Mr. Maximilian M. Schwarcz

Max Schwarcz Saloon Passenger Lost
[No Picture Provided]
Born Maximilian M. Schwarcz 1863 Budapest, Hungary, Austrian Empire (present-day Hungary)
Died 7 May 1915 (age 51) At sea
Age on Lusitania 51
Ticket number 46114
Cabin number A 24
Traveling with none
Body number Not recovered
Occupation Fashion designer
Citizenship United States
Residence New York City, New York, United States
Spouse(s) Emma Indig (? - ?, her death)
Max Schwarcz (1863 - 1915), 51, was the senior member of the women's fashion and cloak firm, Max. M Schwarcz and Company at 141 Madison Avenue, New York City, New York, United States. He was a Jewish-Hungarian immigrant who became known for his fashion design, despite the fact that he only had sight in one eye. He was a widower and father of three daughters, Irene, Dorothea, and Minna. During the early months of World War I, Schwarcz made four trips to Paris in the interest of his business and because he loved all things French. On his fifth trip he went down with the torpedoing and sinking of the Lusitania. He died while at the peak of his fame in his profession.
  1. Background
  2. Career
  3. Family
  4. Personality and hobbies
  5. Lusitania
  6. Legacy
  7. Related pages


Max Schwarcz was born in Budapest, Hungary, in the Austrian Empire in 1863, 4 years before the Austro-Hungarian Compromise reformed the country as Austria-Hungary. He was one of 17 children in a Jewish family. His parents adopted two more children, increasing their numbers to 19. The senior Schwarcz had been a moderately prosperous wool dealer. He drove among Hungarian farms, buying the farmers' clips, and conducted a little trade on the side. Max's mother lived to be 96, and even though her permanent residence remained in the Dual Monarchy, up to the end of her life she would make the Atlantic crossing to New York to visit her son's magnificent showrooms at 85 Fifth Avenue and ensure that business was run properly. Schwarcz left Europe when he was in his teens. Just before sailing, he lost the sight of one eye in an accident on the docks. Even so, he did not lose his sense of beauty and artistry, becoming a successful fashion designer and businessman.


Max Schwarcz was one of the first movers in his industry, seeing New York's cloak and suit industry grow "from infancy" and was credited as one who could make people see fabric as art. Schwarcz first started in the fashion industry with Danzig Bros. He them moved on with A. Friedlander & Co. before establishing his own business which he ran for 30 years. He also trained Leon Schmulen, nephew of department store magnate Henri Bendel, in his trade. Schmulen called Schwarcz was "an amazing character" and that "I owe him much."


His home address was 137 Riverside Drive, New York City. He was married to Emma Indig, who predeceased him. They had three daughters, Irene (1890 - 1984), Dorothea (1893 - 1986), and Minna. During his frequent trips to Europe, Max would return with trunks full of gifts for his daughters. Artistry ran in the family. Irene Schwarcz was an accomplished pianist. She attended New York's Institute of Musical Art (later renamed Julliard), and married composer Frank Jacobi and became known professionally as Irene Jacobi. Dorothea Schwarcz, later Dorothea Greenbaum, started as a painter at the Arts Students League and later worked mostly as a sculptor in bronze and marble. She also received the Widener prize for her sculptures. Minna was associated with the theater.

