Oral history interview with Irene Hizme and Rene Slotkin (Guttmann twins)
Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
- Rene Slotkin
- Stephen Stept
2002 October 12
4 videocassettes (Betacam SP) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..
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.
Record last modified: 2018-06-14 08:48:20
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Also in Oral history interviews of the Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race exhibition collection
Oral history interviews with twelve Holocaust survivors recorded in preparation for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's exhibition "Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race."
Dorothea Buck discusses her forced sterilization at age nineteen; details of the sterilization procedure; her sense that she would always be marked by her infertility; how the doctors who performed forced sterilizations were later honored while the victims were ignored; and expressing her pain and finding happiness through sculpting.
Paul Eggert discusses his forced sterilization at the city hospital in Bielefeld, Germany at age eleven.
Helga Gross, born in 1923 in Hamburg, Germany, discusses being diagnosed as Deaf when she was a child; her memories of when Hitler came to power in 1933; her parents’ attention to her and her siblings’ educations; a brother who was also Deaf; the presence of a lot of music in the house; her parents' encouragement to sign and not always lip-read; going to school until she was 14; working as a weaver at age 16; the bombings in Hamburg; the destruction of her home in a fire; being told when she was 11 that she would have to be sterilized; her forced sterilization at age 16; the surgery and her parents’ reactions; not realizing the significance of being sterilized until moving to the United States in 1954 and seeing her sister's baby; refusing to join the Nazi Party; carrying the papers to join the Nazi Party but never signing them; the end of the war; being prevented from coming to the U.S. at first because she and he husband were Deaf; her husband, an Olympic swimmer; how her husband had been sterilized without anesthetic; learning American Sign Language; and her Deaf brother who was not sterilized and his children. The recording includes pictures from her childhood in Hamburg.
Antje Kosemund discusses her parents and siblings; her sister, Irma, who experienced developmental delays; the sudden disappearance of Irma in December 1933; her father’s interactions with the Gestapo; her father explaining in 1945 that Irma had died; finding Irma’s death certificate in the 1980s, which stated that she had died in January 1944; the certificate confirming her suspicion that Irma had been killed by Nazi authorities; learning that Irma had been held at Am Spiegelgrund in Vienna; finding Irma’s name on an August 1944 deportation list out of Vienna; learning that Irma was part of a group of young girls who were subjected to medical experiments; her memories of Irma; and how today she still cannot understand how Nazi doctors and other officials could conduct experiments on children.
Benno Muller-Hill discusses the Nazi Party's embrace of Eugenics as a way to provide antisemitism with a scientific basis; the wide acceptance of the euthanasia program among psychiatrists in Germany; and how doctors justified medical experimentation on human beings.
Elvira Manthey, born in 1932, discusses her parents and siblings; her difficult childhood; Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in 1933; moving in with her grandparents; moving to a children’s home in Magdeburg, Germany when she was four years old; the treatment of the children at this home; moving to another children’s home, which worked with Nazi officials, when she was five and a half years old; undergoing a medical examination at a hospital; reuniting with her sister, Lisa, in a part of the home for children with developmental delays; the extremely poor conditions in this room of the home; learning later that she and her sister had been placed in this room because they came from an impoverished family; not being permitted to leave this room; hearing the screams of a young boy who was taken out of the room by an SS doctor, who the children called the “death man;” medical experiments conducted in the home and the deaths of many children; a boy who was killed because he had heterochromia (eyes of two different colors); how her name was taken off a deportation list; Lisa’s death; her memories of Lisa; and her ongoing fight for human dignity in Germany.
Rita Prigmore, the surviving twin daughter of Theresia Seible, discusses her mother’s experience in the clinic where she and her twin sister were born.
Simon Rozenkier, born in Poland, discusses his deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau; medical experimentation under Dr. Mengele; his forced sterilization; his transfer to Buchenwald; and his liberation by American forces.
Theresia Seible discusses helping her parents, who were unable to read or write; growing up in a Roma family in Würzburg, Germany; the family’s relationships and interactions with German neighbors; having Jewish friends and acquaintances; her brother; laws enforced by the Würzburg mayor, such as the segregation of public spaces for Roma and non-Roma; being expelled from school in 1938; she and the rest of her family registering as Roma with the Nazi authorities and needing to prove their family history; the SS forbidding all Roma from interacting with German citizens; the increased restrictions on Roma in 1939; the father of her twin daughters, a German citizen in Würzburg, and having to meet him in secret; being required by the SS to undergo medical examinations; the birth of her daughters in a clinic under Nazi doctors’ supervision; and the SS doctors’ treatment of Roma.