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Obituary

Albert A. Hutler; Aided Holocaust Survivors

October 23, 1998|MYRNA OLIVER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Albert A. Hutler, who organized Jewish aid groups in San Diego and Chicago and wrote a book about his experiences helping survivors of Hitler's concentration camps after World War II, has died. He was 89.

Hutler, whose book "Agony of Survival" was published in 1988, died Sunday in San Diego of complications of Alzheimer's disease.

Born in New York, Hutler grew up in Chicago, earned bachelor's and law degrees from the University of Illinois and pursued graduate studies in social work administration at the University of Chicago. He practiced law for five years before serving as a lieutenant in the Army late in the war.

Hutler became chief of the Displaced Persons Section of the 7th Army Military Government unit in Germany and then director for France of the American Joint Distribution Committee immediately after liberation. His war and post-war efforts earned him the rank of captain, five battle stars and the Bronze Star for his work with refugees. The Dutch government bestowed the Order of Orange-Nassau With Swords on him for aiding displaced Dutch citizens.

Hutler's account of his 1945 efforts on behalf of a quarter-million emaciated and displaced people won acclaim from readers and Jewish scholars alike.

"The 'Agony of Survival' is more than a chronicle of Albert Hutler's efforts to help rebuild the shattered lives of those walking skeletons who might otherwise have thought that their futures were behind them," commented Aaron Breitbart, senior research associate at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, on publication of the book. "It is the story of a man who proved that a soldier in uniform could save lives as well as destroy them. Often finding himself at odds with the brass, Albert Hutler contends with the same apathy and bigotry that helped lay the cornerstone of the Nazi genocide. . . . [The book] is a lesson in hope, duty and compassion and a cogent argument that the three are best served when combined."

Moving to San Diego in 1946, Hutler delved full time into social work, raising funds for several causes and eventually becoming the founding executive director of the United Jewish Fund of San Diego County and founder of the Jewish Federation of San Diego.

He spent 12 years, from 1958 until his retirement in 1970, in Chicago as executive director of that city's Combined Jewish Appeal and associate executive director of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.

Retiring to San Diego, Hutler began working to expand tennis facilities for young people in Israel. As founding executive vice president of the Israel Tennis Centers Assn., he helped establish a program for 80,000 children from ages 6 to 15.

Hutler is survived by his wife, Leanore; two daughters, Frankee Victor of Redondo Beach and Suzanne Silber of Camarillo; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

The family has asked that any memorial donations be made to the Jewish Community Center in La Jolla, or the Congregation Beth Israel Hunger Fund or the George E. Barnes Family Junior Tennis Center, both in San Diego.

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