Stories of Dachau Survivors
Max Mannheimer was born on February 6, 1920 in Neutitschein, a city that was formerly in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but was in the new country of Czechoslovakia at that time; it is now in the Czech Republic. In the first World War, Mannheimer's father fought in the Austrian Army and was awarded the Iron Cross. On November 10, 1938, his father was arrested and taken into "protective custody" following the pogrom that the Nazis called Kristallnacht. Mannheimer was 18, but he escaped arrest because his mother told the police that he was under age. His father was released after promising to leave the country and on January 27, 1939, the family moved to Ungarisch Brod, where his mother had been born.
When the evacuation of all the Jews to the East began, Mannheimer was sent to the Theresienstadt Ghetto, a concentration camp near Prague in January 1943. From there, he was sent, along with his 22-year-old wife, his parents, his 15-year-old sister and two of his brothers, on a train to the death camp at Auschwitz. His older brother Erich had already been deported to Auschwitz in 1942.
After spending six weeks in the Quarantine camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Mannheimer was tattooed with the number 99728 and sent to the Auschwitz main camp where he was put to work. He survived three selections for the gas chamber and an operation performed in the Auschwitz hospital by a doctor who was also a prisoner at Auschwitz. In October 1943, Mannheimer and his younger brother were sent to the Warsaw Ghetto to work in clearing the rubble.
In 2000, Mannheimer's "later diary" about his ordeal in the Nazi concentration camps was published. According to the book, he and his brother were the only members of his family that survived Auschwitz. Mannheimer wrote that he was sent, in July 1944, on a death march to the Dachau concentration camp, arriving on August 6, 1944. After spending 3 weeks in quarantine there, he was sent to a Dachau sub-camp called Allach, where he worked in the BMW factory. He was later sent to another Dachau sub-camp at Mühldorf, where he worked on the construction of an underground factory where Messerschmitt ME 262 airplanes were to be made. With the approach of the US Seventh Army, he was evacuated from Mühldorf on a train. The train was overtaken by American troops and Mannheimer was liberated on April 30, 1945, one day after the liberation of the Dachau main camp.
After the war, Mannheimer became active in educating students about the Holocaust. He served as a tour guide at the Dachau concentration camp and headed an association of Dachau survivors.