Brig. Gen. Edward S. Greenbaum:
World War I Veteran and World
War II Executive Officer to
Under Secretary of War
by Seymour “Sy” Brody
Brigadier General Edward S. Greenbaum was a lawyer who enlisted in World War I and then became a major. In World War II, he served as an executive officer to Under Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson.
He was born on April 13, 1890, in New York City. His father became a New York State Supreme Court Justice when he was ten years old. Greenbaum went through the New York City school system and then he went to Williams College to receive his A.B. degree in 1910. He received his law degree (LL.B) from Columbia University in 1913.
He married Dorothy Schwarz, a sculptor, in October 1920. They had two sons, Daniel and David.
In 1913, Greenbaum began his law practice with his brother, Lawrence, Herbert A. Wolf and later they were joined by Morris L. Ernst. The law firm dealt with many phases of the law. They became one of the most prominent and prestigious law firms in New York City.
In World War I, Greenbaum couldn’t enroll in the officers’ training school, because of color blindness. He enlisted as a private. In the training camp, he organized a program to teach English to immigrant soldiers. He was promoted to captain on February 6, 1918 and later he was promoted to major in the Judge Advocate’s Department. After W.W. I, he returned to his law firm.
Greenbaum was called to active duty in World War II. He was commissioned as a Lt. Col. In 1940 and then he rose to the rank of Brigadier General in March 1943. He served as an executive officer to Under Secretary of War Robert B. Paterson.
During the war, he worked as a lawyer for the War Department negotiating contracts with private industry, ensuring that the troops had enough ammunition aand supplies. He was a mediator for groups having conflicting opinions and he helped the War Department with its labor policies. He received the Distinguished Service medal in 1945.
After WW II was over, Greenbaum returned to his law practice. He helped improve the organization of the court system and he helped in establishing an Adolescent Court. During his career, he worked on many prominent cases.
Greenbaum was a founder of Jewish Big Brothers, which helped troubled youth. He served as a trustee of the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton.
He was the coauthor of the King’s Bench Masters with Leslie I. Reade, 1932. And Greenbaum’s autobiography, A Lawyer’s Job, 1967.
Brigadier General Edward S. Greenbaum died on June 12, 1970.
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