Le Programme des mémoires de survivants de l’Holocauste

Amek Adler

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Né(e)
20 avril 1928 Lublin, Pologne

Map of Mukacevo, Czechoslovakia

Immigré(e)
1954 Toronto

“How much longer could we last?” sixteen-year-old Amek Adler laments, after arriving at yet one more concentration camp in the spring of 1945. From the Lodz and Warsaw ghettos to the Radom forced labour camp, and from the Natzweiler concentration camp to Dachau, Amek has witnessed too much destruction and tragedy to bear any more suffering. To hold onto hope for his survival, he dreams of the life he had with his parents and three brothers, reminiscing about holidays, social events and dinners; he dreams of a life without pain and starvation; and he dreams of the future. When Amek is finally liberated, he is determined to embrace all the opportunities that freedom offers.

Amek

Abram (Amek) Adler was born in Lublin, Poland, on April 20, 1928. After years spent in labour and concentration camps, he was liberated in April 1945, eventually reuniting with his mother and two of his brothers. Amek lived in Italy between 1945 and 1947, immigrated to Sweden in 1948 and then to Canada in 1954 with his wife, Ruth. In Toronto, Amek succeeded in both the fur industry and the jewellery business, becoming president of the Canadian Jewellers Association in 1989. Amek has spoken to numerous audiences about his experiences during the Holocaust and has educated countless students on March of the Living. He is actively involved with the Jewish War Veterans of Canada and lives in Toronto.

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Le livre

Cover of Six Lost Years

Six Lost Years

I had watched my family being torn apart and degraded, and I had feared for my life. I was heartbroken, but I had been hardened, and I had learned not to cry.

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Six Lost Years

My Introduction to Misery

For the next five months, we experienced some tranquility; we had more freedom and peace. Radom had a large Jewish population before the war and it had become larger due to the influx of Jews from surrounding areas. It was not paradise or like life before the war, but we managed to sustain some quality of family life.

My brother Ben befriended a younger man whose father was a watch repairman. Being so mechanically inclined, Ben was fascinated with the mechanism of watches and picked up the profession in no time. He also befriended a young lady, Etta, and soon insisted on marrying her.

Then, by April 1941, the ghetto in Radom was established. At first, it was easier to endure than the ghetto in Lodz or Warsaw, but with the influx of Jews from other communities, it soon also became crowded. With a shortage of apartments and work, the picture started to look like Warsaw again - people begging and sleeping in the streets, with some never waking up.

In the ghetto, the Nazis formed a Jewish police force. Ben was invited to join but declined. We were allowed to go out only if we had work outside the ghetto. We had to have official papers showing our place of work, were forced to wear white armbands with a blue Star of David and had a 7:00 p.m. curfew. After that time, we kids congregated on the stairway of our apartment building to entertain ourselves.

Through the Jewish Council, who were in charge of the ghetto’s administration (under Nazi orders), Ben got a job as a superintendent and handyman in the German Security Service, or “SD,” which occupied an entire six-storey building. The Germans took a liking to him; sometimes he came home with bread, salami or cheese. He also received a bicycle and special papers permitting him to leave the ghetto at any time. The bike had a plate on it saying: “This bicycle belongs to the Department of Special Forces,” and nobody could claim it. It was unusual for a Jew to possess a bicycle, but its purpose was to allow Ben to go to work on the spur of the moment.

Ben had a gift. People always took a liking to him. He was handy and inventive, and had built an AM and shortwave radio at age fourteen. He was a mechanical genius and could fix anything. He mastered watchmaking and photography, and he even fixed guns. I asked Ben if he could get me a job as his assistant. He asked his boss and sure enough, I became Ben’s helper. He showed me how to install electrical lines and outlets, make window blinds and fix small appliances. We worked together on many projects.

Working in a military building, we saw Poles who had been brought in from the underground organizations and from the Polish intelligentsia - leaders, lawyers, priests, doctors and teachers. They were interrogated and tortured; we saw them beaten beyond human imagination. Their screams still ring in my ears.