Before the World War II, the family was living on 48, Horea Street, close to the Orthodox Church and on the other side of the Deportees Synagogue.
My father mentioned in his memories, not yet published, the following: “On the first floor of this apartment block built in the 1930 style, in a two room apartment oriented to the main street, our family lived between 1937 and 1944, with Father and mother and until 1941 also with my grand father from my mother’s side. We were in this house when the Hungarian gendarmes took us and to the Ghetto located in the yard of the former bricks plant. In the apartment we returned from Dachau in the 1945 Autumn....”
In the Deportees Synagogue (former Neolog Synagogue) was the elementary school, where he graduated the first four classes, having in mister Frei, or Frei bacsi, a good teacher; he wrote in the same memories about this teacher “....he was a tall gentleman, with gray hair (he never punished us) and at the time he appeared to me as a scientist. His gentle character was more evident compared to mister Brief from another class, who used a stick as a torture and punishing tool. In the synagogue yard was also the Jewish Kindergarden”. Before the elementary school he went to this kindergarten (heider). In free time he played with pleasure with other children from the neighborhoods, in an intercultural environment, who spoke to each other in all their languages Romanian, Hungarian, Yiddish.
On Basarabia street number 1 (former Somesului street) functioned in the period of October 1940 and April 1940, the Jewish High School, the “greatest high school in the World”: “...”.Who got to attend classes at least 2-3 in this school will never forget it”.
Otto Adler, with his father and mother, before World War II
The harmony of this family was broken in the Spring of 1944, when, similar to all the Jews in Cluj (at that time the Jews represented 1 of 5 in Cluj population) the entire family was taken by gendarmes and moved in the ghetto, at the bricks plants. Shortly after this the deportation and the transport to Birkenau, Auschwitz II followed. They were crowded in animal wagons, in subhuman conditions and they took a three days road until they reached the “famous” train platform where doctor Mengele made the selection for work. Beside the string of tired people, older prisoners passed telling to the older children to answer when they will be questioned that they have 16 years and are good workers. My father thought that perhaps the veterans know better what to do, so he answered he was 16 years old, and this was acceptable because at that time he was a strong and healthy boy; not in the same condition was my father after the liberation when he had 29 kilos. My father and my grandfather passed this Mengele screening and were conducted to the “able” to work column. My grand mother was initially selected also for the “able” to work column of women, but she changed the column to the other one, the one of those conducted to the “shower rooms” to take a shower. Why she change the column? As the family found after the War from her cousins, she tried to see one more second her son and beloved husband.
The months that followed were very hard in the camp, as my father and grandfather worked heavily in mines; first, in Thiel, near Longviy, France (they worked there from June 1944 until beginning of March 1945.......the time become relative......the days passed with difficulty. How did he know that it was in June 1944? .....when they left Birkenau, in a freight train, my father got a place close to the little window of the wagon.......and he heard a conversation between two men with a strong Prussian accent, in the Leipzig train station......they discussed about the Americans landing in Normandy (after the War he found the exact day of June 6, 1944).
The end of March, beginning of April 1945, with another freight train they crossed the Rurh River, reaching Kochendorf, in Germany. They came from a camp with about 300 prisoners, where an average of 2 persons died in each week..... in Kochendorf they found about 1000 Russians with a life and work extremely difficult....... here an average of 4-5 people died each day, killed by hunger and camp diseases.
In a day, a group of Jews prisoners was sent for execution in a valley nearby, my father and grandfather were among them, but luck was again with them, and next morning when they woke up in the valley field, looked on the hills around and realized the Nazis have disappeared ...... They were very weak and each of them supported those who could not walk on the road to Garmispartenkirhen. On this road the prisoners met the troops of U.S Rainbow Division .
After this moment, they stayed in the camp transformed in hospital until Autumn. My father became the army translator . During that period he met personalities of the War World II and he found later on how important important they were and he had the opportunity to meet and speek to them. My father and grandfather managed to recover, and in October they were asked if they would like to join the U.S military overseas. In that particular moment, my father decided to come back at home with his father. Dad did not discuss with his father about the fact that his mother was killed in camp.....he avoided to cause such suffering to my grandfather who worked hard to make the “Adler”’ work norms, because only in that way he was able to reduce the number and intensity of the beatings for them compared to the beating received by others - those who could not manage to complete their hours of work. How did my father find that his mother was killed? In the camp circulated pieces of wood with names, and he saw his mother's name on one of this wood pieces....he just imagined that the list included women who were no longer alive.
Otto Adler shortly after the liberation
After returning to Cluj, Dad finished high school and gave the Baccalaureate /Final High School examination/.
I recently wrote how my father met my mother, the beautiful and smart Lolita Abramovici, from a Moldova Jewish family, who recently moved at that time in Bucharest. They met in the summer of 1946, at the Cojocna Resort, where my future mother accompanied his mother. There my parents met and fell in love at first sight.
Otto Adler was always proud of his family! Here's what he wrote in his memories about the beloved wife: “......In 1952 (on 18 May) I married. I was again a lucky man. I had a wonderful wife and I cannot complain with the single exception that after 50 years and eight days of a happy marriage she died. A beautiful woman, very intelligent, educated, diligent, energetic, excellent therapist both as natural and as professional skills, excellent housewife, Lolita was to me what is called soul mate.”
My parents had two children, Serena and Alan, a grandson Victor, son of Serena; currently he is the father of David. Our father Otto was very happy to see the early years of his great grandson David! He said this was again a luck, because he met his great grandson in this life and he discussed with his friends about this new luck in his life.
Picture - Otto Adler with his great grandson David in December 2013
After graduating University, Dad continued as Assistant Professor and then evolved in his career. He continued to teach students for many decades, parallel with his career also as researcher. He published six books (two courses and four specialty books) and over 80 professional articles in the country and abroad. He was managing director of a consulting firm after he had been head of the laboratory for energy saving and environment in the Metallurgical Research Institute of Bucharest. He wasa scientific advisor and contributed to formulate plans and strategies for the development of many sectors in metallurgy, energy and heavy industry. He worked in international committees to define regional and global strategies. He was author or co-author of 14 inventions, 2 of which have been patented abroad and their application contributed to significant energy savings. He had many awards and medals, but the most important is the Knight of the Star of Romania.
Otto Adler in his garden, June 2008
Since 1990 he is dedicated to the memory of the Holocaust and in 2001 he was elected president of the Association of Jewish Victims of the Holocaust in Romania (AERVH). Together with his colleagues, they have established educational programs for youth, supported the need of modern legislation against manifestations of anti-Semitism, intolerance. Currently it is a frame legislation which that can be considered one of the best in the region. All this activity gave a new dimension, adding to our seniors, the second and third generation, keeping the memory of the six million killed Jews during the Holocaust. They remain for ever in our souls.
Picture - Otto Adler, the last interview, April 2014
In the morning of May 6, 2014, our father Otto Adler died after a long suffering period of time. Just two days before that morning, he celebrated his 85th anniversary. In the morning of his death, we talked about future plans. He continued to keep the same optimism and wisdom, making plans until the last minute and this is his image we all shall keep in mind forever: family, friends, colleagues, yesterday and today students. Many people attended his funeral including a military guard of honor and even in the Romanian Parliament a minute's of silence as a mark of respect for his personality was kept. Our family carries all the more grateful for the respect of our father. He remains as an example of encyclopedic culture, nobility of character, modesty, optimism and generosity. He gave his last interview just a few weeks before his death and said on that occasion: « This is my last interview ..... ».
Dr. Serena Adler
Daughter of Otto Adler
12 June 2014