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In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

Absolutely Inspirational!

The book In My Hands: Memoires of a Holocaust Rescuer, tells the inspiring tale of a young Polish girl, Irene Gut, and how she became a Holocaust rescuer. Irene was a seventeen-year-old, Catholic girl living in Poland at the time of Hitler's invasion in 1939. As the wa...
The book In My Hands: Memoires of a Holocaust Rescuer, tells the inspiring tale of a young Polish girl, Irene Gut, and how she became a Holocaust rescuer. Irene was a seventeen-year-old, Catholic girl living in Poland at the time of Hitler's invasion in 1939. As the war progressed, Irene's family, country and life apart began to be torn apart Through small actions at first, Irene strived to help the Jews. She began with simply smuggling food to the Jews in the neighboring ghetto. Irene's impact quickly turned into much more when she ultimately risked her own life in order to save the lives of 16 other Jews. This book displayed the horrors of World War II, but also the compassion of people during the war. Through the vividly described events and scenes, the reader is drawn in and allowed to feel the emotions that could only be felt, not seen. Her tale gives realism to the Holocaust that I had never experienced before. Overall, I completely adored this book. I could hardly put it down! There was not a single part that I disliked or would change. The plot is constantly thickening and always throwing new obstacles in the way of Irene. Her story is an inspiration to all those that read it and carries strong themes of patriotism and courage. Despite her young age or how bad circumstances looked, Irene never gave up on herself or her country. Her courage is an example of how everyone can do something, despite how small, to change the world. Although this novel is categorized as young adult, I would encourage people of all ages to read it. There is a lesson to learn by everyone within these pages. Overall I would give this book a 5 out of 5 star rating. Other recommended readings similar to this book would include The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas by John Boyne and The Diary of Anne Frank.

posted by KS24 on September 30, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Not cool

This book sucks

posted by Anonymous on March 7, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2008

    Close and personal story

    I read this book when I begin to be interested in World War II and this close, personal story puts you there in the action. It is unforgivingly real and true to this woman's story and life. If you have read Anne Frank, you will want to read this more mature, yet heart-breakingly similiar memoir of life in the face of absolute hatred.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2014

    My Book Review Book title and author:  In my Hands   Memories of

    My Book Review
    Book title and author: 
    In my Hands   Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer by Irene Gut Opdyke with Jennifer Armstrong
    Title of review: The Savoir for Jews
    Number of stars (1 to 5): 4

    Have you ever read this book? This book was a very hard to understand book for me, but if you are smart them it will be perfect for you. The main idea was that there was this girl named Irene Gut and she lived in Kozience. She had a bad start when the war started by she was polish and could not speak German.  She started working for a person that taught German and would teach her. Irene was blond hair and blue eyes and spoke German.  Irene helps Jews and tries giving them food. In the review I will tell you about the theme, plot, style, and much more.

    Description and summary of content
    The author was Irene Gut Opdyke she was the girl that tried helping the Jews.  After the war she had started to tell about what she had seen and what she was trying to do to help the Jews.  She would watch babies being thrown in the air and shot at like who can get the baby’s head shot. She had to watch some important people in her life get taken away to go in concentration camps. 

    The main characters in the story are Irene Gut, her mother, her father, soldiers that took Irene, the workers that helped Irene. The plot over the story is how this girl named Irene Gut tried helping the Jews by getting them food out the window and because she has blue eyes and blond hair, also could speak German, but she was polish. Some quotations are “This could happen to you!” That is what the guard would tell the Jews when they beat one to death for breaking the rules. The setting over this story is in Germany and in Svetlana, but Irene moved everywhere from work with Major Rugermer. The theme of the story is even though she is not a German; she still tried helping people by costing her life on the line. The style of the story is when Irene is crazy by helping Jews when she barely passed as a German.

    conclusion In this review I told you about all those things and many more. This girl named Irene is a wonderful person and a savior to the Jews. People could have died over things that Irene did to try to save them. She put people lives in danger by helping them.  She was really nice to try and help the Jews. Although she could not be able to get food she tried her best on giving food away by tossing it out of a window for the camps to get the food. Almost everyone who is smart and will understand the book should read it, I should not cause it is a little out of my vocabulary by having large words.

