web site hit counter In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer

Availability: Ready to download

"You must understand that I did not become a resistance fighter, a smuggler of Jews, a defier of the SS and the Nazis all at once. One's first steps are always small: I had begun by hiding food under a fence." Through this intimate and compelling memoir, we are witness to the growth of a hero. Irene Gut was just a girl when the war began: seventeen, a Polish patriot, a stud "You must understand that I did not become a resistance fighter, a smuggler of Jews, a defier of the SS and the Nazis all at once. One's first steps are always small: I had begun by hiding food under a fence." Through this intimate and compelling memoir, we are witness to the growth of a hero. Irene Gut was just a girl when the war began: seventeen, a Polish patriot, a student nurse, a good Catholic girl. As the war progressed, the soldiers of two countries stripped her of all she loved -- her family, her home, her innocence -- but the degradations only strengthened her will. She began to fight back. Irene was forced to work for the German Army, but her blond hair, her blue eyes, and her youth bought her the relatively safe job of waitress in an officers' dining room. She would use this Aryan mask as both a shield and a sword: She picked up snatches of conversation along with the Nazis' dirty dishes and passed the information to Jews in the ghetto. She raided the German Warenhaus for food and blankets. She smuggled people from the work camp into the forest. And, when she was made the housekeeper of a Nazi major, she successfully hid twelve Jews in the basement of his home until the Germans' defeat. This young woman was determined to deliver her friends from evil. It was as simple and as impossible as that.


Compare

"You must understand that I did not become a resistance fighter, a smuggler of Jews, a defier of the SS and the Nazis all at once. One's first steps are always small: I had begun by hiding food under a fence." Through this intimate and compelling memoir, we are witness to the growth of a hero. Irene Gut was just a girl when the war began: seventeen, a Polish patriot, a stud "You must understand that I did not become a resistance fighter, a smuggler of Jews, a defier of the SS and the Nazis all at once. One's first steps are always small: I had begun by hiding food under a fence." Through this intimate and compelling memoir, we are witness to the growth of a hero. Irene Gut was just a girl when the war began: seventeen, a Polish patriot, a student nurse, a good Catholic girl. As the war progressed, the soldiers of two countries stripped her of all she loved -- her family, her home, her innocence -- but the degradations only strengthened her will. She began to fight back. Irene was forced to work for the German Army, but her blond hair, her blue eyes, and her youth bought her the relatively safe job of waitress in an officers' dining room. She would use this Aryan mask as both a shield and a sword: She picked up snatches of conversation along with the Nazis' dirty dishes and passed the information to Jews in the ghetto. She raided the German Warenhaus for food and blankets. She smuggled people from the work camp into the forest. And, when she was made the housekeeper of a Nazi major, she successfully hid twelve Jews in the basement of his home until the Germans' defeat. This young woman was determined to deliver her friends from evil. It was as simple and as impossible as that.

30 review for In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer

  1. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    "There was a bird flushed up from the wheat fields, disappearing in a blur of wings against the sun, and then a gunshot and it fell to the earth. But it was not a bird. It was not a bird, and it was not in a wheat field, but you can't understand what it was yet." When I understood what the bird was, it was one of the most chilling things that I have ever read. This is the story of a Catholic girl in Poland. In 1939 when Poland is invaded, she is 16 years old and training to be a nurse. Like Poland "There was a bird flushed up from the wheat fields, disappearing in a blur of wings against the sun, and then a gunshot and it fell to the earth. But it was not a bird. It was not a bird, and it was not in a wheat field, but you can't understand what it was yet." When I understood what the bird was, it was one of the most chilling things that I have ever read. This is the story of a Catholic girl in Poland. In 1939 when Poland is invaded, she is 16 years old and training to be a nurse. Like Poland itself, she is brutalized by Russians and Germans. Despite her own hardships, she is not blind to what is happening to the Jews. She manages to escape the slow death of a work camp because of her pretty face and her ability to speak German. She is placed as a servant in a Nazi officers' club. She sees the murder of Jews in the ghetto and decides to help. The most touching chapter in the book is when she fills a box with food (including potato peelings from the trash) and shoves it under a fence that leads to the ghetto. The next day the box is empty and she replaces it with a new box. It's just a drop in the ocean, but she feels she has to start somewhere. This is the beginning of a path that leads to hiding Jews and an incredible story of luck and courage. Why did she risk her own life to help? When so many others refused, why she did she choose to see? Reading books on the Holocaust remind me that real people survived and real people died. These aren't good vs. evil narratives concocted by storytellers to give us convenient heros and devils. Real heros are imperfect people who are able to look beyond their own survival to help someone else. Real devils are imperfect people who allow themselves to be numb to the pain they inflict. This numbness led to the murder of six million people and it is beyond comprehension. But, we need to try.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Carroll

