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YEHUDA GURVITZ

"I broke the Yom Kippur fast"
I am a native of Kovno and one of the group of 131 boys that were taken away from their parents and parted from them on July 22, 1944 in Landsberg camp.
From that camp (Landsberg) began the fateful painful journey of suffering from death camp to death camp, as a group of boys without parents.
I recall certain events from among all the trials and tribulations I suffered. One of them is that one day, after the Lithuanians had broken into out house in the ghetto and looted and emptied it, while I was chopping wood to heat the house, a log burst open and a great treasure was found inside it, which helped our family survive together until the liquidation of the ghetto.
The next event occurred during the Aktion in Birkenau; I broke the Yom Kippur fast, which I had rigidly observed throughout my entire childhood, so that I wouldn't look weak to the Germans. Thanks to my survival ability, I managed to be one of the survivors who immigrated to Eretz Israel [Mandatory Palestine] in November 1945.
Atlit was my first stop in Israel, and from there I was transferred to a yeshiva in Kfar Haroe, after having been asked whether I was from a religious home. However, a short time later I asked to be transferred to an agricultural school and to join a youth group in order to receive a high school education at the school in Petach Tikvah.
The youth group to which I was attached had immigrated from Romania, and I was quickly absorbed, even though I was the youngest in the group. At that time it was important to rebuild a new communal life, even without parents, and to establish a kibbutz in Israel.
Two years later the oldest ones in the group were drafted, and took part in the War of Independence. Since I was too young for the draft, I continued at school for another year. After the older ones were discharged we reunited and went to establish a kibbutz at Tel Gezer. The enthusiasm didn't last long. The group began to fall apart and everyone went his/her own way. I went to study mechanics. I was drafted into the IDF in May 1950 and served in a mechanical engineering equipment unit, and took part in the Sinai Campaign as a reserve soldier. After two years of military service I was honorably discharged and continued working as a mechanic, which has helped me make my way and get ahead on my own throughout my life.
I worked for Solel Bone [construction company] in several departments. I learned drafting and English, and was constantly promoted, all without a family and parents.
In 1959 I married Yehudit, a native Israeli, and we had three children: Zehavit, Yossi and Ayelet. I feel that I am carrying out the last will of my parents to fight for my existence and to tell what happened to me to the future generations.
In 1964 the company sent me and my family to Nepal to take part in the construction of an airport and roads in Katmandu, and also to a certain degree to present the assistance that the country wanted to give at the beginning. I returned on the outbreak of the Six Day War in 1967, some three years later, and as soon as I landed at the airport I joined the reserves units. I was engaged in setting up fortification lines from the north to Hadera.
After the war, I returned to work in the company and took part in work in Sinai and in the paving of the Eilat – Sharm-el-Sheikh road.
Later on, I was asked to serve as an emissary of the company in other countries, the Ivory Coast, Kenya and Nigeria, and on the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War I returned for a lengthy period of time.
Our family expanded, the two older children married, and we have five grandchildren: Roi, Tom, Adi, Yinon and Gal.
After 45 years of work in Solel Bone, I retired in 1995. I continue to pass on everything that happened to me, my parents, my grandparents and all the members of the family who perished in the Holocaust to the second and third generations.

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