Erik is Max's father. He died around the same time Max was born, in 1916, in France, during World War I. While in France, Erik became friends with Hans Hubermann. He taught Hans to play the accordion and also saved Hans's life by arranging for Hans to miss the day's fatal battle. Erik's acts of kindness and Hans's visit to Erik's widow create the foundation for Max to take shelter in the Hubermann home during the Holocaust.