Gustav “Gus” Gutman left Germany with his parents and grandmother in 1939, when he was four years old. His father (the owner of a successful dry cleaning and dyeing company) had been imprisoned during Kristallnacht, a pogrom against Jews which took place on November 9-10, 1938 in Nazi Germany and Austria. During that time, Gus, his mother and grandmother were confined to their attic after Nazis took over the rest of their home. Gutman remembered Nazis smashing his toy scooter and pushing his face into a bucket of ammonia.
His father was released after promising that his family would leave Germany. They stayed with Gutman’s uncle in England while they awaited permission to go to the United States, eventually settling in Chicago. His birth certificate and his German passport are marked with a swastika stamp, the passport also carried a large red “J” to indicate that he is Jewish.
Gutman later earned his bachelor's degree in chemistry from Roosevelt University and his master's degree from Loyola before taking a job at 3M in St. Paul. He and his wife, Greta, raised three children.
Gutman returned several times to Germany after the reunification. In 1998 and again in 2013, he gave a speech in his hometown of Hildesheim on the 60th and 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, on the site where a synagogue once stood before it was burned down during the pogrom. Gutman’s father, along with other men who were imprisoned that night, were forced to march around the synagogue while it burned.
A play Gutman wrote about his experience called “Guests of the City,” was produced in Hildesheim in 2005; he played his father on stage in a theater where his parents had been season subscribers until Jews were banned. Gus Gutman passed away on January 11, 2014 at the age of 78.
12" x 14"
Oil on Canvas
Type of Resource
Holocaust Survivor Artistic Response Germany
Félix de la Concha was born in León, Spain, in 1962. From 1981 to 1985 he studied at the Facultad de Bellas Artes in Madrid. He was awarded the Prix de Rome at the Academia de Bellas Artes in 1989, and worked in Rome until 1994.
His paintings are always done on site, in order to capture an accurate light, and study the passage of time. He focuses on architectural subjects, not only with prominent buildings, such as Fallingwater but also on common and even deteriorated places (gas stations, street lights, abandoned trailers, burned houses…). He does individual compositions and very often series of paintings and polyptychs.
He has focused on a particular format of portraiture. In video, the sitter can be seen talking, and the painting evolving from blank canvas to the very conclusion of the work.
Beginning in February 2013, Felix de la Concha, a prominent Spanish artist, collaborated with CHGS to include Twin Cities Holocaust survivors in his latest portrait series, Portraying Memories: Portraits and Conversations with Survivors of the Shoah.
De la Concha painted survivors of the Shoah (Holocaust) from all over the world. While posing, his subjects talked about their lives and shared their testimonies of survival. These sessions were recorded and depict the portraits transformation from a blank canvas to the finished piece; providing the viewer with a powerful and emotionally charged, multidimensional representation of the encounter with his sitters.
Nine local survivors participated in the project; their portraits and testimony appear on the CHGS YouTube channel www.youtube.com/user/CHGSumn along with the 31 other survivors who sat with De la Concha between 2007 and 2015.