Scrapbookpages Blog

March 4, 2016

The story of Holocaust survivor Jack Adler will be told in new movie

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, Holocaust, movies — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 6:24 am

The story of Holocaust survivor Jack Adler will be told in a new movie, which his son Eli Adler is currently working on.  You can read all about it in this recent news article: http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/music/reich/ct-surviving-skokie-holocaust-film-ae-0306-20160304-column.html

Jack Adler and his son Eli Adler

Jack Adler and his son Eli Adler at Auschwitz 1 camp

Jack Adler was a prisoner at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, which does not have a good background for a photo, so Jack and his son were photographed at the main Auschwitz camp.

The news article, cited above, begins with the following quote:

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Every family has secrets, but some cry out to be revealed to the world.

That’s what San Francisco cinematographer Eli Adler learned when — well into middle age — he began exploring his father’s Holocaust past.

As a child growing up in Skokie, [Illinois] Adler knew little about what his father had suffered and lost in Poland, where an estimated 3 million Jews had been massacred. As an adult, Adler worked on uncounted films but never had made one of his own.

These two needs — to finally grasp his family’s tragic past and to put it on screen for all to see — converged in “Surviving Skokie,” a bittersweet, profoundly autobiographical documentary having its Midwest premiere March 13-15 at the Chicago Jewish Film Festival ( [the writer of this article is] one of several people interviewed in the film).

End quote

When I read this news article, I immediately remembered that I had written about Jack Adler, on my scrapbookpages.com website, way back in 1998. Jack Adler was already well known, even back then.

deathmarch

The photo above shows prisoners from Dachau on a march out of the camp to the South Tyrol.

Dachau was the camp where many famous, high-level political opponents of the Nazi government were held near the end of the war. Just before the camp was liberated, there were 137 VIP prisoners at Dachau, including the former Chancellor of Austria, Kurt von Schuschnigg, and the former Jewish premier of France, Leon Blum. They were evacuated to the South Tyrol in April 1945 on three separate trips, shortly before soldiers of the American Seventh Army arrived to liberate the camp.

Was Jack Adler one of the important prisoners who was sent to South Tyrol for his own safety?

The following quote is from the page that I wrote on my website in 1998:

http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauScrapbook/JackAdler.html

Jack Adler was born in 1929 in the small town of Pabianice, near the city of Lodz, in the part of Poland that had been in the German state of Prussia between 1795 and the end of World War I, when this territory was given back to the new independent country of Poland. His family owned a textile factory in Lodz.

When Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, Adler’s home town was captured during the first week. According to an article written by Karla Pomeroy, and published on January 31, 2007 in the Laramie Boomerang, Adler told an audience at the University of Wyoming on January 29, 2007 that when the occupation of Poland first started, he watched with the excitement of any 10-year-old boy as people brought flowers, food and drink to the Nazi soldiers.

It was the ethnic Germans, whose families had lived in this part of Poland for centuries, that welcomed the German soldiers as liberators. For the Jews, the German occupation was a disaster. Adler said that hours after the occupation began, notices were posted that said Jewish residents were not allowed outside their homes unless they had a yellow Star of David displayed on the front and back of their clothes.

Jewish children were no longer able to attend public school. Almost immediately, the beatings and the torture of the Jews began in the town square of Pabianice, according to Adler’s speech at the University of Wyoming.

The Jews in Pabianice and the other surrounding villages were soon isolated in a ghetto, dependent upon the Germans for food. Adler’s mother and his older brother died in the ghetto, but Adler, his father and two sisters survived.

On May 10, 1942, the able-bodied Jews were moved into a ghetto in Lodz, where they were put to work in the textile factories, making uniforms for German soldiers. According to Adler, the old, the sick and the young were taken to another ghetto, from where they were later sent to the gas chamber. He was able to save his younger sister by sneaking her out of the group destined for the gas chamber and getting her into the work group.

The Lodz ghetto remained open long after the other ghettos in Poland were liquidated and the prisoners were sent to other camps or to the gas chamber. In August 1944, when the Russian Army was already occupying part of Poland, most of the Jews in the Lodz ghetto were finally sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, including Adler, his father and his two sisters. Adler said that his two sisters were immediately sent to a gas chamber, disguised as a shower room, at Birkenau.

According to the article by Karla Pomeroy, Adler told the audience at the University of Wyoming that “mothers with infants had their children ripped from their arms when they refused to give them up. Adler said that the babies were thrown up in the air and used as target practice.”

During the selection process at Birkenau, Jack Adler and his father were directed to the right, but were not registered in the camp. They were held in quarantine at Birkenau for a few weeks, and were then sent to work in one of the eleven Kaufering sub-camps of Dachau near Munich, Germany.

Gate into Dachau camp where Jack Adler was liberated

Gate at Dachau camp where Jack Adler was a prisoner before he was liberated  by American soldiers

Shortly before Dachau was liberated, the prisoners in the Kaufering sub-camps were marched to the main camp. [shown in the photo above] Three days before the American Seventh Army arrived to liberate the Dachau prisoners, thousands of Jews were marched out of the camp, toward the South Tyrol, where Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler [allegedly] intended to use them as hostages in negotiations with the Allies. Adler was liberated from the march by American soldiers on May 1, 1945; he was sixteen years old, and had survived six years in German captivity.

The following is a quote from the article by Karla Pomeroy in the Laramie Boomerang [newspaper]:

Begin quote

Adler was the only member of his immediate family to survive the camps. Out of 83 total members of his family, four others survived.

Adler moved to Chicago a year later as a war orphan. He learned English, graduated high school and went to college. He met his future wife in 1952, and they have two children. He has returned to Germany but has never returned to his home country of Poland.

Adler associated with a small group of Jewish refugees in his new home of Skokie, Ill., but rarely discussed his wartime experiences with anyone, including his children. It wasn’t until his children had grown and had children of their own that he began to open up about his past.

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End of quote from my website