Irene was born in Krakow, Poland in 1937. The family were sent to the ghetto but, after her father was deported to the Crimea, Irene with her mother and grandmother escaped from the ghetto and lived in Krakow under false identities as Catholics. In 1943 news came of the death of her father, after which the three decided to go to Germany as forced labourers, still with their false ID. Irene and her mother stayed on a farm, her grandmother worked nearby, until the Russians advanced, when they joined a group of Polish soldiers for the journey back to Krakow.
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