Journal Register News Service

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — In late April 1945, 19-year-old U.S. soldier Richard Marowitz helped liberate Dachau, one the Nazis’ notorious death camps.


A couple of days later, in Munich, he searched the apartment of the man responsible for the concentration camp horrors — Adolf Hitler — and found his black silk top hat, which he still owns.

Marowitz, a resident of Colonie in Albany County, belonged to the 222nd Intelligence & Reconnaissance Platoon, part of the famed 42nd “Rainbow” Infantry Division, whose members from throughout the U.S. gathered on Thursday for a reunion at the New York State Military Museum in Saratoga Springs.


“Every morning at 5 we’d go to the command post,” Marowitz said. “Two German civilians were there who knew where Hitler’s house was. We were ordered to go there to see what intelligence we could find. So we got in three jeeps — 12 guys, four to a jeep — and took off.


“When we got there, the door was opened by Hitler’s English housekeeper, who called us ruffians,” Marowitz recalled. “She couldn’t understand why we were so angry at a nice man like Mr. Hitler. My buddy, Herb, said, ‘I’m going to throw her down the stairs.’”


Marowitz, maintaining his composure, had one thought in mind, he said: Go in, search the place, and get out.


“I went into Hitler’s bedroom and pulled open the drawers,” he said. “All of his personal items had been removed. Then I went in the closet and saw something dark. I reached up and grabbed a beautiful black silk top hat with big gold letters inscribed — A.H.”


With the sickening visions of Dachau still fresh in his mind, Marowitz vented his anger by flattening the hat with a “stomp heard ’round the world,” he said.

“I collapsed it,” he said. “Plus, that made it easier to bring home in the bottom of my duffel bag. It’s in bad shape.”


But the incident is legendary in Rainbow Division lore. In fact, the official 42nd “Rainbow” Infantry Division World War II history book has a cover photo of a young Marowitz wearing the hat, and holding a comb beneath his nose to look like Hitler’s moustache.


The 42nd Division dates to World War I, when it was created at the urging of a young Col. Douglas MacArthur, who wanted to bring together soldiers from many states. The nickname comes from MacArthur’s famous quote: “It shall cover the nation like a rainbow.”


The division ceased to exist after World War I, but it was brought back during World War II and saw considerable action during the war’s final months.


Later, the division was made part of the National Guard and now is based in Troy, not far from Marowitz’s home. The 42nd was the first National Guard division deployed to Iraq, so this week’s reunion brought together several generations of Rainbow Division veterans who share a common bond of military heritage.

Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"

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