Beloved Speakers Bureau member René Slotkin, of blessed memory, passed away on Sunday, July 10, 2022.
René Slotkin (né René Guttman) was born on December 21, 1937 in Teplice-Sanov, Czechoslovakia. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Prague with his parents Herbert and Ita, and twin sister, Renate (later Irene Hizme, Z”L). In 1941 René’s father was deported to Auschwitz as a political prisoner and murdered. After being forcibly sent to Theresienstadt, René, Renate, and their mother were transported to Auschwitz in December 1943. Six months later, Ita was sent to the gas chambers.
Now orphaned, René and Renate were separated and placed in boys’ and girls’ barracks, where they were victims to Josef Mengele’s infamous medical experiments on twins. René survived one of the death marches and subsequently lost contact with his sister because they lived in different orphanages throughout Europe. Unbeknownst to René, Irene was adopted by a Jewish family from Long Island. When they learned Irene had a twin brother, they searched for him by hiring a private investigator who located the man who published a November 1947 Life Magazine article on Irene. Thanks to the efforts of the Slotkins, René and Irene were reunited in the United States on March 29, 1950.
René went on to build a full life. He was married at a young age and served as a sergeant in the U.S. National Guard. He worked for a folding box manufacturing company as a cost estimator. René lived in New York City and served since 2019 for the Speakers Bureau at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, sharing his testimony with students. For many years before that, he shared his story jointly with Irene, sharing their testimonies together for various Holocaust museums and institutions. He was also giving of his time at a Jewish summer camp in upstate New York, where he loved to volunteer. For René, it was important to emphasize not just his story, but his beautiful life after the Holocaust.
René is survived by his wife June, his four children, eleven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
May René’s memory be for a blessing.