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Volume 15c

Myra Gutman

Vivid Recollections of a Survivor

published by the
Concordia University Chair in Canadian Jewish Studies

Copyright Myra Gutman, 2001

Key Words

Radom (city in Poland), Hashomer Hatzair, leather factory, Peretz library, Nazi invasion of Poland, Radom ghetto, Blizyn (concentration camp), typhoid epidemic, Auschwitz, cattle cars, Bomlitz (munitions factory in), Bergen Belsen, forced labour, Elsnik (munitions factory in), Liberation, antisemitism, Mittenwald (town in Germany), UNRRA, Montreal, Canada, Radomer Society, Holocaust Remembrance Committee,


Born in Radom, Poland. Family suffered greatly during the Great Depression, although father was able to find work through an uncle who was a prominent leather merchant. Mother worked as a seamstress to help support the family. Joined Hashomer Hatzair before the war. Describes the effects of the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939 and the formation of a ghetto in Radom in 1941. Describes a brave act by several Hashomer Hatzair members to save books from the Peretz library and smuggle them into the ghetto. Also describes deplorable conditions in the ghetto, and the spread of hunger and disease. Fourteen year-old brother was caught smuggling food, was sent to prison and never seen again. Sister contracted typhoid but survived. She and sister sent to Blizyn concentration camp. Also contracted typhoid and managed to survive. In 1944, she and sister were deported to Auschwitz in cattle cars. Were then sent to Bomlitz to work in a munitions factory, then to Bergen Belsen where conditions were extremely unsanitary. Sent to Elsnik, where they again worked in a munitions factory. Sister became very ill. At the end of the war, they were put on cattle cars heading towards the Eastern front. Train bombed by Allied forces, she and sister managed to escape. Returned to Radom after Liberation, describes open hostility and antisemitism she witnessed there. She and sister decided to go to Mittenwald, Germany after learning her sister’s boyfriend, Jacob Gutman, had survived and was living there in an UNRRA funded hotel. Marries Hyman Gutman, Jacob’s brother, in 1946. Their son, Aron Baruch, was born in 1947. Describes voyage to Canada, and arrival in Halifax. Baby fell ill on train to Montreal, describes how Jewish community in Moncton provided support until their baby recovered. She and husband settled in Montreal. Described various hardships while building a new life in Canada. Joined the Holocaust Remembrance Committee as a founding member. In 1973, was voted president of the women’s division of the Holocaust Remembrance Committee; describes various events the Committee became involved in and her participation in and commitment to Holocaust education.

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