Israel Gutman: Holocaust survivor and researcher


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The Independent Online

Israel Gutman, who died in Jerusalem on 30 September at the age of 90, survived the Nazi atrocities of the Second World War then dedicated his life to researching the Holocaust. Born in Warsaw in 1923, he was wounded during fighting in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in 1943 when a few hundred poorly armed Jews put up resistance to Nazi troops who were rounding up residents and sending them to death camps.

His parents and siblings died in the Ghetto while Gutman was incarcerated in two concentration camps as well as the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. After the war he moved to Israel, where he helped survivors and studied the Holocaust. He served in several prominent capacities at the Israeli Holocaust Memorial at Yad Vashem, including chief historian and head of its international research institute. In 1961 he testified in the trial of Nazi mastermind Adolf Eichmann, who had been seized by Mossad agents in Argentina the year before and brought to Jerusalem.

Yad Vashem described Gutman as a "trailblazing historian." Chairman Avner Shalev said his insight as "someone who experienced in the flesh the horrors of the Holocaust, fought in the Warsaw ghetto, was imprisoned in Auschwitz and was a member of the camp's Jewish underground, survived the death marches and was a witness to all that occurred, added an enormous weight to his rare and exceptional strength as a researcher, teacher and leader."

Gutman's projects included the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust which Yad Vashem called "comprehensive and groundbreaking."