The daughter of Jacob and Amalie Krochmal, Renate was only two and a half years old when Austria lost its independence and became part of Nazi Germany. Vienna had been home to some 175,000 Jews and was one of the world's most important Jewish cultural centers. But Vienna was also a city in which antisemitism flourished. When the Germans took over in March 1938, they found many Austrians willing to participate in the persecution of the Jews.
Seeing no hope under the Nazis, the Krochmal family escaped to France. From France they hoped to eventually receive permission to enter the United States. Renate had an uncle living in New York who was willing to guarantee the support of the entire family.
Despite the guarantee, the U.S. State Department refused the Krochmals permission to come to the United States. Soon after, on September 16, 1942, Renate's parents and older brother, Siegfried, eleven years old, were arrested by the French police and handed over to the Germans. They were sent to a transit camp, where Siegfried died. Renate's parents were eventually deported to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland.
Renate, who was seven, and her five year-old sister Liane, were sent to live in the children's home at Izieu. On April 6, 1944, the home was raided and the children were shipped to Auschwitz. They were murdered in the gas chambers upon their arrival.
The German officer who ordered the despicable raid on the children's home was Klaus Barbie. Barbie escaped punishment after the war by agreeing to work as a spy for the United States, and it was only many years later that the scandal was uncovered. Barbie was eventually sent back to France for trial, where on July 4, 1987, he was convicted of "crimes against humanity" and sentenced to life in prison.
The Krochmals never lived to see Barbie brought to trial. They were murdered by the Nazis, because no country would take them.
Renate was only eight years old.