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In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer

In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer

4.5 161
by Irene Gut Opdyke

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IRENE GUT WAS just 17 in 1939, when the Germans and Russians devoured her native Poland. Just a girl, really. But a girl who saw evil and chose to defy it.

“No matter how many Holocaust stories one has read, this one is a must, for its impact is so powerful.”—School Library Journal, Starred

A Book Sense Top Ten Pick<


IRENE GUT WAS just 17 in 1939, when the Germans and Russians devoured her native Poland. Just a girl, really. But a girl who saw evil and chose to defy it.

“No matter how many Holocaust stories one has read, this one is a must, for its impact is so powerful.”—School Library Journal, Starred

A Book Sense Top Ten Pick

A Publisher’s Weekly Choice of the Year’s Best Books

A Booklist Editors Choice

Editorial Reviews

Few anti-Nazis could match the spunk of Irene Gut Opdyke. Not only did this spindly Polish teenager steel food for ghetto Jews from a German officers' club; she smuggled Jews out of work camps and, most daringly of all, hid a dozen fugitives in the home of Nazi major, for whom she worked as a housekeeper!
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Even among WWII memoirs--a genre studded with extraordinary stories--this autobiography looms large, a work of exceptional substance and style. Opdyke, born in 1922 to a Polish Catholic family, was a 17-year-old nursing student when Germany invaded her country in 1939. She spent a year tending to the ragtag remnants of a Polish military unit, hiding out in the forest with them; was captured and raped by Russians; was forced to work in a Russian military hospital; escaped and lived under a false identity in a village near Kiev; and was recaptured by the Russians. But her most remarkable adventures were still to come. Back in her homeland, she, like so many Poles, was made to serve the German army, and she eventually became a waitress in an officers' dining hall. She made good use of her position--risking her life, she helped Jews in the ghetto by passing along vital information, smuggling in food and helping them escape to the forest. When she was made the housekeeper of a German major, she used his villa to hide 12 Jews--and, at enormous personal cost, kept them safe throughout the war. In translating Opdyke's experiences to memoir (see Children's Books, June 14), Armstrong and Opdyke demonstrate an almost uncanny power to place readers in the young Irene's shoes. Even as the authors handily distill the complexities of the military and political conditions of wartime Poland, they present Irene as simultaneously strong and vulnerable--a likable flesh-and-blood woman rather than a saint. Telling details, eloquent in their understatement, render Irene's shock at German atrocities and the gradually built foundation of her heroic resistance. Metaphors weave in and out, simultaneously providing a narrative structure and offering insight into Irene's experiences. Readers will be riveted--and no one can fail to be inspired by Opdyke's courage. Ages 10-up. (Aug.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Irene Gut, a student nurse, was living in Poland when the Nazis invaded. Later she became a Russian prisoner; still later she was a German prisoner. Even as she endured personal violence, she witnessed the Jewish population suffering their own horrors. For no reason that she could explain, she was compelled to help the Jews. She began by providing food surreptitiously. Soon she provided some Jews with a safe work environment. Eventually she hid 12 people in the basement of a German major's villa. As she moved around, she had one thought, to find her family; but it was not until many years after the war that she would accomplish this goal. As the war ended, it was all the souls she had helped who helped her. They fed her, hid her and helped her to move on with her life. This memoir offered another perspective on WW II. Irene performed heroic tasks without any thought of her own safety or well-being. She did it because she knew she had to or people would die. Her good deeds were repaid as those she had helped came back to help her later. Some pictures and two pronunciation guides as well as a historical note are included. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1999, Random House, Anchor, 248p. map. 21cm. 98-54095., $12.00. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Robin S. Holab-Abelman; White Plains, NY , July 2001 (Vol. 35, No. 4)
