Biography by Hélčne and Alfred Werner (Paris):
In August 1942, the Nazis and the Ukrainians came to Kovel’s ghetto, dragged all the people out of their home and locked them up in the town’s biggest synagogue. Three days later, they made them walk out of town, dig big ditches and then shot them all. When the shooting started, Guta fainted and found herself protected by her mother’s dead body. At night, she regained consciousness and climbed on a tree. She remained there for a couple of days, and then went to the only family in town she was sure would help her : The Szymkiewicz. She lived in the attic of their house, till they got her fake papers. Through people they knew, she was taken to a small Polish town, where she took care of children in different families and lived there till April 1943. Afterwards she went to Warsaw, and later was sent to work in Germany.
During the last part of the war, Guta’s aunt lived in Moscow. One day, she was told that her niece was alive and had been taken in by a troop of Soviet soldiers. They dressed her up as a soldier, cut her hair short, so that she could look like a young boy.
Once Guta had reached Moscow, she lived with her aunt. She went to Moscow’s academy of music and later taught music herself. As she was out of Russia during the war, she was treated more or less like a sort of spy and couldn’t choose exactly the kind of job she wanted. So, when it became politically possible – at Khroutchev’s time- Guta and her aunt left Russia, lived for a time in Warsaw and then got at last in Paris, where my father and mother had prepared with much love a home for them. When they both arrived here, I remember the excitement ….and the tears, after all those years of separation. Guta was then 30, looked very pretty and romantic. We used to go a lot to the cinema together, to see her Polish friends from Marcel Marceau’s famous mime company and…….to laugh at trifles.
Guta found a job here, unfortunately nothing to do with music, and finally worked at El-Al. In the late sixties, I think, she decided to go to New York to start a new life and meet new people. She worked there for KLM and seemed to like it. While her aunt was still live (up until 1991), she used to fly to Paris once or twice a year at least, always for her aunt’s birthday in May. The last time we saw her was in 1995, after she went to Brussels for a seminar about the Shoah.
We’ll deeply miss her; her intelligence, her wit, her sense of humour and her culture. Her life was hard and unfair. Her illness too.