Literacy

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  • The younger of two children, Irene Freund was born to Jewish parents in the industrial city of Mannheim. Her father, a German army veteran of World War I, was an interior decorator. Her mother was a housewife. 
  • When the Nazis forced Jewish children out of public school, Irene began attending a Jewish school After the Nazis burned her school, Irene's older brother left for safety in Britain, but Irene was too young to join him.
  •  when Irene was 10, her family was sent to Gurs and then Rivesaltes, terrible camps in southern France. There was little food.
  • The Jewish Children's Aid Society took Irene away, placing her in a Catholic convent along with 13 other Jewish girls. She became became Irene Fanchet and studied under a woman named Sister Theresa.
  •  One day, Nazi police came to Irene's convent looking for hidden German-Jewish children. One of the girls at the convent, who was fluent in French, did the talking. It worked. The Germans left, and they were safe. 
  • After being liberated in 1944 at the age of 13, Irene was placed in sevral children's homes before moving to America in 1947.
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