    I think this paragraph is the most eloquent description of why speaking about the Holocaust was/is so difficult for the survivors. "We did not speak of what we had seen. At the time, to speak of it seemed worse than sacrilege: We had witnessed a thing so terrible that it acquired a dreadful holiness. It was a miracle of evil. It was not possible to say with words what we had witnessed, and so we kept it safely guarded until the time we could bring it out, and show it to others, and say, 'Behold. I think this paragraph is the most eloquent description of why speaking about the Holocaust was/is so difficult for the survivors. "We did not speak of what we had seen. At the time, to speak of it seemed worse than sacrilege: We had witnessed a thing so terrible that it acquired a dreadful holiness. It was a miracle of evil. It was not possible to say with words what we had witnessed, and so we kept it safely guarded until the time we could bring it out, and show it to others, and say, 'Behold. This is the worst thing man can do'." When a book is so well written and the story so compelling then it generally defies any age categorisation I would recommend this book over and above The Diary of Ann Frank, simply because this is a survivor's tale which coveys the full horror of such events. It was a privilege to read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    I thought, ”Gosh, should I really read another holocaust memoir?” The answer is yes, and you should too, even if you have read a zillion already. You should read this memoir about what Irene Gut, a Catholic Polish girl of only seventeen, did to save others’ lives. Each person’s story is unique. You know why you can go on reading one holocaust story after another? It is because they show you not only the worst in man but also the best. Horrible things happened to Irene and she suffered just as yo I thought, ”Gosh, should I really read another holocaust memoir?” The answer is yes, and you should too, even if you have read a zillion already. You should read this memoir about what Irene Gut, a Catholic Polish girl of only seventeen, did to save others’ lives. Each person’s story is unique. You know why you can go on reading one holocaust story after another? It is because they show you not only the worst in man but also the best. Horrible things happened to Irene and she suffered just as you and I would. We are all only human, but she responded with bravery and help and kindness to others. Her suffering did not make her bitter and she refused to give up. At the same time, she recognizes the consequences of her own actions as a partisan. The story is told without melodrama. It is exact and it is succinct. This happened and then this and then that. The events speak for themselves. I like this. Don’t think that because it is matter-of-factly told you will be left unmoved. The story begins with how her parents met. She was their first child, born in 1922 in the village Kolzienice in eastern Poland, near the Ukraine border. She was followed by four more girls. The war years, the invasion of that part of Poland where she lived first by the Russians, then the Nazis and then the Russians again, is the primary focus of the book. The years after the war are briefly summarized – where Irene came to live (the USA, first NY and then California), whom she married (William Opdyke – a UN official) and what she did (gave lectures to school children). This is Irene Gut Opdyke’s story, as she told it to author Jennifer Armstrong. What we are told is true; facts have been verified. The book came out in 1992, almost fifty years after the war. This means of course that inconsequential details and even a few names had been forgotten. With Irene’s full support, the author has filled in the blank spots and given us Irene’s story as it should be told. That supplemented has in no way changed the truth of the events. Neither the central protagonists’ names nor the events have been altered. This is explained at the conclusion of the book. There follows also a chapter entitled Historical Background. It is short and discusses information pertinent to the political involvement and culpability of the people involved in Irene’s life. The audiobook is very well read by Hope Davis. The reading fits the text to a tee. The speed is good. It is movingly told, but not with over-dramatization. I want you to read this book. It is inspiring. Even during the worst of times people do make active choices determining what kind of person they want to be. Ultimately, what one person does affects another.

  4. 5 out of 5

    MsBrie

    In My Hands in one of those books that you read and you can't get it out of your mind. This is the first novel I've read in quite some time that left me staying up all night until the darkness of sleep enveloped me. Irene's story is both an amazing adventure and an heroic tale of a woman who saved the lives of others by risking her own. It almost seems unbelievable that the things that happened to Irene could actually happen to one person. The entire book is filled with adventure and suspense. I In My Hands in one of those books that you read and you can't get it out of your mind. This is the first novel I've read in quite some time that left me staying up all night until the darkness of sleep enveloped me. Irene's story is both an amazing adventure and an heroic tale of a woman who saved the lives of others by risking her own. It almost seems unbelievable that the things that happened to Irene could actually happen to one person. The entire book is filled with adventure and suspense. Irene Gut Opdyke is one of those rare people who make others want to strive to do their best and be their best. I thank the world there are people like Irene here to spread their light and inspiration throughout the land. On a technical note- Jennifer Armstrong does a tremendous job of bringing Irene's story into the limelight. It is her excellent writing that allows us to delve into Irene's life.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Veronica Perdomo

    Kurt Vonnegut has defined a saint as a person "who behave[s:] decently in a strikingly indecent society." By his definition, Irene Gut Opdyke is a saint. I think there are more than a few people who would agree. I had the pleasure of seeing an adaptation of this on Broadway, and got incredibly lucky: the author's daughter was in the house that night and hosted a Q&A session after the show. It was during this session that she revealed a few remarkable stories the book doesn't touch on... As regards Kurt Vonnegut has defined a saint as a person "who behave[s:] decently in a strikingly indecent society." By his definition, Irene Gut Opdyke is a saint. I think there are more than a few people who would agree. I had the pleasure of seeing an adaptation of this on Broadway, and got incredibly lucky: the author's daughter was in the house that night and hosted a Q&A session after the show. It was during this session that she revealed a few remarkable stories the book doesn't touch on... As regards Major Rugemer: The book mentions that upon his return to his hometown, his wife (having heard of his indiscretions) wanted nothing to do with him, and neither did the town (having heard rumors of his being a Jew sympathizer). He lived on the streets, homeless and outcast, until the Hallers heard of his condition and took him in. He lived with them until his death. (I consider this show of kindness in the face of the preceding circumstances a testament to the power of goodness and forgiveness, and absolutely breathtaking.) As regards Irene finally speaking out about her story: Her daughter, Janina knew nothing of her mother's experiences until her teenage years, when they received a phone call from an individual claiming to be "randomly" polling people to find out if they thought the Holocaust actually happened or if they believed it was a ploy on the part of the Jews to gain sympathy. It was at this point that Irene broke her silence and related her story. As a witness, she realized she had to speak out, to testify to what she had seen and experienced so that she could erase some of that ignorance, that doubt, that blindness that so many in the population desperately cling to. Also, she felt the overwhelming messages of the power of love and forgiveness and hope were worth sharing. As regards Irene being reconnected with her sisters: I do not believe in coincidence. Things happen when they do for a reason. It so happens that a Polish couple that had gone to see the show were going to be traveling to Poland and offered to try to find Irene's sisters for her. She gave the couple her sisters' names, but did not hope for much, as they had all been single last she had seen them and had probably remarried, taken on new names, and would be impossible to find. She promptly forgot about the couple and their task. The couple traveled to Poland and checked with the Embassy, the Consulate, everyone and everywhere, to no avail. Then, on their way to the airport, they stopped at a corner store to buy snacks for the flight, and on a whim asked the proprietor if he knew any of the women on the list. He apologized that no, he did not, but just then a woman came rushing out from the back room - let me see that list! Yes! These names... these are my sisters! And this one is me! Information was exchanged, and after nearly forty years, Irene was reunited with her family. Karmic justice is breathtaking. This was a profoundly moving work that I think could raise a lot of compelling issues, and one I would like to expose my kids to (and think they would enjoy!).