Personality and hobbies

Schwarcz's business contemporaries characterized him as "remote, reserved, by no means what was called a 'mixer.' " As Schwarcz spent much time in Paris he was well-known but not known well. Still his contemporaries also stated the Schwarcz was "one of the most gifted and most versatile members of our industry" and "one of the most remarkable men of that period" before the First World War. As his friends and family told author and former editor of Women's Wear Daily, M.D.C. Crawford, Schwarcz loved elegance and "today perhaps we'd call him extravagant." Schwarcz had a great interest in music and painting, and in all the arts, as his daughter Dorothea related, including the best cuisine. Schwarcz was also a musician in his own right, and often entertained guests. Crawford's book recounts how Schwarcz spent the first money that he made on a fine edition of books. He was passionate about the opera and joined New York's Opera Club. He was also an accomplished horseman and rode every day in Central Park. As he also loved all things French, after age 40 he set about to learn the French language. As his contemporaries relate, Schwarcz's French was "immaculate," and his musical abilities enabled him to accomplish this difficult task. Schwarcz's artistic eye also turned towards city beautification. A few days before Schwarcz's fatal crossing on the Lusitania, he had been walking along the Riverside Drive with Julius Henry Cohen and a lady from the Women's Municipal League and Women's City Club, Riverside Branch, who is only identified by her initials I.S.C. The lady had talked about how she wished to beautify the Hudson River waterfront and how much difficulty she had in making headway in her project. "Have you ever been to Budapest?" Schwarcz asked her. "No," she replied. "Well, I am going abroad next week and I shall bring you back some photographs of the waterfront there. They have done a beautiful job. Perhaps the photographs will help you with your campaign." Schwarcz never came back, as he went down with the Lusitania.


Early in the First World War Schwarcz made four trips to Paris for his business and because he loved all things French. His final crossing, aboard the Lusitania, was his fifth trip during the war. His ticket number was 46114 and he stayed in cabin A-24. On the day of the disaster, 7 May 1915, Schwarcz was in the first class dining saloon having coffee with Francis Bertram Jenkins, Mabel Crichton, and Josephine Brandell when the torpedo struck. It was about 2:05 p.m., and Josephine had just finished making a collection for the musicians and sat down at her table when they heard a tremendous explosion. In Jenkins' words, the explosion "seemed to make the boat shiver from stem to stern." The people in the dining saloon, then about 60 or 70 or so, jumped from their seats, variously exclaiming remarks similar to "My God, it's a torpedo!" Mabel Crichton herself had exclaimed, "They have done it!" Someone shouted for everyone to stay calm. A general rush to the grand staircase followed, although Jenkins was quick to point out that it was not in panic. Mabel Crichton and Josephine Brandell asked for Schwarcz and Jenkins to stay with them, and the men assured their companions that they would. Schwarcz and Jenkins escorted the ladies to the boat deck as soon as they could. The severe list of the ship made climbing the staircase difficult,the task taking about five minutes to do so. Upon reaching the boat deck, they discovered that no lifebelts were to be found, as they were kept mostly in the staterooms. Josephine recalled that they saw very few other first class passengers. She was horrified with fright, and that Max Schwarcz was trying to calm her. The lifeboats were being launched with great difficulty, and at times unsuccessfully, due to the ship's list. Ed Gorer met up with the group and gave a lifebelt to Josephine. There was a boat with seven or eight women inside it. While Jenkins' account claimed that they were on the starboard side, his statement saying that the torpedo struck the port side makes it more likely that they were on the port side. Jenkins, with one foot on deck and one foot on the boat, guided Mabel into the lifeboat and then Josephine. Although Josephine and Francis Jenkins were together, they had differing accounts of the lowering of the lifeboat. Josephine stated that, “our boat was lowered, but immediately it hit the water it upset throwing all the occupants out.” Jenkins recalled, “I was standing with one foot on the deck of the Lusitania and one foot on the lifeboat, when one of the ropes broke, or the sailors loosed their hold, and the thing collapsed and went into the water.” Jenkins' last image of Schwarcz occurred as Jenkins was thrown into the water. He recalled Schwarcz walking along the deck, shouting, "Ladies first!" Jenkins continued to say that Schwarcz was "certainly one of the whitest and finest men it has been my lot to meet. I shall mourn his death very deeply." Schwarcz was lost in the Lusitania disaster and his body was not recovered. Schwarcz died at the peak of his fame in his profession. His obituary was published in the Saturday, 22 May 1915 New York Times, on page 11. The following was a resolution passed by the Executive Board of the Cloak, Suit, and Skirt Manufacturers' Protective Association on 25 May 1915:
Max M. Schwarcz was the first Treasurer of the Cloak, Suit, and Skirt Manufacturers' Protective Association and continued to be its chief financial officer for four years. As a member of the Ways and Means Committee during that time he was one of the leaders upon whose judgment the organization depended. He was no common man. He was a leader of men. Occasion upon occasion arose calling for clear thought and sturdy, manly courage. When the call came, he was of the first to respond. He was a man of vision. He dreamt dreams and saw them come true. He made living realties [sic, realities] of the artistic conceptions of his brain. To him the industry owes substantial debt for its present leadership in art, in magnitude, and in standing among men. That Max M. Schwarcz, the lover of art, of fine paintings, of the best in literature, the patron of music, the ready helper of the struggling genius, was, also, a manufacturer of cloaks and suits, brought to this industry a high certificate of character and dignity. He was a man of pure motive, quick to resent injustice or unfairness, little or great, impatient with inefficiency or ugliness, yet ready to turn his hand to the smallest detail or to correct the grossest evil. Upon the ship Lusitania that sailed from these shores on the first day of May, to go down within sight of the Irish coast, were many brave men. To such men courtesy and chivalry were as the breath of life. For them there was no need of the Captain's trumpet call - "Women and children first." They sought the "kiddies," they carried them to the boats, themselves but a few moments later to embark upon another voyage - their last. One of them said: "Why fear death? It is the most beautiful adventure of life." How natural that Max M. Schwarcz should spend his last hours in such company! The last picture we have of him, from the friend who saw him, is of his standing at the side of the sinking vessel, carefully helping women and children into the life boats. Forgetful of self - the courteous and chivalrous gentleman to the last. This memory must comfort his family. To us, his friends, his colleagues in a big industry and a big work, the picture we preserve of him is the picture of a big man - a man who wove the images of his brain into the practical everyday garb of life; who helped to make life more beautiful; who helped to make industry more serviceable; who was the friend of the artisan and the artist; who was our friend - our real friend; quick to praise, quick to criticise [sic?], ready for battle for the right, as he saw it, but always, always forgetful of self. This is but poor, inadequate stuff in which to clothe our appreciation of his character, his service, and the debt of our industry to him. But we spread it upon our minutes, conscious that no epitah [sic, epitaph], no obituary is needed to preserve his memory in our hearts. That he lived and was one of us must forever be our inspiration.


