Scrapbookpages Blog

October 27, 2015

Irene Zisblatt still telling her diamond-swallowing story at age 89

Irene Zisblatt

Irene Zisblatt points to the spot where her tattoo was removed

The photo above shows Irene Zisblatt, a Hungarian Holocaust survivor who now lives in Florida, as she addressed students from Fairland High School in 2009, telling them about her experience at Auschwitz-Birkenau and other Nazi concentration camps. She is pointing to the spot under her arm where her prison number tattoo was removed in an experiment by Dr. Josef Mengele at Birkenau.

You can read the latest news about Irene Zisblatt here.

This quote is from the news story:

Holocaust survivor Irene Weisberg Zisblatt will be sharing the story of her life at a wine and cheese event taking place at the Soref Jewish Community Center in Plantation [Florida].

The 89-year-old survivor, who resides in Plantation, is most well known for her 2008 autobiography “The Fifth Diamond.” Her testimony is featured in the 1999 Academy Award winning documentary “The Last Days,” produced by Steven Spielberg for the Shoah Foundation.

I wrote about Irene in this previous blog post:

I also wrote about Irene on my website at

Krema III building at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Krema III building at Auschwitz-Birkenau

The photo above shows the Krema III gas chamber building and the fence that Irene was thrown over into a boxcar on the tracks beside the building.

This quote is from my website:

Begin quote:
In the book “The Last Days,” Irene tells how her mother gave her advice, before the train left the ghetto, that saved her from being immediately selected for the gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The following quote is from the book entitled “The Last Days”:

And she told me to say I was twenty years old – I was only thirteen – because then I would be sent to work in a factory where I would get food and I would survive.

End quote from “The Last Days.”

The following quote is from a newspaper article written by Nate Hubbard after Zisblatt gave a talk to students in Bland County, Virginia on March 9, 2009:

But the most gripping part of Zisblatt’s account came when she told of narrowly escaping the gas chamber. She said she was selected along with approximately 1,500 other women to be killed. When the prisoners were herded into the gas chamber, though, there wasn’t room for them all. Zisblatt said she wound up right in the doorway, clinging to a piece of wood as her fingernails were ripped off causing blood to gush from the tips of her fingers. When the door couldn’t be closed with Zisblatt blocking the way, she was flung out of the chamber.

With the help of another prisoner, she said she was able to escape Auschwitz by getting on a train traveling across tracks running near the No. 3 gas chamber. The train took her to the Neuengamme labor camp in Germany where shortly after she was forced to go on a “death march” as the war wound down. After marching for days upon days in hellacious conditions, Zisblatt said she and a friend realized they had a chance to escape during a dark night as they stood between two forests. […] Providence, though, finally smiled down on Zisblatt as she and her friend made a successful escape and were soon thereafter discovered by American soldiers.

Irene Zisblatt had been saved by a young Sonderkommando (Jewish crematorium worker) who rescued her after she was thrown out of the Krema III gas chamber because the room was too full. He wrapped her in a blanket and tossed her over the 10-foot-high barbed wire fence around Krema III; she landed in an open railroad car of a train that was bound for the Neuengamme concentration camp in Germany.

End quote from newspaper.

End quote from my website

The moral of this story is that if you have a story to tell, stick to it, in spite of what anyone says, and in spite of how many people make fun of you.  Irene is still going strong at age 89.  She might go on to become the oldest Holocaust survivor in the world. She has already won the prize for the most unbelievable Holocaust survivor story.