Berman Adolf

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The story of Adolf Berman

A psychologist, a Doctor of Philosophy, a social-political Zionist activist, a pioneer in career counselling in inter-war Poland. From 1939, he was Director of Polytechnical Counselling, while from 1940 he was Director of "Centos", the Centre of Societies for the Care of Orphans and Abandoned Children in the Warsaw Ghetto. He was a member of Poale Zion-Leftist. From October 1942, he was a member of the Executive of the Jewish National Committee and its representative to the authorities of the Polish underground. From January 1943 to July 1944, he served as Secretary of the Council to Aid Jews "Żegota". His wife was the outstanding social activist Barbara Temkin (1907-1953). His brother was one of the most important Polish politicians during the early post-War years, Jakub Berman (1901-1984).

Read the history of the Council to Aid Jews "Żegota"

He came from a family of Warsaw merchants, who held Zionist views. He was a graduate of the Michał Kreczmar High School and a student in the Philosophy-Humanities Department of Warsaw University. He obtained his doctorate  in 1931.

He began his socio-political activities during his student days. He was a member of Jewish Socialist Workers Youth "Młodość" and then of Poale Zion-Leftist. He was editor of that party's Polish-language organ and of its Yiddish language weekly "Arbeter Tseitung". He was a psychologist and a teacher in Warsaw high schools. He worked for the Committee for Jewish Trades and conducted academic research in the field of psychology.

He was one of the founders of the Anti-Fascist Bloc (1942) in the Warsaw ghetto and was Co-Editor of its organ "Der Ruf" (The Call). At first, he did not support the idea of armed opposition in the ghetto. He became of member of the "Żegota" Executive, representing the ŻKN and, together with Marek Arczyński (the Treasurer) and  Leon Feiner (Deputy Chairman, Bund representative), he sat on the committee concerning itself with the distribution of funds. He maintained continuous contact with the Polish Workers' Party (PPR) and, among other activities, he organised meetings with the representative of the Jewish Fighting Organisation (ŻOB) Arie Wilner and with Władysław Gomułka. During the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, he signed the telegram to the Bund representive on the National Council in London, Szmul Zygielbojm. In July 1944, he authored the ŻKN's one-off publication Głos z otchłani (The Voice From the Abyss). He took part in the Warsaw Uprising as a member of the Political Council of the People's Army in Żoliborz.

After the withdrawal of the Germans, he first became Chairman of the Central Committee of Jews in Poland (CKŻP). He was Director of the Jewish Department of the Krajowa Rada Narodowa - KRN (State National Committee). In 1947, he became a member of the Legistlative Sejm (1947). He was Editor-in-Chief of the Poale Zion-Leftist organ "Przełom" ("Turning Point"). He lobbied the highest levels of the Polish authorities to allow free emigration to Palestine/Israel. He supported the building of a socialist Jewish state in Palestine with the support of the USSR and also supported the betterment of Jewish-Arabic relations. From 1947, he chaired the United Jewish Socialist Workers Party "Poale Zion" in Poland. In 1949, he was removed from the CKŻP, being replaced by Hersz Smolar.

Regarding helping Jews, he wrote, "There will come a time when, in the great Honour Roll of Poles, it will be written that, in these terrible, contemptible times, they stretched out their hands to Jews and saved their lives".

From 1950, in Israel, he was a member of the Mapam Party and then, later, of the Israel Communist Party. He was active in the Polish-Israeli Friendship League. Among his memoirs, he authored Vos der gojrl hot mir bashert (What Fate Has Assigned Me), in Israel in 1980. His wife Basia Temkin-Berman also wrote her memoirs entitled Dziennik z podziemia (Underground Diary).

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