When Anna M. Rosenberg was sworn in as the assistant secretary of defense under George C. Marshall on November 15, 1950, she achieved the highest post ever held by a woman in the national military establishment. Her task was to coordinate the Defense Department's manpower, which had been divided among many agencies.
Anna Rosenberg was born in 1902, in Budapest, Hungary, to Charlotte and Albert Lederer. Her mother was a talented author and illustrator of children's books and her father was a successful furniture manufacturer. When a very large order for furniture was canceled, her father lost his business and they immigrated to the United States to settle in the Bronx, New York.
The day that she entered school, Anna became involved with economic and social issues. In World War 1, she was very successful in selling Liberty Bonds and Thrift Stamps for the war effort. She worked part-time in a base hospital in Manhattan. She married Julius Rosenberg, who was a serviceman, in 1919. In that same year, she became a naturalized citizen.
Anna Rosenberg became involved in politics in the early 1920s. She made many important political connections in the ensuing years. When Franklin Roosevelt was elected Governor of New York, he frequently consulted her on labor matters.
In the early 1930s, she served the federal government in many capacities, primarily in labor and human relations. In 1937, she was named chairwoman of the New York State Constitutional Committee and, in 1938, she was named by President Roosevelt to a committee to study relations in Great Britain and Sweden. During those years, she developed a consulting business which was very successful.
She served on many committees and boards during World War II. She was the director of the Office of Defense and regional director of Health and Welfare Services. She was a member of the New York City and state war councils and held the secretaryship of the President's Combined War Labor Board.
In July 1944, Anna Rosenberg was sent to the European Theater of Operations by President Roosevelt as his personal observer. She did the same for President Truman the following summer. After the war, she served on many boards for the City and State of New York.
In the Korean War, Anna Rosenberg was appointed to a 12-person committee to advise former Air Secretary W Stuart Symington on mobilization policy After she was appointed the assistant secretary of defense, she worked with Secretary George Marshall on a draft for the Senate Armed Services Committee which became known as the Universal Military Service and Training Bill. Rosenberg received the Medal of Freedom in 1945 and the U.S. Medal for Merit in 1947.
She continued to serve her country through the years. In 1968-69, President Johnson appointed her to serve on the Commission on Income Maintenance, which examined all welfare and income support programs. Rosenberg died on May 9, 1983. She was a model for Jewish women to follow in service and dedication to our country. In her own way she was a Jewish hero.
Sources: This is one of the 150 illustrated true stories of American heroism included in Jewish Heroes & Heroines of America : 150 True Stories of American Jewish Heroism, © 1996, written by Seymour "Sy" Brody of Delray Beach, Florida, illustrated by Art Seiden of Woodmere, New York, and published by Lifetime Books, Inc., Hollywood, FL.