H. G. Adler

1910 (Prague) - 1988 (London)

Educationalist, Historian, Writer

"As long as we judge, we are still alive. But of sorrow we die."



Hans Günther Adler was born in the Karlín district of Prague on 2 July 1910, the son of a bookbinder. He would later abbreviate his given names because they were identical to those of Eichmann’s employee Hans Günther. He studied music, art, literature, philosophy and psychology. After completing his doctorate in 1935, he worked for Urania, a public educational institute in Prague, and for Czech radio.

On 8 February 1942, he was deported to Theresienstadt and from there in October 1944 via Auschwitz to Niederorschel, later to Langenstein-Zwieberge, which were both subcamps of Buchenwald Concentration Camp. In Niederorschel he became acquainted with the then sixteen-year-old Ivan Ivanji.

After he was freed in April 1945, Adler returned to Prague. He first worked as a teacher of children and youth who had survived the Shoah (including Yehuda Bacon) and was active in rebuilding the Jewish Museum in Prague. On 11 February 1947, Adler emigrated to England and lived as a self-employed academic, author and lyrical poet in London. He dedicated himself to the task of depicting the persecution and extermination of European Jews.

In 1948, he completed his study entitled Theresienstadt 1941-1945. Das Antlitz einer Zwangsgemeinschaft ("Theresienstadt 1941‒1945: The Face of an Enforced Community"), published in 1955. In this work, he analyzes the functioning of the bureaucracy and its role in the transportation and extermination of the Jewish population. Most of his work was published long after he had completed it or only after his death. In 1958, he received the Leo Baeck Medal, in 1969 the Charles Veillon Prize, in 1974 the Buber-Rosenzweig Medal. In 1977, he received the title of professor in Austria and in 1980 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the university of education in West Berlin. From 1973 to 1985, he was president of the PEN Centre for German-speaking Authors Abroad.

H. G. Adler died in London on 21 August 1988.