Gotz stresses importance of Holocaust remembrance through personal stories

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Grace Beecher

Holocaust survivor Elly Gotz spoke to students e-block Monday, Feb. 24, about his childhood in Nazi concentration camps and his later life as an engineer, author, and businessman.

Gotz’s presentation, organized by history department head Gregory Drake and the Beth Menachem Chabad of Newton, was a look inside what it was like to be Jewish living in a German-controlled Lithuanian ghetto with hard labor and poor living conditions.

 “We must remember the Holocaust because we must remember what people can do to people,” said Gotz. “Be aware and be conscious of the fact that human beings are not comfortable with people who are different from them.” 

Drake pressed the importance of learning about the Holocaust, “I just hope they will understand how important it is to remember the history of the holocaust,” said Drake. “With history, hearing from people who experience what you learn will make students remember it and make the history real.” 

Gotz spoke about a day when all the people in the Lithuanian ghetto were asked to go out onto a field and stand with their families. A German officer stood on a platform and directed families either to the right or left. The ten thousand who were asked to go to the left were killed on a hill with machine guns and buried on top of each other in trenches, according to Gotz. 

He went on to describe his journey of being moved from the Lithuanian ghetto to the Dacha concentration camp, where he and his father were forced to do hard physical labor in very poor conditions.

“I carried more dead bodies than I could count,” he said, later describing his life after the war. Which included becoming a pilot, a husband, a father, and skydiving at the age of 89.