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-An amazing, courageous, uplifting autobiography (Knopf) about a brave teenager who was not afraid to get involved. Irene Gut Opdyke, Polish national, although homesick and separated from her own family, found herself in the right place during World War II to help at least 12 Jews survive the Nazi occupation. The author herself introduces the tape providing insight into her motivation. Her older voice contrasts nicely with the unaccented, talented, youthful film and Broadway actress, Hope Davis, who reads the first person memoir. Davis' expressive voice is gentle, effectively portraying Irene's personality. Although she relates emotional scenes, she remains detached so that the story can be told. The narration flows quickly and keeps listeners eagerly awaiting more. Davis expertly pronounces the many foreign names without hesitation. Opdyke's memoir is especially good for young people because she shows how one young person can make a significant difference. She recognizes that not all Germans were hateful. Although she refers to violence, there are very few graphic scenes. A wonderful addition to Holocaust collections.-Claudia Moore, W.T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Horn Book Magazine
Many wartime memories, including a brutal rape at the hands of the advancing Russian soldiers, haunt Polish teenager Irene Gutowna. But none more than the vision of a Jewish baby thrown into the air like a bird and shot. Irene's story-from happy eldest of four daughters to laborer in a German officer's mess hall to member of the Resistance-makes for gripping reading. Witness to the Germans' answer to the "Jewish problem," Irene begins to "not do nothing." She works, at first in small ways, against its evil; ultimately, she risks her own life by hiding twelve Jewish friends in the home of the Nazi major who employs her. Irene takes joy in the secret knowledge that, because of her, her town is not judenrein (free of Jews) as the Nazis proclaim. When the major discovers her betrayal, the reader's breath stops. Unfortunately, in an attempt to transform Irene's life into art, Jennifer Armstrong imposes upon it language whose beauty works against the horrific events she narrates, lessening rather than extending its force. Perhaps inspired by the fragment of the poem "Portrait of a Woman" by Wislawa Szmborska that serves as epigraph (she "holds in her hands a sparrow with a broken wing"), Armstrong creates bird and flight imagery that gives structure to a story whose truest understanding evades any meaning or structure. But despite the novelistic flourishes, the power of Irene's true story keeps the reader spellbound. The postscript that details, in words and photographs, the bittersweet histories of Irene and her Jewish "family" comes as a welcome relief.
Kirkus Reviews
Opdyke opens her story with her parents' first meeting in 1921, closes with a 1949 invitation to emigrate to the US, and in between straightforwardly, with restrained passion, lays out a strong tale of innocence burned away by repeated atrocity, of courage fueled by anger and opportunity. A teenaged student nurse separated from her Polish family, the narrator goes from caring for wounded to waiting tables in a German officers' mess and being a German major's housekeeper, but not before being sexually assaulted by Russian and German soldiers alike, arrested and interrogated, and witnessing systematic massacres and casual brutality. Unable to stand by, she contrives to shelter 12 Jews in the cellar of her employer's own villa, and helps them escape into the wild; in the war's closing months, she joins the Polish Resistance. Although there is evil in plenty here, Opdyke does not see all of her enemies as utter monsters, and with Armstrong seamlessly filling in the inevitable gaps in 50-year-old memories, she paints a coherent, compelling picture of her times, and of the moral necessity that compelled her to action. (b&w photos) (Biography. 13-15)

