THE Wartime Leadership Podcast: The Resiliency of Second Generation Holocaust Survivor Max Friedman! This is the #1 most impactful episode thus far in 2023! This interview changed my perspective in so many ways. Max realized early in life that the world he lived in was very different from most others his age would ever experience. He was born in Sweden in 1950 to Sam and Frieda, Polish Jews who met and married there after their liberation from the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp and losing everyone they ever knew, including their first spouses and children. The family later emigrated to the U.S. in 1952, I grew up in Coney Island, across the street from the Ferris Wheel and Cyclone, but was never allowed on any rides.
As for journalism, Max attended Berkeley and got a master’s, but became impatient with journalism as a profession. He turned in his press pass while freelancing features and book reviews and sampling other writing jobs. Max worked for five years at WNET/13 (PBS) as a publicist for Bill Moyers' Journal and other programs, and then was responsible for editorial projects at the station. He spent the next 20 years learning about pharmaceuticals and writing about patients and scientists as head of communications at Bristol-Myers Squibb. Corporate life can have its ups and downs. So, when they told him to fire half his staff, he asked to be put on the list as well.
Most recently, Max spent five years researching and writing "Painful Joy", part memoir, part biography, part genealogical mystery, a story focused primarily on his parents, who somehow survived the camps and tried to restart their lives. It was a difficult and painful journey till the end. Like so many other survivors, they spoke very little about their past, though the horrors they survived were always apparent. So, he decided to finally find out more, about who they once were and what they might have become, and about their survival and its aftereffects. It turned out that their story was more complicated, more compelling, more heartwarming and heartbreaking than anyone could ever imagine. And as to the little they did tell their children, Max discovered that they were mostly reimaginings of some complicated realities. He came to understand better the effects of their survival on his very own existence - and indeed on broader themes that their lives and journeys reflected.
To purchase a copy of Max’s book go to: https://amsterdampublishers.com/books/painful-joy/
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A special thanks to the second half of the show's talent, the show's producer G. Fraser from www.369sounddesign.com.
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Special thanks to the second half of this team, Geoff Fraser with 369sounddesign.com. He wrote both the intro and outro music and has taken on the task of producing each episode. Thank you for your friendship and mentorship as we take this journey together.