Rene and his twin sister Irene were born Rene and Renate Guttman. 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, Rene and Irene learned that he was killed in the Auschwitz camp in December 1941. Rene, Irene, and their thier mother were deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto, and later to Auschwitz. There, the twins were separated and subjected to medical experiments. After the war Rene stayed with a doctor's family in Kosice, Czechoslovakia, before moving to the United States and being reunited with Irene.
I started to go to school in Kosice, and he left me with his, uh, sister, Edith Mann, and her husband, Joseph Mann. And they had a boy, Otto, and a girl, Bibi? Bibi. And we lived very close to the school, and, uh, I knew I was Jewish then because first of all, they were Jewish and, uh, I was called a Jew in the school. Every day when I, when, when school got out--there was one other Jew in the entire school. His name was Sobel. I'll never forget the name, Sobel. I don't know his first name, but, uh, the boys are waiting for us to beat us and to stone us, every single day. It was a hassle to get out of school. I don't know why it wasn't a problem going to school, but leaving school every day was, was a horror show.