From the Publisher
"Powerful and life-affirming, this is the kind of exciting memoir that marks a reader forever." -- The Plain Dealer

"Even among WWII memoirs--a genre studded with extraordinary stories--this autobiography looms large, a work of exceptional substance and style." --Publishers Weekly, starred

"Opdyke uses simple direct language to demystify the concept of heroism and depict courage as a matter of basic human decency well within the capabilities of ordinary humans." -- The Washington Post Book World 

Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
The motivation for people to do good in the face of ultimate evil is a mystery never completely explained. In terms of the Holocaust, such people are referred to as “Righteous Among the Nations.” No human being is more deserving of this title than Irene Gut Opdyke. A young nursing student when the Russians first invaded her beloved Poland, Irene was caught by the invaders, raped, and abandoned to her fate. The ministrations of a Jewish doctor and his sister allow Irene to slowly recover and resume her work as a nurse. Attacked by a German officer, Opdyke escapes and tries to return home. She is captured again, this time by the Germans, and enslaved. Her housekeeping skills and her blonde, Aryan appearance gain her a position a housekeeper to an SS Colonel. She uses her position to alert Jews in an adjoining ghetto to imminent ethnic cleansing forays so that some could flee. She also finds a way to conceal ten Jews in the basement of the villa where she works. However, when her hidden “family” is discovered, Irene trades their safety for her own honor and becomes mistress to the German officer. Rereading this book only serves to emphasize the innate strength and light of the Righteous in a time of ultimate darkness. “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 his screaming mother, and the officer shot his mother, too.” With immorality surrounding her, Irene remains grounded in faith, strength, and love. Emotionally stunning and powerful, Irene’s story should be at the top of every book club list or high school discussion on altruism and its current relevance. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross; Ages 14 up.

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
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Random House
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5 MB
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Villa

The instant I was able to get away after breakfast, I walked to the villa as quickly as I could -- quickly enough to put a stitch in my side and to break a sweat in the heat. I unlocked the door and burst inside, dreading the sound of painters bumping ladders against the furniture. But it was silent. I was in time -- assuming that my friends were indeed waiting in the basement. The smell of cabbage and potatoes lingered in the air.

Almost fearing what I might find, I opened the basement door and clattered down the stairs, my shoes making a racket on the wooden steps. "Hoo-ee! It's Irene!" I called out.

The first room was empty. Trying not to worry, I opened the door to the furnace room, praying to find my six friends -- and Henry Weinbaum. The door creaked as it swung open into the gloom, and I called out again.

"It's Irene!"

There was an almost audible sigh of relief. One by one, figures emerged from the shadows: Ida, Lazar, Clara, Thomas, Fanka, Moses Steiner, and a young, handsome fellow I took to be Henry Weinbaum. I shook hands with them all silently, suddenly overcome with emotion. They were all there; they were safe and alive. And then, to my surprise, I found three strangers, who greeted me with an odd mixture of sheepishness and defiance.

"I'm Joseph Weiss," the eldest of the three said. "And this is Marian Wilner and Alex Rosen. Henry told us."

For a moment I was at a loss. I had ten lives in my hands now! But there wasn't time for lengthy introductions. The soldiers from the plant were due any minute to start painting.

"Hurry, everyone," I said. "You'll have to stay in the attic until the house is painted. I'll check on you as often as I can. I don't need to tell you not to make any noise at all."

This was met with grim nods all around. Then we made our way upstairs. The attic was musty; dust swirled in a shaft of light from the high window, and the air smelled of mouse droppings. "Shoes off," I said. "Don't walk around unless you absolutely must."

I locked them in just as trucks ground to a halt out on the street.

I kicked the basement door shut on my way to let in the soldiers, and then unlocked the front door.

"This way," I said, stepping aside to usher them in with their painting equipment and drop cloths. When I glanced outside, I saw the major climbing out of a car.

"Guten Tag, Irene," he called cheerily.

I bobbed my head. "Herr Major."

"This is splendid," he said, rubbing his hands together as he came inside. "I'll move in in a week or so, when all the painting and repairs are finished, but in the meantime, I'd like you to move in right away, so that you can oversee things. Don't worry about your duties at the hotel -- if you can serve dinner, Schulz can manage without you the rest of the time."

As he spoke, Major Rügemer strolled back and forth across the hallway, glancing into the rooms and nodding his approval. His footsteps echoed off the walls, and he muttered, "Ja, ja, ausgezeichnet," under his breath. Then, when another truckload of soldiers arrived, he went outside to meet them and show them around the garden: There were renovations to be made on the grounds, as well. I stood at the dining room window, watching him point out the gazebo and indicate which shrubs and trees should be removed and where new ones should be planted. Behind me, I could hear the painters beginning to shove furniture across the floors, exchanging jokes and commenting on the weather and the sour cabbagey smell left behind by the previous tenants. I heard one of them say "...the major's girlfriend."

