The Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program

Michael Kutz

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Born
November 21, 1930 Nieśwież, Poland

Map of Mukacevo, Czechoslovakia

Immigrated
1948 Montreal, Quebec

Nearly buried alive, ten-year-old Michael Kutz narrowly escaped the Nazi death squad that killed 4,000 Jews, including his own family, in his hometown of Nieśwież. Guided by his mother’s last words and determined to survive, he became the youngest member of a partisan resistance group in the dense Belorussian forest, and took part in daring operations against the Nazis and their collaborators.

Warning: Memoir contains graphic violence.

About Michael

Michael Kutz was born in Nieśwież, Poland (present-day Belarus), on November 21, 1930. He arrived in Canada as a war orphan in 1948 and lived in Winnipeg before settling in Montreal in the early 1950s, where he joined various charitable organizations dedicated to helping disadvantaged youth, the elderly and war veterans. Michael Kutz and his wife, Pat, live in Montreal.

Photos and Artifacts

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    Michael's older brother, Tsalia, circa 1940.

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    Michael's mother, Ida Zaturensky Kutz, circa 1940.

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    Michael at age thirteen in his hometown after liberation. Fourth from the left, he and the small group of Nieśwież survivors are standing in front of the town’s destroyed main synagogue. Nieśwież, circa 1944. Photo courtesy of Yad Vashem.

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    Michael, front row, second from the left, with a group of Jewish partisans after the war. Lodz, circa 1945.

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    Michael (front row, on the right) with the partisans. Lodz, circa 1945.

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    Fifteen-year-old Michael with a woman from Bricha. Lodz, 1945.

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    Michael with partisan friends in Lodz, 1945.

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    Michael (left) with a friend from the Jewish underground. Italy, circa 1947.

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    Michael in Torino, Italy. 1947.

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    Michael (walking at the far right), at a demonstration against British Mandate policies in Palestine. Grugliasco DP camp near Torino, 1947.

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    Michael (right) holding a sign during one of the protests.

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    Michael wearing his medal when he served as Grand chancellor of the Knights of Pythias. Montreal, 1987.

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    Michael, standing in front of the Kotel, the Western Wall, before his bar mitzvah. February 8, 1990, Jerusalem.

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    Tefillin being wrapped around Michael’s arm in preparation for his bar mitzvah. Jerusalem, 1990.

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    Michael with Rose Parker at a Winnipeg reunion of the group who travelled to Canada with him after the war. Rose was the Jewish Immigrant Aid Society social worker who settled him with the Glassman family in Winnipeg in 1948. Winnipeg, 2007.

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    Michael and Patricia Kutz’s family at their grandson Rhys’s bar mitzvah. Left to right: their grandson Joseph; Rhys; their son, Randall Becker; and their daughter-in-law, Kristen Whitehead. Toronto, June 2010.

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    Michael in his war veteran uniform for the Brigadier Frederick Kisch branch 97 in Côte St-Luc. Montreal, 2011.

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    Michael and Patricia Kutz’s granddaughter Orion’s bat mitzvah. Left to right: their daughter, Judith Becker Charron; their grandson Adam; Orion; and their son-in-law, Andrew Charron. Toronto, April 2011.

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    Michael and his wife, Patricia, 2011.

The Book

Cover of If, By Miracle
2015 Inspirational Memoirs Silver Medal, Living Now Book Awards

If, By Miracle

I didn’t see anyone outside the pit, so I jumped out…. I had the feeling that my mother was running beside me and calling out to me, “Michael, run faster and don’t look back!"

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If, By Miracle

If, By Miracle

I will always remember my mother’s last words to me. “If, by miracle, you survive, you must bear witness and tell the free world what happened to us.” I am the only survivor of the Holocaust from my mother’s large family, which originally comprised more than 150 people. Among the few survivors on my father’s side were his younger brother, Shimon, the only survivor of seven brothers, and a few of his cousins. That was all that remained of our family. I often asked myself whether there could be a God who allowed the murder of my family and my people, young and old. When I was ten years old, I heard the last cries of Jews reciting the prayer Shema Yisrael on their way to mass graves in my hometown of Nieśwież. As a child, I was angry and disappointed that God had permitted this to happen, but to adopt a negative opinion of God would have meant giving up the struggle to survive and especially giving up on my mother’s last words to me. I came to the conclusion that there was a God and that He would give me the determination to live and be free again, and to avenge the Jewish people. I remembered what I had learned in Hebrew school about the two-thousand-year history of our people – how we had survived pogroms, slaughters and inquisitions.

When I was older, I always held on to my mother’s words and I promised myself that I would fulfill her wishes by telling Jewish and non-Jewish youth, as well as adults, about everything that our people had been forced to endure during the war, to implore them to pass on our history to future generations so that these events would never happen again.