“For every time that I was hungry, beaten or was tortured with experiments, I was hitting back by keeping my mother’s diamonds.” — Irene Zisblatt, the Miami Herald, 19 Dec., 2008
On 19 Dec., 2008, an article titled Holocaust survivor escaped with gems appeared in the web edition of the Miami Herald. The article, which has since been removed, provided an overview of the story of Irene Weisberg Zisblatt, a Hungarian World War II holocaust survivor and Orthodox Jew.
Born Chana Seigelstein in Hungary around 1931, Zisblatt remained silent for 50 years, deciding to go public with her account of suffering, torture, medical experimentation and eventual escape from the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland after having been inspired by the Steven Spielberg film, Schindler’s List. She would later appear in the award winning documentary film, The Last Days, another Spielberg production centered around five Hungarian holocaust survivors.
Zisblatt’s horrific story revolves around four diamonds given to her by her mother “to be used to buy bread should she ever find herself hungry” and is available in her book, The Fifth Diamond. A copy of the Miami Herald article is provided here for reference since we will be examining it rather closely:
Holocaust survivor escaped with gems
BY JENNIFER COHEN
Special to The Miami Herald
Her mother gave her four diamonds to be used to buy bread should she ever find herself hungry during World War II, but those diamonds gave Irene Weisberg Zisblatt the fortitude to survive the Holocaust.
“I can not buy bread with your diamonds, mother, but as long as I am alive they will stay with me,” she wrote in her memoir, The Fifth Diamond: The Story of Irene Weisberg Zisblatt.
A resident of Pembroke Pines since 1990, Zisblatt recently discussed her book and appearance in Steven Spielberg’s documentary, The Last Days, at Nova Southeastern University.
Born Chana Seigelstein, Zisblatt lived in Hungary with her parents and five siblings. In 1942, when she was 11, her mother, Rachel, sewed the diamonds into the hem of her skirt before she was taken by the Nazis to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland.
Zisblatt’s entire family was killed in the gas chambers, and those four diamonds were the last mementoes of them. The only way Irene could keep the diamonds hidden was to swallow and retrieve them over and over again. She did this for 15 months.
Zisblatt told the audience how, as a young prisoner in the camps, she was a favorite of Dr. Josef Mengele, who performed experiments and surgeries on her and other prisoners without anesthesia. A girl named Sabka was another of Mengele’s regular victims. Though they weren’t allowed to speak, they formed a friendship and Zisblatt drew strength from their bond.
“The diamonds survived because, to me, they were the strength, the hope, the courage, and my mother, so they had to survive,” Zisblatt said. In having a valuable secret from the Nazis, she felt that she was defeating her torturers. “For every time that I was hungry, beaten or was tortured with experiments, I was hitting back by keeping my mother’s diamonds.”
Mengele injected chemicals into her eyes in an attempt to change their color and forced her to remain in a cold room for days. He injected viruses under Zisblatt’s fingernail and surgically experimented on her to find a way to remove the numbers tattooed on her arm. Afterward, he ordered the nurse to administer a lethal injection to both girls, but the nurse worked for the underground and was able to free them, one of many miracles Zisblatt experienced.
“Mengele was the most good-looking man,” she said. “He could have been the one scientist in the world who could have developed extraordinary things for humanity, but he became a murderer. He would look at me and smile and at times I could not believe this man could ever hurt me, he could be so charming. But the next minute, he was cutting me up into little pieces.”
In 1945, Irene and Sabka were part of a group of 5,000 prisoners forced to march in the cold. Every day, weakened prisoners dropped dead around her. After two months, they escaped. Exhausted and covered in lice, they walked through the forest and managed to stay alive by digging up food.
The pair were finally liberated by Gen. George Patton’s Third Army, but Sabka died the very next day. Once again, Zisblatt lost her only family. After her recovery, she was taken in by relatives in America and began a new life with a new name. She married in 1956, and although she had been given watery soup filled with chemicals to destroy her reproductive organs, she gave birth to a son and a daughter in the 1960s.
Not wanting to remember her past, Zisblatt kept her mother’s diamonds in a vault. Years later, at her husband’s suggestion, she had the diamonds set into a pendant in the shape of a tear drop. She does not wear them regularly — only when she speaks to future generations.