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  • Posted September 9, 2012

    An amazing read! A little disturbing but amazing! I would highly

    An amazing read! A little disturbing but amazing! I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for an exciting adventure that also incorporates the gruesome but interesting history of World War Two. This story is about a young Polish girl who loses everything she held dear to her but still comes out of the war stronger than she was before. The main character is Irene, who smuggles Jews and keeps as many as she can safe throughout the course of the war. Irene acts as a double agent. This book’s main theme is great strength. Irene proves that anyone can do anything they put their minds to. I loved Irene’s character and the adventure she went through. I didn’t like the gruesome and disturbing details of the book. However, I think they were necessary to this book. The author created an amazing read by incorporating the horrifying details of the book with the amazing attributes and successes of Irene. One may not enjoy this book if they are disturbed by gory details. I would also recommend the book Night by Eli Wiesel. I would rate this book a 7out of 10. Very good read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2012

    More to come

    Read the sample and cant wait to read the whole book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Deeply-Touching, Brilliantly Written

    In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer vividly recounts the disturbing horrors of the Holocaust, yet illustrates an underlying sense of patriotism, courage, and selflessness. Irene Gut was only a seventeen-year-old Catholic girl when the Nazis invaded the Poland she loved. Her training as a nurse was immediately terminated, and when the opportunity arose to fight and resist the German soldiers, Irene did not hesitate.

    As an innocent young woman, she was fully immersed into a foreign world of terror as she was violently abused and left to die by Russian soldiers. She escaped into German territory where she was forced to work for the German army, including in the home of a Nazi officer. As housekeeper for the officer, she was relatively secure; however, with access to food and valuable information, she risked her life in order to smuggle nourishment and information to the Jews in the ghetto. Irene's ultimate endeavor was to hide a dozen Jews in the home of the German officer she was working for.

    Irene's story is brilliantly told with an ideal balance between describing the surreal atrocities of the Holocaust and providing a message of strength, hope, and courage. Readers will find Irene's outlook on life inspirational, despite the unimaginable struggles she went through. This book is very touching and allows the reader to imagine for a moment if they were in Irene's shoes, or in the shoes of someone she rescued.

    I personally have a strong interest in history, particularly in World War II and the Holocaust, so I was immediately drawn and intrigued by this book. From the very first pages to the end, my interest was sustained throughout the entire book, and I believe I gained a greater knowledge of not only the Holocaust, but of life. The book was very intimate and emotional but did not drag on or fail to point out key historical information about the Holocaust. I would urge someone to read this not only because the Holocaust is an important event that should never be forgotten, but because the messages of compassion and sacrifice are absolutely profound.

    Overall, In My Hands was deeply-motivating and inspiring, and I would recommend it for any teenager or adult!

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  • Posted September 11, 2011

    Fantastic Book

    In My Hands in a tremendously inspirational book. It has a pretty slow start, but once it gets into talking about what started to happen during the Holocaust, it was excellent and grabbed my attention. This book causes you to explorer deeper into thought and the history of the World. Irene Gut Opdke was an incredibly brave woman who cared more about other people than her own self every day she was alive. She was constantly putting herself at a high risk to save others, like the 16 Jews she kept hidden in the basement of the General's house she was working for. In My Hands shows you that not only the Jewish population suffered from the war, but everyone else in the country suffered too. The Polish lost their land, their houses, and their families; because they were being captured and forced to work for the German soldiers, but little did they know that once all the Jewish were dead, they would be the ones being killed next. The story of Irene can inspire and warm the hearts of many people. She was very daring, and went against many rules, but she did it for an extremely superior cause. In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer, taught me more than the obvious about the war. I learned that by being a young lady, you weren't treated with the most respect, and being Polish did not help. I find it completely incredible that even after everything that she had been through, she never gave up. Even after the German general she was working for, found two of the Jewish women in his house, she found a way to keep them there, even if she was not proud of what she had to do. becoming the general's mistress. Irene has inspired me to always consider others, before I think of myself, and to help the people that are in need of help. She had found a way to help as many Jews as possible, starting with small things like smuggling food under the fence of a neighboring 'Ghetto'. Then starting to do things that had a higher risk like, hiding people in a general's air vent. By reading Irene's story, I have truly learned that there are people out there that are willing to put themselves in danger, as long they can save the lives of others. In My Hands, was an intense book, talking about the horror of the war, and what people were going through just to live another day in their home land. It causes you to wonder how someone could even start something as huge as killing people just because of their religion. You don't want to believe that everything you're reading is true, but you know that it is. I really enjoyed In My Hands, and I know that other people would too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2011

    Fantastic read- Based on a true story!

