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'Thank you for being my friend, Max': Reflecting on the life of 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Max Glauben

Glauben passed away Thursday, April 28.

DALLAS — Max Glauben believed if he kept sharing memories of the atrocities he suffered and witnessed, he could keep them from being repeated.

I had the privilege of interviewing Max on multiple occasions, and I will always consider it an honor that I was able to share his story.

Glauben was born in Poland on Jan. 14, 1928. 

When Nazis invaded Warsaw, his once thriving Jewish neighborhood declined into a ghetto where food was scarce.

He found clever ways to escape so he could round up loaves of bread and potatoes that would keep his family alive.

But the Glaubens were eventually rounded up and sent to Nazi death camps.

He was the only Glauben to survive.

He suffered the horrors of the Holocaust, yet he harbored no hate.

Credit: Glauben Family
Max as a US Army soldier

I first interviewed Glauben in 2018 as he spent several exhausting days recording his memories as part of a project led by the USC Shoah Foundation to preserve Holocaust survivors’ histories.

“We need to deliver our testimony in a way that does not create hate -- the same hate that was applied towards us,” he told me back then.

The foundation created an interactive hologram of Glauben that’s now one of the most popular attractions inside the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum, which Glauben helped found.

I remember his big smile as he saw his hologram come to life.

He was proud to know his testimony would outlive him.

I also remember walking through the museum with him in the days before it opened to the public.

We stood together inside a boxcar like the ones used to transport Jews to death camps.

I asked him how he could stand there and not let hatred overwhelm him.

Hate does nobody any good, he said.

“The more he hates, the more he wants to hate,” Glauben said.

Credit: Glauben Family
Max Glauben on his wedding day

In 2021, Glauben and author Jori Epstein published The Upstander, a book about Glauben’s life and his commitment to spreading goodness and kindness in the world.

After our story about The Upstander aired, I talked to Glauben on the phone from time to time.

He shared with me not long ago that his health was declining.

But the only thing I ever heard in his voice was resilience.

My friend, Max Glauben, died of complications from cancer at 1:19 a.m. on April 28, 2022.

He passed on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

He survived the worst of humanity to become the best of it.

I am honored to have known him.

And I pledge to continue telling his story and the story of other persecuted people – as that’s what he would have wanted.