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Max Mannheimer dies at 96

The Holocaust survivor Max Mannheimer died last Friday at the age of 96. Mannheimer tirelessly reminded his contemporaries of the crimes committed during the Nazi period and engaged in an ongoing struggle against oblivion. He had survived the Terezín ghetto and the Auschwitz, Warsaw and Dachau concentration camps. The International Tracing Service (ITS) has in its archive documents pertaining to Mannheimer’s persecution and the period following his liberation.

“Through Max Mannheimer’s death we have lost an important voice of remembrance and admonition,” commented ITS director Floriane Hohenberg. “He made a significant contribution to ensuring against oblivion and strengthening democracy.” Mannheimer was the chairman of the Lagergemeinschaft Dachau from 1990, and vice-president of the International Dachau Committee from 1995. He was moreover a member of the advisory board of the Gegen Vergessen – Für Demokratie association. Over a period of three decades, the Jewish survivor conducted numerous discussions at schools, universities, church institutions and seminars about the experiences of his persecution by the Nazis. He never tired of enlightening people about the Holocaust. For his dedication he was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, among other distinctions.

Persecution and liberation: documents in the ITS archive

On January 27, 1943, Mannheimer and his wife Eva, his parents Jakob and Margarethe, and his siblings Käthe, Ernst and Edgar were deported to the Terezín ghetto, and a few weeks later from there to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Max and Edgar Mannheimer, the only members of the family to survive the camp, were transported on to the Warsaw concentration camp in October 1943, and in August 1944 to the Dachau concentration camp. In the spring of 1945, until the clearance of the camp by the SS on April 28, 1945, the two brothers had to perform forced labor in the Mühldorf subcamp. They were liberated by the Americans in Tutzing on April 30, 1945. Mannheimer initially returned to his native city, but moved to Munich in 1946 after falling in love with a member of the German resistance.

The ITS archive holds documents on detention and forced labor during the Nazi period, as well as the world’s most extensive collection of documents on surviving Displaced Persons (DPs). There are also documents on Max Mannheimer in these holdings. They include a list of inmates transported from Terezín to Auschwitz, his registration as an inmate at the Dachau concentration camp, his transfer to the Mühldorf subcamp, and DP registrations dating from after his liberation. “You are not responsible for what happened, but you do have responsibility to ensure that it doesn’t happen again,” was the charismatic survivor’s message to present and future generations in Germany. Mannheimer died in Munich on September 23, 2016.