UNION, NJ – A 94-year old World War II veteran and survivor of a Nazi slave labor camp told his remarkable story to students and guests at Union High School on Tuesday.
Robert Max of Summit enlisted in the Army when he was a 21-year old college student. An accomplished musician, Max ended up in the Fort Dix Band playing alongside top big band musicians. Max could have remained stateside, but feeling the call of duty, he left the safety of the band to fight. He was involved in three military campaigns, including the Battle of the Bulge, where he was captured behind enemy lines by the Nazis.
Max spoke to the students about his capture and said he was forced to walk hundreds of miles to repair bombed out railroad tracks. He marched and worked in the bitter cold and endured nearly four months without a coat, gloves or any shelter at night. Max went from 155 pounds to 89 pounds before his escape. He escaped to a nearby home and was rescued by American liberators.
Max was awarded the Purple Heart with the oak leaf cluster, three bronze campaign battle stars and the New Jersey Distinguished Service Medal.
At the Union High School event, Union County Freeholder Bruce H. Bergen presented Max with a resolution for his service. Max was joined by his son Doug and Mike Boll of the New Jersey Veterans Network, who co-sponsored the event with the Freeholders.
“It was an honor to have Bob share his life experiences with us,” said Boll. “He truly has an amazing story to tell. He’s an inspiration.”
Max’s book, “The Long March Home: An American Soldier's Life as a Nazi Slave Laborer” was published last November and is available at www.hellgatepress.com/robert-r-max/long-march-home