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Max Goodman (born Gutmann) was born in Radauti, Romania on November 23, 1923. Although his family had lived in Radauti since 1718, they were considered outsiders because they were Jews. 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 had attacked the retreating Romanian Army and so, as revenge, Romanian soldiers and bands of the Iron Guard (an ultra-nationalist, fascist and antisemitic political party in Romania in the period from 1927 into the early part of WWII) murdered 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 resettled in the “new territory” (a term used to disguise where they were actually headed). 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 an overcrowded cattle car and made to travel two hundred miles in horrific conditions that resulted in the suicide of two people. Their belongings were confiscated by border police 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. Conditions in the “colony” were deplorable and the family was forced to live with 16 people in a 400 square feet house for two and half years. The town of 4000 only had one water pump causing a serious shortage of water. Inhabitants were prevented from bathing two individuals who made an attempt were hung as an example. Once Max was so thirsty he drank from the muddy river and contracted dysentery. He was also forced to work in a slaughterhouse and was periodically sent to work 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.
Max met his wife Edith in Radauti in 1949 after being introduced to her by his uncle; they married in 1950. They were finally able to leave Romania for the U.S. in 1958. Max eventually became an accountant and settled in St. Paul, MN, where he lives with Edith today.
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.
Edith Fuhrmann was born September 11, 1931 in Krischatik, Romania. Edith’s father was a prosperous sugar-beet farmer and cattle rancher, her mother owned a grocery store. In 1939, she was 10 years old when the war broke out. In 1941 Jews began being rounded up but Edith and her family luckily managed to escape the deportation as the Romanian official who was in charge of rounding up the Jews in her town had borrowed money from her father, which he had not made the man repay. Edith’s mother reminded the official of the loan and when they were calling out names for deportation he told her father, “I don’t care where, just go!”
Edith and her family then stayed with Jewish families in the neighboring town of Zastavna but eventually the same Romanian officer came with guards and all the Jews were taken to a border village. They were told to cross the border and never turn back, or they would be shot. The Polish militia on the other side of the border were refusing to let people in, but the guards got drunk and went home, allowing the family to get across safely.
"They came one day and told my parents that we have to leave...they took us to the border...they searched and searched and they thought we had money and jewelry," she recalls. "I was a little girl and I was scared to death. I remember telling my father, 'Daddy, give them everything. I want to live.'"In September of 1941 they came to Edintz where they and about 13,000 Jewish people were placed in an empty field to sleep on straw. Her mother and cousin would sneak out through the barbed wire and steal potatoes to make soup. Edith’s father made acquaintance with a baker and would sell bread to earn food for the family. He then bribed a guard and managed to get the family into a town where a kindly woman took them in. Her father later met a man who told them about a town called Chernovtsy, in Russia, where there were some Jews and a ghetto. Edith and her family went and lived out the remainder of the war there. “My father was very resourceful, he did anything he could to keep us alive,” she stated. “Somehow when the need was greatest, something came through. We were lucky that we had our parents and that is how we survived.”
When the war ended, the Jews in Chernovtsy started to leave but Edith’s family was afraid to return home; they had heard that when Jewish people went back their neighbors would kill them. When some horses died at her father’s job he was arrested. He was eventually released but for months he would not leave the house before they finally decided to return to Romania.
In 1950, Edith married Max Goodman in Radauti. She was eighteen and he was twenty-six. Max had family in the United States who invited him to come and work for them. They were able to leave Romania for the U.S. in 1958, where they eventually settled in St. Paul, MN.
In 1996, Max and Edith returned to visit Romania. Max’s former house was still standing but there was no longer anyone in the neighborhood who remembered his family. Edith’s house was gone but her grandmother’s house was still there. A family living in the house was afraid she wanted it back. Edith met her former nanny, who remembered Edith and her sister. Edith has stated that antisemitism is still alive in Romania; people in Edith’s village told her they were poor because all their money went to the Jews. Nonetheless, both Edith and Max have stated that they harbor no hatred towards today’s generation of Germans or Romanians. Both have shared stories of people who had helped them during the war.
Edith 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.
Photo: Edith Goodman February 2013-Felix de la Concha. Published in American Jewish World
Page updated December 2014