The Fifth Diamond: A Special Jewel in the Genre of Holocaust Horror Stories, part 1 (of 5)

Published: 2010-01-06

The Incovenient History revisionist blog is proud to present a guest posting in the form of five-part article on self-styled Auschwitz survivor Irene Zisblatt. Our guest blogger is Carolyn Yeager, known as a frequent contributor to The Barnes Review.

Irene Weisberg Zisblatt writes of swallowing the same diamonds over and over again for a year in order to save all she has left of her family. What else does she say—and why is it not believable?

Apophenia: the phenomenon of seeing things that aren't there. People will see, and believe, what they expect to see, what they want to see, or even what they are told they are seeing, as often as they will see, and believe, what they are actually seeing.

By Carolyn Yeager

Part One

Irene Weisberg Zisblatt (Zeigelstein-Lewin-Stein) is a late-blooming “holocaust survivor-memoir writer” whose life story takes many mysterious twists and turns. She claims that in 1944, at the age of 13, she was deported to Auschwitz with her entire family, where only she escaped death in “gas chamber #2.”

For 50 years, she kept quiet about being a holocaust survivor; then she saw Steven Spielberg’s movie Schindler’s List and made the decision she must add her voice to the great cause of educating the world about The Holocaust. [1] In that same year, 1994, she went as a survivor-mentor with a group of US Jewish teenagers to Auschwitz for the annual March of the Living. While there, she says, she remembered and relived her whole Auschwitz experience. [2]

In 1995 she was asked by Steven Spielberg’s Survivors of the Shoah Foundation if they could videotape her holocaust testimony for their archival library. Her 3 ½ hours of answering questions and prompts by interviewer Jennifer Resnick is the basis for her being chosen as one of only five Hungarian survivors featured in Spielberg’s The Last Days, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Film in the year after its release, 1999.

At that time, she already wanted to publish a book and had been working on it, she says, since her son was thirteen. She asked Spielberg at the private premiere of The Last Days if the documentary would interfere with her book. He said no, but advised her to “not make it morbid, and don’t make it a 500 page book." [3] She said she followed his advice.

Zisblatt went to work for H&K Law Charitable Foundation as their “survivor-in-chief” who would have the final say on the winning essays in their national Holocaust Remembrance Project. During one of their teacher-training seminars, where teachers get free trips to learn how to teach the Holocaust from experts like Zisblatt, she met Gail Ann Webb, a Baptist (as Webb describes herself) high-school writing teacher from West Virginia. They talked about writing Zisblatt’s holocaust memoir.

Still, it took two more years before Webb wrote a first draft of the book as fiction. Zisblatt explained to her that holocaust survivor stories have to be first-person—non-fiction. [4] It took a couple more years of changes and edits, but the final version of the book was published by Artists and Authors Publishers as “autobiography – non-fiction. It came out in 2008 and was quickly accepted in some school districts, including Webb’s own.

The Fifth Diamond is so named because the central theme of the book is four diamonds Zisblatt was given by her mother before they reached Auschwitz, and how she managed to hold on to them by repeatedly swallowing and retrieving them again after defecating. Yes, it’s quite improbable, but nevertheless this is what schoolchildren are given to believe—and they do believe it! The fifth diamond is Zisblatt herself, a brilliant light inspiring today’s youth.

The book is 160 pages of fiction, admittedly [5] custom written for 13 and 14-year old “middle-school” students in our nation’s educational system. Middle school, the two to three years between grade school and high school, is when Holocaust studies are most heavily force-fed to American school children because of laws passed in many state legislatures by craven politicians hungry for Jewish votes and money, or fearful of Jewish media power. These legislators are also indoctrinated by the holocaust industry themselves, and accept on faith, i.e. without examination, that by turning a segment of their state’s school curriculum over to Jewish organizations pushing their religion-like holocaust narrative they are promoting racial and religious tolerance. [6]

The situation amounts to forced religious beliefs in that much of The Holocaust is necessarily explained as “miraculous happenings” that don’t follow reasonable expectations for how the world really works. These happenings are outside of time and space in the sense of special Acts of God. Zisblatt’s The Fifth Diamond is full of special Acts of God.

