Devotees, students drive by with love and honor
By Deb Silverthorn
Horns blaring and smiles brimming, Max Glauben commemorated 75 years of liberation standing in front of his North Dallas home as a surprise parade of dozens of cars, filled with his fans, passed by.
Glauben was just 11 when World War II started and 13 when he was sent on a boxcar to Majdanek, then Budzyn, Mielec, Wieliczka and Flossenburg before being liberated April 23, 1945. Last Thursday, he watched with four generations on his front lawn, words lost, almost.
“It’s a little bit ironic, but I’m grateful,” said Glauben, looking around as his family, friends, adults and students with whom he’s traveled on the March of the Living (MOTL) drove past cheering and holding up signs of love. “You each get a hug after this [coronavirus] is over. We, the people, make this country. Not Washington, not the virus, we do by loving and caring.”
The lineup was organized by one of hundreds of Yavneh alumni with whom Glauben has marched the miles between Auschwitz and Birkenau with thousands to remember — and to never forget.
“I wanted this day to be special. I posted to Yavneh’s Alumni page and overnight people responded,” said Liora Dickter, a 2012 MOTL participant. “Max has given so much and he’s someone to honor. It was exciting because cars just kept coming and his smile got bigger.”
After two years in Nuremberg, Germany, with the 179 Signal Corps who rescued him, Glauben came to the United States; not long after, he was drafted into the army. Based at Fort Hood, he would visit Dallas for weekend dances sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.
That’s where he met his beloved Frieda. The couple of 67 years have a large, loving family: children, Barry (Michelle), Phillip (Linda) and Shari (Norm) Becker; grandchildren, Alec (Ellen), Blake, Delaney, Hayley, Madison, Ross (Stacey) and Sarah (Brett); and great-granddaughters Natalie and Amelia Golman and great-grandson Julian Glauben — the first Glauben of the next generation.
“Max thrives on people, on touch. It’s what he misses most. Our family, the kids and these babies are our jewels,” said Frieda. “It’s very special to live to see them living their dreams. We’re not done, but we couldn’t be prouder.”
On any given day, one might find Glauben at the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum. For him, speaking and teaching gives voice for his parents, Faiga and Isaac, his brother Heniek and the millions who perished. In the midst of COVID-19, instead of chaperoning his 15th MOTL, Glauben is conducting online interviews and participating in programs of the DHHRM.
In 2007 Glauben said “my heart kvells for these children. The depth of their love for their heritage and the love and respect that they have for their Judaism is strong. They are proof that the devil did not accomplish what he set out to do.”
Glauben first went on the March of the Living in 2005, he and his wife both chaperones. That was his first time back in 60 years, each trip since never the same.
Thirteen trips later, his feelings haven’t changed.
“Going there is like going to the cemetery that my family doesn’t have. I take the kids to #38 Mila Street where my house was, to where my family died at Majdanek and I say Kaddish,” said Glauben. “Then we go to Israel where the dream lives on.”
Glauben says he went through hell and lost so much, but it’s not lost on him at all that he’s had 75 years of good, 92 years of experience. “Never underestimate your ability,” he said. “At 17, I couldn’t imagine even 1% of what I have done in my life.”
As the cars faded through the neighborhood, tears came to Glauben. “In our religion, only the body is buried; the souls, they float up within 11 months and they become the angels. I absolutely believe my family is above me, putting words into my mouth.”