Customer Reviews for

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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  • Posted September 6, 2012

    This book was inspirational! Irene Gut was separated from her fa

    This book was inspirational! Irene Gut was separated from her family when Germany and Russia took over Poland, faced hardships, found her family, was separated from all but her oldest sister, and then started her real mission. What started as throwing some bread into a Jewish Ghetto, quickly escalated to risking her life to save 16 Jews. I could not put this book down! It was amazing to see how one person could do so much. 5 out of 5! I recommend The Boy in Striped Pajamas and My Brothers Voice as well.

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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 July 9, 2012

    Great book!!

    This book became one of favorites. If you like to learn about the holocaust then this is another view point. I couldnt put it down.

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  • Posted June 29, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    I could not put this book down once I began reading it. The stor

    I could not put this book down once I began reading it. The story is touching and describes the willingness of some people to save the Jews. You won't regret reading this book. It will make you take a step back and realize just how blessed you are. I hope nothing like the Holocaust ever happens again. This book describes life in a camp from the perspective of someone other than a laborer. Buy and READ!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2011

    Breathtaking!

    In My Hands was a breathtaking novel about the survival of a 17 year old girl, named Irene, during the holocaust. When her country of Poland was suddenly taken over from both the Germans and the Russians, she is captured and raped. Even after that horrible experience of being a victim, she turns her world around by slowly fighting back and becoming a rescuer.
    I loved this book because there were many emotional tolls in it, but it teaches you about the deeper meaning of life and helps you to grasp the idea of survival that we usually don't need to think about. It has many theories and concepts that will change your life for the better. There are many places, where she almost gets caught smuggling Jews into the woods, but in the end she gets them to safety. I recommend this book for all to read because you get an emotional connection with Irene.not all books have that. Even though she went through different things, it's still very easy to relate to her. All I can say is that I read the book, changed my life, and it will do the same for you.

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  • Posted September 12, 2011

    Heartbreaking and Inspirational

    In My Hands by Irene Gut Opdyke was an informational masterpiece! The book takes you through Irene's personal World War II experience as a native polish, and a student nurse. At only 17 she faces the emotional toll of separation from her family and friends along with getting torn away from her home town, however she also gains connections to friends that lasted a lifetime. She begins as a student nurse but finds herself as part of the polish army and later working as a server in several German hotels and restaurants, along with being a house keeper for a German soldier. Throughout her work she manages to save the lives of several Jewish friends as well as keep herself healthy and safe. Her life saving actions began as just small gestures but resulted in her risking her own life to save others. By the end of the war she has nothing but an amazing, heartbreaking story to tell. Her story contains everything from love and relationships to heartbreaking history. She experiences the stripping of her innocence, and the realization of the world around her and the life she was forced to have. She descriptively tells the story of the severity of the holocaust including the way the Jewish and others suffered. She describes her experience while also describing different conditions some had to live through during those years. The journey she takes you on is remarkable, and the stories she tells about the friends she makes and the hardships she survived are inspirational. She really takes you back to they 1940's and makes you feel like you are separated from your family, your home town, and your innocence. Their wasn't anything dull or slow throughout the entire story. Every piece is lovable and inspirational. As soon as you pick up this book you wont put it down, it was a 10!

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  • Posted September 11, 2011

    A Humbling Book

    The book In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer is an inspiring book that tells the dramatic story of the Holocaust through Irene Gut Opdyke eyes. This book is for people who are interested and intrigued by the history, emotions, and reality for the people involved in the Holocaust. Opdyke's story started at about 17 years old, while in Radom studying for nursing. From there she traveled all over Poland, German, and Russian just to stay alive. Irene was forced to grow up very quickly as a teenager. She learned to protect others and herself, by using her talents and personality to her advantage. One of the things that will stick with me the most is the realistic stories that are retold by Gut. The story revealed facts and information that would never come out any other way than a biography. With all of the negative, pessimistic views during that time it's amazing how Irene stayed so positive and unselfish. In this book unselfishness was the theme that drove the plot of this book, this true story actually. The lessons of unselfishness in this book were shown in action, the willing to do something. This book not only focused on Irene, but also many other good people who felt the will to make an impact on the world. Although this book is about Ms. Gut, I was amazed how many other people stepped up in helping the ones who "shouldn't" be helped. Learning about the Holocaust in grade school and visiting the museum in Washington DC really told what happened from the stand point of facts and information. In My Hands, tells the emotional and personal side of the story. After reading this book I realized more of what it means when a person says, "I survived the Holocaust." Everyone old enough to understand what happened in Europe during this time should read this book to get an even broader view on the subject. Irene does an amazing job telling her life story in such detailed and unforgettable memories. My favorite part of this book was following the ongoing rollercoaster between the protagonists, Irene versus the antagonist, the German Nazi's. Throughout the book the story is interesting and very factual. During some points in the book I thought it was all going to end and in other parts I thought, "You go girl!"One of the things that I didn't like as much about the book was the beginning. It was hard to follow the location of Irene without a map of Europe during the thirties and forties. It would have been useful to have a map of Europe to know specifically where Irene was going. Overall this book is a wonderful and insightful book that makes you think a lot after you are done reading it. When I finished I thought a lot about what I would have done, and honestly I don't know if I would have the courage to do what Irene did. I give this book 5 stars!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2011

