Warning! The text retains the original spelling of surnames and place names by an Israeli researcher; in many cases it may not be correct. Fragments that could contain current personal data have been removed from the interview.
Name: Shlomo Adler
Subject of interview: Shlomo Adler and family
Mother's name: Sara Adler born Freilich
Sister's name: Miriam
Shlomo was born in 1930 in the village named Bolechów in the district of Stanisławów in Poland, to Abraham and Berta Adler. Bolechów belonged before the First World war to the Austro-Hungarian empire. After the war it was included in the Polish area.
Abraham Adler was the son of David Adler and Berta born Etelsberg. He was born in 1900 in the village named Bolechów and was the youngest of the four children of the family: Antonina (or Tuncha), Herman-Tzvi , Israel and Abraham.
During the First World War, the Adler family left Bolechów and moved to the city of Brno, in Czechia. The brother Herman was recruited to the Austrian army and fell prisoner of the Russians. He was released from the prisoners' camp only in 1920 and then returned home to Bolechów.
After the end of the war, the Adler family returned to Bolechów, which turned to be a part of Poland. The father, David, turned the factory of matches, which he received as a dowry from the parents of his wife Berta, into a factory of leather. The three sons: Herman, Israel and Abraham joined the father in the business and the factory became very successful. Herman dealt with the financial issues, Israel was the marketing manager and Abraham the General Manager. Grandmother Berta was in charge of the personnel.
Sara was born to Miriam, nee Shindler and Ephraim Freilich in the year 1903 in the city of Bolechów. Her father was a wealthy cloth merchant, owner of a big store at the town square. The whole Jewish community in Bolechów respected him as a religious man who used to go every day to the synagogue. Sara was the youngest child of the family and she had four brothers and sisters (all of them perished in the Holocaust).
Abraham and Sara married in 1922. They gave birth to two children. Miriam, the eldest daughter, was born in 1924 and Shlomo in 1930.
The family lived in a flat located in the building of the factory. It was composed of 2 big rooms and a wide kitchen. As it was customary at the time, the bathroom was outside the house. The water for drinking, cooking and washing was brought home from a well, located in the yard. Sara administrated the household with the help of a maid, who used to sleep on the "Table" in the kitchen (a bed which was under the upper part of the table). Sara, who grew up in a religious home, observed also in her home all the rules of the Jewish tradition.
Shlomo remembers that the walls of the house were very thick and he used to sit between two windows and look outside. The floor was made of wood. In the dormitories the wood was painted and in the living-room it had its natural color. He has also memories about the holidays, especially of the change of dishes before Pesach, which were very special and of the holiday of Simhat Tora, when his father used to bring over to the synagogue a barrel with bear. His father's house was surrounded by a huge garden, in which there were fruit trees and a swimming pool.
From the age of seven Shlomo studied in a Polish school. In the afternoons he was sent by his parents to the Tarbut school, directed by Pesah Lev, where he learned Hebrew. He also became sympathetic to the Zionist ideal. In Bolechów, where a third of the population was Jewish, there were also Zionist Youth organizations, but Shlomo was still too young to join them.
Shlomo also remembers that he used to like swimming in the Sokol river and picking flowers in spring. In winter he liked to play with the snow and to sky on the ice.
Shlomo had Jewish friends and he was also friendly with the Polish neighbors.
On September 1939 Bolechów was bombarded by the German Air-force. The Adler family left home and went to Dolzka, the village nearby Bolechów. But, they returned the next day. The situation was tense and unclear. Rumors started spreading about the surrender of Warsaw and that the Polish government escaped outside the country. The Jews of the village feared of the Ukrainian attacks as they remembered there were during the First World war.
But upon the arrival of the Russians to the area, life returned slowly to its path. The schools were opened and clear instructions against anti-Semitic demonstrations as well as expressions against the Bolchevikian revolution were given. The family factory was nationalized. The identity of Abraham, Shlomo's father, as the owner of the factory, was concealed. He worked as a simple employee and so he was saved from being exiled to Siberia.
On June 1941 the Germans attacked Russia. Russia also entered the war. In spite of having the possibility of escaping to Russia, the Adler family decided to stay in Bolechów. They feared the communists more than they feared the Germans, even after hearing the rumors of the cruel fate of the Jews of West Poland. The Russians started retreating from the area and the local Ukraines established a militia, which started to abuse the Jews of the village and attacked them all the time.
In August 1941 the city was transferred to the German rulers. New decrees were imposed on the Jewish community: they had to wear the yellow David Star on the sleeve of the coat, the radio receivers were confiscated from them, it was forbidden to walk on the sidewalks and many people were kidnapped and sent to forced labor. The Judenrat was established, which had the task to supply forced laborers, money of ransom and other demands of the German regime.
During the first "Action" which took place in the end of October 1941, uncle Herman and grandmother Berta were murdered together with other 900 Jews, which were all buried in one mass grave in the Taniava forest. Shlomo, his parents and sister survived this action. But after a while, Shlomo's father was arrested together with his brother Israel. They were taken to the train station and no one saw them again. Also Sara, his mother, was arrested some time later with the excuse that she has to stand for a trial because she tried to bribe some policemen to release her husband. Her traces disappeared from then on.
