Max Vandenburg is a German Jew who takes refuge in the Hubermann's household in Molching Germany on Himmel (“Heaven”) street during the events of World War Two, developing a close friendship with Liesel Meminger. The Hubermanns protect him from the Nazi regime by hiding him in their basement under the staircase with a bed of tarpaulin sheets and a wall of paint cans

Max was born on November 7th in Cockville in Stuttgart and is the son of Erik Vandenburg ( who it is revealed saved Hans Hubermann’s life during the First World War through a strange series of events). When he was a child, “he liked to fight with strangers” and one of them, named Walter, became his friend and helped him escape to Molching with a copy of Mein Kampf serving as a deterrent for unwanted Nazi attention. Max is described as having murky eyes that are brown/greenish and dark hair that looks like “feathers” when it is washed and “hair like sticks” when it is unwashed. He is tall- but not as tall as Hans- and thin and bony.

Max and Liesel are alike in many ways, one of which is the reoccurrence of nightmares about trauma they experienced in their childhood. They also both share a love of language and 
Max writes many books for Liesel including the, "The Word Shaker" and the “Standover Man”.

Eventually, Max begins to feel guilty for placing the Hubermann’s in danger by staying with them and leaves. It is later revealed that Max is taken to a concentration camp (Dachau) after being captured by the Nazis. Leisel sees him during a “parade of Jews” and rushes to meet him and tell him that she “will never forget him” and asks “Is it from your cheek that I took the seed?”(a reference to the “Word Shaker”). A Nazi officer drags her away and proceeds to beat her before beating Max, as well. When Leisel attempts to run after the Jews, Rudy tackles her and takes her angry punches in silence before walking her home. At the end of the book, it is revealed that Max survived his ordeal during WWll and he and Leisel remain close friends until his death many years later. Many people claim that Markus Zusak foreshadows the eventual marriage between Max and Leisel by not listing him as one of the key figures if her life towards the end of the book, but including Leisel’s husband on the list alongside Rosa, Hans, and Rudy. This has lead some to the infer that Max becomes her husband after the events documented in the book. While there is no right or wrong inference, Markus Zusak has been noted as saying that he felt, “If Rudy couldn’t have her then no one form that period of her life could.” Indicating that perhaps the theory is just that- little more than a theory.