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The TBE Blog

Max Adler

Lillie Stern-Adler

Max Adler and Elizabeth-Stern Adler are the paternal grandparents of TBE members Susan and Ralph Adler and his brothers Ronald David and Kent Mark Josef, who live in California.

Ralph’s (and his brothers Ron and Kent) grandparents grew up in the post-Renaissance Germany, where Jews were respected and patriotic citizens in a society experiencing unprecedented intellectual and economic growth. After Max and Lillie married, they settled in Stuttgart, where their first son Erwin was born on 23 January 1907. This was followed by the birth of twin sons, Franz and my father Hans Georg, on 11 December 1908. Max ran a large wine distributing business where their underground wine cellars occupied 1-2 city blocks in Stuttgart.

Lillie and Max (with dog)

Adler Brothers with Max

The Adlers enjoyed living in a big hillside house with servants and several dogs overlooking downtown Stuttgart. As the Nazis increased their political power, their persecution of Jews sharply escalated, so Hans and his two brothers left Germany and went to France in the early-to-mid 1930s. The brothers also urged their parents to liquidate Max’s business and leave Germany, but they were proud Germans— where Max even served military duty during WWI — and were sure that the rising tide of Nazi-instigated trouble would be “sure to pass.”

As WWII approached with Hitler’s persecution of the Jews getting very ugly, my father and his brothers tried desperately to get their parents to flee from their country, but they were too stubborn and in retrospect delayed too long. Of some comfort to Max and Lillie was that we have some evidence that they had knowledge that Hans married our mother, Erika Blum, in Bombay, India on 25 December 1935 and that their first grandson Ralph was born on 10 March 1937 in Bombay.

When the senior Adlers finally agreed to leave Stuttgart and even had passage booked on a ship from Marseille to Bombay, India– where Hans and Erika along with Erika’s parents, Josef and Hilda Blum, now were emigrant residents– Max and Lillie encountered a fatal delay. Unfortunately, Max got very sick after recovering from surgery, so my grandparents missed their last viable chance to get out of Germany. Then with WWII in full force, contact was lost, so our family in India could only suppose that during 1943/44, Max and Lillie were rounded up by the Nazis and then transported to Auschwitz, where they were cruelly treated and then anonymously murdered.

So now in 2021, Max and Lillie’s only surviving grandchildren are the three grandsons, all born to Hans and Erika (both also now deceased).  Thus now along with their three wives, these three marriages, currently in 2021, have added six American great, great grandchildren to Max and Lillie’s family tree.

For the record, Max and Lillie’s first son Erwin emigrated to Bombay as well; there he married Joan and then, after WWII ended, moved with her to Joan’s home country, New Zealand, where they had a son Michael in 1950 and daughter Suzie in 1953. Since then, Uncle Erwin, Joan and their two children have all sadly passed on.

Uncle Franz fled to free France where he served in the French Foreign Legion and after the end of WW II married Leontine, where they lived happily for the rest of their lives in Chaumont-Sur-Marne, but had no children and are now deceased.

After WWII ended, Erika and Hans left India, emigrating to the US where they proudly became U.S. citizens and where they successfully lived the American dream for the rest of their lives in several locations in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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