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Adler, Hermann


ADLER, HERMANN (pseudonym Ẓevi Nesher ; 1911– ), German-language poet, essayist, and playwright. Adler was born in Deutsch-Diószeg, near Pressburg (Bratislava), but grew up in Nuremberg and after graduating from a teachers' seminary at Wuerzburg taught in Landeshut (Kamienna Gora), Silesia. He returned to Czechoslovakia in 1934 and enlisted in 1939 in the Czechoslovak Legion in Poland. During World War ii, he joined the Jewish resistance movement in Lithuania and Poland, playing an active part in the ghetto uprisings in Vilna and Warsaw. He escaped to Budapest, but was later deported to Bergen-Belsen, from which he was subsequently released, taking up residence in Switzerland, where he remained. His experiences of Nazi brutality on the one hand and of human dignity and heroism on the other were reflected in several gripping books, partly factual reporting, partly poetic crystallization, such as Ostra Brama, Legende aus der Zeit des grossen Untergangs (1945), Ostra Brama being the name of a Catholic monastery near Vilna where a number of Jews were hidden and rescued; Gesänge aus der Stadt des Todes (1945); Ballade der Gekreuzigten, Auferstandenen, Verachteten (1945).

Among other books which Adler wrote on the fate of the Jews during the Holocaust, and religious poetry, are Fieberworte von Verdammnis und Erloesung (1948) and Bilder nach dem Buche der Verheissung (1950). He frequently chose the medium of radio and television. One of his tv plays (which won a prize from the Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen) was Feldwebel Anton Schmidt, the story of a German sergeant who during the occupation of Vilna had helped Adler to organize the escape of Jews who joined up with the Jewish resistance movement elsewhere. Schmidt, who was subsequently arrested and sentenced to death by the Nazis, is also referred to in his Ostra Brama. The significance of Adler's descriptions of the Holocaust for Christian readers was stressed by the Swiss-Catholic historian and theologian Karl *Thieme in his epilogue to his selection from Adler's writings (Vater … vergib! Gedichte aus dem Ghetto, 1950).

Writing more often on psychological themes in later years, Adler published Judentum und Psychotherapie (1958) and Handbuch der tiefenpsychologischen Symbolik: Ein Lexikon der Symbolik mit Lesetexten und Index (1968). He also translated Itzhak *Katzenelson's Warsaw Ghetto epic Dos Lid fun Oysgehargetn Yidishn Folk from Yiddish into German (Das Lied vom letzten Juden, 1951). Of his own works, Gesaenge aus der Stadt des Todes appeared in Hebrew and Dutch translations.


Israelitisches Wochenblattfuer die Schweiz (Oct. 8, 1971); D. Stern, Werke jüdischer Autoren deutscher Sprache (1967).

[Erich Gottgetreu]

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