction for New York City.

traditional lyrics:

Day is done,
gone the sun,
From the hills,
from the lake,
From the skies.
All is well,
safely rest,
God is nigh.
Go to sleep,
peaceful sleep.

When World War II was imminent Marcus, then 39 and married, voluntarily put his career on hold to re-enlist in the army . . .

In 1942 he was appointed commandant of the army's new Ranger School developing innovative tactics for jungle fighting for MacArthur's forces in the Pacific.

In 1944 he parachuted into Normandy as part of the D- day airborne assault. At the war's end he was .. . . responsible for clearing out the Nazi death camps . . .

By V-E day he was a full Colonel and Chief of Planning for the War Department's Civil Affairs bivision, later heading the army's War Crimes division, setting up the Nuremberg Trials.

In early 1947, at age 46, . . . Marcus returned home . . .

USAG Military Police Honor Guard positions itself on nearby pathwayl and awaits its moment in the April 27th, 2014 Marcus memorial ceremonies. [www.correctionhistory.org site photo.]  

Recruiting Marcus

The first person I interviewed was veteran Haganah commander Shlomo Shamir, who helped recruit Marcus.

Shamir said that shortly after November 29, 1947, the day the United Nations voted to partition Palestine, dividing the country into Arab and Jewish states, the Haganah heads and the provisional government chiefs instructed him to put out discreet feelers in America for high-ranking military officers and technical experts to help create a modern army-to-be for the Jewish state- to-be.

Shamir was directed to Col. David (Mickey) Marcus . . . known to have a wide circle of friends and acquaintances in the American army.

Mickey . . . . culled through lists of the top brass to find retired generals. He was distraught to discover that the generals refused to go without assurances from American authorities that their army status, careers and citizenship would not be jeopardized.

Marcus had no such qualms. He had seen firsthand the Nazi atrocities in the liberated Dachau Concentration Camp and was deeply affected by that experience. He was convinced of the urgent need for Holocaust survivors for a safe haven in a sovereign Jewish homeland.

Shamir said Marcus's failure to find any top military men who would consent to go made him decide to go himself.

AVILC members position the AVI banner near Marcus grave stone and await their moment in the April 27th, 2014 memorial ceremonies. [www.correctionhistory.org site photo.]  

"I may not be the best man for the job," he said to Shamir, "but I'm the only one willing to go." . . . . Later, Mickey's wife Emma would say: "He just never knew how to say 'no' when he thought he was needed." . . . .

British Mandate Palestine

On January 30, 1948, barely a month after their initial contact, Mickey dropped everything and left with Shamir for Palestine.

When he parted from his wife at the airport, he hugged her, kissed her and promised her he would return in two months. In order not to arouse the suspicion of the British and to protect his real identity, he took the nom de guerre, Michael (Mickey) Stone . . . .

On the afternoon Col. Marcus arrived, he was taken to meet his "boss," Ben-Gurion (BG), with whom he found an immediate rapport. The following day he met the Haganah commanders with whom he would be working most closely. The key person was Yigael Yadin, de facto head of the Haganah and the future Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces. . . .

Bugler on the knoll, top left, and USAG Military Police Honor Guard commander, bottom left, both salute as the colors pass enroute to the Marcus grave site during the April 27th, 2014 memorial ceremonies. [www.correctionhistory.org site photo.]  

. . . . The following day arrangements were made for him to spend two weeks inspecting Haganah and Palmach troops in the field, to observe and learn the problems firsthand.

Yisrael Galili, legendary Haganah leader and close adviser to Ben-Gurion, remembered that at that first GHQ meeting with Marcus the discussion was about training and organization of the army. . . .

Inspecting the troops

The Haganah's striking force, the Palmach, was headed by Yigal Alon, a dashing, bold leader who later became a brigade commander under Marcus. . . .

Marcus coined special nicknames for almost everyone, and immediately called Yigal Alon "Eagle," a charming mispronunciation of his first name.

"Eagle" gave Mickey a Palmach pin which he wore on the reverse side of his lapel.

He would flash it proudly at every opportunity despite the danger involved as long as the British were still around. Alon accompanied Marcus on his first tour of inspection to Palmach headquarters in a secret mountain hideout in the Galilee. . . .

