From Holocaust to Hope – Irene’s Journey

Photo by Milan Eagle media
Irene Butter, holocaust survivor, talks after her presentation from Holocaust to Hope at Milan Middle School March 15, 2019.

By Milan Eagle media

Holocaust survivor Irene Butter was born 1930 in Berlin to parents John and Gertrude Hasenberg. Growing up as a Jewish child in Nazi-occupied Europe she had a wonderful childhood with family and friends. As a six and half year old little girl she was spoiled and unaware of the political upheaval around her until the Nazis took away the family business, a bank, and gave it to non-Jews. Things really changed after that!
It was a hard decision, but her father felt things would only get worse for his family. Sadly in 1937 they left her grandparents behind and fled to the Netherlands. Life there was ok until Germany invaded in 1940.
She reflects of a life without rights, a life with restrictions and a life of being rounded up and sent to camps because the Nazis were in control. In 1943 they were sent to Camp Westerbork where every Monday night was terrifying as the names were read out loud of the ones being sent to extermination camp.
February 1944, along with her parents and brother, Werner, they boarded a train. Arriving at Camp Bergen-Belsen, they discovered a worse camp, with brutal guards,. lack of food, overcrowding slave labor and poor health conditions.
Seeking freedom, her family got sick, her father was beaten and left to die, her mom and brother were sent to a hospital in Switzerland. And she was forced on a train for Marseilles and then a ship for Algeria.
At a displaced persons camp, Camp Jeanne d’Arc, (north Africa) Irene stayed until end of the war. Late fall she boarded an American Liberty ship and sailed for the United States, arriving in Baltimore harbor on Christmas Eve, 1945. Six months later her mom and brother flew to the States and they were reunited.
Due to space limitations please check out her bio online or buy her book “Shores Beyond Shores” to learn about Irene’s hope and life in the United States.

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