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Willy Adler papers

Identifier: Mss 1065-028

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.


  • Creation: 1913-1938, 1982-2010


Language of Material

Materials in English, German, and Hebrew

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.

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.


0.1 linear feet (3 folders)


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.

Collection Arrangement

Materials are described at the folder level.

Acquisitions Information

Materials 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.

Inventory of the Willy Adler Papers, 1913-1938, 1982-2010
Processed by: Rebecca McClure; machine-readable finding aid created by: Rebecca McClure
Description rules
Language of description
Script of description
Funding from the Council on Library and Information Resources supported the processing of this collection and encoding of the finding aid.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Special Collections
College of Charleston Libraries
66 George Street
Charleston South Carolina 29424
(843) 953-8016
(843) 953-6319 (Fax)