I gritted my teeth and prepared to spend the day keeping the soldiers away from the attic.

For the next few days, while the soldiers swarmed around the villa -- painting, repairing, replanting -- I contrived to smuggle food upstairs to the attic. I took fruit and cheese, cold tea, bread and nuts. I also took up two buckets to use for toilets. The attic was stuffy with the heat of summer, but we were reluctant to open the one window high on the wall. The fugitives had accustomed themselves to much more discomfort than this. They were willing to sit in the stifling heat, not speaking, just waiting. At night, when the workmen were gone and I had returned from the hotel, I was able to give my friends some minutes of liberty. They used the bathroom, stretched their legs, and bathed their sweating faces with cool water. But we did not turn on any lights, and we were still as silent as ghosts.

It wasn't long before the servants' quarters had been completely refurbished; I had seen to that. Telling the workmen that the major had ordered the work to be done from bottom to top, I directed them to start with the basement. Then, when it was finished, I waited until dark and triumphantly escorted my friends to their new quarters, fresh with the smell of sawdust and new paint instead of old cooking.

It was the start of a new way of life for all of us. Several of the men, being handy and intelligent, were able to rig up a warning system. A button was installed in the floor of the front entry foyer, under a faded rug. From it, a wire led to a light in the basement, which would flicker on and off when I stepped on the button. I kept the front door locked at all times, and when I went to see who might be knocking, I had ample opportunity to signal to the people in the basement. One flash would warn them to stand by for more news. Two flashes meant to be very careful, and constant flashing meant danger -- hide immediately. We had also found the villa's rumored hiding place: A tunnel led from behind the furnace to a bunker underneath the gazebo. If there was serious danger, everyone could instantly scramble into the hole and wait for me to give them the all clear. The cellar was kept clear of any signs of occupation. Once the men had killed all the rats living in the bunker under the gazebo, it could accommodate all ten people without too much discomfort.

There was food in plenty; Schulz kept the major's kitchen stocked with enough to feed a platoon, and once again, I could not help wondering if he had an inkling of what I was doing. I was also able to go to the Warenhaus whenever I needed to, for cigarettes, vodka, sugar, extra household goods, anything the major might conceivably need for entertaining in his new villa. Of course, the soldiers who ran the Warenhaus had no way of knowing that half of what I got there went directly into the basement, and I was certainly not going to tell them!

The basement was cool even in the intense summer heat; there was a bathroom, and newspapers, which I brought down after the major was finished with them. All in all, the residents of the basement enjoyed quite a luxurious hiding place.

And yet it almost fell apart when the major moved in at last.

"The basement is finished, isn't it?" he asked me when he arrived.

All the hairs on my arms prickled with alarm. "Do you have some plans for it, Major?" I asked, keeping my voice from showing my fear.

He unbuttoned the top button of his tunic. "I'm sure it will do very well for my orderly."

I felt the blood drain from my face, and Major Rügemer looked at me in surprise. "What is it?"

I did not have to fake the tears that sprang to my eyes. "Please don't move him in here," I pleaded. My mind raced with explanations. "I never told you this, but at the beginning of the war, I was captured by Russian soldiers and -- and I was -- " My throat closed up.

The major frowned at me. "You were what?"

"They attacked me, sir, in the way that men attack women."

Meet the Author

Irene Gut Opdyke was presented with the Israel Medal of Honor and a special commendation from the Vatican. She died in 2003.

Jennifer Armstrong is the author of many highly acclaimed books for young readers. She lives in Saratoga Springs, NY.

From the Paperback edition.

