Survivor STORY

Ludwig (Lou) Adler was born May 7, 1926 in Edelfingen Germany. His parents sent him to Amsterdam soon after Kristallnacht in 1938. Through the Kindertransport, he left Amsterdam for England on May 14, 1940, on the SS Bodegraven, along with 74 other refugee Jewish children, one hour before Holland capitulated to the Nazis.

Ludwig spent the next couple of years in a foster home. In 1943 he came to the United States, was reunited with his parents and sister, and joined the US Navy three weeks after arrival. During the last two years of WWII, he served on the USS Saratoga aircraft carrier.

While in England he had apprenticed as a cabinetmaker and became adept at carpentry. After he was discharged from the Navy, he attended architecture school at Cooper Union for a couple of years but was not able to complete his degree due to the need to support his family. He combined his carpentry skills and design training when he and a partner opened Hill Manufacturing, a furniture manufacturing company in NY. As his career progressed, he specialized in the design and manufacturing of furniture for beauty and barber shops.

In 1963, a career opportunity brought him to Atlanta, GA and he eventually opened Lou Adler & Associates with his wife, Edna.

Lou was a loving husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He never missed an opportunity to give his children and grandchildren the traditional Jewish blessing and he always expressed how proud he was of his family. He was very proud to be Jewish and American. He was a strong supporter of the State of Israel. Lou died in 2011 at the age of 84.

Separation from and Finding Family

There was a time where they did not know if I was under the Germans again in Holland or not. One way of doing it, at that time my grandfather was still in Frankfurt in a home, and through the Red Cross he could communicate with me and I could communicate with him, with the German Red Cross. America was not in the war so he could write from there to the United States that I was free and clear, that I had the sechel [common sense], as he would have called it, to not register in Holland. And that's how my parents found out that I was in England.

Coming to America

Pier 92, in New York. Do I ever remember! Yes! That's the first time I think I saw an orange or a banana, and they even asked me which one do I want.

Which one did you take?
An orange! I never seen one in England. I was interviewed by the FBI. I was the second one off the boat. And I was driven by a HIAS driver to HIAS on Lafayette Street in New York, and I was given something to eat. And maybe 15 minutes afterwards my father stood in the doorway.

Judaism and Jewishness

I believe that our children were brought up different from the average American Jewish family. Yes, they were. They also were conscious as they grew up of who their father and mother were, or are. Number one, none of my children ever played with a war toy, or bang bang or tanks or things. I was against that very much and I always will be. The upbringing to some of the Jewish people that I met, and also of the goyim, of the people who are not Jewish. I had once say someone to me, "Where do you think you are, in Germany?" because I said something to one of my children at one time. And I didn't feel insulted at all; it made me feel good. Yes, that's the way they look at it. They bring up their children their way, and I thought I can I bring up my children my way. And my children knew who they were from the beginning, which most American Jewish children do not.

Life Lessons and Perspectives

I'm 74 years old and I still think differently today, after all this time, and after all my experiences in Europe, my experiences in the United States Navy, my experiences going to schools, my experiences of working, my experiences of being in business for myself. All the ethics has a lot to do with Jewish life, how you treat your other people, and how your life is. Your life, as what we went through, is not the same as the average American. Our thinking pattern is different, our living standard is different; helping other people is different. We as Yidden, as Jews, do have obligations that we as Jews fill to capacity, especially in the United States. Yes, a lot of Jews do it for some reason, and a lot of people do it for other reasons. Charity is something that's yiddishkeit [Jewish culture], as an example. And it affects you from what you went through and what you feel you have to give back.

Ludwig (Lou) Adler