The “Umzugsgutliste” reveals that he smoked, because tobacco and cigars are listed. The list also includes a bicycle-raincoat, which reminds Max of the bicycle he used to deliver groceries and vegetables when he was selling them.
His wife Rosa remained in Germany and joined Isidor Marx and his wife who were working hard to send children abroad. She took care of passports and emigration permits for them, working closely with the Palestine Office. She also sometimes accompanied groups of children abroad.
Isidor Marx assessed her work in retrospect: “Rosa Mader was not only an office assistant, but a consultant, employee, ‘right hand and left hand’ of the head and the manager.”
Rosa reached England at the last minute, with a Domestic Servant visa, on 3 September 1939, the day Britain’s declared war.
Her aunt Regina Wertheimer then had to deal with the “Zollfahndungsstelle” (Customs Investigation Office). “Before you left, you had to list every item you wanted to take with you, including the date of purchase and the value at the time.” The lists and luggage were strictly checked and, if you were lucky, released. Drawing up these lists and the constant demands and deletions were understandably perceived by the emigrants as harassment.
The Customs Investigation Office accused Rosa Mader of not having included all the items on the “Umzugsgutliste” (removal goods list) and of giving false information about the purchase price and timing. Such accusations often led to enquiries and threats, and all too often to confiscation of the entire property. Eventually, some of the items like a pair of pyjamas were confiscated. But surprisingly two large trunks full of household goods arrived in England two years later
In England, Rosa lived in a refugee hostel, before working as a domestic helper for a Jewish family in London. When Gerszon’s army unit was posted to North Devon, she moved there.
For two and a half years, the family members had lived separated from each other in different parts of the country until they were reunited in May 1941 in Ilfracombe, Devon. But sadly Gerszon died of a heart attack six months later, in November 1941, at the age of only 41 years.
Rosa, Max and Edith Mader survived the Holocaust, but many of their relatives did not. Tante Regina and Oma Beila Slotwinder-Mader were deported to Theresienstadt on September 15, 1942. Regina Wertheimer died there after a few weeks. Oma Beila survived till February 1944. They are both remembered on the Memorial Wall at Boerneplatz.
Rosa’s two sisters escaped to Shanghai with their families but only Paul, one of her four brothers, survived camps and a “Death march”, and lived in New York till 1975.
A life of music
Once the children were living with their mother again, their lives became more stable. At his school in Devon Max remembers having music lessons for the first time. From that time music became an important part of his life. He vividly remembers the School Song “Hills of Devon”, which he sings occasionally today.
In May 1946 the family moved to London. At school, Max started to learn the cello and played in the school orchestra.