• February 1, 1929 — Jack was born in Pabianice.
  • September 1, 1939 — The Germans invaded Poland.

  • September 9, 1939 —Nazis entered Pabianice and immediately established the Pabianice Ghetto.

  • February 1940 — Jack's family was forced out of their home and moved into a two-bedroom apartment in the ghetto.  His grandparents shared one room.  Jack, his parents and three siblings shared the other.  His grandfather, mother and brother died in the Pabianice ghetto.

  • March 1942 — Liquidation of the Pabianice Ghetto.  Jack and his surviving family were sent to the nearby, larger Lodz Ghetto.

  • September 1944 — Lodz Ghetto liquidated. Jack, his father and two sisters were sent to Auschwitz via cattle car.  His younger sister, Peska, went straight to the gas chambers. His older sister, Ester, was sent to Bergen-Belsen where she died.  Jack and his father were sent to Kaufering, a sub-camp of Dachau approximately 10 days after entering Auschwitz.

  • March 1945 — Jack was sent to the Dachau proper concentration camp, where he was separated from his father.

  • April 27, 1945 — Jack and 7,000 others marched away from Dachau for four days the Dachau Death March.

  • May 1, 1945 — Americans liberated the remaining 2,000 Dachau Jewish prisoners.  Jack then went to the Foehrenwald Displaced Persons Camp where he was rehabilitated and worked for a while about one year.

  • November 1946 — Jack was shipped as a war orphan to New York where he spent a few months while awaiting a foster family.

  • 1947 — Jack was sent to foster family in Chicago.

  • 1959 — Jack moved to Skokie after high school, college and marrying.

  • 1966 — The Adler family moved to nearby Wilmette, IL.

  • 1976 — Jack Adler and family move to Ft. Lauderdale, FL. They kept in touch with their friends from Skokie and were very affected by the Neo-Nazi uprisings in the late 1970s.

  • 1992 — Jack begins speaking publically about his experiences in during the Holocaust.

JACK ADLER’S LIFE IN EUROPE AND AMERICA
SURVIVING SKOKIE Q&A WITH JACK ADLER

 

 

Q. How is Surviving Skokie relevant to current world events?

If you look at what is happening Europe, you will see that anti-Semitism is growing in Britain, France and Norway, for example.  Skokie was just a march and compared to today’s events, it was fairly mild.

 

Q.  How is the Surviving Skokie documentary different than other Holocaust survival films?  

This movie is based all on facts. It is an individual story that we can tell personally.

 

Q.  How has your background as a public speaker helped in sharing such an emotional and intense story?  

In 1992 I started speaking on behalf of those who were silenced.  Thousands of students have heard my message that mutual respect guided by the golden rule is the key to survival of humanity.

 

Q.  What were the challenges you encountered while helping to create this film?  

We first and foremost wanted to make sure that the film was accurate and that it contained no fiction.

 

Q.  What is the most important message the film delivers?

I happen to be one of the youngest survivors of the Holocaust. We wanted the film to show what created hatred and caused the Holocaust, what happened during the Holocaust and what can we do to prevent this from happening to other groups of people.

 

Q. How did Eli get you to agree to participate in Surviving Skokie?

Actually, I didn’t realize Eli was going to dedicate such a legacy to me.  We traveled Poland with the March of the Living and then to my hometown, Pabianice.  Frank Collin played a part in finding the importance of telling the story of Surviving Skokie.

 

Q.  When did Eli first understand that his father was a Holocaust survivor?

My son and daughter knew that I was from Poland but didn’t know the details until they began accompanying me at my speaking engagements starting in 1992.  I’ve spoken several times at the middle and high schools in Mill Valley, California where my grandchildren attended, so they learned at a younger age.

 

Q.  How was your relationship with Eli impacted once you revealed that you had survived the Holocaust?

Eli and I have always had a good relationship. We did get closer when he learned about my time spent in the ghettos and concentration camps.

 

Q. What was your reaction in the late 1970s when Frank Collin and the Neo-Nazis began to gather notoriety

around Chicago?

My initial reaction was total disbelief.  We were in America and could not understand why the Nazis would want to march on a small neighborhood in the middle of the country.  We were also in utter disbelief that Frank Collin, whose father was a German Jew and spent time in the Dachau concentration camp, was that the center of this hatred.

 

Q. What personal characteristics did you possess to enable you to transition from liberation in Germany to an American life in Skokie?

In the concentration camps we were slave laborers.  Many who were forced into the camps couldn’t find the will to live after learning about what the Nazis had done to their other family members.  But the one thing the Nazis could not do was to erase what was in our minds.  Every night I told myself that I had to be strong to see my loved ones again.  I especially focused on the thought of seeing my father.  Those who gave up hope perished.

 

Q. How does the story in your book “Y: A Holocaust Narrative” differ from the Surviving Skokie documentary?  

The book is a personal documentary of what it was like and what I felt and during the Holocaust.  I believe that humanity will destroy itself until we all embrace the Golden Rule. Religions should support and promote faith but not hatred.  The new religious radicals want to destroy old humanity.  Of the 7 billion people on Earth, 33% are Christian, 22% are Muslims and 1/5 of 1% are Jewish.  I am very proud of my Jewish heritage.  23% of the Nobel Prize winners are Jews.  Anti-Semites are the beneficiaries of Jewish talent and science.  All 7 billion people belong to ONE human race.  We need to be good to each other, help each other. No group has a monopoly on good and bad. 

 

Q. How can I contact you about speaking engagements?  

Please email jack@survivingskokie.com for information about setting up a speaking engagement with me.

Jack Adler, the primary subject of Surviving Skokie, was born in Pabianice, Poland in 1929. In 1939, when Jack was 10 years old, the Nazis invaded Poland and established the ghettos in which Jack and his family would be forced to live for years before being liquidated and then being sent to concentration camps. In 1945, Jack was liberated by American soldiers while on the Dachau Death March. Both of his parents, grandparents and all three of his siblings perished at the hands of the Nazis. An orphan of the Holocaust, Jack left Poland in 1946 to travel to America.

Filmmaker, Eli Adler, with his father Jack at the infamous Auschwitz gate.

Today, Jack shares his story of struggle and survival with audiences around the world. He is a firm believer in the Golden Rule and often speaks to audiences comprised of students, military and communities saying, “Some of you are our future leaders, so it’s important that you never tolerate any racism or bigotry.”


Jack wrote a book about his experience in the Holocaust called Y: A Holocaust Narrative. A prolific public speaker, Jack, at the age of 87, has addressed more than 1.5 million people.  He continues to travel around the country and speak to audiences in the hope that lessons can be learned from his stories, and especially that the tragedies and injustices he experienced can be avoided in the future.

JACK ADLER