Like his brother Maurice Levitas (see separate entry), Max Levitas was the son of Jewish immigrants from Lithuania and Latvia who had fled the anti-Semitic pogroms of Tsarist Russia in 1912, thereby escaping the Holocaust of three decades later. In 1927, the entire family had been forced by poverty to emigrate from Dublin to Britain.
A veteran of the Battle of Cable Street, which he took part in at the age of 22, Max Levitas acted as a message runner for anti-fascist activists in the east end of London. He was fined £10 in court for his anti-Mosley activities, a full two years before
Max Levitas, when he lived in Brady Mansions, was the convenor of a twenty-one week rent strike in 1939. He went on to become a Communist councillor in Stepney for some 15 years.
Other members of the extended Levitas family, who remained behind in eastern Europe, suffered the fate of many Jews during the Second World War. Max’s and Maurice’s paternal aunt, Sara, and all her family were burned to death, along with fellow-villagers, in the synagogue of Akmeyan. Their maternal aunt, Rachel, and most of her family were massacred by the Nazis in Riga. A paternal uncle who thought he had emigrated far enough westwards to Paris was murdered on his own doorstep by a Gestapo officer.
In 2002 Max unveiled a plaque outside the Camden Street headquarters of Ireland’s largest international aid organisation Concern, to mark the fact that the same building had once housed both the synagogue where his parents had been married in 1914 and the headquarters of the Dublin tailoring trade union founded by Jewish immigrant workers, with his own father being an active member of that union.