    An Inspirational Read You Don't Want to Miss

    In My Hands by Irene Gut Opdyke is a true story which takes place during WWII. Opdyke is only seventeen when, as the war begins, she is a student nurse who gets separated from her family. She describes the many risks she took in protecting the lives of friends and strangers alike. In My Hands is written in a descriptive format with a mixture of languages which is both entertaining and easy to read. The suspense is intense as Opdyke describes hiding Jews with the threat of death hanging over her head. The message is clear: it is about the triumph of good over evil. Opdyke did not start out to become a hero, she found herself in this role as events unfolded in front of her and as she says at one point, "Every step of my childhood had brought me to this crossroad; I must take the right path, or I would no longer be myself." This is a book which will keep your attention from beginning to end; you will laugh and you will cry. Anyone looking for a true story of human courage and compassion should read this book. This reviewer found nothing to dislike about this book and gives it an overall rating of "Must Read."

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Outstanding and Inspirational

    Life altering and straight forward, Opdyke really shows the reader the hard truth about life during the holocaust. The author emphasizes the difficult choices she had to make and her thoughts through all of it. When I read this book I honestly felt like I was literally apart of Irene and when Irene was upset so was I and when she was scared I was scared for her. This book outlines Irene's life throughout the holocaust and how she was able to take advantage of people she knew for the sake of many Jewish people whom she saved. Irene was seventeen when she went off to volunteer at a hospital, it was at this time that she was stuck in the woods with other refugees and got lost and abused by Russian officers. At the age of seventeen Irene started making decisions even full grown people never have to make and she went through way more than any teenage girl goes through in a lifetime. After escaping near death, Irene was able to use her charm to take refuge as a Nazi major's housekeeper and put her own life at risk so she could save the life of the innocent. Irene started out small with hiding food under a fence for Jews and continuously progressed until she successfully hid twelve Jewish people in the basement of a German official's house Because of her fast thinking and outstanding virtues Irene was able to accomplish what some people would say are miracles. Throughout this book I felt petrified, happy and horrified all in one reading because of the description and point of view it's hard not to be scared for Irene as she smuggles Jewish people around while there is a Nazi officer not 4 feet away. In My Hands brings up how one should never lose sight of what they truly believe and that one person really can make a difference and change lives. This is an inspiring book about resistance and having the courage to challenge ideas. If you love books about people sticking up for their beliefs, great adventure tales rimmed with romance or books about the Holocaust you have to read this fantastic 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

    Inspirational!

    This intense and inspiring read follows a 16 year old girl who was enforced from her home and her Polish family during the horrifying times of WWII. Irene Gutowna was required to work for a German Soldier and the rest of his men in the quarters/ hotel as his personal servant. Irene was not in favor of what was happening to the Jewish people. While serving the General and his men she was secretly giving food to the Jewish prisoners under the Ghetto. She then began to bring them into the house and hide them from the General. Irene managed to save amounts of people at only age 16 and 17. This one girl made a difference and took a stance to help those who truly needed it and were a part of something completely dreadful and unnecessary. There are numerous themes throughout the book for instance courage is definitely one of them and the power to make a difference and it coming from only one person. Basically the message of the story is anyone can do anything no matter what the size. What I personally enjoyed about this book was the fact that this girl risked her own life she even got caught once, to save the lives of many people. It was inspiring and while reading it you also learn so much about how peoples live drastically changed during this time periods and all of the hardships people had to overcome. For instance having to leave their homes to go work like Irene had too or being completely separated from their family and knowing that they most likely won't see their families ever again. It is a tragic but yet uplifting story in a way that the actions that were taking place were extremely tragic but knowing that there were people who were trying to save these innocent people. Readers who enjoy a little suspense, happiness and sadness all put together to make one book this book is most definitely for you. This book made me release the power of making a difference and understanding the life's that these people were forced to live. In my hands was inspiring and is a great read that will keep you interested and hey you might learn something.

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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 11, 2011

