Farewell Comrade! Max Watts (1928-2010)

Max Watts on his 80th birthday. Photo by Vivienne Porzsolt.

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.

Max was an extravagant personality, and some people may have found him difficult at times, but he was someone always firmly on the left and on the side of all struggles against oppression and exploitation. You could count on that and he will be remembered by many comrades in the broad left movement.

Max shook his head at the persistent tendency of the left to be over-factionalised and divisive but he was quick to work alongside those who took up serious struggle. An eagerness to understand and show solidarity with new forces in motion in any country was one of his characteristics.

Max passed away in Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital from kidney and heart failure. He was with close friends Rosie, Lydia, Vivienne and Barbara at the time and passed peacefully.

I managed to say goodbye to him in hospital a few days before he died. He was quite feisty then — though somewhat confused and disoriented, probably due to medication. After about an hour, my attempts to get him to stay in his bed earned me the following last words: “Boyle, your visiting time is up!” It was classic Max!

Max will be formally farewelled in Sydney on December 1 at 11.30am at Camellia Chapel, Macquarie Park Crematorium, Plassey Road, North Ryde.

Phone 0411 366 295 for more details.

It requested that flowers not be sent to the funeral. Instead, if you would like to do something to commemorate Max Watts, it is suggested that you could contribute to the management of the archive which has been established in Amsterdam at the International Institute for Social History. This comprises Max’s enormous store of papers in relation to his RITA.


Foundation International Institute for Social History
Amsterdam, Netherlands

IBAN NL58ABNA0548517347

IMPORTANT! It is essential to reference to ‘Max Watts Archives’

Friends of Max have set up a Facebook group. If you would like to leave messages or photos or other material, go to www.facebook.com and search for “Remembering Max Watts”.

7 Comments to “Farewell Comrade! Max Watts (1928-2010)”

  1. Farewell Max Watts, you had a strong character and your work for RITA and for the complete informations in the politics , in the army and in the scene was enormous. I take you as an example and as an sample to do my work better and continually. Farewell dear Max, Vicki from Berlin

  2. Max was a Legend. A one-in-a-million. Rest in Peace my friend!

  3. From the attorneys of the Lawyers Military Defense Committee, whom you assisted so substantially in Heidelberg (1972-1976), farewell!

  4. Good bye, Max. You will stay present in my heart, like with so many comrades and friends in Germany.Wherever you are now, be sure to meet Fritz Teufel, and to sail your boat just like he rides his bike. Thanks so much for what you have done to break up the war profession. Thanks.

  5. I was in charge of foreign relations in UDS (Unión Democrática de Soldados): This organization was created in Franco’s dictatorship times and in Spain and it was vital for us to have the support we found in Max Watts. He introduced us to the VVDM in Holland and other conscripts’ organizations in Europe, with whom, some years after we created ECCO (European Conference of Conscripts Organizations).
    He was always so helpful and understanding that although I hadn’t seen him for many years I still keep a indelible memory of Max.

  6. Max Watts was Australian Correspondent for Military Resistance newsletter, sending in countless articles over the past 7 years of publication, ranging from reports about organizing anti-war outreach to Australian troops and U.S. armed forces members visiting Australia to histories of work with anti-war U.S. soldiers during the American war on Vietnam.

    Then the were the frequent phone calls from Australia, with information, suggestions, and his take on growing resistance to Imperial war among the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, richer for his lifetime of experience doing this work.

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

    Up until about three weeks ago, he was in continuing contact. He never stopped fighting.

    All respect to Max Watts, mensch und kämpfer.

    Don’t mourn; organize.

    Nothing less would have met with his approval.

    Thomas F Barton
    Military Resistance Newsletter

  7. I am very saddened to learn of Max’s passing. I mainly knew him through his copious emails and somehow, I must have appeared on his email list years ago.

    Being someone who could be described as a kindred spirit. I appreciated what he wrote and we had many positive exchanges over the years on many different topics – peace, international social justice, responsible care of the environment etc.

    We need more characters like him. Somehow, Australia always seems to be short of such people!

    I also share his frustration about the divisions of the left and how many sectarian fundamentalists treat fellow lefties as worse enemies than those who drag us into US wars; exploit workers, consumers and the environment; rip off small nations etc

    So, let’s not mourn, but let us celebrate a life dedicated to positive change for the future of the planet and humankind and one well lived.

    A La Lucha Continua!

    Andrew (Andy) Alcock
    Forestville SA

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