- In Memoriam:Israel Gutman
Israel Gutman, Holocaust survivor, distinguished historian, and member of the editorial board of Holocaust and Genocide Studies, died on October 1, 2013 at his home in Jerusalem. He was 90 years old.
Born in Warsaw in 1923, Gutman was a member of the youth Zionist movement Hashomer Hatzair. After the German conquest of Poland he and his family were forced into the Warsaw Ghetto, where his parents and older sister died. Gutman participated in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in April 1943. In an interview with Yad Vashem, he recalled taking charge of security for a bunker for wounded fighters. He and his group at one point exchanged fire with Nazi forces, shooting one of the soldiers. Gutman suffered an eye injury from a grenade thrown by another of the German soldiers.
After the ghetto fell, Gutman was captured and deported to the Majdanek extermination camp. He was later transferred to Auschwitz, where he became involved in underground resistance. In January 1945 he was part of a death march of prisoners to Mauthausen, but survived and was liberated there in May. He then tried to help other survivors reach Palestine, and he went there himself in 1946. He settled on a kibbutz, where he raised a family.
In 1961 during the trial of Adolf Eichmann he testified about life in the Warsaw ghetto, conditions at Majdanek and Auschwitz, and the death march to Mauthausen. In 1963 he published his first book, The Revolt of the Besieged: Mordechai Anielewicz and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. After he received his doctorate at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1975, many other works followed.
Gutman championed writing the history of the Holocaust from the perspective of Jewish victims and resisters. His best known books are: The Jews of Warsaw, 1939–1943; The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising; and Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, which he co-edited with Michael Berenbaum. He is also widely known for serving as editor-in-chief of a four-volume Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, which contains entries written by more than 200 scholars from around the world. He served as director of research (until 1993) for Yad Vashem, and he held the Max and Rita Haber Chair in Modern Jewish History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Gutman and several colleagues later established the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem. He served as an academic adviser there until his death. He was the chief historian of the new exhibition at Yad Vashem, and his testimony is featured throughout.
Gutman is survived by two daughters and three grandchildren. His wife and his son predeceased him. The entire field of Holocaust studies will dearly miss him. [End Page 561]