About Me

I am an author, public speaker, and contemporary witness. I am a Hidden Child survivor of the Holocaust.

Through my speaking engagements, I am committed to the work of memory, healing, and reconciliation. My work encourages people to shed the guilt and shame of their pasts, and to help us all see our responsibilities to each other. It is my hope that the future will be filled with more love. ​

I was born in 1939 in Antwerp, Belgium, where my Jewish parents had fled to from Berlin. After living as a Hidden Child in Europe until I was seven, I have lived in New York City, San Diego, Dallas, and Berlin, Germany. I now live in Framingham, MA.

Like my late father, I am a great fan of classical opera and am an avid reader of books of all kinds. My memoir, A Life Rebuilt: The Remarkable Transformation of a War Orphan, was published in 2018 by Epigraph Publishing in Rhinebeck, NY. Stay tuned for updates and events through my Facebook Page.

Photo: In the stairwell of Raumerstrasse 21, where my family once lived in Berlin.

Photo: John Werner johnwernerphotography.com

Previous Appearances

TedXBeaconStreet, "I Am Every Migrant Child." Nov 23, 2019.

Main subject of Le Dernier Jour a Rivesaltes / The Camp at Rivesaltes: The Final Day, a film by Helena Michie (2007 release, 26 minutes).
Presenter and participant, March of Remembrance and Hope Student Leadership Mission to Poland (May 2006).
Leonardo da Vinci Oberschule (October 2005).
Mannheim Military Community, Days of Remembrance and Hope (January 2005).
Georg-Forster-Gymnasiums Berlin Lichtenberg (June 2002).
Städtisches Theodolinden-Gymnasium München (June 2002)
"Saving the Children," Days of Remembrance presentation sponsored by the Jewish Federation of St. Joseph Valley, South Bend, IN (April 2002).
Gustav-Heinemann-Oberschule students and faculty (November 2001)
Jewish Federation of Greateringfield's 2000 Major Gifts Dinner (May 2000)
Charleston Jewish Federation (January 2000)
 Doctor's Orchestra, UJA-Federation of New York (May 1999)
Temple Hillel Annual Dinner, UJA-Federation of New York (April 1999)


My story has been told in many places.  Here are excerpts and highlights from the world press.

In English:
"A Holocaust Survivor Moves Back to Berlin," Sheela Raman, St. Petersburg Times (24 December 2006)
"Survivor to highlight UJC dinner," The Jewish Advocate (June 2000)
"Survivor credits federations for saving her life," Paul Haist, Jewish Review, Vol. 42, No. 12, 15 February 2000.
"You Saved My Life," New York Post (28 March 1999)
"A Measure of Justice for Survivors: Holocaust Victims Here Shut Out," The Jewish Week (July 1997)

In French:
Main subject of Le Dernier Jour a Rivesaltes / The Camp at Rivesaltes: The Final Day, a film by Helena Michie (2007 release, 26 minutes).

In German:
"Nach Hause zurückgekehrt," Der Tagespiegel, Berlin, 4 December 2005
"Rückkehr: 50 Jahre war Sylvia Gutmann in Amerika. Dann ging sie nach Berlin, wo ihre Eltern lebten, bevor Nazis sie vertrieben," Gabriele Seils (with photos by Kai Wiedenhöfer), Chrimson Plus, April 2005.

Photo: Interview at WGBH Boston. 

John Werner www.johnwernerphotography.com