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In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 161 reviews.
KS24 More than 1 year ago
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.
lisajjb More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing story of how one young woman overcame so many hurdles to keep herself alive all the while saving the lives of others.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
     Imagine living with the image in your mind everyday of seeing an infant whipped into the air and shot. Imagine witnessing struggling,  famished laborers being worked to death before your very eyes. While all this is going on, imagine you are working in a kitchen, feeding  officers large feasts for every meal and watch them waste tons of food while there are young children just a mile away starving. All you can do is stand and watch. If you try to interfere, you are sentenced to imminent death.  The autobiography In My Hands tell the horrible life story of Irene Gut Opdyke as a Holocaust rescuer. That is exactly how her life  was. She was surrounded by horror and agony, and she was told she could do nothing. In her autobiography, she tells about escaping  from the Red Army, being taken prisoner and forced to work for the Nazis party, escaping and working with the Polish resistance and all  throughout her journey, rescuing many Jewish prisoners escape to freedom. Throughout the book, you are following her emotional  roller-coaster. One minute she is free and happy living with her sisters and family and the next, her family is ripped away from her, and  they are forced to work in caves and her living conditions are horrible. I found this book to be eye opening, inspirational, interesting, and all around an amazing read. It ties in aspects of action, drama,  war, struggle, history, triumph, and selflessness. This book is perfect for those who have a passion for the Holocaust and World War II,  but also people who like books about rebellion, and it is overall a great book to teach people to do what is right, even though the  consequences may be alarming and dangerous. That is what Irene did. She knew it was extraordinarily dangerous to help Jewish prisoners but she did it anyway. She went against the law, risking her life, just to save the lives of innocent people.  This book is a bit graphic so it might not be the best idea to read for young people, but is perfect for anyone around the age of a high  schooler or older. It is a wonderful life lesson for all groups of people and it is important to learn about the past and learn lessons from  the tragedies of the past and this is a wonderful and truly beneficial book to anyone who reads.
SusieQMO More than 1 year ago
I have read many books and have a long list of favorites but this book will be in the top 5 and Irene's story will stay with me forever. I read this book in 3 days and when I was not reading it I was thinking about it and what it must have been like to live during WWII and the Holocaust. I tried to picture myself walking in Irene's shoes or being one of the Jews that was sent to a camp or being a German who had Jewish neighbors. How would I have handled it all? How would I have acted? Would I have been brave and stong like Irene or would I have been scrared and looked away? I highly recommend this book. It is a wonderful and good story of a beautiful, stong and caring person & I wish I could have known Irene.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not put this one down. Highly recommend. It takes a look at WWII from the perspective of a young Polish girl and her journey through the war years.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BrandyGirl More than 1 year ago
This book is great. It gets you right in the beginning and is a very good account of living through the holocaust.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There's an almost manic energy that permeates this true story It truly immerses the reader into the war itself
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Riveting in its detail. Amazing courage and endurance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In My Hands  is the  memoir by Irene Gut Opdyke. What I like the about this memoir is the change in plotlines. First she&rsquo;s a girl trying to become a nurse; then she is a rescuer of Jews. Next she a part of a partisan group then a housekeeper of a German officer. Another part of the story that I like is the excitement. At moments where she is almost caught hiding Jews or escaping a Soviet prison, it is constant excitement. But it did have its downside. The author went too much into detail about killings. The memoir is a great book, and I would strongly recommend others to read this book.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In my Hands is a book you can&rsquo;t put down! It&rsquo;s a type of book that you won&rsquo;t be able to stop reading after you have picked it up. It&rsquo;s full of action, suspense, and can make you want to cry at some point. It&rsquo;s a book where when you have to stop reading, you will question yourself about what happens next! When I picked up the book at first I thought it was kind of boring, since nothing was really happening, but I&rsquo;m glad I kept reading! In my Hands is a real page turner! 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. This is an outstanding and fascinating book to read! However, I would not recommend this book for anyone under the age of 14. Many horrible things happen to this young woman, and can be very descriptive on how it happened also. If you were to read this book, I think you need to be mature enough, to realize what horrible things had happened to her. My examples, when she was helping injured ones when a bomb went off, two Nazi soldiers came and brutally beaten and then raped her. Another example would be, Major Rugemor found out that she was hiding the Jews in his house, so he said he would keep the secret if she would become his mistress. This was a real page turner! If it were turned into a movie, it would be an edge of the seat type of movie! If you get a chance to read this, don&rsquo;t miss a great opportunity!