Flights of Spirit

Sixteen-year-old Elly Gotz hides with his family in an underground bunker in the Kovno ghetto in Lithuania, prepared to die rather than be found by the Nazis. After surviving nearly three years in the ghetto, where thousands from the Jewish community have been murdered, Elly and his family refuse to be the Nazis’ next victims. But there is no escape from the liquidation of the ghetto in the summer of 1944, and Elly and his father are taken to Kaufering, a brutal subcamp of the notorious Dachau concentration camp. After the war, as his family tries desperately to flee from Germany and their past, Elly is determined to regain his lost youth and education. Throughout his journey, Elly’s motivation and enterprising spirit drive him to succeed and, ultimately, to find strength in flight.

Introduction by Rami Neudorfer

At a Glance
Kovno ghetto
Kaufering concentration camp
Postwar Germany; Norway; Zimbabwe; South Africa
Arrived in Canada in 1964
Audiobook available
Educational materials available: Elly Gotz Activity
2024 Wolfe Chair Holocaust Studies Student Impact Prize

240 pages, including index

Recommended Ages

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Photo of Elly Gotz

About the author

Elly Gotz was born in Kovno (Kaunas), Lithuania, in 1928. In 1947, Elly and his parents immigrated to Norway and then to Zimbabwe. Elly immigrated to Toronto in 1964, where he established various businesses and achieved his lifelong dream of becoming a pilot. In 2017, at age eighty-nine, he fulfilled another aeronautical dream by going skydiving.

Photo by Hasnain Dattu.

Explore this story in Re:Collection

I had a lot of time to think and I had many questions: How does it feel to die? Does the brain go on working for a time after the heart stops? My mother was a strong woman and I trusted her, but would she have the strength to give me, her only child, the first injection?