Guta Goldstein

Title: There will be tomorrow
Author: Guta Goldstein
Publisher: Makor Jewish Community Library
Place of publication: Melbourne
Year of Publication: 1999
Location of Book: Rare Books Collection, Sir Louis Matheson Library, Monash University Clayton Campus
Cities/town/camps: Poland: Lodz (Ghetto, Marysin Orphanage), Auschwitz-Birkenau, Bergen-Belsen, Germany Saxony: Meltheuer
Note: those cities/towns/camps underlined are those which are most central to the narrative

Guta Goldstein’s autobiography spans the years of her early childhood in Lodz, Poland to her liberation by the Americans at Meltheuer on April 16, 1945.The first 80 pages are a descriptive narrative of her pre-war childhood memories: 100 pages deal with her life under German rule – including 50 pages describing her experiences in the Lodz Ghetto and the last 50 pages deal with her time in Auschwitz-Birkenau, Bergen-Belsen, Meltheuer and her liberation. Goldstein’s memoir was written late in life after her children and grandchildren were born. The book was published by the Makor Jewish Community Library in Melbourne, Australia in 1999 as part of its “Write Your Story” project. Goldstein has lived in Melbourne since 1949.

Born in 1930, Goldstein was raised in Lodz, the town of her birth. She recounts the memories that proved priceless to her during her captivity, as both a source of spiritual escape from her brutal confinement and as a motivating factor to survive her harrowing experiences. These memories included significant events in her life such as her sister’s birth, the death of her grandmother and mother, and the re-marriage of her father. Goldstein also recounts the vibrant community life that was pre-war Lodz , but also alludes to the anti-Semitic feelings amongst the general population, recalling instances where she was abused for being Jewish.

The chapter titled, “1 September 1939” marks the turning point in the narrative when Goldstein’s carefree childhood is abruptly cut short with the advent of the first day of World War Two. Herded into the Lodz Ghetto with her family and the rest of Lodz’s Jewish community, Goldstein’s initiation into premature adulthood included witnessing her father’s premature death from pneumonia on 19th April 1941. Both Goldstein and her sister are subsequently placed in the Marysin orphanage. Following an outbreak of measles, they are both admitted to the infectious diseases hospital where her sister Munia is diagnosed with meningitis caused by measles and dies on 23rd May 1942. Goldstein’s Aunt Golda rescued her from the Marysin orphanage before its liquidation in September 1942, and despite being small and undernourished, Goldstein survived numerous selections and subsequent deportations. In August 1944, the Lodz Ghetto was finally liquidated and Goldstein, together with her aunt and cousin, were rounded up on 14th August 1944 and deported to Auschwitz, where she arrived on 17th August 1944. From there Goldstein was transferred again to Bergen-Belsen and finally to Meltheuer, a slave labour camp from which she was ultimately liberated on 16th April 1945. She was fifteen years of age.

Goldstein is a skilful writer whose memoirs provide a moving account of a young girl’s survival against insurmountable odds. She attributes her own survival to a series of ‘miracles’ and good fortune. Her writing style is fluid, her word choice precise and her command of language is sophisticated. She employs various motifs that weave their way through her narrative and link her story together. Often her narrative is punctuated with self written poetry, providing emotional commentary to her story. Although her memoirs are intimate, engaging the reader at a personal level, Goldstein employs an interesting style shift in the section in which she describes her father’s death. Here, she shifts to the third person, acting as an observer at her father’s bedside. The pain of recounting this poignant episode is still to painful to bear and so she must retain an emotional distance. Goldstein focuses her story through the eyes of the child she was then and does so with humility and grace. She is a perceptive and intelligent storyteller who, in spite of the hardship and brutality she experienced, imbues her story with optimism and hope.