  6. 4 out of 5

    NILTON TEIXEIRA

    3 stars for the writing. 5 stars for the remarkable story. This is not a work of fiction. And it is a heartbreaking one. This is a recount of the author’s experience, who as a young Polish girl, hid and saved Jews during the Holocaust. This is the first time that I read a story from a rescuer and not from a survivor of the Holocaust. I rarely read non-fiction unless it has been recommended by a friend, which is this case. Although I was very engaged from the beginning, I thought that the writing was 3 stars for the writing. 5 stars for the remarkable story. This is not a work of fiction. And it is a heartbreaking one. This is a recount of the author’s experience, who as a young Polish girl, hid and saved Jews during the Holocaust. This is the first time that I read a story from a rescuer and not from a survivor of the Holocaust. I rarely read non-fiction unless it has been recommended by a friend, which is this case. Although I was very engaged from the beginning, I thought that the writing was not very good or perhaps too simple. I missed something. I felt that the author held back her true emotions or perhaps the co-author wasn’t able to translate it into words. Or the fact that this book/memoir was written 50 years after the war had something to do with it. Regardless, this a powerful story, no doubt about it. Her story is remarkable. Her achievements and her courage are quite impressive, especially at such young age. And the atrocities that she witnessed are just unbelievable. I just can’t imagine how someone could cope with such vivid images for the rest of his/her life, as I’m sure those events are unforgettable. The most admirable thing about her is that she had a choice and hers was to help people the best way she could. If this story was on the hands of a good and experienced story teller I’m sure that this book would have been a tremendous success. It has all the ingredients.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    This is the first Holocaust memoir I had read from a Polish point of view, and I was truly captivated. I have never read a story about one person having so much good fortune and bad luck all at the same time, it was almost like it was straight out of Hollywood. The things she was subjected to do, the things she risked and her uncompromising need to do what was right despite the consequences makes it nearly impossible to set this book down. I would lay awake at night, anticipating what was going This is the first Holocaust memoir I had read from a Polish point of view, and I was truly captivated. I have never read a story about one person having so much good fortune and bad luck all at the same time, it was almost like it was straight out of Hollywood. The things she was subjected to do, the things she risked and her uncompromising need to do what was right despite the consequences makes it nearly impossible to set this book down. I would lay awake at night, anticipating what was going to happen next, and before I knew it, my light was on and that book was back in my hands. This woman has more strength, courage and faith in her pinkie than I could ever hope to have in my entire being. If you need reassurance that despite the evils in the world, there is still good left in humanity, read this book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    I did not ask myself, Should I do this? But, How will I do this? Every step of my childhood had brought me to this crossroad; I must take the right path, or I would no longer be myself. You must understand that I did not become a resistance fighter, a smuggler of Jews, a defier of the SS and the Nazis, all at once. One's first steps are always small: I had begun by hiding food under a fence. Now I was making plans to... (142-143) In My Hands is nonfiction--a memoir--and it's a powerful one. Full I did not ask myself, Should I do this? But, How will I do this? Every step of my childhood had brought me to this crossroad; I must take the right path, or I would no longer be myself. You must understand that I did not become a resistance fighter, a smuggler of Jews, a defier of the SS and the Nazis, all at once. One's first steps are always small: I had begun by hiding food under a fence. Now I was making plans to... (142-143) In My Hands is nonfiction--a memoir--and it's a powerful one. Full of descriptive images you might wish you'd never seen. But it's an important work, a necessary one. Our narrator, Irene Gut, was a Polish girl--a young woman training to be a nurse when the war burst into her life. The conflict between Germany and Russia stripping her of her childhood in more ways than one. Her account of what happened during the war years are powerful and haunting. But there is nothing over-the-top either. It's straightforward, spare, even. This is her description of the purging of the Poland of Jews (I believe we're speaking of the ghettos.) The gates were dragged open, and the Jewish prisoners were forced out through a gauntlet, while the guards beat at them with their rifle butts. An old man, tottering with a cane, was not fast enough, and a guard shot him on the spot. In vain, women tried to protect their small children from blows, men tried to shield their old fathers. But every time someone stumbled and fell under the beatings, shots rang out. The street was paved with bodies, and still the Jews were forced to march out over them. We watched this from our windows in a paralysis of horror. We could do nothing but watch. We could not even pull back from the glass to keep hidden. An old rabbi carrying the Torah stopped to help a young woman with a shrieking toddler, and all three were shot. A graybeard in a faded uniform of the Polish army from the last war limped past the guards, and he, too, was not fast enough. The sun shone down on all of them, and the dust settled in pools of blood. By this time, the four of us were crying uncontrollably. Helen was on her knees, sobbing in her mother's arms. Janina turned her face away. But I watched, flattening myself against the window. As I pressed against the glass, I saw an officer make a flinging movement with his arm, and something rose up into the sky like a fat bird. With his other hand he aimed his pistol, and the bird plummeted to the ground beside its screaming mother, and the officer shot the mother, too. But it was not a bird. It was not a bird. It was not a bird. (116-117) This is how she sums it up, "We did not speak of what we had seen. At the time, to speak of it seemed worse than sacrilege: We had witnessed a thing so terrible that it acquired a dreadful holiness. It was a miracle of evil. It was not possible to say with words what we had witnessed, and so we kept it safely guarded until the time we could bring it out, and show it to others, and say, "Behold. This is the worst thing man can do."" (118) © Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  9. 5 out of 5

