Irene and her twin brother 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.
I, of course, have, um, unfortunately a lot of memories of, um, of the hospital and, um, the doctor's office. It, I seem to recall spending a great deal of time, um, there. And also being in the hospital and being very sick. And, um, I know one time, when I went to the doctor's office, that they took blood from me and, it was extremely painful because it was from the left side of my neck. That's a strange thing to remember. I also remember having blood taken out of my finger, but that wasn't quite so bad. And I also remember having to sit, um, very still for long periods to be measured and, or weighed, or in X rays. I rem...I remember X rays, X rays. Um...and injections. I remember injections. And then I'd be sick. Because then I, I'd be in this hospital. And I remember having a high fever, because I know they were taking my temperature, somebody was. Um, I really got to hate doctors. I, I got to be afraid. I used, I was terribly scared of doctors, I still am. They're a nightmare. Hospitals are out of the question and illness is unacceptable.