Irene and Rene were born Renate and Rene Guttmann. The family moved to Prague shortly after the twins' birth, where they were living when the Germans occupied Bohemia and Moravia in March 1939. A few months later, uniformed Germans arrested their father. Decades later, Irene and Rene learned that he was killed at the Auschwitz camp in December 1941. Irene, Rene, and their mother were deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto, and later to the Auschwitz camp. At Auschwitz, the twins were separated and subjected to medical experiments. Irene and Rene remained separated for some time after their liberation from Auschwitz. The group Rescue Children brought Irene to the United States in 1947, where she was reunited with Rene in 1950.
RENE: It was March 29, 1950. It was, I landed at Idlewild Airport, with Mr. Enright [ph]. It was a misty night. Um, did we...well, let me just--it was my mother who came to pick us up, because my father wasn't out there. I call them mother and father, because that's the only ones that I knew. He was out, out of town somewhere, but we came in, we came to the house. I think it was so late at night that you, we didn't see. I didn't, I don't remember seeing you that night. I think we just went to sleep. They gave us their bedroom, the master bedroom of the house, Mr. Enright and myself had that, and I don't know where the rest of them were. But I remember seeing you first in the morning on, on, on that path in the front of the house. That's my first recollection of seeing you, meeting you.
IRENE: Yeah, I remember it was in the front of the house.
RENE: In front of the house. Right. In the front of the house. And, uh, to me, to me it was like when I saw her in Auschwitz. The look, didn't say a word.
IRENE: Not a word. We didn't say anything, we just...
RENE: But okay, now it's all right.
IRENE: Yeah, it was, you know, I, people are always surprised. They expect that fireworks went off, but it was not like that at all. It was just...yeah.
RENE: It's a long, long trip.