After the Great War, Schwarcz's three daughters brought his death as a case in front of the Mixed Claims Commission. As his daughters had been dependent upon Schwarcz, the Commission awarded Irene $20,000, Dorothea $23,000, and Minna $32,000, with interest on each of these sums at the rate of five per cent per annum from November 1, 1923. Irene became well-known for her piano performances, usually of her husband's compositions. Schwarcz's death also meant that Dorothea inherited enough money so that she did not need to struggle to support herself, as many other artists had to. Dorothea's sculptures may have been impacted by her father's untimely death, as a recurring themes in her work are world peace and her love of humanity. She was against fascism and worked to improve the lives and rights of artists, particularly during the McCarthy era. Dorothea was a also member of an avant-garde group, the Sculptors Guild, and a founder of Artists Equity.

Related pages

Max Schwarcz at the Mixed Claims Commission

Links of interest

Frederick and Irene Jacobi at the Milken Archive of Jewish Music Irene Jacobi obituary, New York Times, 30 May 1984. Dorothea Greenbaum at Art and Architecture of New Jersey "Displaced", a bronze sculpture by Dorothea Greenbaum, (1895 - 1986), 1968. New Jersey Women's History
Contributors: Randy Bryan Bigham Judith Tavares References: Crawford, M.D.C. The Ways of Fashion. Second Edition. Fairchild, 1941. pgs 107 - 109. Cohen, Julius Henry. They Builded Better Than They Knew. Self-published 1946, reprinted by Julian Messner, a division of Simon and Shuster, 1971. "In memoriam." The New York Times. 30 May 1915. Web. 9 August 2011. <>. "Swam Four Hours From Lusitania." The New York Times. 6 June 1915. Swenson, Sally Shearer and Sheila Cowling. "Dorothea Schwarcz Greenbaum." Past and Promise: Lives of New Jersey Women. Women's Project of New Jersey, 1997. pp 305-306.

About the Author