Renee Anderson Fiorenza was born June 5, 1927 in Berlin to proud German parents. Renee was born into wealth. Although her parents were Jewish, they were not religious and only observed some Jewish holidays.
Renee’s family thought they would be safe from persecution. However, her father was arrested and imprisoned prior to the start of World War II. When Renee was nine years old, Hitler’s regime forbid Jewish children from secular schools, and Renee attended a Jewish boarding school for two years.
One day, Hitler’s troopers came to their school and told them they had to leave and proceeded to destroy the school. The teachers and students were forced to march back to Berlin. This coincided with Kristallnacht and the damage was clear upon their arrival to Berlin. Teachers dropped students off and some found that their parents had committed suicide.
After Renee came home, she lived in fear of the German soldiers. Her family changed their surname to “Barry” in the hope of avoiding future Nazi persecution.
Fortunately, in 1939 Renee was sent to London to be with her father (where her father had escaped to in the previous year) via a Kinderstransport train and he moved her from place to place in London. Renee’s mother and brothers eventually made it to London and her entire immediate family survived the war.
After the war, Renee was hired by the United States Military to return to Germany to translate for Americans. Renee eventually married twice and had two children.