Max was raised in the Romanian town of Radauti, a trading and woodworking center near the Ukrainian border. The Gutmanns had a traditional Jewish home, and Max's father was on the board of directors of the local Jewish community. Max's father dealt in grain, feed, and livestock and he was a purveyor of horses for the Romanian military.
1933-39: My pony, Lisa, was kept in our stables with the other horses. The secondary school I attended was semi-private; it was governed by the state, but each student had to pay a tax to attend. After school I sometimes studied Hebrew with a tutor. In 1938, when I was 15, I read in the newspaper how Jews in Germany were losing their rights and their property. My family was afraid that similar constraints would be imposed on us in Romania.
1940-44: In June 1940 my father was injured after being thrown from a train by Romanian fascist Iron Guard members. Six months later he died of his wounds. When the Romanians deported Radauti's Jews in October 1941, we were sent east to a ghetto in Transnistria. There we lived in one room with 16 people, mostly relatives. I worked in a slaughterhouse. When we threw away the bones, skin and organs, hundreds of starving people gathered and fought over them. After three years of suffering, we were liberated by the Soviets in March 1944.
After the war, Max returned to Radauti. In 1958 he left for Vienna, and emigrated to the United States in 1959.