    Charlie

    First - this is a true story as told by Irene Gut Opdyke (a Catholic Polish girl) with Jennifer Armstrong as the Author. I bought this book at a popular used book store not knowing anything about the story or how it was rated. About halfway through the book I did a google check on it. It was what I expected - mostly a 4 and a 5 rated book. Irene is a big time hero. BIG TIME. What she went through and did to save a good hand full of Jews from the Nazies was mind boggling. To read her story reads First - this is a true story as told by Irene Gut Opdyke (a Catholic Polish girl) with Jennifer Armstrong as the Author. I bought this book at a popular used book store not knowing anything about the story or how it was rated. About halfway through the book I did a google check on it. It was what I expected - mostly a 4 and a 5 rated book. Irene is a big time hero. BIG TIME. What she went through and did to save a good hand full of Jews from the Nazies was mind boggling. To read her story reads like a really good fiction book. As I said ---- THIS IS NONFICTION. The story begins with the birth of Irene - 1922 and quickly gets into 1938 and then the invasion of Germany and then Russia. IN MY HANDS is a worthwhile story to read. Actually, it should be a MUST READ on your list.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Belinda

    I have dyslexia. You never have read every testemony or story about world war II and its heros. Irene Gut Opdyke is a Polish nurse who rescuit Jews and aided them. This is her story. Keep in mind that she only was 17 when the war started. Remarkable story.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Shivani Maurya

    They say to "let the wine breathe" before it can be served..The whole gamut surrounding this rests on the desire to experience the titillating flavor..Well, it's kinda backwards with book reviews..One has already enjoyed the contents..And jumping right into the review is very tempting..specially after reading a book that I really liked..But I often find myself writing satisfactory reviews only after I have let my thoughts "breathe".. That said, this book joined my meager count of the holocaust bo They say to "let the wine breathe" before it can be served..The whole gamut surrounding this rests on the desire to experience the titillating flavor..Well, it's kinda backwards with book reviews..One has already enjoyed the contents..And jumping right into the review is very tempting..specially after reading a book that I really liked..But I often find myself writing satisfactory reviews only after I have let my thoughts "breathe".. That said, this book joined my meager count of the holocaust books this year..one of the topics I take immense interest in..It's unlike any other war book I have read to date..What sets it aside is it being a "rescuer's" account of the harrowing period, not just that of a survivor's..This is a first person account of narrator's life in war-torn Poland, of how Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia made a wishbone out of her country..And as they fought over it, the strain broke the country and its people..The xenophobic purge sweeps Poland and the narrator takes us through it till the end..(view spoiler)[Getting torn from her family's side, getting assaulted by Soviets, losing friends to the ghettos, working for the Germans, saving those she can at a great personal cost, joining the partisan movement, finding love, losing it, reuniting with friends and becoming a refugee (hide spoiler)] .. Usually war memoirs read like....well, like "memoirs"..like non-fictional accounts that they are meant to be..But this book sets a tone akin to following the protagonist in her gruesome hardships..where the reader can't help but root for her to come out unscathed..I had to remind myself at times, that there is no definite upside to her situation..and the best end to a chapter would be to see the narrator alive and free in her limited capacity..And that's saying something about the grim events that unfold.. No doubt, at times I was skeptical at the narrator's blinding "good will"..Her rescue plans in wake of the SS raids border on madness..A despairing, disillusioned heroine perhaps, with no hopes for self even as she strives to save others? Or is it plainly a taste for grandiosity? Is this really what she was thinking? Well, why not?! There are hardly any choices to make when one wakes up in a war that continues for years..When every act becomes pregnant with either escape or death, one cannot ration concern for others and for self..And perhaps recklessness is the only ticket to survival when one's greatest enemy is not a dragon or a wicked wizard, but the man standing next.. This book is a factual account at its best..and leaves one emotionally wrung..Yes, war stories do that to people..But each story is different..And perhaps schooling ourselves in human tenacity is the point of reading these accounts..

  12. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    I got to this memoir after my daughter recently saw and raved about the NY play ('Irena's Vow') based on the book. 'In My Hands' was written by a 23 year old Polish a nursing student after surviving six years of separation from her family, rapes by Russian soldiers and several years of servitude to German officers. But it is not another Holocaust book. Or rather, it's a different kind of a Holocaust book. It's the story of an adolescent who decides that what's happening to the Jews is sickening. S I got to this memoir after my daughter recently saw and raved about the NY play ('Irena's Vow') based on the book. 'In My Hands' was written by a 23 year old Polish a nursing student after surviving six years of separation from her family, rapes by Russian soldiers and several years of servitude to German officers. But it is not another Holocaust book. Or rather, it's a different kind of a Holocaust book. It's the story of an adolescent who decides that what's happening to the Jews is sickening. She first helps Jews in a ghetto by leaving food under a fence for them. Then she protects Jews who she is supervising in a German controlled hotel/headquarters. She later hides 12 of them in a villa where she has become the housekeeper for a German major so they will not be killed. The German major discovers what she is doing. She becomes his mistress to protect these 12 Jews and a baby. Eventually she escapes and joins the Polish partisans as the Germans are retreating. Finally, she gets home, only to find many members of her family are no longer alive. Her memoir is both a riveting adventure story and an example of how one individual, an adolescent in this case, makes a difference in the world when she has courage and chooses not to accept terrible wrongs. Worth reading. And according to my daughter and wife, worth seeing too.

