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Oral history interview with Irene Weiss

Oral History | RG Number: RG-50.999.0454

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.

Irene Weiss (née Fogel), born in November 21, 1930 in Bótrágy, Czechoslovakia (now Batrad’, Ukraine), discusses her family; her father Meyer, who owned a lumberyard; her mother Leah (née Mermelstein), who managed the home and cared for Irene and her five siblings (Moshe, Edit, Reuven, Gershon, and Serena); Bótrágy falling under Hungarian rule in 1939; the Hungarian authorities anti-Jewish actions, including banning Jews from attending school, confiscating Jewish businesses, and forcing thousands of Jewish men to join labor brigades; her father’s forced conscripted in 1942 for six months; being forced into a ghetto in a brick factory in Munkács (now Mukacheve, Ukraine) with other Jews in April 1944; remaining in the ghetto for two months; being deported with her family to Auschwitz; arriving in Auschwitz and the murder of her mother, three younger siblings, and older brother; being selected with her sister Serena for forced labor, while her father was forced to work as a Sonderkommando, removing corpses from the gas chambers and cremating them (her father was later killed by the SS when he was no longer able to work); working with Serena and her two aunts (Rose and Piri Mermelstein) in the Kanada section of Birkenau for eight months until January 1945, when the SS evacuated them on foot to two other camps; her Aunt Piri’s death in the second camp; how as the Soviet troops approached, the SS personnel fled, leaving the camp unguarded, and the prisoners gradually left; finding temporary shelter (along with Rose and Serena) in an empty house in a nearby town; going soon after to Prague to look for relatives and other survivors; living with their surviving relatives in Teplice-Šanov (Teplice, Czech Republic); attending a Czech school while Serena worked in a factory and Rose remained at home (she was ill with tuberculosis); and immigrating to the United States in 1947 with the sponsorship of relatives and financial aid from the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. [Note: this summary may not reflect the entirety of the interview; it may also contain additional biographical information that is not discussed in the interview.]

Interviewee
Irene Weiss
Date
2014 March 27
Geography
creation : Washington (D.C.)
Language
English
Extent
1 digital file.
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Record last modified: 2018-11-29 14:49:53
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn598567