Holocaust historian Professor Yisrael Gutman passed away Tuesday at the age of 90. Gutman’s considerable contribution to humanity’s knowledge regarding the Holocaust included an encyclopedia of the Holocaust.
He also taught at Hebrew University and contributed considerably to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial project.
Gutman was not only a scholar, but was a Holocaust survivor himself. 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’s personal experience “added an enormous weight to his rare and exceptional strength as a researcher, teacher and leader,” noted Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev.
Gutman was a professor of history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and deputy chairman of the International Auschwitz Council at Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation. He was the editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust and won the Yitzhak Sadeh Prize for Military Studies.
He also advised the Polish government on Jewish affairs, Judaism and Holocaust commemoration, and was a member of the board of the Holocaust Museum in Washington.
At Yad Vashem, he headed the International Institute for Holocaust Research (1993-1996), served as Chief Historian (1996-2000) and as the Academic Advisor (since 2000).