Elly Gotz recalls being liberated by the American army at the Dachau Concentration Camp.
Elly (Lasar) Gotz was born in Kovno, Lithuania, in 1928. He was an only child and attended secular Yiddish school. His father worked in a bank, and his mother was a nurse.
In August 1941 the Germans invaded the Soviet Union, and Elly, who was 13-years-old at the time, was confined with other Jews in the Konvo ghetto. From 1941, Elly and his family endured deprivation, hardship, and slave labour. By 1944, the ghetto was liquidated and approximately seventy percent of the people who entered the ghetto were either killed or deported.
Elly and his father were deported to Dachau Concentration Camp, where they worked 12 hours a day in a German factory whose mission was to build a giant underground factory which was never completed. After enduring incessant hunger, illness, and horrific camp conditions, at age 17, Elly and with his father were liberated by the American army at the central camp Dachau. After liberation, they spent 9 months in a hospital and discovered that his mother survived the Stutthoff Concentration Camp.
In 1947, Elly and his parents were accepted to Norway as refugees. From there, they moved to Zimbabwe (then known as Rhodesia) and later to South Africa. There, Elly graduated with a degree in Engineering and started multiple businesses. He married Esme Cohen in 1958, and along with their three children, immigrated to Toronto in 1964.
In Canada, Elly achieved his lifelong dream of becoming a pilot. He has educated thousands of students through his work at the Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre and is a fervent activist in Holocaust education across the GTA and the world. His full testimony is part of the Canadian Collection of Holocaust survivor testimonies. It is preserved in the USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive and accessible through the Ekstein Library.
Hunger,permanent hunger, continuous hunger- permeates your body. It doesn’t let you rest.
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