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DP Adam Kohn

Holocaust survivor Adam (Adolek) Kohn became famous overnight thanks to one video showing him and his family dancing to the song “I will survive” in front of the entrance of Concentration Camp Auschwitz. His action met with a most varied response worldwide ranging from total rejection to utter enthusiasm. The ITS, in consequence, received many a request asking whether documents on Kohn’s fate were kept here. The period of his life he spent as displaced person is well documented here in particular, for instance by means of a DP identity card with photograph from 1948 – our find in the archives of the International Tracing Service.

Born in Polish Plaszka in 1921, Kohn was a trainee still when the Germans invaded his country and deported him to the Lodz ghetto first and then to Auschwitz Concentration Camp. On 8th September 1944, Kohn’s name appears on a transport list mentioning 300 Jews to be sent to subsidiary camp Friedland (Lower Silesia) of Gross Rosen Concentration Camp – the first document the ITS archive preserves in proof of his persecution. The arrival of this transport marked or rather was the actual opening of the subsidiary camp whose inmates mostly were employed by the armaments concern “Vereinigte Deutsche Metallwerke”. In the list that company drew up on the jobs their prisoner staff did for them, Kohn’s occupation is quoted “mechanic”. The arrival of the Red Army on 9th May 1945 spelt the end of internment and the beginning of freedom for Kohn.

After living in DP Camp “Föhrenwald” in Wolfratshausen first, the survivor felt attracted by the town of Munich where he came to stay before he left Germany ultimately. With a view to being acknowledged as DP and thus entitled to free accommodation and support in emigration, Kohn had to fill in a questionnaire the Allies had prepared – a paper now kept in the ITS archive. The sentence, both stereotypical and terse, Kohn obstinately wrote down answering the questions “Why did you leave your home country?”, “Why did you come to Germany?” and “Why don’t you want to go back to your home country?”, was: “Because I am a Jew.” As regards the odd question “Which German office has given you permission to come to Germany?” the Polish Jew could not but point to the “SS”.

On 20th November 1948, Kohn went aboard the ship “Eridan” together with his wife Maria and their daughter Celina born in 1947 and immigrated to Australia, where he and his family are still living. The ITS has sent Kohn copies of his documents. All the staff here wish him and his family a long and happy life!