They found battle-weary boys in tattered clothing, coughing and disheartened. No food, no sleep, no letup from the fight or the tension.

USAG Military Police Honor Guard stands in place behind Marcus grave stone at the April 27th, 2014 memorial ceremonies. [www.correctionhistory.org site photo.]  

Mickey quickly sized up the situation.

"Victory is in the bag"

. . . "We couldn't pick out from the group which was the American," Gabby told me. "Yigal spoke to us first. Mickey listened quietly.

"A sign on the wall attracted his attention and he asked one of the boys to translate it. . . . .

"Soldiers of the Palmach," Mickey began, "I see what you're up against. I see how you're dressed. I hear you coughing. I heard of your successful raid on Sasa. I've just been told what the motto on the wall says. I've listened to your questions, and the answers you received. From all this, I have come to the conclusion this is one of the best armies I have ever seen in the world. I haven't seen infantry better than this anywhere. And I am sure that with such men victory is in the bag."

Elliot Shapiro delivers the K'el Maleh Rachamim prayer for the fallen during the grave site part of the Marcus memorial service April 27th, 2014. [www.correctionhistory.org site photo.]  

The motto on the wall to which he referred was a quote attributed to the revered Italian military hero, Giuseppe Garibaldi:

"I have neither pay, nor beds, nor food. I promise you starvation, thirst, exhausting marches and death. But he who loves his country with more than lip service, will rise up and follow me" . . . . .

"Either it's war, or it isn't!"

On the way back to town, Mickey told Alon, "Eagle, it is shameful that all the stores in Tel Aviv have clothes and shoes on display in the shop windows while these boys are freezing and go barefoot.

"I would break in and raid them, confiscate their goods," he said. "Either it's war, or it isn't. You people only deal with urgent things, and never get around to the important things."

Marcus had difficulty accepting that at that time it was not an official war. . . .

Half-dozen AVI banner holders read the names of the 41 North American Machal volunteers who gave their lives in Israel's War of Independence. From L to R: Si Spiegelman, Machal vet; Jeffrey Margolis, AVILC president, reading from name list; Harry Bieber, Machal vet, partially obscured by Jeff here but unobscured in top-of-page banner photo; Moses Stambler, Machal vet; Robert Bray, grandson of Naomi Kantey, Machal vet; Marcel Berkowitz, Machal vet; and Russ Poker, IDF vet. Looking on, far right, is Donna Parker, daughter of Naomi Kantey, Machal vet. [www.correctionhistory.org site photo.]  

Mickey was distressed about the British embargo on arms for the Jews.

In a letter to his wife, he wrote:

"What is happening to the conscience of the Jewish American Democrats.

"Why don't they really move to lift the embargo? . . . . "

The Palmach's Zeide

The Grand Old Man of the Palmach, Yitzhak Sadeh, a former wrestler, was captivated by Marcus.

Mickey affectionately called him Zeide, the Yiddish word for grandfather.

Sadeh recalled the first time they met.

"After a GHQ meeting at Haganah headquarters at the Red House a group of us went for lunch to a nearby restaurant, where we stood outside discussing the importance of physical training for an army, a subject close to both our hearts.

"Mickey suddenly flopped to the ground to illustrate an exercise. The next day we got together at my place to workout and compete on muscle stretchers and chinning bars."

A wreath is placed at the graves of both Col/Aluf David "Mickey" Marcus and his wife, Emma, by the officers who had participated in the chapel service during the April 27th, 2014 memorial ceremonies. [www.correctionhistory.org site photo.]  

. . . . In Motza, near Jerusalem, while observing the training of new recruits, Mickey saw one of the trainees pressing the trigger of his rifle incorrectly. He got down in the mud to show him how to do it. . . .

Two weeks after he arrived in the country, Mickey already knew every significant spot on the map.

In that short time he had learned about the enemy, the type of war being fought, and the best way to tackle it.

He had been part of the American army's expansion and growth to meet the problems of World War II and understood what Israel would have to face in establishing an army overnight.

