Episode #236: Painful Joy: A Holocaust Family with Max Friedman
Max Friedman is an author, retired corporate communicator, memoir writer, and second generation Holocaust survivor. His book titled “Painful Joy: A Holocaust Family Memoir,” is part memoir, part genealogical mystery, and part history, which explores the complicated relationship between two holocaust survivors, who experience the painful joy of a love touched by death.
Max shares how both his father and mother survived the unthinkable horror of the Holocaust, spending several years being imprisoned in concentration camps. During that time, his father’s wife and two young daughters were murdered at Auschwitz. His mother’s husband, parents, and most of her family were also murdered as well. His parents met in Sweden after the liberation, and they fell in love, had two children, and eventually immigrated to America.
Max explains how difficult it was to live in a family where both parents were haunted by the war and the atrocities they experienced and somehow managed to survive. He shares how he and his sister grew up in a dysfunctional household, where each of the four family members struggled to deal with the past by creating their own fantasies.
It wasn’t until his grandson asked him what it meant to be a survivor that Max went on a quest to see what really happened to his parents. This launched the beginning of a journey which was full of surprises, tears, pain, and understanding of what his parents and each of the individuals murdered in the Holocaust went through, and how it still impacts their descendants to this day.
Download this episode to hear his heartbreaking yet hopeful story, and to honor and remember all of those who were lost in the Holocaust, and why we need to understand our history to prevent it from ever repeating itself.