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Oral history interview with Miriam Gutman

Oral History | Digitized | Accession Number: 1996.A.0586.67 | RG Number: RG-50.407.0067

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    Oral history interview with Miriam Gutman


    Interview Summary
    Miriam Gutman, born in 1923 in Kaunas, Lithuania, discusses her father, Shmuel, who was a self-employed painter; her father’s death in 1937; her mother, Frieda, who opened a restaurant; her brother and sister; being close to her grandparents, who owned a general goods shop; living in a close-knit community; attending a state school until sixth grade; speaking primarily Yiddish and a little Russian; being raised in a traditional Jewish home; being aware of antisemitism but not experiencing it firsthand because there was very little contact with the Lithuanian community; the Soviet occupation of Lithuania in 1939 and her mother being forced to close the restaurant; getting married to a wealthy man in 1940; the German invasion in 1941; the deadly pogroms in Kaunas; being sent into the ghetto in Slobodke (an area of Kaunas now called Vilijampole); being pregnant and being hungry; people believing the worst would be over soon; her husband being killed at work when their child was three months old; meeting a factory owner who hired her, which enabled her to move back in together with her mother; smuggling food, which helped for a few months; the morale in the ghetto; the murder of approximately 10,000 people; being sent with her mother to a work camp on 27 March 1943; returning after work to discover that her twenty-month-old child had been taken away and murdered; a sadistic German guard; being sent to hard labor building an airport; being sent without food or water for six days to the concentration camp in Stutthof (Sztutowo), Poland, and being subjected to selection; being chosen with her mother to survive; seeing tall piles of shoes and glasses, and being unable to comprehend what was happening; five girls sleeping closely together for warmth; finding the strength to survive; the disappearance of her mother; going through another selection; walking for miles without food or water to another camp near the front, where they were assigned to dig foxholes for German soldiers; being determined not to be broken by the Germans; escaping and being taken in by Poles; being liberated by the Russians; saving the life of the Polish man who took her in; traveling to Bialystok, Poland; being told there was no one to return to in Lithuania; going to Łódź, Poland; meeting a representative from a kibbutz and moving to Palestine; meeting and marrying a man on 7 November 1945 and moving to Germany; losing a daughter at five months and giving birth to a son (and later another daughter); gradually falling in love with her husband of fifty years; moving to Australia in 1952 because her sister lived there; and her message to her children and future generations to avoid hatred and jealousy and try to see the best in people.
    Miriam Gutman
    Geri Kras
    interview:  1996 July 23

    Physical Details

    1 videocassette (VHS) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Personal Name
    Gutman, Miriam, 1923-

    Administrative Notes

    Jewish Holocaust Museum and Research Centre conducted the interview on July 23, 1996, in Melbourne, Australia. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum acquired the tape of the interview in July 1996.
    Record last modified:
    2023-11-16 08:29:25
    This page:

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