Jenine Gutman

Jenine Gutman

Born: June 25, 1925

Bacau, Romania

Jenine was the younger of two daughters born to Jewish parents. They lived in a small city with a large Jewish population in central Moldavia. Her father, a veteran of World War I, came from a large family and Jenine had more than 15 aunts and uncles, all living in Bacau. This extended family helped raise Jenine and her sister Sofia while their parents ran a grocery store.

1933-39: Just like every child my age, I belonged to a national youth organization headed by Prince Michael. We wore special uniforms with berets and leather belts, and held patriotic rallies in the stadium. My father became ill; business suffered and he lost his store and everything that we owned. In 1938, we moved to the national capital, Bucharest, where he got a new job as a factory clerk and I went to a new school.

1940-44: The fascist Iron Guard was now in power, but my patriotism no longer made any difference. Because I was Jewish, I was forced out of public school. Although makeshift, our Jewish schools had excellent teachers; I chose to study bookbinding. After Jews were excluded from public hospitals, a Jewish clinic was organized in Bucharest. I worked in its cafeteria. New restrictions were imposed. There were pogroms. The government made my family provide clothing and bedding to the Romanian army.

Jenine was liberated by the Soviet army in August 1944. She continued to live in Romania until 1976, when she immigrated with her family to the United States.