  13. 5 out of 5

    K.J. Ramsey

    I am haunted by the human spirit. We harm and we hallow. We crush and we construct. I am haunted by Irene’s will to hold human life as holy. I am broken by her beating heart, pounding past all that would crush it. This book will hollow a space in your heart for the harm humans cause and by so aching, it will move you to hold human life as sacred today. Today, I fear, we live in a time when few feel we belong to one another. As our sense of responsibility for one another stays small, evil grows. M I am haunted by the human spirit. We harm and we hallow. We crush and we construct. I am haunted by Irene’s will to hold human life as holy. I am broken by her beating heart, pounding past all that would crush it. This book will hollow a space in your heart for the harm humans cause and by so aching, it will move you to hold human life as sacred today. Today, I fear, we live in a time when few feel we belong to one another. As our sense of responsibility for one another stays small, evil grows. May Irene’s story remind us, break us, terrify us, and mystify us with the truth that we truly do belong to one another and each one of us holds the power to hallow human life in our two hands.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Abby Welker

    What an incredible story. It's hard to believe that this story is one of thousands - some written, some unwritten. I honestly didn't want to put this book down - it's well written and really helps you see how beautiful life was in Poland for most people before the war, and how one day was normal and the next day everything they knew had changed. I tried to put myself in their position over and over again and I still can't imagine how difficult life was for them. My heart was broken time and time What an incredible story. It's hard to believe that this story is one of thousands - some written, some unwritten. I honestly didn't want to put this book down - it's well written and really helps you see how beautiful life was in Poland for most people before the war, and how one day was normal and the next day everything they knew had changed. I tried to put myself in their position over and over again and I still can't imagine how difficult life was for them. My heart was broken time and time again for this young girl. I think of myself at 17 years old and how young, carefree, and naive I was. Throughout this book, though, I could see the tender mercies of the Lord helping and blessing this young girl and her friends. Sadly, some suffered so dearly when others, like this girl and her friends seemed to have so much good fortune (and by good fortune, I mean that they survived against all odds) - but I have no doubts whatsoever that God was aware of every single person affected by this war. Anyway---this has been a humbling experience reading about Irene's story.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    This is a nonfiction memoir of a teenage girl in Poland, during the WWII. She was a survivor and she was also a rescuer. Separated from her family, she got involved and she took chances....not for herself, but to make a difference in the lives of others. I appreciated her message and her story. She had courage. I did deduct a star because of the writing. Some of this was choppy and a little clunky. But then again, some of this was beautifully written. I wanted more of that and I also had question This is a nonfiction memoir of a teenage girl in Poland, during the WWII. She was a survivor and she was also a rescuer. Separated from her family, she got involved and she took chances....not for herself, but to make a difference in the lives of others. I appreciated her message and her story. She had courage. I did deduct a star because of the writing. Some of this was choppy and a little clunky. But then again, some of this was beautifully written. I wanted more of that and I also had questions at the end that I wanted addressed. So, 3 stars.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Leeanna

    In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer, by Irene Gut Opdyke "In My Hands" starts with the author writing to the reader that if she tried to tell you what really happened during the war, told you everything at once, you wouldn't understand it. She includes an image that you won't comprehend until later in the book, the image of a bird falling, a bird that is not a bird. And as you come to understand what the bird really is, your heart will break, and you will know just what Irene means. Born In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer, by Irene Gut Opdyke "In My Hands" starts with the author writing to the reader that if she tried to tell you what really happened during the war, told you everything at once, you wouldn't understand it. She includes an image that you won't comprehend until later in the book, the image of a bird falling, a bird that is not a bird. And as you come to understand what the bird really is, your heart will break, and you will know just what Irene means. Born in 1922, in Poland, Irene had a happy childhood and a normal life. As a young child, she is saved from death by the family dog, and many in her village are convinced this means she has a great and promising life ahead of her. But for a girl in the 1920s, there weren't many adventures available, and drawn to helping people, Irene decided to go to nursing school. On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland. Irene's school was on the border, and she was immediately thrust into the war as a student nurse, then as a member of the Polish resistance. Living in the woods, part of an army without a country, Irene was selected to go on a mission into a nearby town and was captured by a Russian patrol who raped her and left her for dead. That experience alone would be enough to break almost anybody, but not Irene. The rape is merely the first of an indescribable number of hardships she endured during World War II; I often had tears in my eyes while reading this book. Irene lived through several lifetimes during the war, and while I am around the same age as her, I couldn't imagine surviving anything that she went through. Irene's story is so many things - it is one of hope, one of courage, one of resistance, one of overcoming the odds, one of doing the right thing. A prisoner herself, while working in a German hotel, Irene did all she could to help those around her, including smuggling out food, warnings, and even hiding 12 Jews in a German officer's home. Once I started "In My Hands," I couldn't put it down. Irene's story captivated me from beginning to end, and as I came to understand the metaphor of the bird that she starts her story with, I agreed with her. There is no way I could have understood all that she wanted to tell me if I didn't know the whole story, if I didn't know everything she endured and fought for. I found myself wanting to tell everyone I could about her story, and it led to a great talk between my father and myself (we're both history nerds). While "In My Hands" is marketed as a young adult book, I believe it's beneficial for anyone, of any age, to read it and absorb it. Irene was moved to write her story after hearing that some groups claimed the Holocaust was a hoax, and she spoke for 30 years, imbuing a message of hope and tolerance to children across the country. Hands down, this is the best book I've read all year, and I wish I could thank the author. 5/5.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Misha

