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Rachel Deblinger, Author

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Irene Guttman

Irene Guttman was born on December 21, 1937 in Czechoslovakia. She lived in Prague with her parents and twin brother, Rene, before her father was arrested in 1941 and she was sent with her mother and brother to Theresienstadt. They were soon deported to Auschwitz, where they lived for a short time in the Czechoslovak family camp until Irene and Rene were separated from their mother by the infamous Dr. Joseph Mengele at only six years old.

In Mengele's lab, Irene was also separated from Rene and the two did not see each other again until 1950. In the aftermath of the war, Irene was taken in by a Polish woman living in Oswiecim and Rene returned to Prague, where he was taken in by a family. By 1946, Irene ended up in an orphanage in France that was run by the American Orthodox organization, Rescue Children.

Through Rescue Children, Irene was brought to America in November 1947 with a young boy named Charles Karo. Irene and Charles were taken on a ten day tour intended to raise funds to support Jewish orphans: they were featured in a Life Magazine spread and even visited the White House.

After serving as model children for the Rescue Children effort, Irene and Charles were not taken back to France as promised. Rather, they were adopted by Jewish families in America. Irene was adopted by the Slotkin family, who worked tirelessly to find Rene and reunited the two in New York in 1950, after more than 6 years apart.

In the decades since, Irene has become a prominent speaker about her Holocaust experiences.  She has recorded several testimonies with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, is the subject of a recent documentary, and is featured in local press.
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