Memories in Focus
The Canadian Society for Yad Vashem and the American Society for Yad Vashem sat down with Pinchas Gutter, Holocaust survivor and author of ‘Memories in Focus’.
Ten-year-old Pinchas is separated from his parents and twin sister when they are deported from the Warsaw ghetto to the killing site of Majdanek. As Pinchas is sent on to a series of concentration camps, he shuts himself off to the terrors surrounding him and tries his best not to be noticed, to become almost invisible. But after liberation, his photographic memory won’t let his past fade away, and Pinchas struggles to deal with nightmares and flashbacks while raising a family and trying to heal his emotional scars. As he journeys from England to France, Israel, Brazil and South Africa, Pinchas searches for belonging before finally finding his true home in Canada. A poignant reflection on suffering, injustice and trauma, Memories in Focus also offers hope and faith in the future.
Pinchas Gutter is a survivor of six German Nazi concentration camps who now lives in Toronto, Canada. He was born in Łódź and was eight years old when the war started. Pinchas, along with his parents and twin sister, fled to Warsaw, where they were confined in the Warsaw ghetto for two and a half years. They were captured in April 1943 and deported to Majdanek death camp in occupied Poland. The Nazis murdered Pinchas’s father, mother, and sister upon arrival. Pinchas was later sent to a succession of camps; he was liberated by the Soviet Army from the camp and ghetto in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia known as Theresienstadt on May 8, 1945. After the war, the 13-year-old Pinchas was taken to an orphanage in England. He later moved to Paris to live with a cousin, and left for Israel in 1950, where he volunteered for the army. After three years in the army and a stint working for a textile factory, he attended school to learn Hebrew. As a student he met his wife, Dorothy. They moved to England and married there. He was then offered a job in Brazil and lived in Sao Paolo for a year. Pinchas and Dorothy later moved to South Africa, where they lived until 1985, when they moved and settled in Toronto. Pinchas and Dorothy had two daughters and a son. Pinchas is an active member of his community, serving as a cantor in his synagogue, and still speaks and shares his story today.
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The primary purpose of the YLA Book Club is to foster greater understanding and deeper discussion about the Holocaust and the contemporary challenges we face in Holocaust remembrance.