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Oral history interview with Robert R. Max

Oral History | Accession Number: 2015.286.1 | RG Number: RG-50.030.0819

Robert Roger Max, born July 10, 1923 in Newark, NJ, describes his wife, Shirley Max; growing up in New Jersey; learning that his family’s name was original Manczyk; his Jewish family’s background; moving to the suburbs; the Jewish community; never encountering antisemitism as a child; his education and awareness of the war; starting college in 1942 at New York University and transferring to Ohio University, where he studied journalism; participating in ROTC; signing up for the US Army; being sent to Fort Dix; being recruited into the army band by Jack Leonard and playing clarinet and saxophone; going to basic training in Alabama at Fort McClellan and details about the training; doing the Charles Atlas workout; attending the Army Specialized Training Program at the Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University); applying to Officer Candidate School and the Air Academy, but being sent to Indiana for combat training at Camp Atterbury; being assigned to the motor pool unit; sailing on the RMS Mauretania to Liverpool, England and the false reporting that it had sunk during the voyage; the treachery of crossing the English Channel; landing on Omaha Beach, Normandy in 1944; being in the 6th Armored Division, Company B and riding in half-tracks; his experiences with combat and finally realizing the seriousness of war; digging a foxhole and nearly being killed by an incoming shell; abandoning the half-tracks and proceeding on foot; witnessing the deaths of two men next to him; the battle at Han-sur-Nied, France; his participation in the Battle of the Bulge in late 1944; being captured by the German Wehrmacht and narrowly escaping being shot; being a slave laborer; dealing with starvation; passing through two German labor camps in Prum and Gerolstein; being forced to march from place to place; working on repairing rail lines that were bombed the Allies throughout the winter of 1945; sabotaging the railroads; contracting frostbite in his foot; escaping with a few others to Reichenbach, Germany, where they found a Nazi staging area; receiving help from a German civilian couple; hiding in a barn; being liberated by American troops; going to a field hospital then hospitals in Liège, Belgium and Paris, France; writing in the hospital during his recovery; returning to the US and finishing school; founding an organization with his wife at Ohio University to help prevent antisemitism and inviting Elie Wiesel to speak at the university; deciding to share his experiences with others; his strong Jewish identity and wanting to help others because of his experiences during the war; having a second bar mitzvah at age 83; and his involvement with Jewish organizations and charities.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Robert R. Max
Ina Navazelskis
interview:  2015 July 14
1 digital file : MPEG-4.
Record last modified: 2020-03-26 09:39:39
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