Max Watts 1928-2010

Max at Sodom crossing, Israel, 1952-1956? Copywrite, Max Watts Archives

 

Max Watts, who became a well-known personality on the left in Australia, particularly in Sydney, died on November 23.
Max was a left-wing freelance journalist, an occasional contributor to Green Left Weekly and its discussion list , and a solidarity activist with many national liberation struggles including those of Palestine, Kanaky, West Papua and Bougainville. In the 1960s, he was a central activist in Europe working with soldier resistance to the Vietnam War within the US armed forces. Resistance inside the army (RITA) was one of his great political passions.

I first spoke to Max on the phone in late 2007 when I was trying to get involved with Reporters Sans Frontieres, and he was the Australian man on the job, keeping an eye on censorship of journalists, and following events in Bougainville and East Timor. He knew there was little money in journalism and photography, and made sure I knew about it from the very beginning, “if you want to work in this area, you’ll have to have other ways of making money,” he said. Since that time I always read his ’round-robbins’ – group emails, often nostalgic accounts of events ‘long ago’, in Europe, South America, Palestine and Israel. I was going to go to Sydney to look after Max while he was recovering from operations, but other events prevented me from doing this., I never had a chance to personally meet Max, but I learnt a lot from his writing, personality and history. Farewell Max.

http://www.altmedia.net.au/obituary-%E2%80%93-max-watts/28094 – below:

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.

Watts 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 three German papers along with a French one. He also worked as the chief reporter for the Sydney bureau of Reporters Sans Frontières, vigilantly keeping an eye on censorship of journalists by press organisations and governments alike.

Famously, Max helped initiate ‘RITA’ – Resistance Inside The Army, which gave its name to a book about the history of resistance from American soldiers from within the army apparatus.

The celebration of his life will be held on Wednesday, December 1, 11.30am, at Camellia Chapel, Macquarie Park Crematorium, Plassey Road, North Ryde.

from max watts <rosiek@bigpond.com>
to Jessie Boylan <jessie.boylan@gmail.com>
date Mon, Mar 1, 2010 at 12:21 PM
subject 90301.2Re: contacting
mailed-by bigpond.com
of cOURSE IN THE MEANTIME I HAVE TOTALLY FORGOTTEN WHY (PARTICULAR OR GENERAL ?) I WAS TRYING TO CONTACT YOU !  MAY HAVE BEEN SOMETHING TO DO WITH YOUR GAZA TRIP ?  OR ?  I THINK AT ONE POINT I WAS TRYING TO ESTABLISH CONTACT BETWEEN RADIO 3 CR (PROBABLY JAN BARTLETT, MY PRODUCER FOR TUESDAY HOME TIME) AND YOU ?
SHE (JAN) SAYS THIS HAS BEEN DONE, WORKED.  GOOD.
OTHERWISE, HI, AND HOPE U R DOING OK ?
IF U R ALL OVER THE PLACE, IS THAT GOOD OR BAD OR ??
ANYWAY, IF EVER DO MAKE IT TO SYDNEY, GIVE ME A BELL (02 9564 1147 OR 0419 606 332)
AND MAYBE WE CAN SEE WHAT WE (BOTH) LOOK LIKE IN THE FLESH ?
OVER COFFEE OR JAM CHA ?
ALL V BEST
MAX WATTS
OH, I KNOW !  I AM STILL TRYING TO LEARN HOW TO SEND PIX BY EMAIL.  SOMETIMES WORKS, SOMETIMES NOT !   FIGURED YOU CAN ADVISE !
PIX 22-19  LONG AGO !  GUESS WHICH ONE IS THE MAX ?

Max and Mates, 1952-6? Copywrite, Max Watts Archives

from max watts <rosiek@bigpond.com>
to KOVACH LYDIA <lydiakovach@bigpond.com>,
WATTS Max <rosiek@bigpond.com>
date Thu, Feb 4, 2010 at 2:25 AM
subject 100204.1 FROM SLIDEs TO STORY:
mailed-by bigpond.com


FROM SLIDES TO STORY:  10020

Some Scratches on the rocks:  SLIDE 140-6; WHICH LED ME TO SLIDES 19 TO 23

It makes sense that somehow these slides, 85 boxes of from a few to 40 slides, dias, each, maybe 3000 in all, be “used”.  And be “explained”.  Titled. Added to existing stories, stories I have already written, or to do “new” stories, write about what is on them, why I photographed that, when I did so.  A simple idea.   As so often, the devil is in the detail.  Passons, leave out, that often I have no idea what I photographed, back then.  Why I did so.  As to the when and where, this may come back to my memory, maybe right away when I looked, maybe the first time since I took the pix, maybe by thinking about it, at slide Y-X, maybe by looking at the “neighbouring pix a, b” on film Y, where a = 1+n, b = 1-n, n= 0 to 3, 4, 5.

