Irene Petrinitz

"Don't hate. Hate kills. Don't be prejudiced."

Name at birth
Irene Thirman
Date of birth
Where were you born?
Where did you grow up?
Uzhgorod, Czechoslovakia
Name of father, occupation
Joseph Thirman, Owned a transportation business
Maiden name of mother, occupation
Serena Thirman, Homemaker
Immediate family (names, birth order)
Parents, one brother Marcel- two years older than me, me, and one sister Clara- two years younger who passed away at age 3.
How many in entire extended family?
I had many aunts, uncles and cousins. My grandmother, uncle and great aunt all lived with our family.
Who survived the Holocaust?
Me and my brother Marcel Thirman, a cousin on my mother's side, Violet Klein, and her father's brother.
I had a happy childhood with loving parents, Joseph and Serena.  My father had a very successful transportation business, which afforded us many luxuries, such as travel.  I had both Jewish and gentile friends while I attended a Czechoslovakian school.  In 1944, the Germans annexed our town and the environment became much difficult for the Jews.  My father lost his license to work.  We were forced to wear yellow stars and the Germans began sending people to be exterminated. 
My family was sent to a ghetto in a brick factory.  My mother, our elderly aunt, and I were sent to Auschwitz.  Our aunt was immediately selected to be killed.  My mother survived for only ten days before her death.  I lasted eight months in Auschwitz and then was sent to Zwittau, Sudeten where I worked at an airplane factory labor camp.  The Russian army liberated me on May 4, 1945.  
After the war, I was eventually reunited with Marcel, my older brother who also survived.  Marcel and I moved to Pomokly, Sudeten were we began to rebuild our lives.  I met my husband to be, Alex, at a café soon after liberation.  He moved to Israel and I to the United States.  We eventually got married three years later and settled in Detroit, Michigan.               
Name of Ghetto(s)
Name of Concentration / Labor Camp(s)
Where did you go after being liberated?
I traveled to Prague immediately after my liberation on May 4, 1945. I then went back to my home in Uzhgorod, to find several people living there.
When did you come to the United States?
In 1948
Where did you settle?
I moved to El Paso, Texas where I had an uncle
How is it that you came to Michigan?
My boyfriend Alex was living in Israel and I obtained papers for him to go to Canada. We were married in Windsor and settled in Detroit.
Occupation after the war
Worked at Army Surplus Business/Homemaker
When and where were you married?
February 24, 1951 at a synagogue in Windsor, Canada
Alex Petrinitz, Grocer in Europe then a welder for Chrysler
Jeffery Petrinitz, podiatrist Ron Petrinitz, works for an electronics company
What do you think helped you to survive?
The hope that my father and brother would survive.
What message would you like to leave for future generations?
Don't hate. Hate kills. Don't be prejudiced.
Interview date:
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