The Adolf Abraham Berman Collection: Polish-Jewish Underground Welfare Activity in Occupied Warsaw and Outlying Cities and in Camps, 1943–1945
Adolf Abraham Berman was born in Warsaw in 1906. He studied philosophy and psychology at the University of Warsaw, and earned a PhD in 1931. As a student, he joined the Borochov Yugnt, the youth movement of the socialist-Zionist Poalei Zion Left, in which he remained active before and during WWII. He also edited the movement's two newspapers, in Polish and in Yiddish. As a counselor in Poland, he became the head of the Federation of Associations for the Care of Orphans (CENTOS). In 1942, he was a founding member of the Anti-Fascist Bloc and a co-editor of its newspaper, Der ruf (The Call). He became the general secretary of the Polish Council for Aid to Jews (Żegota). He was instrumental in the distribution of financial help to Jews hiding on the "Aryan" side of Warsaw and other cities in Poland, as well as the Jewish resistance in the ghettos and camps. During this period, we was in close contact was Emanuel Ringelblum, while the latter was in the ghetto, in the Trawniki concentration camp, and on the Aryan side of Warsaw. He was arrested in January 1944, but was ransomed free. He joined the State National Council (KRN) and was the head of its Jewish section. During the Warsaw Uprising, he was a member of the Political Council of the Armia Ludowa (People's Army). After the liberation of Poland, he was elected to the Sejm (parliament) of the People’s Republic of Poland. He was also member of the presidium of the Central Committee of Polish Jews (CKŻP), and became its chairman in 1947. He served for two years, before being removed from office due to his Zionist activity. In August 1945, he participated in the first postwar Zionist conference. He edited the Poale Zion news outlet, Przełom (Breakthrough). He was also involved in the Bricha, a clandestine immigration enterprise from postwar Europe to Mandate Palestine. In 1947, he joined Ahdut HaAvoda Poale Zion Movement (a political merger of two Zionist socialist parties, Poalei Zion and Ahdut HaAvoda). In 1950 he immigrated to Israel and was elected to the second Knesset (Israeli parliament) in 1951, for Mapam (United Workers Party). He soon left the party, however, and in 1954 he joined the Israeli Communist Party (Maki), but failed to win a seat in the 1955 elections. In 1956, he joined the council of the International Resistance Organization, and was a witness at the Adolf Eichmann trial in 1961. He authored two memoirs (in Hebrew), "The Jewish Resistance" (1971) and "Where I Was Destined to Be: With the Warsaw Jews" (1977). He died in 1978, at the age of 71.
During his activity in Żegota, Berman and his wife, Batya Temkin Berman, a devoted underground activist and a trained librarian, conducted a large-scale documentation project. At great self risk, he hauled the thousands of pages with him from one rented accommodation to another, in dozens of which the Bermans lived during the occupation years. When he immigrated to Israel in 1950, he brought with him all the collected documents.
On 15 April 1974, Berman donated the larger portion of his collection of documents to the Archives of the Ghetto Fighters' House Museum. On 4 July 1978, after he died, his son donated the remaining documents to the GFH Archives.
The Adolf Abraham Berman collection contains underground press and publications and official press printed after the failure of the Polish uprising; official and forged personal documents; overviews, reports, correspondences, radio broadcasts transcripts, operation and work plans, orders, order of battle and casualty lists; diaries, memoirs, testimonies, speeches, essays and manifestos; aid requests and financial support confirmations and receipts. The collection also contains material related to the Kielce pogrom of July 1946.
Those archival materials which have been digitized and made available for viewing -- accessed on this site or through the GFH website’s Online Archive -- may be downloaded for personal use and classroom presentation, but not for distribution in any media. High-resolution images of archival materials are available by order; there is a fee for this service.
Description of the files are available online in the Archives section of the GFH website, searchable by text elements and key words, and onsite on the IDEA ALM system in the GFH Archives Researchers’ Room.
For most files, a digital scanned image of the actual documents is available for viewing online or downloading as a .pdf file. Use of the latter is limited by the description in “Conditions Governing Reproduction” (See Conditions, above).
Created 21.05.2014 by AB-E
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