Remarkable human material

In the report Marcus submitted to his "boss" BG a month later, March 2 1948, Marcus said:

"I found less than I expected and more than I hoped for."

He criticized the lack of administration and transportation, but praised what the partisan army had in abundance - remarkable human material.

As the bugler on the knoll, top left, plays "Taps," the USAG Military Police Honor Guard commander salutes during the wreath placement portion of the Marcus grave site ceremonies at the April 27th, 2014 memorial. [www.correctionhistory.org site photo.]  

Bugler on the knoll plays "Taps" during the wreath placement portion of the Marcus grave site ceremonies at the April 27th, 2014 commemoration. [www.correctionhistory.org site photo.]  

He considered the fighters' innate intelligence, ability to improvise, outstanding devotion and self-sacrificing spirit powerful weapons in themselves, the makings of a first class army. . . . .

The day after receiving the Marcus report, BG contacted his look-outs in America and told them: . . . "(Marcus) has been a great blessing to us. It would be good if you could send at last ten more like him - and at once."

"Get organized!"

. . . . Mickey tried to persuade the top brass to consider the logic of the American system, where an officer in a branch of a service has direct contact only with three or four superiors.

"An army is like a business," he would say. "It has to be run efficiently. You have to know who your boss is and who you are the boss of. In business you lose money, in war you lose lives. . . .

"An army isn't just about fighting," he would instruct the Haganah leaders, "it's an organization.

As "Taps" is played, Brigadier General Timothy E. Trainor, Ph.D. West Point Dean of Academic Board; Col. Glenn H. Goldman, West Point Director of Military Instruction, and Chaplain (Major) Henry C. Soussan, Ph.D., West Point Garrison Jewish Chaplain, salute at the Marcus grave site during the April 27th, 2014 memorial ceremonies. [www.correctionhistory.org site photo.]  

"A soldier's shoes and food are as important as his ammunition. See to it they get more nourishing food to build them up. To conduct warfare they need to have power of endurance and a high standard of physical fitness.

"An army walks on its stomach."

Marcus was the first to initiate military thinking on a general staff level and implored them to get organized. . . . .

In a private meeting with BG, Marcus spoke of the need to unify the army's command by incorporating the Palmach strike forces more thoroughly into the Haganah. . . . .

Yehoshua Perlman of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs . . . . remembers Mickey asking, "If the Arabs attack a certain outpost or objective and don't succeed, do they retreat in full order? How soon afterwards do they stage a second attack?

"To what extent is the Arab soldier devoted to the war in Palestine? Does he have personal objectives, or does he fight because he's given orders? Is he an adventurer? Does he intend to rob?" . . . .

The Shapiro brothers, Elliot and David, intone "Im Eshkachech Yerushalayim" (If I forget thee, Jerusalem) during the Marcus grave site ceremonies of the April 27th, 2014 memorial .[www.correctionhistory.org site photo.]  

Tactics and sacrifices

Marcus's theories on tactics were based on wrestling and boxing.

"A war is like a wrestling match," he would stress, "in that your whole body is put to a test of endurance, with strain on every minute facet.

"In boxing you attack suddenly and powerfully, hitting your opponent from all sides, . . . . withdrawing and confusing him. In war, you must do very much the same thing."

He put great emphasis on preparing to fight at close quarters in hand-to-hand and face-to-face battles, patrols, infiltrations, physical training, combat, and guts.

"Don't rely too much on artillery and bombardment."

. . . . Nathan Shaham, an aide, recalls that Mickey would illustrate graphically every operation he was discussing in order to make it comprehensible. He would point to windows and designate them as the artillery. The typewriter became a tank. The lamp was the air force.

Rabbi (Col.) Sanford Dressin, Director of the Aleph Institute, recited the Kaddish at the Marcus grave site during the April 27th, 2014 memorial ceremonies. [www.correctionhistory.org site photo.]  

Everything in the room came alive as if it were a unit in the operation he was discussing. . . .

Yigal Alon admitted:

"We could not always go along with Mickey's ideas.

"Basic to our strategy was a program of tactics aimed at achieving boundaries for the newly emerging state.

"Sometimes we had to sacrifice good military strategy for a more immediate goal."

