Born in Felsozsolca, Hungary, Irene was one of nine children born to Herman and Chaya Adel Wieder. Herman Wieder was a Chassidic rabbi and the central Jewish leader of Komådi, Hungary. In 1943, Nazi’s incarcerated Irene and her family in concentration camps spread through Eastern Europe. Her sister Jaffa survived, as did her brother David, both who emigrated to Israel and have since passed away. All other members of her family were killed or disappeared, including her parents who both died in Auschwitz. Irene was at Nagyvarad for a month. She was at Auschwitz/Birkenau for eight months and then transferred with 800 Hungarian women to Ollendorf in Germany.
During her incarceration, she made V-1 rockets and her technical skills, along with those of her Hungarian co-workers are probably what kept them all alive. She was liberated when Ollendorf closed down and guards tried to scatter inmates in the surrounding countryside. In 1998, she wrote her story in a book entitled “The Rest You Know” published by Idea University Press.
At a Displaced Persons camp in Fritzlar, she met US Army Air Force Staff Sergeant Marvin Edward Russ and they married in Stutgart. Her oldest son Harvey was born the 488th Army Field Hospital in Giessen. Irene and Marvin moved to Florida with Harvey and later settled in Dekalb County, Georgia. She worked at home as a housewife and a seamstress. Like her son Barry and Stephan, Irene was a skilled artisan and her work was admired by all. After Marvin died, she became a Braille typist and worked translating textbooks into Braille for a few years and served as the Book Chairman of the Atlanta Braille Society. Not an insignificant accomplishment considering her first two languages were Hungarian and Yiddish. She is survived by four children. Her husband Marvin died in 1975. Her second son, Stephan Philip Russ passed away in 2007. Harvey Alan Russ is married and lives with his wife Ann in Canton, Georgia. Estelle and her husband, Rabbi Meier Erlanger live in Jerusalem, Israel; they have 11 children and 25 grandchildren. Barry lives with his wife Jeanne in Mableton, Georgia. Daniel and Caroline live in Austin, Texas.