Holocaust survivor Max Glauben is on a mission—to outlast hate, to preserve memory, and to compel the world to embrace tolerance.
The stench of decay pierced the air aboard the boxcar of trapped Jews. “Why me?” fifteen-year-old Max asked himself, as a convoy rumbled from the Warsaw Ghetto to Majdanek death camp in May 1943.
The Nazis had destroyed the Glauben family’s business, upended their rights, and ultimately decimated their neighborhood. The deluge of questions would only intensify after the Nazis murdered Max’s mother, father, and brother. Max channeled grit, determination, and a fortuitous knack for manufacturing airplane parts to outlast six horrific concentration camps in his quest to survive.
This memoir explores Max’s mischievous childhood and teen years as a go-to ghetto smuggler. Max journeys from displaced person to American immigrant and Korean veteran. He reveals how he ached as he dared to court love and rear children. For decades, he bottled up his trauma. Then he realized: He could transform his pain into purpose.
Infused with raw emotion and vivid detail, historical records and Max’s poignant voice, this memoir relays the true story of the harrowing violence and dehumanization Max endured. It relays Max’s powerful lifetime commitment to actively thwarting hate and galvanizing resilience. Max insists you, too, can transform your adversity into your greatest strength.
In the seventy-five years since his liberation, Max has ceased to ask himself, “Why me?” Instead, he reframes his focus, eager to partner with you and ask: “What can we do next?”
About the Author
As a journalist for USA Today, Jori Epstein reports features, investigations, and news—primarily on the Dallas Cowboys and NFL. She worked previously for The Dallas Morning News and Sports Illustrated. Jori holds journalism and Plan II Honors degrees from the University of Texas.
Max Glauben’s story is a tale of courage, resilience, and defiance in the face of the worst kind of human cruelty. Jori Epstein’s compelling, compassionate, and intimate portrait commands not only our attention, but also our respect for a man who never surrendered his soul nor forgot what it means to be human. —Glenn Frankel, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Former Jerusalem Bureau Chief, The Washington Post
It’s not often that you’ll find a story so well-crafted as this that it captures the evil Max Glauben experienced in the Holocaust, while never losing sight of the goodness that animated his life well afterward. This is an important book that will ensure generations yet to be born will know—on a personal level—someone who survived history and spent a lifetime opening the hearts of others. —Brendan Miniter, Editorial Page Editor, The Dallas Morning News
I was nervous about reading Max’s memoir, because I was afraid it couldn’t possibly convey the hope and resilience that ‘our’ Max inspires when he shares his testimony at the museum. As I cautiously started reading, I soon realized my fears were unfounded, and before I knew it, I had finished the book with tears in my eyes. They were tears of gratitude that Jori had so lovingly and accurately captured the essence of Max—his history, his complexity, the twinkle in his eye, and his singular devotion to making the world a better place. Max embodies the definition of being an upstander, and I am grateful that he will continue to teach generations to come, not only through his interactions with our museum visitors in our Dimensions in Testimony Theater, but also through his memoir. Max inspires all of us who have the joy of working with him at the museum to combat prejudice, hatred, and indifference, and I know he will inspire all who read this book, as well. Together, we can honor Max’s legacy by being upstanders! —Mary Pat Higgins, President and CEO, Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum
This story reminds us that the arc of the moral universe does not bend toward justice on its own. It is pulled in that direction by resilient humans like Max Glauben. The Upstander is required reading for the brave souls who have enlisted in the war against hate. —Daron K. Roberts, Founding Director, University of Texas Center for Sports Leadership & Innovation
A famous Jewish proverb tells us, ‘Acquire for yourself a teacher.’ I can proudly say Max Glauben has been my teacher. Max has taught me so many lessons about life, but most of all, he has taught me how to move forward without vengeance, how to remember without hatred, and how to be an upstander without anger. Read his story and you too will acquire the most profound and meaningful teacher you could imagine. —Rabbi Meir Tannenbaum, Director of Jewish Enrichment, BBYO International
From the gates of Auschwitz to classrooms across Texas, Max Glauben has spent decades channeling the most excruciating memories of his past into messages of resilience, forgiveness, and hope. Through The Upstander, Jori Epstein ensures no details from Max's story are lost to the passage of time. Those of us whose lives have already been changed by Max are that much more fortunate now that Jori and Max’s bond is culminating in this remarkable book. —Rachel Siegel, Reporter, The Washington Post and author of Stories of Moral Courage in the Face of Evil