A multi-faceted personality

Mickey Marcus's tremendous vitality and multi-faceted personality had a remarkable impact on everyone he met. His penetrating, sparkling eyes, his high-pitched voice and his mischievous sense of humor were compelling.

He got to the core of everyone and permitted everyone to get to the core of him. He was a man of the people who could walk with kings and commoners. People loved him and respected him and were prepared to learn from him.

Donna Parker, AVILC treasurer and a key organizer of the commemoration, distributes roses to Marcus family members to place at the grave site during the April 27th, 2014 memorial ceremonies. [www.correctionhistory.org site photo.]  

Members of the extended Marcus family place on his monument small stones taken from the pail of rocks provided for that purpose at the grave site during the April 27th, 2014 memorial ceremonies. [www.correctionhistory.org site photo.]  

He lived by the code he learned at West Point: "Duty, Honor, Country." He was a formidable athlete. But, although he was a physical fitness freak who didn't smoke, he was a hard drinker.

Mickey Marcus was dynamic when he moved; motionless when he sat. Everything interested him. He knew how to listen and no opinion was ever lost on him. He overcame the language barrier despite the fact that his Hebrew vocabulary was limited.. . . .

At the drop of a hat, he would talk knowledgeably on any subject - music, poetry, art and history. He quoted the Bible, Shakespeare and Keats. He would tap dance, sing operatic arias - in a baritone voice - and daven (pray) out loud, or comment on religion, science and philosophy. But, in military matters he was strictly business.

BG's secretary said she thought the serious-minded hierarchy of the Haganah initially did not know what to make of this charming, easygoing, jovial, gregarious, good natured man who fraternized with everyone. . . .


[From Page 32.] Yaakov Dori, the then IDF Chief of Staff, in assessing the man and his contribution to the Israeli army, said of Marcus, inter alia:

"He was like a shot in the arm for the army, injecting confidence and optimism. He strengthened faith in our special abilities in each man he met, and his stamp of approval meant a great deal to us. He taught us to learn the weaknesses of the enemy and to use this knowledge to our advantage. He pressed us to consider the practical side of military organization. We were in awe of his quick grasp of situations, his courage and humanity.

"He was a most unconventional regular soldier."


Produced in 2010 by the American Veterans of Israel Legacy Corp.www.israelvets.com and World Machal (Israel) website www.machal.org.il, in cooperation with the American Jewish Historical Society www.ajhs.org

To order copies, contact the American Veterans of Israel Legacy Corp, 136 East 39 Street, New York, NY 10016, USA or jporath@mac.com

Copyright 2010 by Zipporah Porath. All rights reserved. No part of these booklet excerpts may be reproduced or used in any form without the prior permission of the copyright owner. zip@netvision.set.il

Photo Credits: Palmach Museum, Tel Aviv. Printed in the USA


Zipporah Porath is a freelance writer and publications editor who has been living in Israel since the establishment of the state.

She is a member of the World Machal Committee.

Her book, "Letters from Jerusalem 1947-1948," comprises letters she wrote to her family describing her impressions and feelings during the War of Independence and the birth of the state.

Her eyewitness account captures the historic events as they happen with an immediacy that puts the reader at the scene.

Amazon Kindle e-Book http://bit.ly/LettersFromJerusalem.


The main text in the booklet appears on pages numbered 1 through 36. Six (6) pages devoted to photos and other images were not numbered. Most of these excerpts are taken from numbered pages 1 through 18. Except for the booklet cover, none of the images appearing in this excerpt presentation were taken from the booklet. Copies of the booklet had been distributed at the West Point Jewish Chapel where the earlier portion of the April 27th, 2014 memorial program was held.

The photos above were taken by the New York Correction History site webmaster during the West Point cemetery grave site portion of the commemoration.

They are presented in sequence.

Go to 1966, a West Point chapel, 'Taps' & 'Michael Stone' on Another NYC Isle's Prisons: #5 of 6

Go to American Veterans of Israel Honor Colonel/Commissioner Marcus at West Point

Go to Col./ Commissioner Mickey Marcus Playground To Get Facelift

Go to Rededication of the Mickey Marcus Playground in Brooklyn

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