    I picked up this book, one because of my love of history and specifically WWII and the time of the Holocaust, but also because of the different perspective it gave. I have read a a lot of Jewish accounts of the Holocaust, but not as many from the rescuer standpoint. Many I'm sure have read The Hiding Place, a definite must read, but I also enjoyed this book about a young Polish woman who rescued/hid about 12 Jews. At the start of the book, which is also at the start of the war, Irene was only 17 I picked up this book, one because of my love of history and specifically WWII and the time of the Holocaust, but also because of the different perspective it gave. I have read a a lot of Jewish accounts of the Holocaust, but not as many from the rescuer standpoint. Many I'm sure have read The Hiding Place, a definite must read, but I also enjoyed this book about a young Polish woman who rescued/hid about 12 Jews. At the start of the book, which is also at the start of the war, Irene was only 17 and going to nursing school. Her incredible journey and survival at being beaten up (among other things) at the Soviets hands, to escaping and ending up in several positions that afforded her opportunities to help the Jews around her. It is an amazing story of courage, standing up for what's right and ultimately sacrificing whatever she needed to in order to protect and keep the Jews she was hiding a secret. Some, after reading this book may say, well, I wouldn't have done some of those things she would have, but I'm not so sure. I took a Jewish Holocaust history class from my most favorite professor at BYU and he had proposed the question one time during class, would you compromise your morality in order to save either your own children or other people you were protecting? I don't know what I would do. To watch your children die before your eyes, often a cruel death at the hands of the SS, I think a mother would try and do anything to prevent that. During war time, you have to wonder if the lines are somewhat blurred. If 12 people's lives were at stake and I could save them, what would I do? Would I do what Irene did? Think of all the generations that span from those 12 people. Those 12 people can equal with time 20, 40, 80 and eventually hundreds. By saving 12, Irene was able to then save possibly hundreds. This book was very well written and had me completely engrossed from the beginning. I was so captivated by the book that I even was tempted to read it while driving! I would have loved to discuss this one at a book club!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany

    Hands down, this is one of the best books I've read regarding WWII. I read this in two days--I just couldn't put it down. It's about an amazingly brave and courageous Polish woman who is caught between the Russian and German fight for Poland. She has a number of run-ins with Russia's Red Army and survives multiple horrors by them. Then she is sent to a concentration camp but is 'discovered' by a soldier there who mistakenly thinks she is German (she is blond, blue eyed and speaks German that she Hands down, this is one of the best books I've read regarding WWII. I read this in two days--I just couldn't put it down. It's about an amazingly brave and courageous Polish woman who is caught between the Russian and German fight for Poland. She has a number of run-ins with Russia's Red Army and survives multiple horrors by them. Then she is sent to a concentration camp but is 'discovered' by a soldier there who mistakenly thinks she is German (she is blond, blue eyed and speaks German that she learned while as a nurse). She is rescued from the camp, but is forced to work for a German Major. While working as the housekeeper/food service assistant for this German Major at a hotel that houses a number of German soldiers, she puts her own life at risk to help a number of Jews who have been assigned by the Germans to work under her (slave labor of course). She slips them food, blankets, and eventually hides six of them, believe it or not, in a duct in the Major's bathroom. The Major eventually moves to a villa where she hides twelve Jews (including the six at the hotel) right under his very feet in his basement that was it's own living space. The atrocities that she is exposed to by the Germans is horrendous, but she is extremely strong and keeps moving forward with her help to these Jews regardless of the danger to herself. I am always fascinated by these stories of people who went against the 'authority' of their time, especially the Nazi's as they were so brutal, unpredictable and harsh. I guess my fascination comes because I can't imagine myself being that courageous, gutsy or strong. Not that I ever want to find out, but I wonder what I would have done in her situation. I have a fear that I would be weak and look out only for myself. Who knows? Desperate times require desperate measures. I hope I never have to have my character tested in such a way. Absolutely amazing story! More suspenseful and captivating than any fictional book I've ever read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    David

    "...but it was not a bird..." —Irene Opdyke Though I hadn't planned to write a review for this book, it seems fitting to make special mention of it in light of current events. A few days ago White Nationalists celebrated the election of Donald Trump with cheers of "Hail Trump!" accompanied by Nazi salutes in Washington, D.C. http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/a... Irene is recognized as a Righteous Among the Nations by the state of Israel for saving the lives of 12 Jews during the Holocaust. This "...but it was not a bird..." —Irene Opdyke Though I hadn't planned to write a review for this book, it seems fitting to make special mention of it in light of current events. A few days ago White Nationalists celebrated the election of Donald Trump with cheers of "Hail Trump!" accompanied by Nazi salutes in Washington, D.C. http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/a... Irene is recognized as a Righteous Among the Nations by the state of Israel for saving the lives of 12 Jews during the Holocaust. This memoire chronicles the small acts of courage and caring she took in the early days of WWII that helped prepare her for the ultimate risks she took to save innocent lives. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/... The hate-speech and xenophobia paraded throughout the election season was surreal- and has only gotten worse. The thought of Americans making Nazi salutes in the nation's capital is inexplicable and detestable. And there's no real way to predict where this all ends. What Irene presents to us is a story about choices. Each of us has the freedom to choose how we'll respond in the face of hatred or witnessing oppression. The easy thing to do is turn our heads or be oblivious to what is happening. Or, we can choose to follow the example of Irene by looking for opportunities to perform small, meaningful act of kindness to religious, ethnic, or sexual minorities. Only time will tell if the voices of reason and the collective resistance of people of good-will can prevent the spectacle of "Muslim registries" and "deportation squads." In the meantime, I wholeheartedly recommend Irene's memoire. There may be small sections of the book that don't appeal as much to men. However, the conviction and courage displayed by Irene are qualities we all can admire and seek to imitate. (11/21/2016)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jessie

