Stories Of The Rescuers: Frieda Adam


Photo Courtesy of JFR

The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous

During the Holocaust, there were thousands of non-Jews who refused to be passive in the face of the evil they witnessed, rescuing Jews, often at risk to their own lives and the lives of their families. In 1986, Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis established The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous (JFR) to fulfill the traditional Jewish commitment to hakarat hatov, the searching out and recognition of goodness. To this end, the JFR is committed to assisting those Righteous Gentiles who are in need. They are often reluctant to ask for help; they acted without expecting reward then or now. However, as Rabbi Schulweis realized, it is our duty to honor and support them.

The St. Louis Jewish Light has received permission from JFR to retell the stories they have collected.

The story Frieda Adam

In 1938, Erna Puterman was working as a seamstress in Berlin where she met Frieda Adam, a co-worker.

The two teenage girls became friends. Even when Erna was forced to change jobs because she was Jewish, Frieda continued her friendship with Erna. Frieda refused to be intimidated by the anti-Jewish laws and climate. Life became increasingly difficult and exceedingly harsh for the Jews of Germany.

In September 1942, Erna’s mother was arrested and put in a camp in Germany. Later, she was sent on one of the early transports to Auschwitz. Erna was left to care for her brother who was deaf. Not knowing what to do, Erna went to Frieda for help and advice. Frieda’s response to Erna was immediate, “As long as there is food for us, there will be food for you, too.” Thus in September 1942, Erna and her brother went into hiding for more than two years.

Frieda had three small children ages six, four, and two, and a husband in the German army. Frieda said of her husband, “He was an evil man. Everyone was evil back then.” When Frieda’s husband discovered that she was hiding two Jews, he began to blackmail her. Late in 1944, Frieda was forced to find Erna and her brother another place to hide. They all survived the war. Frieda Adam died on October 2, 2013, at the age of 95.

This story is the Copyright © Jewish Foundation for the Righteous and is republished with permission.


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