Max Diamant (now Josef Burzminski)

Max Diamant (now Josef Burzminski)

Born: June 23, 1915

Vienna, Austria

Max was born to a Jewish family in the Austrian capital of Vienna. When he was a small child his family moved to Przemysl, an urban center in southeastern Poland with a largely Jewish population. Max spent the remainder of his childhood there; his parents ran a small grocery and cafeteria to support their five children.

1933-39: The Germans reached Przemysl on September 14, 1939. It was a brilliant sunny day when planes suddenly appeared; Max's family thought the planes were their own until they began shooting people in the street. Poland was defeated quickly, and was divided between the Germans and the Soviets. Przemysl straddled the dividing line; the western half was taken by the Germans, and the eastern half, where Max lived, was seized by the Soviets.

1940-44: In 1941 the Germans took all of Przemysl. Max and his family were lined up with Germans aiming their guns at them. Then an officer ran up: "We need fat Jewish people for soap!" So instead of being shot, they were put on a train. Wanting to die, Max decided to throw himself off the train. Others helped, pushing him through the window head first. But when he saw the churning wheels he couldn't do it. So he hung out of the window feet first and jumped. Skidding in the snow, Max hit a post that tore a hole in his shoulder. He walked back to Przemysl.

After spending three years hiding in Przemysl, Max was liberated by the Soviet army in early 1945. Later, Max immigrated to the United States and became a dentist.

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