This blog series features the Holocaust survivors whose portraits are on view in our installation Eyewitness.
Maximilian Lerner was born in 1924 in Vienna. After he was expelled from school, the family fled to Paris. After three years of challenges, they secured visas to the United States and in April 1941, they arrived safely in NY.
At 18, Mr. Lerner enlisted in the United States Army knowing he would eventually be drafted. He was eager to be involved in the war. Because of his language skills, he was assigned to the Military Intelligence Training Center at Camp Ritchie in Maryland.
Almost a year after volunteering for service, Mr. Lerner became an American citizen, which he says was the proudest day of his life. He went back to Europe as an American soldier in March of 1944, was recruited into the Office of Strategic Services and served as a Special Agent in the Counter Intelligence Corps while still engaging in secret missions for the OSS. After Germany’s surrender he was involved in the short-lived denazification effort.
Today, Mr. Lerner is an author and a member of the Speakers Bureau of the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.