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The Story of Max Block

The story of Max Block

(Part 1)



Although Max Block did not survive the Holocaust, his story has. H.E.A.R.T has determined that this memoriam and its unedited text is well placed in our Survivors section.

Guest publication by Thomas Nowotny

(no grammatical corrections were made to the original text)



Max Block 1939 in Amsterdam (Post card to his sister Herta, private collection)



Max Block was born in Bochum on December 14th, 1889. He is the fourth of Bendix and Therese Block’s (née Mayer) twelve children.


Bendix Block owns a men’s wear store in the city centre (Obere Marktstraße). Occasionally the children have to help. Max‘ sister Herta remembers:


“Max, who often had to help too, liked playing jokes in a way the customers did not understand, but we children were having fun about it. For example, when offering a colour shirt he said: “You can wash it LAU” (lukewarm). He winked at us, as if he wanted to say:


You can NOT wash it”, using the Hebrew word “LAU” (not). In fact you could wash the shirt quite normally. He was just making fun.“1


Max successfully completes secondary school and becomes a merchant. After his father’s death, the family moves to Neustraße 18. Max Block is enlisted to fight in World War I.

The Block Family (undated, Max is 2nd from left)

Residential and commercial building of the Block family, Obere Marktstraße



(undated; Bochum City Archives)



Max moves to Berlin in 1917, where he works as a banker. On March 31st, 1930 he marries Gertrud Hildegard Rosenthal (born April 15th, 1905 in Berlin). They don’t have any children. From 1931-36 they live in Bechstedter Weg 13 in Berlin-Wilmersdorf 2.

Max‘ niece Nora Walter, born in 1923, writes: „Max was my mother’s favorite brother and thus my favorite uncle. This was also because he could perform magic and spit through his tooth-gap! And something else impressed me deeply: In grandma’s glass cabinet there was a little Vaseline tin with a hole in its lid. Once Max showed me the tin and told me that it was in his pocket when he was a soldier. He was hit by a bullet which stuck to the Vaseline. ,If I didn’t have that tin with me, there would be no Uncle Max anymore’, he said with a serious expression.

Max and Nora Block

– But usually Max was rather cheerful, [...] and very good-natured.” Max has a good relationship with his mother. Nora Walter remembers: „I know from my mother that grandma liked travelling and made up her mind quickly. When her son Max from Berlin was visiting and asked her at nighttime: ‘Mother, will you accompany me to Berlin tomorrow?’, she would breath shortly and ask back: ‘Tomorrow? What time?’ A few minutes later she would accept.” 3

Max‘ sister Nora Block (later Platiel) becomes a lawyer. As a left-wing activist in the „Internationaler Sozialistischen Kampfbund“ (ISK), she is forced to flee from Germany to France in 1933 directly after the Nazis’ takeover of power. In 1934, her sister Herta also emigrates with her family to Paris; her husband Berthold Walter tries to establish a business there without success and decides to return to Germany. In Hamburg, he seeks to earn his living as a peddler; he is treated so cruel and humiliated so badly that he commits suicide in August 1935. His daughter Nora Walter reports:


Read more here: http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/survivor/maxblock.html


The Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team


Copyright Carmelo Lisciotto H.E.A.R.T

Copyright Carmelo Lisciotto H.E.A.R.T 2010

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