The story of a german jewish family in the time of the weimar republic

Fritz Adam, a German Jewish entrepreneur, owner of one of the most prestigious department stores in central Berlin, finds himself at odds with the political developments at the time of the Weimar republic. Fritz is an enthusiastic supporter of the Olympic ideal and sees the promotion of sports as the way forward to increase cooperation between nations in the form of healthy competition so as to prevent future military confrontations. Also an adventurer at heart, and sponsor of many of the first exploratory voyages around the globe, he sees his beliefs and ideals threatened and finally shattered as the Nazis return to values of order, discipline, and military expansionism.

As a Prussian officer who fought in the great war, he regards himself as a German, a Berliner and a Jew, in that order. Despite being forced into bankruptcy and the witnessing the increased repression of the Jewish people, he holds on to his belief that it is only a temporary phase, and that the army will restore order in time. As the political situation deteriorates, the tension between Fritz and his eldest son, an ardent pacifist, increases and threatens the family unity. Fritz has to decide whether to stay or leave the Germany that he loves.


The book chronicles the life of Fritz Adam and his family from 1900 to 1936. It describes the rise and fall of the family business, destroyed by the restrictions imposed on Jewish businesses by the Nazis. It describes how a man’s ideals and visions are shattered by the despotic idealism of Nazi Germany and it describes the conflict between a father, an ex-Prussian officer, and his son, an ardent pacifist, as the latter tried to persuade the family to emigrate before it is too late. It follows the life of Herbert Adam, Fritz’s nephew, who, despite being Jewish, rises up in the ranks of the party to become deputy-head of the Hitler Youth in Berlin. It describes the deep love affair between Fritz and his wife, Lilli.

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Christopher Charlton

Christopher Charlton was born in London in 1955. The second child of a German Jewish mother and Polish Catholic father, he was influenced by their liberal post-war attitudes from an early age. He was brought up in Bohemian Hampstead where the house was always full of ex-refugees, writers, painters, singers, and actors.

He moved to Frankfurt, Germany, in 1987 and made his home there. Influenced by his family background, he became interested in German history and culture, especially the causes of the two world wars, and was able to witness with great satisfaction the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the integration of modern Germany into the European Union.

After a career of over 40 years in financial services, he walked away on his 60th birthday. Three of his uncles wrote books about their lives and he decided that it was time to tell the story of their father and the history of the family. ADAM is Christopher’s first book.


Brief Historical Background

S.Adam, a clothing business, was founded in 1863 by my great-grandfather, Saul Adam. It specialised in Sportswear and Ladies and Gentlemen’s clothing. The flagship store was situated on the corner of the Friedrich and Leipziger streets in central Berlin. At the time, it was the Piccadilly circus of the city.

Saul’s four sons took over the business in 1900. Fritz Adam, the youngest son, was an adventurer and entrepreneur. An ardent believer in the development of Sport in the country, he spent his life following his dream.

Fritz was a founding member of the German Aero club and the German Aerospace society.

The firm financed or equipped several exploratory expeditions.

  • 1910-1911 Lieutenant W.Filchner’s voyages to the Antartic
  • 1924 Amundsen’s trip to the North Pole
  • 1926 Amundsen’s Spitzbergen expedition
  • 1928 Koehn, Hünefeld and Fitzmaurice—first transatlantic east-west non-stop flight
  • 1929 Captain Plüschow’s ‘Feurland’ expedition to South America

During the 1920’s, the S.Adam foundation donated numerous scholarships and prizes for the German academy of sports (Deutsche Hochschule für Leibesübungen)

1924 ‘Sport Tut Not’. A large exhibition of sporting articles and clothing, presented at the S.Adam department store. It was Fritz Adam’s first collaboration with Carl Diem, the future secretary general of the German Olympic committee, and the beginning of their long friendship.

1925 Fritz Adam becomes a member of the ‘German Reich Committee for Physical Exercise’

Copyright: International Olympic Committee

1928 Amsterdam Olympics

The firm equips the German national team with their official sportswear.

1919-1920 S.Adam sponsors the magazine ‘Sports-Brevier’.

Here are some illustrations of the firm’s illustrations that accompanied articles written by leading sports writers and journalists.

After the liquidation of S.ADAM in 1932, Fritz Adam opens a new business in March 1933. SPORT ADAM GmbH.

It was closed down shortly after the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses one month later.

Fritz Adam was never able to realise his dream of attending the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Forced to emigrate to London in 1934, he died a broken man in heart and spirit in February 1936, five months before the start of the games.

Adam Family Tree


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