    Irene Opdyke didn't publish this book for fame or for money, but to tell her own tale as a Holocaust Rescuer. Her small but heartfelt deeds brought comfort and hope to those being exterminated by the Nazi party during WWII. It all started by simply smuggling food into a starving ghetto, to hiding Jews in the basement of a Nazi General. Irene committed the acts she did because she saw it as the right thing to do and her perception of her actions is very humble. In reality, her acts were quite courageous and heroic. From working as a nurse, to being raped, and then forced to work under the Nazis, Irene constantly held her own for the sake of others. She thinks of her family often and is more concerned about their safety and well-being then her own. Her story of saving over 16 people and not trying to save herself is such an empowering story, revealing the selflessness of her deeds and acts that were not uncommon but somewhat overlooked compared to the liberators of the concentration camps and soldiers. Irene Opdyke was her own kind of soldier, one of many who found the strength within themselves to go above and beyond their persons and help those less fortunate of themselves. When you read this novel, her message of selflessness becomes clearer with the turn of every suspenseful page.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2010

    No one can do everything, but everyone can do something

    Selfishness is not an option for Irene Gut. Heading into war against Germany when she was only a 16 year old polish student nurse, she encounters many situations that most people couldn't even begin to imagine. By the age of 20, she had been raped nearly two times, been seperated from her whole family,taken as a Russian Prisioner Of War, seen men and woman killed, not only by soldiers, but also by themselves, she helped the polish soldiers with their wounds, but what hit her the hardest was what the German Officers really did to the Jews. "Behold, the worst thing man can do." That was the start of her journey, donig the most dangerous thing a person could do at the time. She snuck food to the Jews, helped them escape and hid some in a German Officials own home. The message I recieved form "In My Hands" is to stand up for what you believe in, even if it isn't what the people around you believe Also to do whatever power is 'in your hands' and whatever you're capable of to help out the innocent. Irene puts herself LAST when it comes to anyone else whether it was when she was a prisoner or just with her family. I do not recommend this book for young readers like the site has, I think it should be for high school and up just because of it's sort of graphic nature and hard situations to read about. If you like reading about the holocaust, I know I do, I'd recommend "Boy in the stripped pajamas," but I warn you, be prepared to cry.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2010

    Irony, religion, and power.

    This book was absolutely phenomenal! It was by far, the best non-fiction book I've ever read. There wasn't one part that I didn't like. The book was about Irene Gut Opdyke and her "adventures" throughout the Holocaust and the war. From the beginning of the book to the end, Irene never gives up her fight to save the Jews (in some interesting ways that are extremely unexpected). Where most people would save themselves and try to get away from the war, she gives up her life and devotes it to saving her friends. Irene is the most unselfish person I've ever heard of. It's ironic that when something bad happens to her she'd blame God, but in the end, it's obvious that God was by her side the entire time. Another reoccurring theme is power, and how much Irene has for just being a girl. She basically finds a way to work the system and uses her advantages to get what she wants and to help save people. Overall, I highly recommend this book. Once you start reading it you won't be able to put it down.

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  • Posted December 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This book has a great lesson about forgetting selfishness.

    Irene Gut-Opdyke wrote the autobiography "In My Hands" about her survival, work force, and her helpfulness during World War 2. I personally believe the title, "In My Hands" comes from the over 13 Jews she hid and how they were always in her care, and that they relied on her. She was a housekeeper/cook. She jumped at the chance to work here because it was not as tiring and much easier to hide her friends, over her old job, packing ammunition. Who wouldn't? She begins helping the Jews by hiding food under the fence. Bringing food to her friends in the laundry room. Creating a temporary "hide away" room. Hiding them in the Major's bathroom. Eventually hiding them in the forest and the Major's basement! Starting out little and getting bigger. "If you are only a girl, this is how you destroy your enemies." Said Irene. I thought the reoccurring theme was, "Put others before yourself." A part that really stuck out to be was, "It took no time to hang them. No time at all. First these people were alive. Then they were dead." Irene really inspired me because she never showed one sign of selfishness. She knew every move she made could have a bullet to the head. She didn't care; she wanted to save those men and woman because she felt like she had too. I also really liked Major Rugemer because he had found out that Irene was hiding Jews in his house, but did not tell his SS friends about it. This shows basic humanity and when given the choice, you should choose the right one. Throughout Irene's journey, she had too many adrenalin pumping experiences. What would you have done? Would you have helped the Jews? Risked your own life? Overall, I really enjoyed the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2004

    memories of a holocaust rescuer

    irene was born in 1922 to polish catholic family, was 17 years old she hide 12 jews frome the german officers.she stoled food for ghetto jews and she became a houskeeper where she hide the jews at.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2002

    A teaching book for teenage kids!

    I am 15 years old and I am doing UIL. I was looking for a prose peice to read and I decided to look at the Holocaust. This is a great book and I would recommend it to anybody.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2001

    The Best School Book That I Ever Read

    This book shows a different angle of life during the war. It is a must read! I recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a book that doesn't get boring and keeps you at the edge of your seat.

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