Zisblatt had vowed that if she survived, she would be a voice for her fellow prisoners. But it was not until her son asked her about the Holocaust that she was ready to share her story.
“For 50 years, I didn’t say a word. I didn’t want my children to live with my pain,” she said.
After taking part in the March of the Living, a walk through the camps culminating in Israel, she began to share her story to educate children in order to rid the world of prejudice and indifference, and to teach future generations about the past and what hatred can do.
“I am a survivor of man’s hatred,” Zisblatt said. ‘We were dragged from our homes, robbed of our childhood, yanked from our mothers’ arms. I was living in a factory of death.”
‘The Fifth Diamond: The Story of Irene Weisberg Zisblatt’ is available at www.TheFifthDiamond.com
The timely article about Irene Zisblatt appeared on the Miami Herald website just three days after Israel, the Zionist occupier of Palestine, unleashed a campaign of military terror which targeted schools, hospitals, homes and the defenseless women and children within the ever shrinking, open-air prison known as the Gaza Strip.
Operation Cast Lead was just another in a long list of military actions undertaken during the course of Israel’s six-plus decade slaughter of the Palestinian Arabs, whom it has been harassing, torturing, imprisoning, displacing and murdering since the end of the second World War in an effort to confiscate their land to meet the needs of the growing Jewish state. In the video below, armed Israeli soldiers are seen breaking the bones of Palestinians as punishment for throwing rocks, often the only weapon available to defend themselves, their farmlands, their families and their homes against the constant influx of settlers and Israeli military bombardments.
The 22 day slaughter by the brutal Israel Defense Forces (IDF) which began on December 27, 2008, incorporated the use of illegal weapons which included white phosphorous and flechettes. These barbaric weapons of mass and indiscriminate destruction were intentionally deployed in areas heavily occupied by civilians where they burned homes and people and sliced the flesh of anyone in their path. The civilian casualties, many of whom were women and children, made up the vast majority of the nearly 2000 victims of this particular genocidal bloodbath.
In addition to subjecting the Palestinians to the more traditional weapons of war, Israel also uses them as lab rats to test weapons such as depleted uranium munitions and the “Dime bomb” which was developed by the US Air Force Research Laboratory.
As part of Israel’s PR campaign to justify its U.S. backed genocide in Gaza and divert public attention from its policy of ethnic cleansing and encroachment into Palestinian land, once again the world would be browbeaten with the Jewish holocaust of World War II, this time in the form of yet another story about yet another alleged holocaust survivor whose cache of clichéd claims have been thoroughly debunked many decades ago.
Norman Finkelstein effectively sums up Israel’s perverted use of the “holocaust card” to justify its persecution of the Palestinians during this brief and rather heated segment from a presentation given to students at the University of Waterloo in 2010, during which a naive Jewish girl displays her teary-eyed displeasure with Finkelstein’s remarks:
Though the subject of the Jewish holocaust is a sensitive one, i feel compelled to analyze Zisblatt’s multifaceted story of her alleged experience in the German concentration camps of World War II, even if it is largely devoid of original content. While part of my motive is to simply examine the numerous and extraordinary claims she has laid, i feel it is far more important to draw attention to the enormous historical, psychological and political impact which Zionism and the holocaust continues to have upon the world almost 70 years after the close of World War II.
Because those who question the official version of Jewish holocaust history immediately open themselves up to criminal prosecution, ridicule and labels such as anti-Semite, racist and even self-hating Jew, i want to make it very clear at the outset that i am not a member of any race related organization, nor do i hate any group based on religious beliefs, skin color, origin or any other common attribute, nor do i view my race as superior to another. I believe that the vast majority of people, Jewish or otherwise, are well intentioned and that the world would be a far better place if our benevolent qualities and creativity were allowed to flourish instead of being suppressed by those powerful few who seem to lack even the most basic compassion found in the rest of us. Having said that, and where it concerns those few, extraordinarily powerful people who have unethical and criminal intentions, be they Jewish or otherwise, the gloves are off and i care not where the chips may fall in my pursuit of the truth.