Robert Max_edited-1

The Berger Organization
Robert Treat Center
50 Park Place
Newark, New Jersey 07102

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Media Contact:        Evelyn Weiss Francisco:, (201) 796-7788,

State’s Largest and Oldest Holocaust Observance Featured Moving Keynote Address by Holocaust Survivor

NEWARK, N.J., April 27, 2015 – More than 900 people – including Holocaust survivors and their families, Newark dignitaries past and present, and members of The Berger Organization LLC – recently gathered at the Best Western Robert Treat Hotel, located at 50 Park Place, for the City of Newark’s 28th Annual Holocaust Remembrance. Now in its third decade, the symbolic program is the oldest and largest event of its kind in New Jersey.

The intergenerational event once again was attended by students from Newark’s public, charter and parochial schools who are studying the Holocaust as part of their curriculum. The program opened with a brief synopsis of the Holocaust provided by Miles Berger, chairman and CEO of The Berger Organization LLC, one of the event’s co-sponsors and owner of the Best Western Robert Treat Hotel.

“The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators,” said Berger. “The Nazi’s came to power in Germany in January 1933 and believed that Germans were racially superior, and that Jews were inferior and a threat to the so-called German racial community. In 1933, the Jewish population of Europe stood at more than nine million people. By 1945, Germans and their collaborators killed nearly two out of every three European Jews.”

Following Berger’s remarks, Holocaust survivors lit candles in remembrance of the six million Jews killed during World War II. The afternoon program also featured a musical performance by the Arts High School Advanced Choir under the direction of Dr. Jerry Forderhase. Speakers included former Newark Mayor Sharpe James; Barbara Wind, director of the Holocaust Council of Greater MetroWest; Felipe Luciano, the City of Newark’s communications director, who spoke on behalf of Mayor Ras J. Baraka; Rabbi Mark Cooper; and Rev. Dr. Perry Simmons Jr.

Youngsters in attendance were encouraged to remember this worst instance of genocide in recorded history in order to prevent its repetition in the future. “You are the leaders of tomorrow, and you make the world what it will be,” James told the students.  Quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “An injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere. The only way for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.”

“Courage and Conviction” was the theme for this year’s event, and no one embodied those qualities more than keynote speaker Robert Max, an American-Jewish soldier who fought in three major campaigns across Europe during World War II.  As a 20-year-old in the U.S. Army’s 6th Armored Division, Max was captured behind enemy lines during the Battle of the Bulge and forced into Nazi slave labor. Stripped of his protective winter clothing in freezing cold temperatures, starved, brutalized and denied shelter, Max ultimately summoned the strength to make a daring escape from his captors. Upon reaching safety, he spent 10 months in military hospitals.

As one of the last eyewitness survivors of Nazi atrocities, Max shared his harrowing wartime experiences with the captive audience. “Slave laborers in Germany at that time lost all sense of identity. It was a terrible feeling. I had no name, not even a number. They didn’t care who or what I was; I was just a body and it was that simple. This was the kind of captivity very few Americans experienced. Despite everything that was happening, something inside urged me to go on, and I managed to survive an ordeal  that very few others did,” he said.

For the last 60 years, Max, now 91, has dedicated himself to activism and has served in leadership roles in many public service organizations. He was recognized by the Jewish community with its “Lasting Impression Award” and has been the recipient of numerous medals and awards including a Purple Heart.

Newark’s 28th Annual Holocaust Remembrance was sponsored by the City of Newark Department of Neighborhoods and Recreational Services, Newark Public Schools, Holocaust Council of Greater MetroWest, The Berger Organization LLC, Edison Properties, Betesh Group, IDT, Jersey Paper, The Manischewitz Company, Menorah Chapels at Millburn, RBH Group LLC and AFI Food Service.