Program by Center for Holocaust/Genocide Study will offer showing of film and a Q&A session with film subject Renate Guttman.

Madison, NJ —Every April, there is a day of solemn contemplation and mourning called Yom HaShoah, or the Day of Remembrance, for the millions of Jews and others who died during World War II.

At Drew University, the Center for Holocaust/Genocide Study is presenting its own Day of Remembrance program on Wednesday, April 23, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Baldwin Gymnasium.

The center will be showing the powerful documentary film Rene and I, the true story of twins Rene and Renate Guttman, who were separated at Auschwitz and reunited years later; Renate was subjected to medical experimentation while Rene served as the “control” in the brutal experiments conducted by the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele.

After the film, there will be a Q&A session with Renate Guttman, whose name is now Irene Hizme,  and Leora Kahn, the film’s executive producer.

It’s a story of tragedy, survival, family and new beginnings.

The Guttman twins were four years old when their family was arrested in Czechoslovakia and their father deported and killed. They were taken to a concentration camp with their mother, but forced to move again at age six to Auschwitz-Birkenau, the famous death camp in Poland.

There, their mother was killed and the twins were separated. Renata was subject to medical experiments by Mengele, but was eventually hidden by a nurse under her long skirt. The Guttman twins were among 160 twins that survived Auschwitz, while 3,000 did not.

The Guttman twins lost track of each other after the camp was liberated. Rene survived a death march, was sent to an orphanage and was adopted by a Czech family while Renate was found in Auschwitz by a Polish woman who changed her name to Irenka. She was sent to an orphanage in France and in 1947 chosen to come to the United States to raise awareness about orphans. In the United States, Irenka, also called Irene, was adopted by the Slotkin family who hired a private investigator to find her brother in Czechoslovakia and, at the age of 12, the twins were reunited after six years.

Irene Hizme will attend the Day of Remembrance event, which is free and open to the public. Those interested in attending are asked to pre-register by calling the Center at 973-408-3600 or by email to: ctrholst@drew.edu

About the Center for Holocaust/Genocide Study

Founded in 1992 as a result of a grant from the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education, the Center for Holocaust/Genocide Study offers a variety of events. As permanent anchors in its programming, it schedules an annual November conference in memory of Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) and an annual Yom HaShoah (Day of Remembrance) commemoration. It also offers films, lectures, performances, workshops and commemorative events dealing with the Holocaust and with other genocides such as those in Armenia, Bosnia, Cambodia, Darfur and Rwanda. The Center enriches Drew’s undergraduate and graduate course work by bringing notable scholars and speakers to campus, by organizing visits to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and by providing additional resources that enhance the study of Holocaust and genocide. It also supports faculty research, for example, commissioning an English translation of a German text dealing with Nazi slave labor camps. All events are open to the larger community.