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Oral history interview with Irene Hizme

Oral History | Digitized | Accession Number: 1995.A.1226 | RG Number: RG-50.549.01.0004

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    Oral history interview with Irene Hizme


    Interview Summary
    Irene Hizme (née Renate Guttman), born in 1937 in Teplice-Sanov, Czechoslovakia (present day Teplice, Czech Republic), discusses her earliest memories of childhood; her father’s arrest; going with her mother and twin brother, Rene, to the Theresienstadt ghetto; memories of hearing music and presentations in Theresienstadt and being photographed for propaganda materials; being deported to Auschwitz in December 1943; being separated from her mother in 1944 and later from her twin brother; her experiences as a small child in Auschwitz, including hiding among dead bodies, standing for hours during roll call, and getting lost one night; suffering a medical experimentation carried out by Dr. Mengele; being taken in by a Polish woman following liberation but finding it an unloving home; being forced by the Polish woman to go back to Auschwitz to sift through the ashes for gold; attending school and Catholic church in Poland, which she enjoyed; going to several Jewish orphanages in France; being taken to the United States to raise money for orphans of the war; being adopted by an American family; continuing school in the United States and encountering major differences between European and American education; feeling a need to excel in school and other activities to show that she was worthy; experiencing anxiety about trains, showers, electricity, doctors, and police because of her experiences in Auschwitz; feeling that she could not tell anyone about her experiences; reuniting with Rene in 1950; going to college, studying chemistry, physics, and math; wanting to be a doctor but being discouraged by her orthodox adopted parents; becoming a biochemist for Cornell Medical College; feeling that her Holocaust experience was belittled even by other survivors because of her young age at the time; attending a 1985 gathering of twins who had been subjects of medical experimentation; meeting her aunt and cousin in Dresden and seeing pictures of her family; researching what happened to her and her family and learning about the experiments to which she was subject; finding her transport records, a record of her mother’s death, and a photo of her father in Auschwitz; talking to her children about her experience and speaking at schools and synagogues; and meeting with a therapist and writing poetry to work through her memories.
    Hizme, Irene
    Regine Beyer
    interview:  1995 November 22

    Physical Details

    3 sound cassettes (60 min.).

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    Restrictions on use. Interviewee retains copyright until 2024. Approval for third party use is at the Museum's discretion.

    Keywords & Subjects

    Personal Name
    Hizme, Irene, 1937-

    Administrative Notes

    Regine Beyer, on behalf of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, conducted the interview with Irene Hizme on November 22, 1995.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this oral history interview has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2023-11-16 08:57:52
    This page:

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