(1906–1978), psychologist; left-wing Zionist activist, and a leader of the Warsaw ghetto underground. Adolf Berman (who used the code names Adam, Borowski, and Ludwik) studied psychology and philosophy at Warsaw University, receiving his doctorate in 1931. As one of the pioneers of professional counseling in Poland, he headed the Warsaw organization of Jewish counseling clinics, affiliated with Centrala Opieki nad Sierotami (Federation of Associations for the Care of Orphans; CENTOS). He also taught in high schools and published articles on social and educational psychology. While a student, Berman joined the Jewish socialist group Yugnt (Youth). In 1925, he became a member of the Left Po‘ale Tsiyon and was involved in publication of the party’s Polish- and Yiddish-language press organs.
With the outbreak of World War II, Berman continued as director of CENTOS. He continued to play an important role in Left Po‘ale Tsiyon in Warsaw and supported its initiative to establish a fighting organization in the ghetto. He was among the founders of the Anti-Fascist Bloc in March 1942 and coedited its press organ Der ruf (The Call). In September 1942, he was assigned to the Aryan side of Warsaw, where he represented Żydowski Komitet Narodowy (Jewish National Committee) and served as a secretary of the presidium of Żegota, the Polish Council for Aid to Jews. Berman transferred relief funds to Jews in hiding and to the Jewish underground in camps and ghettos. He also helped to save written records hidden on the Aryan side, including materials gathered by Emanuel Ringelblum.
Berman was arrested in January 1944, but payment of ransom brought about his release. In March 1944, he joined the Communist-dominated underground Krajowa Rada Narodowa (National Council), heading its Jewish Section. He participated in the 1944 Polish Warsaw uprising as a member of the Political Council of the People’s Army. Following liberation, he was a member of the presidium of the Central Committee of Jews in Poland (CKŻP), serving as chair beginning in February 1947. In August 1945, he participated in the first postwar Zionist conference, held in London. He was the editor of the Po‘ale Tsiyon’s publication Przełom (Breakthrough). In mid-July 1946, he helped secure free passage for Jews wishing to leave Poland under the auspices of Beriḥah. In October 1947, he became leader of the newly formed pro-Soviet United Jewish Workers Party Po‘ale Tsiyon. Despite his support of communism, he was also a Zionist, and as a result was forcibly removed as CKŻP chair in April 1949.
In 1950, Berman immigrated to Israel, where he was elected to the second Knesset. In 1954, he joined Israel’s Communist Party, was elected a member of its Central Committee, and edited Fray Yisroel (Free Israel). In 1956, he joined the council of the International Resistance Organization and was an active member of the Society of Polish-Israeli Friendship. He testified at the trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1961 and served on the board of Yad Vashem.
Berman offered an account of his underground activities during the Holocaust in his books Mi-Yeme ha-maḥteret (The Underground Period; 1971) and Ba-Makom asher ya‘ad li ha-goral: ‘Im Yehude Varshah 1939–1942 (The Place Where Fate Brought Me: With the Jews of Warsaw, 1939–1942; 1977). His brother was the Polish Communist political activist Jakub Berman.
David Engel, “The Reconstruction of Jewish Communal Institutions in Postwar Poland: The Origins of the Central Committee of Polish Jews, 1944–1945,” East European Politics and Societies 10.1 (1996): 85–107; Israel Gutman, Jews of Warsaw, 1939–1943: Ghetto, Underground, Revolt, trans. Ina Friedman (Bloomington, Ind., 1989); Joseph Kermish, “The Activities of the Council for Aid to Jews (‘Żegota’) in Occupied Poland,” in Rescue Attempts during the Holocaust: Proceedings of the Second Yad Vashem International Historical Conference, Jerusalem, April 8–11, 1974, ed. Israel Gutman and Efraim Zuroff, pp. 367–398 (Jerusalem, 1977); Yitzhak Zuckerman, A Surplus of Memory: Chronicle of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, trans. and ed. Barbara Harshav (Berkeley, 1993).
RG 116, Territorial Collection: Poland 2, , 1939-1945 (finding aid); RG 493, Michael Zylberberg, Collection, 1939-1945.