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Jakub Gutenbaum collection

Document | Not Digitized | Accession Number: 2001.292.1

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    Consists of nine photographs depicting the donor and his family before the war in Warsaw and Rytro, Poland; a registration certification, issued in Prague, Czechoslovakia on 12 June 1945, by the Czechoslovak Repatriation Office, stating that the bearer, Jakub Gutenbaum, born 7 Aug.1929 is returning to Warsaw, Poland, traveling from the Buchenwald Concentration camp; and a certificate, issued by a hospital in Prague, Czechoslovakia, on 6 June 1945, stating that Jakub Gutenbaum was free of infectious disease and lice.
    creation:  1925-1945
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Jakub Gutenbaum
    Collection Creator
    Jakub Gutenbaum
    Jakub Gutenbaum was born on August 17, 1929 in Warsaw, Poland. His father, Aron Gutenbaum (born in 1906) was a teacher in a Jewish Community’s school, located on 28 Śliska Street in Warsaw. Jakub’s mother, Rywa Potrzebucka Gutenbaum (born 1912) worked as a teacher in the same school. Jakub attended an elementary school on Waliców Street “Zgromadzenie Kupców”. Jakub’s younger brother, Chaim Gutenbaum, who was born in 1932, didn’t attend school before the war. The family lived on 42 Żelazna Street. The parents spoke Yiddish between themselves and Polish with their two sons. In December 1939 Aron Gutenbaum, who was a known social activist fled the German occupied Poland to Kowel, which was under the Soviet administration. As a result of his refusing the Soviet citizenship he was deported to Novosibirsk. The last communication from him arrived in the form of a postcard in the summer of 1940. Aron Gutenbaum died of exhaustion in a Soviet labor camp. In November 1940 Rywa and her two small sons were forced to move into the Warsaw ghetto. They moved in with Jakub’s maternal aunt, Fryda Belgrad. They lived at first on 6 Franciszkanska Street and later, after the reduction of the ghetto, they were forced to move to 29 Zamenhof Street. Rywa worked in the hospital on Leszno Street and Jakub got a job as a messenger boy in the education department of the Judenrat. Jakub received a limited amount of schooling organized by the so-called “Block Committee” in the ghetto. In July 1942, during the mass deportations from the Warsaw ghetto, Rywa Gutenbaum and her two young sons were living on Dzika Street, close to the Umschlagplatz. They hid in the attic together with a dozen of other Jews. Through the small window in the attic Rywa Gutenbaum noticed Dr. Korczak and his charges held at the Umschlagplatz. The German soldiers fired occasional shots in the direction of this window. In October 1942, after the end of the mass deportations, Jakub started to sell cigarettes in the streets of the ghetto. He remembers well that he was wearing his father’s pants and shirt. Jakub was trading old clothing for bread and cigarettes through the Jews, who were taken to forced labor outside of the ghetto. The cigarettes were a popular item and Jakub could help with feeding his mother and brother. In January 1943 deportations were renewed. Jakub and Chaim were hiding in a dish cupboard (pantry). Jakub found a book there by Franz Werfel, “The Forty Days of Musa Dagh” (describing the war between the Turks and the Armenians in 1915 and the heroic resistance of the Armenians), which he constantly read and reread while he was hiding. On April 19th 1943 the Warsaw ghetto uprising started and Rywa Gutenbaum, Jakub and Chaim hid in a bunker on Zamenhof Street. They used carbide lamps. Carbide crystals combined with water produce poisonous gas. The Germans flooded the bunker with water and the hiding Jews were forced to throw out the carbide sacks to avoid gas poisoning. From this moment on the hiding Jews were in total darkness. The Germans burned out the building above the bunker in which Jakub and his family was hiding. The walls of the bunker became burning hot and the Jews lied undressed on the floor. Despite the horrific conditions no one was ready to surrender and leave the bunker. The Germans discovered the hiding place and forced the Jews out. They were forced, under heavily armed guard to march to the Umschlagplatz. On May 1, 1943 Jakub, his brother and mother were deported to the Majdanek death camp. Jakub was separated immediately from his mother and younger brother Chaim. He was selected for labor and they were selected for death. Two months later, on June 25, 1943 Jakub was transferred to the Skarżysko Kamienna slave labor camp. The fourteen-years-old Jakub worked in a factory “Werk C”. In March 1944 he contracted typhus and was put in the camp infirmary, from which only very few emerged. Stella and Adela, two Jewish prisoners, who worked next to Jakub in the factory, came to visit him in the infirmary and brought him a cube of sugar as a gift. Jakub considers this gesture as life saving till today. In August 1944 Jakub was transferred to the Buchenwald concentration camp and after two weeks he was transferred to Schlieben ammunition factory. On April 15, 1945 Jakub and other prisoners were forced on a death march to Theresienstadt. On May 8, 1945, at the age of fifteen, Jakub Gutenbaum was liberated by the soldiers of the Red Army. He returned to Poland and lived in a Jewish orphanage in Lodz. After graduation from high school Jakub studied Electrical Engineering in Moscow, USSR. Upon his return to Poland he married Irena in 1960. Their son Adam was born in 1963. Jakub Gutenbaum is a professor of automatics and applied mathematics. He is one of the founders of the “Children of the Holocaust” organization in Poland and currently serves as its chairman.

    Physical Details

    Czech Russian English
    1 folder
    System of Arrangement
    The Jakub Gutenbaum collection is arranged in a single series.

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    Material(s) in this collection may be protected by copyright and/or related rights. You do not require further permission from the Museum to use this material. The user is solely responsible for making a determination as to if and how the material may be used.

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Dr. Jakub Gutenbaum donated the Jakub Gutenbaum collection to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2001.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this collection has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2024-05-16 10:27:15
    This page:

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