    I was mainly the storey that ripped me through this book, the writing was good, some of her words were so perfect... they said mountains with out saying much or sent a clear perfect message that sat with me. Though some of it felt ... clumsy? Not sure the word I'm looking for there. There were some things I actually really liked that I wouldn't normally in a book, like the way she did not indulge in some of the big events or trauma and stuck with some details that seemed less important... it fel I was mainly the storey that ripped me through this book, the writing was good, some of her words were so perfect... they said mountains with out saying much or sent a clear perfect message that sat with me. Though some of it felt ... clumsy? Not sure the word I'm looking for there. There were some things I actually really liked that I wouldn't normally in a book, like the way she did not indulge in some of the big events or trauma and stuck with some details that seemed less important... it felt like you had more of the sense of a real life with real memories (some that stick randomly and others that can sting you if you get close and inspect them). But it was the storey that stopped me from putting it down... read it veeeery quicky... sometimes a little bit whilst walking (though I promise to refrain from this in future lady in blue t-shirt that pops out quickly from around corners). She has lived an incredible life. Seems like an important storey for people to be reading these days as much as ever... the dangers of group think and stereotyping a little bit always an issue... Thoughts of the Cronulla riots make me feel like beating some people in the head with this book ... which is that other message (we should probably all know any way) that is brutally clear in the book, violence... kinda not ok. Any ways, good book! Read it! Or I'll beat you with me small ineffectual fists.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Julia Ce

    "There was a bird flushed up from the wheat fields, disappearing in a blur if wings against the sun, and then a gunshot and it fell to the earth" I'm not sure if enjoyed is the correct word to describe this book, but I'm very glad I read it. It describes how a 17 year old Polish girl, Irene Gut, became a Holocaust rescuer and how she helped save several Jewish families by hiding them and sneaking them food in the woods, and how she hid another group in a German major's house. "There was a bird flushed up from the wheat fields, disappearing in a blur if wings against the sun, and then a gunshot and it fell to the earth" I'm not sure if enjoyed is the correct word to describe this book, but I'm very glad I read it. It describes how a 17 year old Polish girl, Irene Gut, became a Holocaust rescuer and how she helped save several Jewish families by hiding them and sneaking them food in the woods, and how she hid another group in a German major's house.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Carol Waters

    This is the story of a teenaged girl who grew up during incredibly hard times. She lost her family, her virginity, her career path, her sense of safety, her home. While caught in an impossible situation she began helping others because it was the right thing to do. I read this in the midst of the pandemic when I could not go to work and very likely won't be able to go back, and when fear ruled. She is an excellent example of the need to simply do the next right thing. This is the story of a teenaged girl who grew up during incredibly hard times. She lost her family, her virginity, her career path, her sense of safety, her home. While caught in an impossible situation she began helping others because it was the right thing to do. I read this in the midst of the pandemic when I could not go to work and very likely won't be able to go back, and when fear ruled. She is an excellent example of the need to simply do the next right thing.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Elyse

    This was an amazing book. The bravery, selflessness, and courage of Irene Gutowna is awe-inspiring. She was just a teen when she started fighting for what's right and helping Jews, literally right under the nose of a German major. She sacrificed so much to help the innocent victims and she became a victim herself. It was a fascinating and heartbreaking read (listen!) and I devoured it. Every book about Nazi victims is tragic and it's still shocking what Hitler did even this many years later. It This was an amazing book. The bravery, selflessness, and courage of Irene Gutowna is awe-inspiring. She was just a teen when she started fighting for what's right and helping Jews, literally right under the nose of a German major. She sacrificed so much to help the innocent victims and she became a victim herself. It was a fascinating and heartbreaking read (listen!) and I devoured it. Every book about Nazi victims is tragic and it's still shocking what Hitler did even this many years later. It will always be shocking and it's important to keep writing and talking about it, especially the way things are changing in the United States at this time.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    I finally caught up with the book my sophomore students have been reading these past weeks with their English teacher. Nice to read about some human goodness in the face of darkness.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    Around two weeks ago, I learned from my friend that she had two tickets to go see a new broadway play called "Irena's Vow." I heard that this show was about the Holocaust and had initial thoughts that the play would just be another depressing story about the Holocaust, but I was completely wrong. After the lights went down and came up at the end for the curtain call, I was amazed by the story and portrayal of the polish catholic girl, Irena Gut Opdyke. In the back of the theater, Irena's real da Around two weeks ago, I learned from my friend that she had two tickets to go see a new broadway play called "Irena's Vow." I heard that this show was about the Holocaust and had initial thoughts that the play would just be another depressing story about the Holocaust, but I was completely wrong. After the lights went down and came up at the end for the curtain call, I was amazed by the story and portrayal of the polish catholic girl, Irena Gut Opdyke. In the back of the theater, Irena's real daughters husband was selling the memoir written by the real Irena and I had to buy it. I read the story in a matter of days and was enlightened by Irena's story and her experiences. She was a 14 year old girl at the prime of the Holocaust and found herself working for a German major associated with the Nazi's. She was his housekeeper and had to obey his every command for her own survival in a town where thousands were murdered and sent to concentration camps. He believed that she was German and therefore, she had a steady job working for him. In Irena's previous job, she met a number of Jews working in the basement for the owner of the house and decided to help them escape death and torture. She decided to take them with her to stay underground at the major's house where eventually the 12 Jews were able to escape from the Nazi-ridden town. Irena's courage shined through the text and I was truthfully enlightened by the story. I don't know if I could ever act like Irena and constantly lie to help the Jews remain hidden for almost 2 years. However, from reading this memoir I can now take small aspects of Irena's experiences and learn to help people who are truly in need of the assistance. This woman was incredible and anyone who reads this book and doesn't find her an inspiration is crazy. I enjoyed the technique of point of view the most in this story because the first person aspect of the book made me even more connected to Irena and made me able to continue reading page after page. Also, the vivid detail of Irena's day to day experiences made me feel her pain and want to reach into the text and encourage her to keep going and that she was doing the right thing. I view Irena as a true inspiration and hope that everyone can read (or hear) her story and become more aware of the tales of survival during the Holocaust and know that the holocaust DID happen and that there are people's stories to prove that these horrific events are not fiction.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    Irene was seventeen when World War II started in 1939. The story starts when Irene, the oldest of five sisters, is captured by a German “łapanka." Irene was taken to an area closer to the German-Soviet front. She was forced to work in a munitions factory and soon enough she was moved into a German officer's house to work as his maid. Irene dared to challenge the evil of the Germans, so she began hiding Jewish workers, one at a time, into unimaginable places in the officer's house. She hid them i Irene was seventeen when World War II started in 1939. The story starts when Irene, the oldest of five sisters, is captured by a German “łapanka." Irene was taken to an area closer to the German-Soviet front. She was forced to work in a munitions factory and soon enough she was moved into a German officer's house to work as his maid. Irene dared to challenge the evil of the Germans, so she began hiding Jewish workers, one at a time, into unimaginable places in the officer's house. She hid them in an air duct in the place she worked, in the attic, and even in German major's bathroom. When the areas got too full, she evacuated all of her hideaways to a nearby forest and brought them food for many weeks, stealing small portions from her master's house. She was a risky girl and she knew that one wrong move could cause her her life. I thought this book was absolutely incredible. I don't know how anyone in the whole entire universe could be so courageous. This book was definitely unique in the way that it told about everything that was going on in Irene's head and all of the things that she still vividly remembered. I loved this book and I'm usually not into nonfiction books that are from the Holocaust because they sort of freak me out. While you read a book like this one, there is no way of avoiding the suspense that goes with it. You always feel like she's going to get caught sneaking some Jewish people into her master's house and it worries you. I think this is a good book for people who like thrills, it is an awesome Holocaust story. I don't think you will like it if you don't like nonfiction because sometimes I must admit.. I got a little bit bored reading every thought roaming in her brain. But overall this book was awesome.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kristinn

