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Oral history interview with Irene Hizme and Rene Slotkin (Guttmann twins)

Oral History | Accession Number: 2003.485.5 | RG Number: RG-50.718.0005

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

Irene Hizme (née Renate Guttmann) and René Slotkin (né Guttmann), Jewish twins born December 21, 1937 in Teplice-Sanov, Czechoslovakia (Teplice, Czech Republic), discuss being sent to Theresienstadt in 1943; their memories of Prague, Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic); the death of their father in Auschwitz in 1941; the night they were marched to the cattle car to be deported; arriving at Auschwitz; the conditions of the camp; violence in the camp; being separated from their mother and then each other; how all the people in their barrack were killed that night; René witnessing roll calls and mass shootings; Irene's memories of being hungry; their experiences with Dr. Mengele; painful medical procedures; how they kept going because they knew the other one was alive; how Auschwitz changed in January 1945, a time when there was more confusion; experiencing air raids; how Irene was very ill in 1945 and was rescued by a Polish woman after liberation; a Jewish organization that took her from the woman’s home and put her in an orphanage in Fublaines, France; René's memory of being marched away from the camp; the German guards disappearing suddenly before the camp was liberated by the Russians; how he was taken to a hospital and then to an orphanage in Košice, Czechoslovakia (Slovakia); not remembering when they were tattooed; how René lived with a few different families and left Czechoslovakia in 1949; finding each other in 1948; how Irene was selected to represent the war orphans for in the United States for the organization Rescue Children; being adopted by an American family, the Slotkins; how René found her after she was photographed for Life magazine (November 17, 1947 issue); growing up in the U.S.; how René was adopted by the Slotkins; not talking about their experiences for decades; how their experiences influenced their lives; how Irene was ashamed of what happened to her and was astounded by American leniency; speaking about their individual experiences in 1985 when they discovered other twins who had survived Auschwitz; and how Irene was told as a child about the tremendous odds against her surviving Auschwitz.

Interviewee
Rene Slotkin
Irene Hizme
Interviewer
Stephen Stept
Date
2002 October 12  (interview)
Language
English
Extent
4 videocassettes (Betacam SP) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..
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Record last modified: 2018-06-14 08:48:20
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn60513