Gedächtnisallee 5
D-92696 Flossenbürg

+49 9603-90390-0

Max Edelman

born September 6, 1922

  • Max Edelman, Lindhurst/Ohio (USA), ca. 2007 (private collection)

Blinded in the Concentration Camp

The Jewish Edelmann family lived in the Polish town of Kras´nik near Lublin. Nearly half of the population of Kras´nik was Jewish. Max Edelmann hoped to become a tradesman like his father. He was the youngest of five siblings. After the German invasion, the Jewish population was subjected to constant persecution and danger. In May 1940, Max and his brothers Zygmunt and Jakob were arrested and were sent to the Ruda subcamp as forced laborers for the occupation. One year later, they were deported to the Budzyn work camp. There Max Edelmann was beaten so severely by two guards that he barely survived. As a result of the injuries, he lost all sight in his left eye, and most of the sight in his right eye. His brothers helped him hide his disability and survive the harsh labor.

The SS transferred the brothers to the Wieliczka subcamp, and in early August 1944 to Flossenbürg. After several weeks, they were sent to the Holleischen subcamp. There they were put to work on heavy excavations for the subterranean munitions testing site. In late January 1945, they were returned to the main camp to work for Messerschmitt in aircraft manufacturing. After two weeks, Max Edelmann became totally blind and was no longer able to work. He was saved by the block elder, Erich, who was trusted even by the SS. Erich was able to provide protection to Max Edelmann. When the SS ordered the transfer of all prisoners who were no longer able to work to the sick bay in March, the sick bay Kapo ensured Max Edelmann’s survival until the evacuation of the camp. Although now completely blind, Max Edelmann was still forced to leave on the death march. He was guided on the march by his brothers. The train transport was repeatedly targeted by Allied fighter planes, and the prisoners were forced to continue on foot. The prisoners had arrived at the Bavarian forest when they were finally liberated by American troops, who brought the brothers to Amberg. Nearly the entire Edelmann family had been killed by the Germans.

  • Flossenbürg concentration camp prisoner register (National Archives, Washington D.C.)

    The Hebrew names of Zygmunt, Jakob and Max Edelmann were Zelman, Jankel and Moses, (the names of the three brothers were entered in the book as Gelman, Jantsch and Mozek.) Their cousin Isaak Edelmann died at Flossenbürg two days after his return from the Hersbruck subcamp.

Max Edelmann had an eye operation but it did not restore his sight. He learned how to live independently at a school for the blind. After completing a training course as a physical therapist, he worked at a hospital in Munich. There he met his wife, and emigrated with her to the United States in 1951. Because of his disability, Max Edelman had great difficulty finding work. After his wife's death, Max Edelman was assisted by his guide dog, Silas. Max Edelman often visits schools to tell the story of his experiences.