Biographies/Max Katz

Tags: SS Normandie WWII Russian De Grasse Kiev 15th Brigade Jewish Young Communist League Jaroslav Dombrowski Brigade Albacete Longshoreman US Army Air Corps (USAAC) Ukrainian

Researcher: Nora Loftus, Stuyvesant '23

Max Katz was born on May 1, 1917 (though according to he was born in 1907), in the capital of Ukraine, Kiev (Kyiv). At the time, Ukraine was still a part of Russia. Before joining the brigade, he had 4 years of military service in the US Army Air Corps (USAAC) under his belt. Here, Katz served as a mechanic. Since the USAAC was the aerial warfare service component of the US army at the time, he probably worked on aircraft maintenance. Even though he didn’t gain any front-line combat experience from these four years, Katz was able to join the Abraham Lincoln Brigade with war experience, and knowing how war in general works. After, Katz became a longshoreman where he did waterfront manual labor. He joined the Young Communist League (YCL) in 1936. The longshoremen were unionized at this point, which might have influenced his pull toward the YCL. On December 21, 1936, Katz received passport #358110. On it, his address was listed as 173 Henry St, NYC in the Lower East Side. His building was built in 1920. Before being sailed off, the volunteers, including Katz, received a Bon Voyage party in the Second Avenue Yiddish Theater where they each were given a gift bag containing Lucky Strike cigarettes, G. Washington coffee, two bars of Palmolive soap, and a Gillette razor. On December 26, he sailed aboard the SS Normandie, a French ocean liner, with his fellow volunteers. He was the 49th entry on their “Sail List” which kept track of the volunteers going to Spain. They docked in Le Havre, France on December 31 and then took a boat train to Paris and then to Perpignan. They then boarded buses with other brigades to cross the border into Spain. They arrived in Albacete on January 6, 1937, where the volunteers were enrolled in their separate brigades. Katz served with the 15th brigade, the Lincoln Batallion. In May 1937, after intense fighting, he was pulled from the front lines because of his age. He was sent back to the US aboard the De Grasse, a French cruiser, on August 1, 1937. He may have also fought with the Jaroslav Dombrowski Brigade - the Polish Jewish volunteers - in the Spanish Civil war. The first of these volunteers fought at Irun on August 28, 1936. They were also the last to leave Spain. Later in his life, Katz joined the WWII Armed forces. On June 17, 1943, he married Estelle Gaylick, born in Chicago on December 17, 1910. They had a daughter named Anne Katz. He later remarried to Eleanore Levy. With her, he had a son named Elliot Katz and three daughters: Lisa Katz Keiner, Rachel Katz, and Anne Katz. Katz died on January 27, 1981, in Milford, Connecticut.


“Katz, Max.” The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, August 7, 2020.

Документы советской эпохи: просмотр единицы хранения. Accessed May 8, 2022.

Sugarman, Martin. “Jews in the Spanish Civil War.” Jewish Virtual Library. Accessed May 9, 2022.

Brooks, Chris. “New Jarama Series.” The Volunteer, July 13, 2016.

“Max Katz 1907-1998 - Ancestry®.” Ancestry®. Accessed May 10, 2022.