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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMOIRIST:           MAX LEWIS KUNIANSKY

INTERVIEWER:        KIM COHEN

DATE:                       JULY 28, 1990

LOCATION:              ATLANTA, GEORGIA

Transcript (PDF)

BIOGRAPHY 

Max Lewis Kuniansky was born in 1917 in Atlanta, Georgia. He was the son of Louis “Louie” Kuniansky and Annie Fitterman Kuniansky. He was a graduate of Boy’s High and Georgia Institute of Technology. He was a World War II veteran who served in the United States Army Air Forces and was a B-24 bomber navigator. He was the founder of MK Construction Co., a developer in the industrial market in metropolitan Atlanta. He was president of the Atlanta Jewish Community Center. He was married to Helen Silver Kuniansky. Max and Helen were the parents of Robert Kuniansky, David Kuniansky, Douglas Silver Kuniansky, and Amy Clark.

Scope of Interview:

Max discussed his parents Annie Fitterman and Louis Kuniansky and their origins. His parents emigrated from Russia, his mother from Voroshilovka (now Voroshylivka, Ukraine).

He talked about his grandfather Max Kuniansky and his father, who was the oldest of six brothers, going to work when his grandfather was killed in an accident. Max discussed his uncles Harry Kuniansky and Wolf Kuniansky who founded the Atlanta Realty and Construction Company and built homes in the Morningside area of Atlanta, Georgia. He told about the graduation of his uncles Isadore Kuniansky, and Max “Kunie” Kuniansky from Georgia Institute of Technology and about his uncle Max’s prominence in the metallurgical industry.

Max mentioned his maternal uncles Leon Fitterman, who lived in Atlanta, and Edward Fitterman, who lived in Nashville, Tennessee.

Max discussed growing up in Atlanta and living in the area since occupied by the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, across from Piedmont Hospital on Crumley Street between Washington Street and Capitol Avenue. He mentioned other Jews who lived nearby: the Zippermans, the Fogel family, Marvin Goldstein, Emanuel Wolbe and Beatrice “Beatty” Wolbe, and Abe Weiss.

He mentioned two other Jewish families, besides his father, who had grocery stores in East Atlanta: Teddy Newman and Milton Smithloff. He attended the Yiddish Natzionaler Arbeiter Farband with Louis Zipperman and Sylvia Kuniansky Zipperman. Max talked about attending James L. Key[1] and Crew Street Schools, Boys’ High School, and Georgia Institute of Technology.

Max recalled his father’s grocery stores in Atlanta and the Associated Grocer’s Co-op and Credit Union. He mentioned other grocers who were members of the Co-op :  Jack Maziar, Morris Newman, Teddy Newman, Harry Berman, Irving and Rose Berkowitz.

Max talked about his father dying when he was 19 and operating his father’s grocery store until World War II. Max recalled his service in World War II  and flying 35 missions as a navigator in a B-24 bomber. Max explained that his mother was called a “Five Star Mother” because he and his four brothers all saw combat service in World War II. Max talked about his brothers Isadore Louis “Sonny” Kuniansky, Harry P. “Koon” Kuniansky, Raymond Louis Kuniansky, and Leon Louis Kuniansky. Max mentioned his sister Frances Alter.

Max said he lived on Zimmer Drive in Atlanta with his mother after he returned from service in World War II. He mentioned other Zimmer Drive residents: Jack and Esther Zimmerman, and Max and Roz Alterman. Max told about becoming a homebuilder after his return from service in World  War II and building the first homes in Johnson Estates in Atlanta.

Mas discussed his disappointment that American Jews and Franklin Delano Roosevelt did not do more to save European Jews during the Holocaust.

Max discussed antisemitism, his encounter with the Columbians, and their connection with the Bombing of The Temple in Atlanta. He told about his leadership role at the Atlanta Jewish Community Center and his role in its expansion. He mentioned participating in United Jewish Appeal (UJA) Prime Ministers’ Missions and Project Exodus, a fundraising campaign by The Jewish Federations of North America to resettle Jewish refugees from Russia.

Max talked about meeting and marrying his wife Helen who grew up in Douglas, Georgia. He discussed his wife’s parents, Morris and Pearl Greenberg Silver, and the nearby town of Fitzgerald. Max talked about his sons: Robert, who died at 26, and Douglas and David, who took over management of the MK Company.



[1] James L. Key Elementary School was located at Ormond Street and Capital Avenue in Atlanta, Georgia and was in existence from at least the 1940’s through the 1960’s.


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