The Holocaust Speaker Series, held each Wednesday at 11:00 am, features Holocaust survivors and descendants of survivors sharing stories of life before, during, and after the Holocaust. Join us on Wednesday, December 7, at 11:00 am via Zoom with Ruth Barnett.
Ruth tells the moving story of her mother, Irene Levin, who was born Josepha Weil in 1927. Josepha was a child of a large, prosperous, secular family in the Sudetenland, a German corridor of western Czechoslovakia. Josepha was just over eleven years old when her father died, and Hitler walked through the Sudetenland. By December 1941, Josepha, her mother, Irena, and stepfather, Georg, were deported to Terezin, where they spent over two years. Deportation to Auschwitz and slave labor at a sub-camp called Christianstadt followed.
In January 1945, with the Russians advancing, Josepha and her mother were forced on a Death March, which would span 200 miles in ice and snow. Then they were loaded into a cattle car to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where Irena was carried to her death upon arrival. The British liberated Bergen-Belsen in April 1945. After several months of recovery from typhus, Josepha returned to Prague. Only Georg and one cousin returned.
In 1947, Josepha immigrated to America and adopted her mother’s name, Irene. In 1949, Irene met and married her husband, Joe Levin, and raised three children. In 2017, as Ruth just retired from a career as a Quality Assurance professional, her father died. Ruth brought Irene to live in Mason. It was this time with her mother that got Ruth actively involved with her mother’s photos, memoirs, and sharing this important story of survival. It is Ruth’s belief that in this time of Holocaust denial and politicization, it is up to the generation of survivor children to assume the mantle of sharing these firsthand accounts of the realities of hate.
Generously sponsored by Margaret and Michael Valentine and presented in partnership with the Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Center and Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage.