Farewell Comrade Max Watts (1928-2010)

Max Watts. Photo: Vivienne Porzolt

Max Watts, 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 e-list, and a solidarity activist with many national liberation struggles, including in 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 is requested that flowers not be sent to the funeral. Instead, if you would like to do something to commemorate Max, it is suggested that you contribute to the management of the archive that has been established in Amsterdam at the International Institute for Social History. This comprises Max’s enormous store of papers in relation to RITA.

The account names is: Foundation International Institute for Social History; Amsterdam, Netherlands; ABN AMRO Bank; IBAN NL58ABNA0548517347; BIC ABNANL2A

It is essential to reference to “Max Watts Archives”.

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


thank you for sharing this story, it is always worthwhile hearing about a person who is always against oppression and exploitation. who can stand up for the good of others, who is selfish and who has the heart to help others, a very rare and one of a kind human being. this guy will always be remembered. may he rest in peace!