Adam Krakowski was born in 1925 in the city of Łódź, Poland. Łódź was at that time the center of the Polish textile industry, and Krawkowski's father worked in a textiles stores. He and the remainder of Krakowski's immediate family—his mother, brother and sister—perished in the Belzec extermination camp. Not long after the German occupation of Łódź, Krakowski, along with a number of young able bodied Jewish males, was deported and spent nearly all of the war years in German slave labor camps. He was transferred from one camp to another until his liberation by American troops on May 1, 1945.
As a slave laborer, he encountered cruel and trying conditions and endured great suffering. His survival is owed in part to the pressing German need for slave labor, especially as the war progressed. There was an ongoing conflict in the Nazi hierarchy between those who wanted to destroy all Jews and those who wanted to preserve some Jews for labor. Unfortunately the former most often prevailed. Nevertheless, Krakowski was among the minority who did survive despite the obsessive, lethal Nazi ideological imperative to destroy European Jewry.
After his liberation, Krakowski, like so many of his fellow Jews, returned to his birthplace to see if any of his family had survived. His search was in vain. He then made his way to Paris where he had a physician brother who had lived there since before the war. At the time of his interview, Krakowski had decided to remain in Paris and rebuild his life. With the help of ORT, he was studying radio technology.