Perhaps this silly book could be ignored but for the fact it’s being read by thousands of young people in several states (Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia are three named by Zisblatt) during their typically 6-week-long “Holocaust Studies” unit, with the goal to extend its use into as many districts as possible. Zisblatt, who leaves a copy of her book in the library of every school she speaks at, says she is on a mission to reach as many children as possible with her message of the holocaust [7] , so that “it will never happen again.” She is in a race against time, she says; at age 80, she speaks four or five times a week to whoever asks her, mostly in school auditoriums and classrooms, in community centers and universities.

Considering the reach of just this one small woman (Zisblatt is only 5’1” in height), who she is and how she evolved to be someone who could tell such an outrageous personal story, and be believed, cries out to be examined.

I will be using as sources her book The Fifth Diamond [FD], published in 2008 by Artists and Authors Publishing of New York; her 3 ½ hour testimony videotaped on Oct. 25, 1995 for the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation [ST]; Steven Spielberg’s 1998 academy award-winning documentary film The Last Days [LD], and a radio interview given by Zisblatt on 6-15-09 on the Internet-only Ithaca Press and Artists and Authors Publishers of New York Radio Hour, Artists First World Radio Network, interviewer: Tony Kay [RI].

I am indebted to Eric Hunt for making these sources and many documents available on his website: Without Eric’s original research and his lawsuit brought against Zisblatt, Spielberg, Webb, and Artists and Authors Publishers, none of this would have gotten the attention it now has.

Above: Irene Zisblatt talks with seventh- and eighth-graders at the Emma C. Attales School in Atlantic City after her presentation in April 2009.

* * *

Who is she? She says in her Shoah Testimony (ST) she was born Irene Zeigelstein (she spelled it) in Poleno, a small town in the Carpathian Mountains, on December 28, 1930, eldest of six children in an Orthodox Jewish family. Is there any reason to question even these simple facts? YES.

On page 1 of her autobiography (FD) she writes, “My name was Chana Seigelstein,” and never refers to herself as Irene until she says she was given that previously unknown, new first name by the Immigration service before leaving Germany for the USA in 1947 at the age of 16 – two months short of 17. She also doesn’t give a birth date, only the vague statement in the Preface, “I was only 6 years old when The Third Reich started the invasion across Europe.”

Yet on the ship passenger manifest [8] for her voyage to America in October 1947, she is listed as Irene Lewin, 18 years old, traveling with her Polish husband Alter Lewin and his younger brother Elias.

Records for Irene Segelstein from the Red Cross tracing service and the Flossenbuerg Prisoner List show her born on December 28, 1929, and the former says she was born in Sosnowitz, Poland. The Sharit haPlatah list has Irene Segelstein from Polene, born 1928. The World Jewish Congress Collection on Liberation lists Irene Siegelstein, Polena, Hungary as being 16 years old when she was liberated from Civilian Hospital, Volary, Czech Republic in 1945. On the 2009 radio interview, she answered a direct question by interviewer Tony Kay that she was 14 when liberated, only she was alone in a forest.

In FD, Zisblatt writes that in October 1947 she received an assignment from Immigration to board the ship “Marine Fletcher” in Bremen, Germany, and “by the end of October, the liner began it’s voyage.” The Marine Flasher did indeed sail from Bremen on October 29, 1947, arriving in New York on November 10, 1947 with Irene Lewin aboard, but no Irene Seigelstein.

Irene Lewin’s destination is listed as 42 Madden Terrace, Newark, New Jersey; the same for Alter and Elias Lewin. Yet Irene’s Uncle Nathan Siegelstein, who she says was her sponsor and whose home she immediately stayed in, lived in the Bronx, New York. In fact, on a 1941 draft registration card, he gave his address as 2141 Honeywell Ave, NY, Bronx NY.

Supporting evidence that Irene Lewin on the ship passenger manifest is the same person as Irene Seigelstein is a DP Refugee Card for Irene Lewin issued in Munich, dated August 1947, which shows her born in Poleno in 1928 (this time on July 28 rather than December 28). If the July date was correct, she would have been 19 years old in late October 1947, not 18; this indicates that July was probably a mistake and should have been December. Her former nationality is shown as Czechoslovak (CSR) and she is in transit from Salzberg. How many Jewish girls born in tiny Poleno on the 28th of the month, in 1928, could be on that ship heading for New York? If there was another girl named Irene from Poleno, I’m sure our Irene would have found out and would talk about it … wouldn’t she?

