Rene, his twin sister, Renate, and their German-Jewish parents lived in Prague. Shortly before the twins were born, Rene's parents had fled Dresden, Germany, to escape the Nazi government's policies against Jews. Before leaving Germany to live in Czechoslovakia, Rene's father, Herbert, had worked in the import-export business. His mother, Ita, was an accountant.
1933-39: Our family lived in a six-story apartment building along the #22 trolley line in Prague. A long, steep flight of stairs led up to our apartment, where my sister, Renate, and I shared a crib in our parents' bedroom; a terrace overlooked the yard outside. Renate and I wore matching outfits and were always well-dressed. Our days were often spent playing in a nearby park. In March 1939 the German army occupied Prague.
1940-45: Just before I turned 6, my family was deported to Auschwitz from the Theresienstadt ghetto. My arm was tattooed with the number 169061. There, I was separated from my sister and mother and put into a barracks with older boys--many seemed to be twins. I didn't understand what was going on. Sometimes I was taken to a hospital, even though I wasn't sick, and was measured everywhere and X-rayed. Once, we boys watched when Soviet and Polish soldiers were shot into a pit outside.
Rene and his sister survived and were reunited in America in 1950. They learned that as one pair of the "Mengele Twins," they had been used for medical experiments.