Max van Straten (1912-1945)


Door: Kevin Brown

Max van Straten was born on 15 January 1912 in Amsterdam, the son of a children’s clothing manufacturer Manus van Straten and his second wife Rachel de Rooij. He had two elder half brothers, Michel and Henri by his father’s first wife, Rachel’s younger sister, and a younger brother Rudolph, who emigrated to the United States in 1939. After his mother’s death in 1928, Max’s father remarried for a third time to Marie Wans, who died in 1940. His father and three brothers were all to survive the war. After six years at an elementary school, he studied for a further four years at a commercial and technical school. He spoke both German and French as well as his native Dutch. After finishing his education, Max then became a commercial agent, a salesman for the family clothing company. He moved to Brussels and by 1944 was living in the suburb of St Gilles at 39 rue de la Victoire.

Van Straten was arrested by the Gestapo in Brussels on 4 May 1944 and interned in Dossin barracks, the Mechelen transit camp, to join the next transport to Auschwitz. Transport XXV from Mechelen to Auschwitz left on 19 May 1944, arriving on 21 May 1944. He was given the number 2765 and assigned to work as a painter. He was transferred to Buchenwald on 2 December 1944 with the new camp number, 96842. In 1945 he took part in a forced March to Birkenau He died there on 2 May 1945, shortly before the end of the war in Europe, aged only 33.

On his Birkenau registration card, Max van Straten was described as a small medium-built but sturdy and strong man, 172 cm (just over 5 foot, 7 inches) in height, and defined by his captors by his Jewish race. His nose was described as narrow and pointed, his face oval, his ears small, his eyes brown, his hair dark, his mouth normal and his teeth projecting. On his left arm was a distinguishing feature, the tattoo of his Auschwitz number. Notwithstanding having been born in Holland, he was officially stateless. Despite being racially classed as Jewish and incarcerated because of his race, van Straten was recorded as being without religion.

For further information see: Kevin Brown historian/Max van Straten