First-hand Account of Holocaust
June 27, 2016 at 3:22 PM
Asked how she endured the atrocities inflicted upon her and her family during World War II, Holocaust survivor, Guta Goldstein replied, ‘Hope, pure hope. And imagination. I was always thinking about what it would be like when the war ended.’ Mrs Goldstein had just finished telling her harrowing experience of the war to the Year 10 cohort and NCEA and IB History students, which was followed by a question and answer session. The full audience in the Chapel sat in stunned silence as she conveyed her first-hand account of the persecution of Jewish people under the Nazi regime.
Mrs Goldstein read passages from her book, ‘There will be tomorrow’ which was published in 1999. She spoke of her early childhood in Lodz, Poland; memories that proved invaluable during her captivity, as both a source of emotional escape from her brutal confinement and as inspiration to survive. In one day, her whole life was turned upside down. At the age of nine, Guta and her family, together with the entire Jewish population of Lodz, were relocated to a ghetto. ‘What a difference a day makes,’ she said, speaking about the air raids that signalled the start of the war. ‘Yesterday, an aeroplane had been a thing of beauty, a silver bird in the sky. Now, it was a grey monster.’
In stark detail she outlined what life was like in the Lodz ghetto and concentration camps. Extreme hunger, illness, fear and sorrow reigned as she lost her father and sister, the only remaining members of her immediate family, to disease. With the help of her aunt, Mrs Goldstein dodged numerous selections and subsequent deportations. In 1944, the Lodz Ghetto was liquidated and Mrs Goldstein was deported to Auschwitz. She ended up at Meltheuer, a slave labour camp from which she was ultimately liberated in 1945. She was 15 years old.
Following the war, Mrs Goldstein spent nearly five years in Italy as a displaced person before immigrating to Australia where she met her husband, a fellow orphan of the Holocaust. They have two daughters and seven grandchildren. As well as the cruelties she went through during the war, the Holocaust has affected the rest of her life. She has always wondered what she might have become had she not been deprived of her education.
The presentation was organised by the Jewish Federation as part of its HOPE Project, which brings Holocaust survivors to New Zealand to share their stories with Kiwi schools. As the number of Holocaust survivors diminishes, face to face accounts such as Mrs Goldstein’s will become a rare historical source. Our students were privileged to have this opportunity, which supports their learning in Year 10 Social Studies and the senior History syllabus.
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