Twelve years old Shlomo and his sister Miriam, who was 18 years old, remained alone. Their situation was very difficult. They had nothing left and had sold their last possessions to buy some food. "I lost all fate in God", told Shlomo. "I was angry against the Rabbi who circumcised me and by that left in my body a sign of being a Jew, and I was angry against my parents who agreed to that, and I promised myself that if I will survive that inferno, I will never be a Jew anymore". Shlomo and Miriam moved to live with aunt Luba (the widow of uncle Herman) and their only son Józek.
On September 1942 the Ghetto of Bolechów was established and the remaining Jews of the town and its surroundings were cramped into it. Shlomo and Józek were sent to do forced labor at the barrels factory. Aunt Luba, Miriam, Shlomo's sister, aunt Alte and three other cousins, who were working in a recycling plant, were murdered in March 1943. A short time afterwards uncle Joshua and his son Moishele, were killed.
So two children – twelve and a half years old Shlomo and thirteen years old Yozek remained alone in the whole world. The two decided to escape from the Ghetto into the woods. On their way they met Michael Radochovsky, a Polish farmer from Grinia a nearby village, who was acquainted with their family. This man offered them to hide in his house and even told them that their parents had left with him some valuables of theirs.
The entire Radochovsky family took on themselves a terrible risk by hiding Shlomo and Józek for a whole year, until the Red Army conquered the area and liberated them from the Nazi regime. The first thing that both children did after going out from their shelter, was returning to Bolechów to see if there was someone from their family who survived. Their house was destroyed and empty. In the village they found several acquaintances, which had succeeded to survive the Holocaust and they moved in with them.
Several weeks later, a letter arrived from their cousin Zalek Nider, who heard about them. Zalek was a pharmacist and had escaped to Russia during the war. He served now in the Polish army. Zalek invited them to come and live with him and his wife in Kołomyja. Shlomo and Yazek said good-bye to their friends in Bolechów and went to Kołomyja. They were received with open arms by their cousin Zalek and his wife, and moved into their big house. They even started to attend school.
On December 1944 Shlomo, Zalek and Pola arrived to Krasnistav [Krasnystaw], Poland. In spite of being only fourteen, Shlomo decided to join the Polish army. He wanted to be independent and especially, he wanted to take revenge from the Germans. He went to Lublin, told the recruitment officer that his name was Stanisław Adler, that he was seventeen years old, an orphan and so he was recruited to the army.
On January 1945 Shlomo entered with the liberating army into Warsaw. His battalion was appointed as the policing force in town. During his military service in Warsaw, Shlomo got acquainted with Colonel Joseph Maletzki (Sanek) [Józef Małecki, ps. Sęk], who took him under his patronage. When Sanek was nominated Secretary General of the Z.W.Z. (the organization of the partisans and soldiers) he took Shlomo with him [Małecki was the head of the Staff of the Joint Armed Forces of the People's Army (AL), the Polish People's Army (PAL) and the Security Corps (KB). It was not the mainstream of the Polish underground.]. They became very close and Shlomo once revealed the truth - that he was a Jew who survived the Holocaust and that he was only 16 years old. Sanek immediately decided that he must continue his studies and Shlomo started learning in an evening course in order to complete his studies.
One time, when Shlomo was sent by Colonel Joseph Maletzki (Sanek) to Poznan, in order to bring a personal letter to Colonel Mazurek, he was arrested for the felony of traison (of course it was a false accusation). He was interrogated during three days, an interrogation accompanied by blows until he fainted. Then he promised himself that if he would survive this time, he would no more deny being a Jew. Shlomo was mobilized against his will in the K.B.W. the anti-espionage agency. His task was to spy on his benefactor, Colonel Joseph Maletzki (Sanek) who was suspected of "deviation from the Communist Party-line".
After being released from detention and was sent back to Warsaw, Shlomo decided that his place was not in Poland. He collected his few belongings and went on a train to Katovitz, where he knew there are Jews from Bolechów and he hoped that with their help, he would manage to leave Poland and immigrate to Israel (then Palestine). And indeed, his friends from town helped him. One of the activists of the Bricha organization, sent him to the Gordonya Kibutz in Bitum and from there, in a group of war-orphanes, he parted on train, on his way to the Land of Israel, which was still under British Mandate.
Shlomo sailed on board of a Maapilim ship from the Port of Set in France. Upon their arrival in the territorial waters of Palestine, the British war-ships drag their ship to the port of Haifa and the soldiers then transferred the passengers to another ship and deported them to Cyprus.
Shlomo stayed in Cyprus for seven months. On the 26 of April 1947 he finally arrived to Israel and so he stopped wandering.
Shlomo was sent by Alyat Hanoar organization, to Kibbutz Alumot. In 1948, upon the brake-out of the Independence war of the Israeli State, Shlomo was sent to defend Kibbutz Guesher in the Jordan valley. From then on he served the I.D.F. until 1951.
Shlomo met his wife, Esther Shultz, in the year 1949. The two of them married in 1952 and lived in Natanya. Shlomo worked as a chauffeur in the Egued tramsport cooperative. Shlomo and Esther have two sons and five grandchildren.
At the age of 51, Shlomo decided to become independent and established a transport company. He wrote a book telling what he went through during the war, until he arrived to Israel. The name of the book is: I am a Jew again, published by "Yad Ve-Shem" in 2008. At present he is writing two more books.
During the years Shlomo established contact with Radochovsky, the Ukraine family, which saved his and his cousin Józek's lives. In 1996 he organized a group of people, veterans of the Bolechów village, and in that trip he met for the first time, the son of his benefactors (who died in the meantime). In 1981 Michael Radochovsky and his wife were granted the title of "Righteous Gentiles".