Zisblatt writes in FD, pg 107: “When I arrived in New York, I first moved in with my Uncle Nathan and his wife, Helen.” On the following page, she writes, “I really enjoyed visiting my Aunt Fanny [9] in New Jersey, so after a few months, I ended up moving in permanently with Aunt Fanny and Uncle Morris.”(These persons are all shown on the 1930 Federal Census.)

So just who was Irene Zisblatt during these years of her youth? Irene Zeigelstein? Chana Seiglestein? Then, Irene Lewin? Should we not want to know about this woman who is speaking to our schoolchildren 4 or 5 times a week and whose sado-masochistic, anti-German book they are reading? She even became Irene Stein. When her husband Herman Weisberg died in 1969, his obituary named her as the former Irene Stein. [10]

One more item of identity: In The Fifth Diamond, her "autobiography," Zisblatt devotes one line to a remarriage (of 10 years) that “didn’t work out” and says after Weisberg, "the love of her life," died, she "devoted her life to her children." I had to really dig to discover that in 1971, less than two years after Weisberg's death, she married Jack Zisblatt of Arlington, Texas - a salesman who regularly came to New Jersey on business. In November 1981, Jack filed for divorce in Tarrant County TX. Irene cross-filed, and also filed a third party action against a corporation owned by Jack at the time they were married. Irene failed in her attempt to convince the court that Jack Zisblatt's corporation was community property. [11]

Clearly, Zisblatt is selective in what she tells and what she doesn’t. Her life story is something she has carefully crafted to fit her new status as a film star and speaker on the lucrative holocaust survivor circuit.

Poleno cannot be found on any map, but it was firmly in Czechoslovakia from 1920 until 1939, when it was annexed back by Hungary. It had a large Jewish population; according to Zisblatt, 60 to 70 Jewish families, all Orthodox, attended the one temple, and there was only one church (ST).

To be continued.

Click here to continue to the next part of the article

[1] In the same year Schindler’s List came out in 1994, the teaching of the Holocaust had become mandatory in Florida schools, so there was now a ready market for holocaust survivors. Zisblatt moved to Florida in 1990.
[2] “I had no problem remembering just about everything on the 1st day.” Irene Zisblatt radio interview, Ithaca Press and Artists and Authors Publishers of New York Radio Hour, Artists First World Radio Network, Interviewer: Tony Kay.
[3] RI) ibid.
[4] RI) ibid.
[5] RI) ibid. Zisblatt speaks of editing out of her manuscript things that were not appropriate for children and schools. She wanted her book to be used in schools for “educational” purposes.
[6] The Jewish ADL (Anti-Defamation League) provides schools with extensive teaching material, including lesson plans for grades K-12 and for pre-school children age 3 to 5. They conduct teacher training seminars and give advice to teachers. Another major resource is Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation, a Jewish law firm that provides an online comprehensive teacher resource guide, as well as sponsoring a national essay contest on The Holocaust for high school students and free trips for teachers. The State Boards of Education defer to these and other Jewish “charities” to provide the Holocaust Studies curriculum.
[7] Zisblatt speaks four or five times a week all over the U.S. and Europe. She figures she has spoken to about 400,000 people each year since 1994; (
[8] ALIEN PASSENGER MANIFEST For Passengers Traveling to the United States under President’s Directive of December 22, 1945 is the heading on the document. It carries the signature of the Immigrant Inspector.
[9] Fanny Horowitz, her father Moshe Zeiglestein’s sister, married to Morris Horowitz.
[10] Family members and funeral directors are very particular about names in obits. This is not likely to be an error. She obviously began at some point to call herself Stein, doubtless before she met and married Weisberg in 1956.

For the other parts of this article please click on the links below

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Additional information about this document
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Author(s): Carolyn Yeager
Title: The Fifth Diamond: A Special Jewel in the Genre of Holocaust Horror Stories, part 1 (of 5)
Published: 2010-01-06
First posted on CODOH: Jan. 6, 2010, 4:43 a.m.
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