'We put on a play by Peretz, we discussed history and we played chess. As I look back now I must give credit to those dedicated and inspired teachers. Life in the Ghetto was miserable and the school was a place of respite. I was a good student...At the age of fifteen, I was a full instructor. That gained me permission to stay in the Ghetto, rather than having to go to work as a slave labourer at fifteen.'
Elly Gotz lived with his parents in Kovno in Lithuania. In 1941, after German army attacked the Soviet Union, the family was forced into the ghetto. He recalled: ‘The Aeltestenrat, Ghetto Management Group, requested permission from the Nazis to establish a training school in the Ghetto for kids twelve to fifteen, to train them for working later. When permission was granted they established a school, using the staff of the well-known ORT school in Kovno, as many of the teachers were in the Ghetto. Dr. Jacob Oleiski, who was the previous director of ORT Kovno, became the director of the school. I joined the Locksmith/Metal Work section. Our chief instructor was Yerachmiel Feldman, an experienced instructor of ORT before the war. I loved the experience! I learned first the tools of the trade, how to file, measure precisely and shape metal with hammer and chisel. Later we scrounged some machines, a lathe, mechanical drills, and I learned how to use them. Theory was taught in the afternoons, together with Jewish subjects. We put on a play by Peretz, we discussed history and we played chess. As I look back now I must give credit to those dedicated and inspired teachers. Life in the Ghetto was miserable and the school was a place of respite. I was a good student. After about eighteen months I was appointed an Assistant Instructor. Six months later, at the age of fifteen, I was a full instructor. That gained me permission to stay in the Ghetto, rather than having to go to work as a slave labourer at fifteen. I became particularly skilled at locksmithing, designing and producing sophisticated locking devices and elegant padlocks, some of which were taken away by the Nazi ghetto managers straight from the display boards we assembled for an exhibition of our work. I taught a morning and an afternoon class. I worked in the Ghetto Fachschule till the very end, when the Ghetto was liquidated and the remaining people were sent to Germany in cattle cars – the women to Stutthof and the men to Dachau Concentration Camp.’
In Dachau Elly Gotz survived due to his skills as a toolmaker. He got a job as a machine minder and for twelve hours a day (or night), looked after a huge concrete mixing machine. Even though most people in the camp died of hunger and disease, Elly and his father survived and were liberated in April 1945. As it turned out, Elly’s mother had survived again and the family could be together again.
‘After liberation from Dachau, I again began dreaming of becoming an engineer, but with little hope of achieving it. I had no formal schooling since the age of twelve, although I read and studied mathematics and other science on my own. I moved into a Displaced Persons (D.P.) camp in Landsberg-Am-Lech in Germany and I began to use my UNRRA rations to sell the coffee and chocolate on the black market and buy private lessons in mathematics, etc. One day, around December 1945, I walked past a sign advertising a new ORT school opening for teaching radio mechanics. Curious, I walked in and sat down in the class. It was the very first day the course was starting. A German lecturer came in (Mr.Albrecht) and began a general talk of how a radio works. I was fascinated! But I was planning to be a mechanical engineer, and this was electronics. Hesitatingly, I decided to come in next day to hear “The end” of the explanation of how wireless works. It was interesting! So after doubting and debating with myself for three days, I decided to stay in the course and I signed up. Every day it got more interesting! Mr. Albrecht was a very good teacher, challenging us to discover some new details by ourselves. Within one month I changed my plans: I was going to study electronics, if I ever got the chance. In the mean time I was a very good student, handy with the soldering iron and excited about the fact that everything that goes on inside a radio is all IMAGINATION – you cannot SEE anything, unlike a lock, where the logic is open to the eyes. After a few months of theory about all the elements of a radio we began to build our own radio from scratch – a Super-heterodyne Receiver, no less. Slowly we each assembled our own chassis, mounted the parts and were looking forward to the happy moment when our receiver will jump to life and produce a sound. Eventually all our radios began to work. We fine-tuned them, we fussed over them – we were all delighted. It was hard to find parts for building our radios – we had to search for parts, tubes and transformers, seek to buy them on the black market. Often one had obtained a transformer only to find that it was burnt out. I found a source of many burnt out transformers, so I decided to try and repair them. I built myself a small winding device, took the transformers apart, and unwound the fine wire till I came upon the burnt out spot. I rejoined the wire, rewound the transformer coil and reassembled it. Suddenly I had a lucrative market for transformers! That gave me funds to buy the other parts I needed. I located in Munich a source of parts and became something of a wholesaler of electronic parts.’- recalled Elly Gotz After twelve months of very energetic study he received his ORT diploma as a radio mechanic. In December 1946 the family decided to get out of Germany and went to Norway.
Elly Gotz learned Norwegian during the first six months and moved to the capital city – Oslo. ‘I went out looking for a job and soon found one as a radio mechanic. I began to study for the Norwegian High School Diploma at night school. My father found a relative in South Africa who invited us to come to Africa. Eventually we landed in Bulawayo, in Southern Rhodesia. Now I needed to learn English. I got into grade 12 in public school and 9 months later I passed the Cambridge exam and went off to University in Johannesburg, South Africa. For three months each summer I went home to Bulawayo and worked as a Radio Mechanic, which helped me pay for my education.I graduated as Electrical Engineer, Electronics. In 1958 I got married, had three children and in 1964 moved to Canada.’ 
 Source: World ORT Archive: Elly Gotz interviewed by Sarah Kavanaugh, March 2007