Max was 16 when the war officially began, but he and his family had been experiencing acts of anti- Semitism as early as the 1930’s. It began with anti-Jewish propaganda in newspapers but soon spread, as the trend was to blame the Jews for more and more of Romania’s problems.
Life in Russian occupied Romania was difficult for the Jews. Although never incarcerated in a concentration camp, Max and his family still suffered the deprivations of war. They moved from place to place, living in crowded unsanitary conditions with little food and water. With only one water pump in a city of 4,000, Max was so thirsty he drank water from the muddy river and contracted dysentery. “From the 200,000 Jews deported into Transnistria in 1941, 150,000 died of starvation by 1943. If the Russians would have waited until fall of 1944, they wouldn’t have found one person alive.”
“We didn’t know what was going to happen from one day to the next.” In 1939 when the war between Poland and Germany began, bombs fell on Edith’s hometown. At first her parents thought that they should stay, but a Romanian official who knew the family warned them to leave. “He said, ‘I don’t care where, just go!’”
With that warning her father moved the family to the next town. It was the beginning of a nomadic odyssey that lasted the war years. “My father was very resourceful, he did anything he could to keep us alive. “Somehow when the need was greatest, something came through. We were lucky that we had our parents and that is how we survived.”
Max and Edith met in Radautz in 1949 and married in 1950. They were finally able to leave Romania for the U.S. in 1958.
Edith clearly recalls watching the bombing of Vietnamese villages on the news during the 1960s. “When I watched the coverage of Vietnam and saw the little children running away from the bombs it reminded me of myself as a child. I don’t want people to forget what people can do to other people; they shouldn’t forget.”