“We established a movement with two objectives in mind:
1) to go to Israel
2) to fight for the right to freely relocate to Israel.”
Professor Israel Gutman, Academic Advisor to Yad Vashem and former Deputy Chairman of the International Auschwitz Council, was previously Yad Vashem’s Chief Historian and Head of the International Institute for Holocaust Research.
Israel Gutman was born in Warsaw in 1923. His parents and older sister perished in the ghetto, and his younger sister was a member of Janusz Korczak’s orphanage. As a member of the Jewish Underground in the Warsaw ghetto, Israel Gutman was wounded in the uprising. From Warsaw he was taken to Majdanek, and from there to Auschwitz. In May 1945 he was sent on the death march to Mauthausen. Gutman spent two years in the camps. After the war, he was hospitalized in Austria. He escaped and joined the Jewish Brigade in Italy. He helped in the rehabilitation of survivors, was active in the Bericha movement, and immigrated to Eretz Israel in 1946. He joined Kibbutz Lehavot Habashan where he raised a family and was a member of the kibbutz for 25 years. In 1961 he gave testimony during the Eichmann trial.
In 1975 Israel received his Ph.D. from the Hebrew University for his thesis The Resistance Movement and the Armed Uprising of the Jews of Warsaw In the Context of Life in the Ghetto, 1939-1943. Beginning his academic career at the Hebrew University, he later headed Hebrew University’s Department for the Study of Contemporary Jewry. One of his main projects was the comprehensive Encyclopedia of the Holocaust. Israel was a founder of Moreshet, A Testimonial Center in memory of Mordecai Anielewicz, and served as its director and the editor of its journal Yalkut Moreshet.
Prof. Gutman was an advisor to the Polish government on Jewish Affairs, Judaism and Holocaust Commemoration. From 1993-1996 he headed the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem. Between 1996-2000 he served as Yad Vashem’s Chief Historian. Since 2000 Prof. Gutman has been the Academic Advisor to Yad Vashem. He was a member of the Yad Vashem Council, the International Institute for Holocaust Research’s administration, Yad Vashem’s Scientific Board, and a member of the editorial staff of Yad Vashem Studies. Some of the numerous awards his work has received are the Salonika Prize for Literature, the Yitzchak Sadeh prize for Military Studies, and the Polish Unification Prize.
Prof. Israel Gutman passed away in Jerusalem, Israel on October 1, 2013.