    Gripping Intensity and Reality

    In My Hands by Irene Gut Opdyke with Jennifer Armstrong is a thrilling autobiography about a brave polish girl who is determined to help the victims of the Holocaust. Irene works for a Nazi Major as his housekeeper, which puts her in a very dangerous position. However, this does not stop her from helping her Jewish friends. She smuggles a group of Jews into the forest to join a group of resistance fighters, and cares for a group of them in the Major's basement for over two years. Later she goes on to become a spy for the resistance group. This book is about the amazing triumphs of one girl in the midst of a Nazi army. No one says it better than Irene herself, "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 small: I had begun by hiding food under a fence." This book is a page turner and gets you up close and personal to the real horrors and emotions of the Holocaust. The way Irene so vividly describes her situations and the feelings of what she is going through is truly entrancing. I loved that this book gave a different view of the holocaust. Everyone hears the stories of the survivors but it is rare to hear a story of a rescuer. This book evoked real emotions in me and I was shocked at how much I related to the characters and the experiences they had to go through. The way In My Hands is written does a wonderful job of really allowing the reader to feel what Irene felt and to imagine what she saw. When you open the pages it's as if you are dropped right into the scene, standing right next to her. I learned so much from reading this book and I would highly suggest it to anybody that is interested in the Holocaust. There are some pretty graphic scenes throughout the book and some mature content so I would not suggest this book to immature readers. In most books I would say that the graphic scenes are not necessary but in this book I completely agree with the author's choice to include these scenes. I really enjoyed In My Hands and I believe it will touch everyone's hearts and help to better the reader.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2011

    A touching must read!

    I can't normally sit down and read a book for a long period of time, but this book was definitely an exception. It's about a girl named Irene who is Polish. All of her troubles begin when she gets recruited to help as a nurse in the war. She gets captured and runs into problem after problem. A large portion of the book she is separated from her family and doesn't usually know if they're okay or where they are. She continually puts herself in bad positions just to help others in need, while fully aware that she could be brutally punished, even killed, for what she's doing. She is a very strong and caring girl. Her life is the least of her worries when it comes to her friends, family and everyone else who's struggling. I read this book in two nights, something I have never done with any other book before. This book continued to draw me in even further page after page. The author, who is the main character in the book, uses very descriptive words and paints unbelievable pictures in your mind. I had to read over some parts multiple times and make sure I had read what I thought I read. Everything those people had to go through was absolutely, 100% awful. If I were Irene, I'd be in tears every minute wishing I were somewhere else. I loved how she worded her story so it made you feel as if it was actually happening to you, a perspective that some stories don't give you. A majority of this book was very sad and for many, it would be hard to read. If you like reads that are uplifting or funny throughout the entire book, this probably wouldn't be a good choice for you. This book would be a suitable choice for anyone who is interested in the holocaust and/or survival stories. There were moments when I couldn't sit still, afraid for the character because you put yourself in her position and it becomes very suspenseful. This book is heartbreaking, tear-jerking, touching, and inspirational. Her story will truly make you put things into perspective because there are not a lot of things that can compare to the tragedy these people had to endure. I felt that the purpose of this story was to inform people about what happened during WWII and to tell us that even when things seem at their worst; it's never worth giving up. Irene Gut Opdyke is an ideal example of what it looks like to be a hero.

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  • Posted September 9, 2011

    Amazing story- great read!!!

    This book is a heartwrenching yet rewarding tale of a girl who, while having to keep herself safe, kept the live of sixteen other Jewish people safe during the Holocaust. Irene Opdyke is a young polish girl who was age seventeen at the time of Hitler's invasion, and as the war progressed, Irene's family was torn apart and her life started falling to pieces. She overcame many harsdships such as being raped, loosing her family, and getting taken advatage of, but even with these harships she managed to rescue the Jews by bringing them food and places to hide. I found this book to be very inspiring and quite an interesting read. It really shows you how, even with the hatred from the Nazis, there is still some compassion out there in the world and there always will be. What makes this book so interesting is how it's a true story and how its told from Irene's point of view. It really helps you to understand what she was going through but at the same time leaves you in shock that such horrible things could happen to such a young girl. Irene's bravery and courage throughout the novel is truly inspiring and as you're reading the book you find yourslef wondering how you would of handled the situation. Would you have had the courage that Irene had? Or would you have remained silent and left the Jews to die. This book is really great for readers with an interest in World War Two, or even just disasters that occurred in the history of our world. I've always been fascinated by the Holocaust, so I really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it. It gives you an idea of what it must have been like to live during World War two and helps you to understand what these people must of gone through. If you are not a fan of non fiction, you may not have any interest in reading this story, but even so I would still highly recommend it. The only thing I did not enjoy about this book was how vivid it was. At times I felt uncomfortable reading certain parts, like I was spying on someone, but I also think that's part of what really helps you to connect with the book. If you do not like books that are so detailed they make you uncomfotable, I would not recommend this book for you. Other than that it turned out to be a great read and an amazing story of a yound, caring, wonderful girl who followed her heart and saved the lives of many people.

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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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  • Posted July 13, 2011

    Brilliantly written.

    This book was one of the best books i have ever read. This young woman went through so much im surprised ahe could bring it up again. Its women like her that gives you assurance that there is a God.

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  • Posted July 9, 2011

    Exellnt Excellent.....and well written JPDuffer

    Nothing but complete admiration for that extraordinary woman.

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  • Posted June 2, 2011

    Great book

    Sometimes i wonder why im blessed with plenty when things like this happen in the world. Its unfair.

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  • Posted April 1, 2011

    absolutely unforgettable

    Bitterly truthful and yet beautifully written. The reality of her story makes it all the more heart-wrenching. Leaves you asking how far you would go if you were in the same position. Highly recommended!

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