    As an enthusiast of Jew related stories and WW2, it always breaks my heart to read something like what Irene had experienced. It has been decades since the Holocaust happened, but the memories of the brutality and extermination of Jews are refreshed to the new generation through the accounts of Irene. I cannot compare the experience of Irene to what Ellie Wesel experienced in the hands of the German officers. I can say he suffered much fear, anger, pain and anguish than Irene. Nevertheless, Ellie As an enthusiast of Jew related stories and WW2, it always breaks my heart to read something like what Irene had experienced. It has been decades since the Holocaust happened, but the memories of the brutality and extermination of Jews are refreshed to the new generation through the accounts of Irene. I cannot compare the experience of Irene to what Ellie Wesel experienced in the hands of the German officers. I can say he suffered much fear, anger, pain and anguish than Irene. Nevertheless, Ellie and Irene were both victims of the war, ruthless war. How can I be happy for what they experienced? I say, I am happy that they were able to survive. I am happy they were able to recall everything that they experienced and encountered, and not suffer from any mental loss for all the sufferings. I am happy that they wrote everything they saw, heard and felt. I am happy that I am able to read and feel somehow their sufferings. Thus, it makes me feel blessed to be born in this generation. On the other hand, it is a prayer that such brutality will not happen again.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    This book is just amazing. Irene Opdyke is a hero. And just a small hero at that, but the things she did were filled with bravery, guts, ingenuity and pure unconditional love. This exciting memoir has such an impact on the horrors executed during WWII. Irene was a non-Jew helping to save the lives of a select group of Jews. What was so impacting for me was the horror after horror she witnessed as a teenager, yet it did not daunt her in any way to help poor Jewish people to safety. Although at on This book is just amazing. Irene Opdyke is a hero. And just a small hero at that, but the things she did were filled with bravery, guts, ingenuity and pure unconditional love. This exciting memoir has such an impact on the horrors executed during WWII. Irene was a non-Jew helping to save the lives of a select group of Jews. What was so impacting for me was the horror after horror she witnessed as a teenager, yet it did not daunt her in any way to help poor Jewish people to safety. Although at one time she was raped, which is horrifying, she later purposely became the mistress to an old German Major in order to use his home as a stopping point for her tortured Jews. Irene physically saved just a handful of Jews, but her work and efforts ultimately saved many, many more. We know that there were other Germans who also placed themselves in danger to save Jews and they are all unsung heroes. So if you want to read an amazing story of just one of those heroes, this is the book to read.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie Palmer

    I don't think I could add any more to what has been already said about this book in previous reviews. I was not ready for how compellingly beautiful the telling of the story would be. The first lines of the story draw you in like a magnet: "There was a bird flushed up from the wheat fields, disappearing in a blur of wings against the sun, and then there was a gunshot and it fell to the earth. But it was not a bird. It was not a bird, and it was not in the wheat field, but you can't understand w I don't think I could add any more to what has been already said about this book in previous reviews. I was not ready for how compellingly beautiful the telling of the story would be. The first lines of the story draw you in like a magnet: "There was a bird flushed up from the wheat fields, disappearing in a blur of wings against the sun, and then there was a gunshot and it fell to the earth. But it was not a bird. It was not a bird, and it was not in the wheat field, but you can't understand what it was yet." The story is full of suspense, agony, humor, bravery, compassion, survival, love lost and love gained, and it's a true story! What more could you want? I will buy this book and read it often.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    Amazing story of a young woman who was compelled to help the Polish Jews in her community. She made choices that came from her heart and soul and I would want to be as strong and courageous as this young woman was. The audiobook was perfect because Irene Opdyke, the author spoke before and afterwards and just hearing her voice and what she had to say helped me to really connect to her story.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.