Gutman, 90 at the time of his demise, was born in Warsaw, Poland. After participating and being wounded in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, he was deported to the Majdanek, Auschwitz and Mauthausen concentration camps. His parents and siblings died in the ghetto. In January 1945, he survived the death march from Auschwitz to Mauthausen, where he was liberated by U.S. forces. In the immediate post-war period, he joined the Jewish Brigade in Italy. In 1946, he immigrated to Mandate Palestine and joined Kibbutz Lehavot HaBashan, where he raised a family. He was a member of the kibbutz for 25 years. In 1961, he testified at the trial of Adolf Eichmann.
Gutman was a professor of history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and deputy chairman of the International Auschwitz Council atAuschwitz-Birkenau Foundation. He was the editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust and won the Yitzhak Sadeh Prize for Military Studies. At Yad Vashem, he headed the International Institute for Holocaust Research (1993-1996), served as Chief Historian (1996-2000) and has been the Academic Advisor (since 2000). He is also an advisor to the Polish government on Jewish Affairs, Judaism and Holocaust Commemoration.