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Inventory of the Willy Adler Papers, 1913-1938, 1982-2010

Descriptive Summary

Abstract: The collection consists of correspondence, certificates, and other papers of Willy Adler (1920-), a native of Hamburg, Germany, who immigrated to the United States in 1939. Materials document Nazi persecution of the Adler family.
Title: Willy Adler papers
Creator: Adler, Willy Moritz, 1920-
Date(s): 1913-1938,   1982-2010  
Extent: 0.1 linear feet
(3 folders)
Repository: Jewish Heritage Collection, Special Collections, College of Charleston Libraries
66 George Street
Charleston, SC 29424
Phone: (843) 953-8016
Fax: (843) 953-6319
Call Number: Mss 1065-028
Language of Material: Materials in English, German, and Hebrew

Biographical Note

Willy Adler was born in 1920 in Hamburg, Germany, to Mordko "Max" Adler and Beila Teller Adler, both German immigrants. Max Adler had been born in Poland, Beila Teller in Romania. Willy Adler attended a Jewish school until 1936, when, as a consequence of the Nuremburg Laws, Jews were prevented from using public transportation. In 1937, after hearing that a Gestapo raid was coming, the Adlers went into hiding with a Christian family. One of Adler's two brothers went back home to retrieve something he had forgotten and never returned.

After arguing with someone who had called him a Jew in the market, Willy Adler was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to a labor camp in Kofu, outside of Hamburg. He was released when he explained that his family was registered at the American Consulate. His cousins in the Bronx, New York, had sent papers to help get the family out of Germany. Adler was taken to Fuhlsbuttel and given a ticket for passage to the United States. His older brother, David, had already immigrated to the United States, and his parents were hidden by a Christian family in Hamburg before they also immigrated.

After arriving in New York in 1939, Adler worked with his brother David in a furniture store. Adler joined the U.S. Army and served as a German translator during World War II. At various times, he was stationed in Spartanburg and Charleston, South Carolina. In 1980, he and his wife, Irma, moved to Charleston.

Collection Overview

The collection consists of correspondence, certificates, and other papers of Willy Adler, who was born in 1920 in Hamburg, Germany. Pre-war material includes documents related to Adler's father's egg business, certificates from Adler's bar mitzvah and his parents' marriage, and receipts for taxes and other payments the Adlers made to the Nazi government. Pre-war photographs show Adler and his parents in Hamburg in the 1920s and 1930s. Post-war material includes correspondence relating to Adler's German pension payments and three newsletters from Jewish organizations in Hamburg.

Collection Arrangement

Materials are described at the folder level.

Search Terms

The following terms have been used to index this collection in the Library's online catalog. They are grouped by name of person, family, or organization, by topical subject, by place, and by types of material.


    • Adler, Willy Moritz, 1920-


    • Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)
    • Holocaust survivors--Germany
    • Jews--Persecutions--Germany--Hamburg


    • Hamburg (Germany)

    Types of Material

    • Booklets
    • Correspondence
    • Digital images
    • DVDs
    • Photocopies

    Related Resources

    Related Material

    Related materials in College of Charleston Special Collections include digital reproductions of photographs in the Lowcountry Digital Library.


    Pre-war material, 1913-1938, undated   folder 1

    Includes images of Willy Adler and his parents, Max and Beila Adler, in the 1920s and 1930s in Hamburg, Germany. Images of documents include Max and Beila Adler's 1913 marriage license, a 1938 letter to Beila requiring her to pay 500 marks to the Nazi government, and a certificate in Hebrew from Willy Adler's bar mitzvah. Other images show documents related to Max Adler's business selling eggs, including a 1938 announcement stating that Adler's business had been sold to Aryans. Digital images on DVD are also included.

    Correspondence, 1982-2008   folder 2

    Correspondence is mostly related to Adler's German pension payments. Also included are three newsletters from Jewish organizations in Hamburg. Correspondence is in German and English.

    Miscellaneous, 1992-2010   folder 3

    Includes two booklets in German: a 1993 booklet about the Jewish school Willy Adler attended in Germany, and a 2006 booklet about the Stolpersteine (stumbling block) memorials to Holocaust victims installed on streets in Hamburg. Also includes a 2010 newspaper clipping describing Adler's life in Nazi Germany and a 1992 clipping describing a protest in Hamburg by Jews objecting to construction on the site of a Jewish cemetery.

    Administrative Information

    Access Restrictions

    This collection is open for research.

    Copyright Notice

    The nature of the College of Charleston's archival holdings means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. Special Collections claims only physical ownership of most archival materials.

    The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. copyright law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Willy Adler papers, College of Charleston Libraries, Charleston, SC, USA.

    Acquisitions Information

    Materials were donated in 2000 and 2008 by Willy Adler.

    Alternate Form of Materials

    Digital reproductions of photographs available online in the Lowcountry Digital Library.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Rebecca McClure, November 2011.

    Encoded by Rebecca McClure, March 2012.

    Reviewed and uploaded by Martha McTear, March 2012.

    Funding from the Council on Library and Information Resources supported the processing of this collection and encoding of the finding aid.

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