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Max Goodman (born Gutmann) was born in Radauti, Romania on November 23, 1923. When the Soviet Union occupied the Romanian provinces of Basarabia and North Bucovina in June of 1940, a rumor spread that Jews in these provinces attacked the retreating Romanian Army and so, as revenge, Romanian soldiers and bands of the Iron Guard were killing Jews. On June 30, Max’s father was killed after being pushed from a full speed train while returning home from a business trip.
In October, German troops entered Romania and adapted all anti-Jewish laws in Nazi Germany. Max was expelled from school and his father’s horses (he was a veterinarian and horse breeder) were confiscated. His home was “nationalized” and they had to pay high rent to live in their own home. From March until September 1941 Max had to report for unpaid work on roads and fields.
On October 12, all Jews were given orders to deposit their money and other valuables in the national Bank and assemble at the railroad station to be transported and resettled in the “new territory.” Max’s mother took their valuables to the bank, but wrapped some of their money around Max’s 14-year-old sister, and left for the station. Max was pushed into cattle cars, 100 people per car, and made to travel two days to Radauti, but not before two people in his car- committed suicide. Border police confiscated their belongings before they were forced into dilapidated barracks. Early in November, Max, his family and around 4000 other deportees were made to march to a town called Djurin (in modern day Ukraine), which was declared a “Jewish colony,” a combination of a concentration and detention camp. There they were forced to live with 16 people in a 400 square feet house for two and half years. During this time one-third of the deportees starved, froze to death or died from disease. Max was forced to work in a slaughterhouse and periodically at other labor camps with hardly any food.
On March 19, 1944, Russian army units entered the camp. The next day German airplanes bombed the camp, causing several casualties, but Max, his mother and sister survived. After another year in a displaced person camp in present day Moldova, they returned to Romania in May of 1945. Goodman eventually became an accountant and settled in St. Paul, MN, where he lives today with his wife, Edith, a fellow Holocaust survivor.
Max Goodman's testimony is available at the University of Minnesota through the Visual History Archive developed by the USC Shoah Foundation institute for Visual History and Education (Also known as the Shoah Project). Visit the Visual History Archive website for more information.