Pinchas Gutter describes religious observance in the Warsaw Ghetto.
Pinchas Gutter was born in 1932, in Łódź, Poland. His family was a member of the religious Gerer Chasidim. Pinchas enjoyed a happy childhood along with his twin sister and large extended family. Jewish holidays, traditions and family celebrations brought the Gutter family together. Pinchas’s grandfather and father owned a wine-and-spirits-making business, which existed in the Gutter family for close to 400 years. His father took him to the wine cellars to learn the trade of a master wine-maker when Pinchas was a young boy. During the Holocaust, the family business and heritage were destroyed and Pinchas’s extended family was decimated. Only Pinchas and four cousins survived the Holocaust.
In 1939, Pinchas was almost seven years old when the war broke out. His entire family fled to what they thought was safety in Warsaw, the largest city in Poland. Eventually, they were incarcerated in the Warsaw Ghetto where they spent three and a half years. Then in April 1943, after the ghetto uprising, Pinchas and his family were deported to the death camp, Majdanek. Upon arrival in Majdanek, his father, mother and twin sister were murdered by the Nazis. Pinchas was sent to a work camp and passed through several other concentration camps, including Buchenwald, and worked at loading and unloading enormous weights of iron, and other slave labour. Towards the end of the war, he was forced on a death march from Germany to the concentration camp, Theresienstadt, in the former Czechoslovakia. He was liberated by the Soviet Army on May 8, 1945, and was taken to Britain with other children for rehabilitation.
After spending many years in South Africa, Pinchas and his wife Dorothy immigrated to Canada in 1985. Pinchas is an active speaker with the Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre and also an honorary full-time cantor in the Kiever Synagogue. His full testimony is part of the Canadian Collection of Holocaust survivor testimonies. It is preserved in the USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive and accessible through the Ekstein Library. Pinchas has also been the subject for the New Dimensions in Testimony developed by the USC Shoah Foundation.
We stood there for nearly 24 hours without moving, crying and saying prayers for deliverance.
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