2016-09-21 / Star Journal

WW II Rages On; Queens Natives Proudly Serve

The Greater Astoria Historical Society presents pages from the Long Island Star Journal.

Welcome to September 1943!

In September, 1943, a weary world looked back on four years of seemingly endless, devastating global conflict. That year, however, increasing Allied victories slowly but surely rolled back the tide of Axis domination. Nazi troops were on the retreat on the Soviet Eastern Front, and forces under the command of General MacArthur fought Japanese troops in New Guinea and other battlefields in the Pacific Theatre. Perhaps most significantly, early that September General Eisenhower announced the surrender of Axis power, Italy, to the Allies.

Back home in Queens, many Italian immigrants rejoiced and danced in the streets on hearing of the fall of the fascist dictator Mussolini. In Rego Park, immigrant restaurant owner, Giuseppe Malluzzo, celebrated with pizza-eating patrons at the prospect of a new beginning for his beloved country. Malluzzo served as a cook during the First World War for the Italian war minister.


...Forces under the command of General MacArthur, right, fought Japanese troops in New Guinea and other battlefields in the Pacific Theatre. Perhaps most significantly, early that September General Eisenhower, above, announced the surrender of Axis power, Italy, to the Allies. ...Forces under the command of General MacArthur, right, fought Japanese troops in New Guinea and other battlefields in the Pacific Theatre. Perhaps most significantly, early that September General Eisenhower, above, announced the surrender of Axis power, Italy, to the Allies. Others from Queens had little time to celebrate the string of Allied triumphs, as victory for many meant merely living to see another day. The family of one airman from Forest Hills, Lieutenant Joel Silverman, actually received hopeful news that month. Their son, reported missing in action after a harrowing raid on the Ploesti oil refineries in Romania the previous month, was found imprisoned in a neutral country after his disabled bomber had to make a forced landing. For hundreds of local families that month, however, the news was surely heartbreaking, as hopes of joyful postwar reunions faded forever with official notification that their loved ones would never return home.

Other Queens natives were fortunate to survive the war to return home to contribute to a world at peace. Marine pilot Norwood Hanson of Flushing barely avoided death that September, as his fighter plane collided with another marine aircraft on a training mission over Florida. An aspiring musician before the war, upon returning to civilian life Hanson became a university professor, eventually teaching at Yale University, where his students included current Secretary of State John Kerry. He died in 1967 when his vintage World War II fighter plane crashed in a dense fog in upstate New York. Another Flushing native, local politician James Roe, found himself in Army uniform for the second time in 25 years. A veteran of World War I, Army Major Roe proudly served in the Corps of Engineers until

1945, when he was elected to the US House of Representatives as a Democrat from New York.

Back in September 1943, it is unlikely that many in Queens knew the name Kurt Rosenfeld. The German-Jewish refugee and Sunnyside resident was a leading member of the Socialist Party in his homeland, served as Justice Minister of Prussia and was a member of the Reichstag, or the German Diet. He fled Germany after the Nazis came to power not just because of his political views, but because he was a personal enemy of the German F├╝hrer. A sharp lawyer, Rosenfeld’s cross examination of Hitler in a lawsuit in 1932 caused the Nazi leader to lose control in the courtroom and shout, “I won’t answer any more questions from Jewish lawyers.” An early voice against the fascism that nearly engulfed the world more than 70 years ago, Kurt Rosenfeld passed away in his apartment on 45th Street that month, never to see final victory over the evil that drove him from his homeland.

That’s the way it was in September 1943!

For further information, contact the Greater Astoria Historical Society at 718- 278-0700 or visit our website at www.astorialic.org.

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