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Issue #1484      8 December 2010

Farewell to Max Watts


Activists from a wide range of community and solidarity groups gathered recently in Sydney to farewell Max Watts who died on November 23 aged 82.

Described as an “all round stirrer and fighter for justice and humanity”, Max was a left-wing freelance journalist and a solidarity activist with many national liberation struggles.

Born to Jewish parents in Germany in 1928, Max belonged to a family of anti-fascists, a political leaning he would maintain to the end. Along with his mother and sister, he survived the Holocaust, an experience which would shape his life.

Max made his name as a freelance journalist reporting war and conflict, notably in Bougainville, but also in East Timor, Palestine, and South America. In addition to freelancing for a variety of local publications in Sydney, he wrote for German and French papers.

In the 1960s, he was a central activist in Europe working with soldier resistance to the Vietnam War within the US armed forces.

Max helped initiate RITA – Resistance Inside The Army – which became one of his great political passions.

One of his many contributions was co-authorship, with David Cortright, of the book Left Face: Soldier Unions and Resistance Movements in Modern Armies.

Max was Australian correspondent for Military Resistance newsletter, sending in countless articles over the past seven years of publication, ranging from reports about organising anti-war outreach to Australian troops and US armed forces members visiting Australia to histories of work with anti-war US soldiers during the American war on Vietnam.

Max also worked for the Sydney bureau of Reporters Without Borders who said he sent them information about press freedom in Australia for more than 10 years as well as stories about Timor, Palestine and Papua New Guinea. He recently provided them with coverage of the inquest into the death of five journalists in Balibo at the hands of the Indonesian military in 1975.  

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