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by Hubert Joachim Adler (1894 Vienna - 1964 USA) *Last update June 4, 2009
Dr. eng Leonardo "Leo" ADLER (1882-) + Ada POPPY (1888 Vienna - ): Like his other brother and sisters he reentered Vienna, because the way Leo started his career in Vienna, Berlin and Italy can be likened to a meteoric event. Besides playing the Italian mandolin in a rather romantic mood and distributing photos of this activity with Leo disguised as a gondoliere, he studied hard and very successfully, engineering, electrical engineering to be exact. Of course it had to be electrical engineering, as this branch was the newest in these days. The Engineering College was equal to the University, but separate from it. The Engineering College in Vienna had a tremendous reputation in these days all over the world. So Leo got his engineering degree (equal to a Masters degree in this country). I still recall the day Leo came to our house and, without his usual antics, said simply “Today I took and passed the doctors degree in electrical engineering.” My parents jumped up with a gasp of surprise, nobody had ever heard of a Doctors degree in Electrical Engineering, or any other branch of engineering for that matter. Leo’s reaction to that bomb was very characteristic for him, he posted himself in front of a small table with two identical vases, that were “adorned” with the pictures of two goats; without paying attention to the general consternation, he started to point out the goats, pointing to each at a time and saying with a completely detached voice “There is a goat and there is a goat,” repeating this rather silly activity innumerable times, over and over again. It was a most impressive performance. Finally, he woke kind of up and reported that this examination had been the very first one ever given for a doctor’s degree at his Alma Mate, and for that matter, anywhere else, as far as he knew he had been the only young man admitted to this examination, all the other candidates having been white-bearded gentlemen. His one and only subject of the examination was to draw the entire electrical system, power supply and connections, switches etc. for the trolley system of an entire large city (at that time no city anywhere in the world had such a complicated electrified system). The candidates were in seclusion, of course and had to solve their problems within a day’s time. Leo had finished his problem in 6 hours and had passed his examination, with most other candidates having failed. Leo seemed not impressed with his prowess, or did he fake it?
The only thing I know is that Leo got immediately a call from Berlin to join the A.E.G. (Allemeine Elektrizitatsgeseiischaft) as a Director, he was 26 years old, there he was given the task to electrify the Steam engine system of the communications system of Greater Berlin, a truly gigantic task. But it did not seem to keep Leo from visiting the old happy hunting grounds in Vienna, where fate finally caught up with him; I recall how amazed we were when one day Leo introduced his new bride to us, she certainly was a member of the truly lower Viennese classes, the only outstanding thing about her was her bosom, a true miracle of over development. Maybe it was that engineering feat of nature that had intrigued Leo. Her name was Ada Poppy. First he went into Politics being elected a City Father of Greater Berlin. He quit his post with the AEG (see above) and started campaigning. First he got support from the Catholic Party of Greater Berlin and then some kind of deal was swung between this party and the communists: the first (and only deal of this kind, as far as I know, anywhere). Leave it to Leonardo, he and Poppy did it. Amazing, when I visited him in Berlin, he to me to a City Council meeting where one of his supporters, a communist, happened to speak. I will never forget it. But the Nationalists, at that time the so called All-Germans, were coming up strongly. It was easy for a man like Leo to incur their favor, wasn’t he, Leo, a man of many faces and virtues? Secret re-armament of Germany was the demand of the day and who else but Leo better fitted for disguised rearming? He started building out of the way airports. Who would suspect an electrical engineer, and a Jew to boot, of building airports instead of peaceful electrification projects?A movie in France showing the inaugural of a civilian airport in Germany with Leo right in the middle of the top dignitaries of the All-German persuasion. Not even the French were fooled. The captions on the movie showed that quite well. So Leo thought that he had all, or almost all, of Germany sewed up in his favor. But the tiger supersedes the wolf and the lion conquers them all. But not LEO! When Hitler came to power, Leo sent his wife and blond children, Leo himself looked like an Arab, to the Germanic mountains of Bavaria, for the time being. Leo himself appeared in Vienna on his way to Italy, with a passport signed by Mussolini himself, transforming Leo into an Italian citizen. So our City Father of Berlin had changed over to a full-blown Italian fascist. Leo vanished from Vienna, was seen by Mussolini himself in a lengthy, solo audience. It was not pure love on the part of Musso, he had plans for the engineer who had built the secret bases in Germany. Leo was introduced to Balbo, the secret main contender for Mussolini’s “throne” and therefore had been “exiled” to the North African provinces of Italy in the style reminiscent of the Roman Caesars. There Leo was in his element again; he was building air bases and strategic roads for the oncoming conquest of Ethiopia.
Leo and the scion of the Roman nobility would go hunting together, not much to the like of Leo (in spite of his name). But lion hunting in Africa, Leo would bite his lips and go. Balbo soon proved to be less durable than the Milan-born, Vienna raised and Berlin-crowned “Arab.” Count Ciano the son-in-law of Mussolini was to replace Balbo and then the invasion of Italy by the Nazis spilled over into North Africa. The Italian and North African Jews had a heck of a time; but not Leonardo. He had anticipated this move and had befriended the North African arabs at a time he had held the purse strings of the “Public Works” there (building airports and strategic roads). Now was the time to present the bill for such favors: that’s exactly what Leo did. So Leo changed from an Italian official into a simple, humble Arab village dweller (his looks helped mightily) and vanished into some small place where he stayed all during the tussle between Montgomery and Rommel. After Rommel had been thrown out of North Africa, Leo emerged, ready to resume his role as a handyman Italian fascist. However, as the reader will recall, his protector wound up upside down in a filling station, with Leo watching the events from the sidelines. With almost all of his protectors finished it was time for Leo, now in his late sixties, to retire. But where get the mullah from for his last enterprise? Leo had one friend left, and not the last influential one: The Pope. Leo had been a Catholic since his marriage to Ada Poppy (her and her children’s whereabouts during the Italian and North African adventures of Leo are unknown. Leo, prior to his marriage and during his early years in Protestant Berlin had been a Protestant (a Lutheran, to be exact). Now his new faith came in handy: Leo left this world and became a "Monk" in Italy. He was past 70 at this time.
So ends the history of one of the most colorful, talented and “politically minded” members of the Adler clan. Leo had started singing to the accompaniment of his beloved Italian mandolin and ended his days singing but to no other tune.
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