Le Programme des mémoires de survivants de l’Holocauste

Pinchas Gutter

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Né(e)
21 juillet 1932 Lodz, Poland

Map of Mukacevo, Czechoslovakia

immigré(e)
1985 Toronto

As ten-year-old Pinchas is deported from the Warsaw ghetto to the killing site of Majdanek and then to concentration camps, he shuts himself off to the terrors surrounding him and tries his best not to be noticed, to become almost invisible. But after liberation, his photographic memory won’t let his past fade away, and Pinchas struggles to deal with nightmares and flashbacks while trying to raise a family and heal his emotional scars.

À propos de Pinchas

Born in Lodz, Poland, on July 21, 1932, Pinchas Gutter was the only member of his immediate family to survive the Holocaust. In 1945, he was liberated and taken to Britain. Pinchas lived in France, Israel, Brazil and South Africa before immigrating to Canada in 1985. He is the first Holocaust survivor to be immortalized in an interactive three-dimensional projection in the USC Shoah Foundation’s New Dimensions in Testimony. Pinchas Gutter lives in Toronto.

Photos et Artefacts

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    Pinchas’s aunt Sabina Shpiegelglas, who the Gutter family stayed with in Warsaw after fleeing from Lodz. Circa 1920.

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    Celebration of the wedding of Pinchas’s cousin Michael to Terenya Levinson. In the back row, far left, is Uncle Moishe Shlome Levinson, Terenya’s father; third from the left is Libel Lipsker, Pinchas’s father’s nephew; and fifth from the left is Rav Krol. Pinchas’s cousin Michael, whom he saw in Skarżysko-Kamienna, is in the front row, third from the left. Lodz, 1938.

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    Copies of the first two pages of Pinchas’s Häftlings-Personal-Karte from Buchenwald that was issued on January 20, 1945. The card states that Pinchas had been arrested for being a Politische-Pole-Jude, a political Polish Jew.

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    Copies of the first two pages of Pinchas’s Häftlings-Personal-Karte from Buchenwald that was issued on January 20, 1945. The card states that Pinchas had been arrested for being a Politische-Pole-Jude, a political Polish Jew.

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    Pages three and four of the Häftlings-Personal-Karte. As on the first document, the top image shows Pinchas’s date of birth as 1927, which was, on the advice of his father, the false date he gave to the Nazis; stating that he was five years older than he really was helped him to pass selections. January 1945.

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    Pages three and four of the Häftlings-Personal-Karte. As on the first document, the top image shows Pinchas’s date of birth as 1927, which was, on the advice of his father, the false date he gave to the Nazis; stating that he was five years older than he really was helped him to pass selections. January 1945.

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    Pinchas at around age fourteen, wearing his new suit after the war. Ascot, England, 1946.

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    Pinchas (standing, left), with cousins Rav Abraham Krol (seated, holding plate) and his wife, Andja Krol. Paris, 1949.

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    Pinchas with his new car. Paris, 1950.

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    Pinchas (left), with a friend on the SS Negba on his way to Israel to volunteer for the army. December, 1951.

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    Pinchas driving a Jeep in the army. Herzliya, Israel, 1952.

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    Pinchas in Israel, 1954.

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    Dorothy and Pinchas’s wedding photo. London, January 6, 1957.

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    Pinchas serving as cantor at the Kiever Synagogue in Kensington Market. Toronto, 1987. The congregation was established in 1912. Pinchas continues to act as full-time honorary cantor to this day.

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    Pinchas and Dorothy. Toronto, 1989.

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    Pinchas and Dorothy with family at a tribute called “Treasures of Baycrest” to honour benefactors and those who volunteered their time to help the elderly community. Back row (left to right): Pinchas’s daughter-in-law, Lauren; his grandson Daniel; his son, Jan; his grandson Adam; and his daughter Rumi. In front, Pinchas and Dorothy. Toronto, 2004.

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    Pinchas speaking to participants of the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre Holocaust Educator Study Tour at the former site of the Warsaw ghetto. Warsaw, July 2016.

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    Pinchas at the Warsaw Ghetto Wall during the Holocaust Educator Study Tour. Warsaw, 2016.

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Le livre

Cover of Memories in Focus (Traduction française à venir)

Memories in Focus (Traduction française à venir)

I don’t know why I wasn’t afraid. I think my mind just went blank. I had no feelings at all. I had disengaged myself from what was happening around me. It was as if my eyes were cameras and my brain was the screen. I just recorded everything, without emotion or participation.

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Memories in Focus (Traduction française à venir)

Memories of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

I took my book, Gone with the Wind, which I had been reading for a while, with me to the bunker and I read it front to back many times. There must have been light in the bunker, as well as a trap door that could be opened so we could go out for some fresh air, but only at night, when the Nazis usually didn’t operate. Even so, we had to be careful when we went out because there were informers who would come at night, mix with people and beg them to be let into their bunkers. That’s how they found out where the bunkers were and the next day they would go and tell the Germans, who would come with flame throwers and artillery and announce that if the people didn’t come out in half an hour, they would burn the bunker down. Eventually, the Germans levelled the whole ghetto that way.

We were in the bunker for about three weeks, and for the last few days we stayed inside and didn’t venture out. People spoke only in hushed tones, which had a hint of hysteria in them. Then, the first week in May, the inevitable knock came on the trap door and we heard voices through the air vents. We had been found out. The voices — I can’t recall if in German or Polish — said that if we didn’t come out within half an hour, they were going to throw gas bombs into the bunker and we would all die. When we emerged, we saw Germans squatting with machine guns and they set the building on fire anyway.

One image has stayed clearly in my mind: As we left the bunker, we saw German paratroopers dressed all in black, like the devil himself, with black helmets and machine guns strapped across their chests. They kept shouting, “Hände hoch! Hände hoch! Nicht schiessen!” (Hands up! Hands up! Don’t shoot!) They thought that we had guns and they were afraid of us. I felt very proud.

We were all searched and then forced to lie down next to the building, where Ukrainians guarded us. Now the collaborators were either Ukrainians, Latvians or Lithuanians. We stayed that way for a long time while they gathered up a large column of people. By the time we started walking, it was dark and we were surrounded by burning buildings. People were trying to escape, running away from the column, and one man ran toward the flames of a burning building as one of the guards aimed his rifle and shot after him. The guard was laughing himself silly as he shot, not even seeming to care whether he hit the man or not since it really didn’t matter whether the man died of a bullet or in the flames.

That image became my first recurring nightmare; for years I would dream that I was being shot in the back and was dying as I ran into the flames.