The assumption being that film Y is shot sequentially, at given times, in – probably – given places.

All clear ?

Sometimes, as with the film 140, on which there were only three pix, all similar, this is of little use.  And when Harry said, as he scanned the pix:  “Scratches on some rocks, why did you pix that ?” – at first I too had but little to say.

Then my memory, that highly variable, unreliable, swiss cheese mountain tops above the obscuring clouds, memory, kicked in – perhaps fuelled by that morning’s phone call from Paris Simone, at 6 am, telling me that she had just returned from hospital, 5 days for 5 Euros, after an ope on her throat, for, what I think she said, goitre.  Not dangerous, but done.

(Later that day, Erka told me that her MRI ? scan of her brain had, so the specialist said, detected many lesions.  Not good.  More tests needed.  She may have MS, very bad.  Scary.)

Anyway, the early morn talk with Simone may have jogged my memory, about these scratches on rocks.  I said, suddenly:  Val Camonica !    And a little later:  Emanuel.

And today I (is this cheating ?  I’m not sure…) looked into Wikipedia:  Val Camonica came up perfectly, the scratches are more than 2000 years old, Emanuel is Emanuel Anati, a part-time boy-friend, before and/or during ” of Simone, my French Wife.   Anati wis not only Italian Jewish, but also part-time Israeli.  Archeologist.  Professor.  Volunteer.   And, he was becoming famous for his studies of the Val Camonica Rock “scratchings”, pictures, done by an now unknown people before 14 BC.  Or AD.  That I don’t remember, before or “after” Christ, only that in the year 14 the Romans came to the Valley, Camonica, and the locals stopped scratching on the rocks, as they had been, so Anati’s studies proved, for the previous centuries.  Maybe, I now don’t remember this, (nor have I now pushed “outside research” into the many possible sources) Millenia.

That is why I took these (3) pix, not good pix, as usual for max, but definitely in Val Camonica.

I, we (me and Harry) did look at the Wikipedia articles on Val Camonica, History of, and at the info re Emanuel Anati.  He seems alive and happy, born in Italy in 1930, but definitely in the Wiki pix much fatter than I remember him.   From sometime after 1957, when I first met Simone, I would not have known  Emanuel otherwise, before then.  We often chatted, probably in Paris, not only about his work at Val Camonica, but also about Israel, where we both had been at various times.  And from Anati to other slides:

Slide 23-19:  A typical “max” pix, black and white, over-exposed, badly centered.   The Israeli Negev desert, some huts, a dusty road.  If you look real hard, big Putt, Max’s BSA, small, on the road.  The huts are Sde Boker, maybe  50 kms south of Bersheba.   Today Sde Boker looks, I’m told, I haven’t been there since, quite different.  Ben Gurion, once Prime Minister (of Israel, of course), retired there.  And anyway..

But my slide pix was taken in 1952,  mid 1952, my memory and thoughts say.   Definitely from a hill, west of Sde B, just west of the road.   A decade later I mentioned this hill, the time, to Anati.   My – by then – vague memory of those days.  Early ’50s.   A story I’d been told of a girl, a shepherdess. 22. From, then, Sde Boker.  Earlier on she had been from Jerusalem.  I think she was called Barbara Propper, or something like that.  My memory gets real bad about names.   And the story was she had been sheepherding, on that hill, or somewhere near there, and some Beduins came and shot her, wounded her badly, stole the sheep.  I think she died a bit later.

Anati told me he had been there, in the area, maybe digging, archeologing.  When the word got out of the shot shepherdess, they all mobilised and chased the Beduins.  They found and killed them.   Later it turned out these were the wrong Bedouins, they were “good”, a “friendly” tribe.  The sheep were long gone over the border into Egypt.  With the “bad” Beduins.

