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Mai, Berta née Reiss (1868 - 1943)

Max & Bertha Mai with son Milton

Berta (Rebekka) Reis was born in Steinsfurt on May 9, 1868.

Her father was Löw Reis (*1834, ✡1888, both in Steinsfurt), who later always was called Leopold. His grave shows, that he was from a Levite family: There is a jug to be seen and his Hebrew name is „Jehuda son of Moses Segal Reis”.

Berta's mother was Wilhelmina (Mina) Odenheimer (*1833 Heidelsheim, ✡1916 in Merchingen). Leopold and Mina were married in Steinsfurt on August 4, 1859. They had 8 children, who were all born in Steinsfurt: Elise (*1860), Auguste (*1861), Gustav (*1862), Rosa (*1864), Emma (*1865), Moses (*1866), Rebekka and Karl (*1871).

Nothing is known about Berta's youth.

She was married in Steinsfurt on March 28, 1900. Her husband Max Mai was born in Hüngheim (today part of Ravenstein in Neckar-Odenwald-Kreis) on August 20, 1872 as the son of Michael Mai (*1845 in Hüngheim, ✡1885 in Merchingen) and his wife Fanni née Grumbacher (*1845, ✡1913, both in Merchingen).

Max Mai lived in Merchingen, today also part of Ravenstein. He was a cattle dealer, but also traded with horses on commission. As a further venture he brokered plots of land for farming. The couple had one son: Max (*1901).

Berta had a stroke in 1925 from which she was partly paralyzed.

The Mai family emigrated to the Netherlands on October 22, 1935. There they lived in Rotterdam.

Their son Max, who had taken on the name Milton May, his wife and their two young daughters managed to emigrate to the USA in May 1939. Due to the immigration restrictions of the USA his parents had to stay behind. Probably they were to follow later when Milton would have been able to provide an affidavit of support. But that did never happen.

German troops occupied the Netherlands in April 1940. Immediately the persecution of the Jewish population began. In 1941 Max and Berta lost the German citizenship. By order of the Gestapo they had to move into a „Jews' house” in Amsterdam in 1942. On March 4, 1943 they were seized and brought to the transit camp Westerbork.

On March 10, 1943 they were deported to the extermination camp Sobibor in Eastern Poland, where both were murdered on March 13. Berta is remembered on our Shoah page.


In the Memorial book of the Federal Archives there are entries for Berta (921424) and Max (921476) Mai

In the Yad Vashem data base there are entries (4269429) for Berta and for Max (11586728) Mai

In the Digital Monument of the Jewish Community in the Netherlands there are pages for Berta and Max Mai


Files of the restitution claims for Max und Berta Mai (GLA Karlsruhe 480, 26063 and 26064)

Civil registers: Steinsfurt, Merchingen

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