I worked in the Maktesh HaGadol not very far from there.  In those years.  Somehow I had heard of that story, of that chase, the incorrect killings.  I don’t remember the details.   It was, as Shakespeare and others have said, long ago and far away, and anyway not only Barbara Propper, but my later girl friend, Barbara 1 (there is also a 2 and a 3), is long dead too.

Anyway, I  often rode Big Putt in the Negev, alone or with Ettie, friends, met and visited (24-2) many friendly Beduins (23-11), and was never shot, or even shot at, then and there.  Oh, once, maybe, (19-17) from very far away, but we were in truck, and never saw ought of the shooters.  I think I took a rifle (19-18) and shot somewhere into the distance, not seeing anyone or anything.

Getting shot at was far more dangerous, later, in Paris, but that is another story.  Available on application.

And that Paris day – the 14th July 1953 – I had no more film when they were shooting.  Also, I think then I was too scared.   Mox nix.

Well, this is a first try from sliding into stories..   oh dear.

19-10 Negev with Camels sheep and bedouin women, 1952, copywrite Max Watts Archives

19-17 Stopped Truck Negev, 1952, Israel, Copywrite Max Watts Archive

from max watts <rosiek@bigpond.com>
to Jessie Boylan <jessie.boylan@gmail.com>
cc
date Sun, Jan 24, 2010 at 12:03 AM
subject 100123.21 to boylan jessie from max watts Photos and write up on my blog: v interesting. how to sell ? will check melbourne addresses…
mailed-by bigpond.com
dear jessie
you asked for camels, you get camels.
nb films 16, 19, 23 ware shot in israel, around 1951/52
69 in central sahara, around 1957-58
yes, i know, i take lousy pix.  a pity, i suppose
i am properly jealous of your work !
with v best max.
gisa fyi wis my mother. outt on 23/18 : putt, my bsa motor bike

from max watts <rosiek@bigpond.com>
to Jessie Boylan <jessie.boylan@gmail.com>
cc
date Fri, Jan 1, 2010 at 5:47 AM
subject 1001.01BOYLANJRe: RN3280PW 1: UDPATED GMS BULLETIN 91231 – 20 HRS: SYDNEY – 11 AM CAIRO TIME; 91228.2GMS Bulletin # 3 09,
mailed-by bigpond.com
Images from this sender are always displayed. Don’t display from now on.
HI JESSE
SORRY BUT THERE IS NO TEL NUMBER (IN GAZA) ON YOUR EMAIL ! WOULD HAVE TELEPHONED NOW (5:41 AM, WENT TO BED AFTER NYEAR’S FIREWORKS WHICH WATCHED ON TV, MY LEGS AIN’T UP TO CROWDS..) (NOTHING ON ABC OR SBS, BUT ONLY ON COMMERCIAL TV CH 9, WITH POOR MUSIC AND NO SOUND FROM FIREWORKS…)
AS I HAVE SAID ON MANY OCCASIONS:  I SAW FIREWORKS IN LONDON, DURING BLITZ 1940-41, MUCH MORE IMPRESSIVE ! THOUGH FEWER COLORS…
KEEP IN TOUCH AND SEND ME YOUR TEL NR WHEREEVER ! WHEN YOU GET THERE..
INC MAX
—– Original Message —–
Sent: Friday, January 01, 2010 12:59 AM
Subject: Re: RN3280PW 1: UDPATED GMS BULLETIN 91231 – 20 HRS: SYDNEY – 11 AM CAIRO TIME; 91228.2GMS Bulletin # 3 09, 10

this is my number here in gaza max! – supposed to be leaving tomorrow.

very Hms controlled march today, stupid, but international presence, around 70 people, to erez border…. not much to say, crazy.
jess

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3 thoughts on “Max Watts 1928-2010

  1. Deeply shocked to know about the sad demise of a great revolutionary and comrade Max Watt.I still have precious memories of my meetings with him in the Blue Mountains in Australia along with other friends and comrades a few years back.Max was haunted by CIA and the enemies and moved from one country to another.Nothing could stop him from his activities dedicated to the cause of human emancipation.I deeply condole his death and extend my sympathies with his bereaved family and friends.Max;s entire life and activities which continued despite severe difficulties,hardship and high risks,will not go in vain.We shall overcome.
    Manzurul Ahsan Khan
    President
    Communist Party of Bangladesh.
    Mob;880 1711331109

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