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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 Introduction 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&rsquo;s head shot. She had to watch some important people in her life get taken away to go in concentration camps.  Evaluation 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 &ldquo;This could happen to you!&rdquo; 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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This woman was very brave for what she did, all that she did to keep the jews hid in the basement safe. This woman should have got a oskar
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Would loved to have met Irene Gut.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
               The book In My hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer by Irene Gut is an inspirational book to many readers. This book takes place during the era of the Holocaust. Irene  is a 17 year old girl, and her country is split between two nations: Germany and Russia. Irene is now on the run for survival. in some  situations she can pass for a Russian with her blonde hair and blue eyes and in others, trouble is calling her name. Irene faced a lot of  situations in her book that make you thankful for our world today. Ms. Gut never gives up on her country or on her family throughout the  book. She struggles throughout the Holocaust trying to help Jews escape the wrath of Adolf Hitler, and there may be a couple of loops she has to jump through to get to the other side, but never does she quit , never does she stop hoping that one day things will be okay for her family and her country. Throughout this book there is a lot of suspense that builds up because you keep wondering what will happen next. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very well written
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sugarbush43 More than 1 year ago
Beautiful story from outside of the concentration and death camps.  An inspiration to everyone - I can only hope that I would be as loving, brave, and selfless as Irene if push came to shove.  We should all hope to be like her.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I never read this book, but I met this woman's daughterand heard her mom's story!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous15 More than 1 year ago
Inspiring!! Thats the word i use to describe this sensational book. The story of Irene Gut Opdyke is amazing, a young polish girl in 1939 who has been training to be a nurse when at 16 has her country is invaded by russians and germans. She is then forced to work for the german army ( but defined them in every way). She works there for a while and then while working in the laundry room in the NAZI barracks, she began to save hundreds of lives by warning jews in the turnpool ghetto about raids and smugling food and supplies to jews hiding in the polish forest. She then becomes housekeeper in a german majors house and smuggles 12 jews into his basement secretly . After nearly a year of hiding them the major finds out and in the reward for silence he asks her to be his mistress. After months of this the germansbegin to loose ground and she helps the jews escape into the woods. When the Germans were driven from Poland, the Russians remained and Irene continued to help the people she could she joined a group of partisan saboteurs and soon found herself on the Russian Red Army's Most Wanted list. In an ironic way she was herself hidden by the same Jews she had hidden in the German Major's basement. At age 26 she goes to new york to begin a new life. 5 years later she sees a man she was interviewd by, WilliamOpdyke, who had interviewed her in a Jewish repatriation camp. Six weeks later they were married. it wasn't until years later when people started calling the holocaust a hoax that she felt the need to share her story. &quot;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.&quot; -- Irene Gut Opdyke
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A thrilling and unique read that I loved every minute of. I had a very hard time putting this book down. This true story is about a young woman, Irene, who starts out as a nurse in Poland at the beginning of World War II. As the war progresses, she is separated from her family, and took to other countries to work in hospitals. Eventually she gets away from her nursing job, and gets a job as a waitress serving food to German officers. The dining hall is right across the street from the Ghetto, where hundreds of Jews are being held. Irene overhears the German officers&rsquo; conversations about the war, and what they are going to do with the Jews in the Ghetto. Irene&rsquo;s mindset is completely opposite of keeping herself safe and letting the Jews be killed. With bravery and perseverance, Irene figures out a way to hide seven Jews and keep them from being killed in the Ghetto. How she gets them out and where she hides them next is for you to find out by reading this book. I would strongly recommend this memoir because he suspense level is off the charts. Irene goes through several life threatening situations that most people don&rsquo;t even go through once in their lifetime. This type of excitement is extremely fun and entertaining to read. I would also recommend this book because you can learn a ton about what life was like in Europe during World War II. You can also learn that sitting back and keeping yourself safe is the wrong thing to do. You need to go out, take chances, and try to change something. Irene Gut Opdyke single handedly changed the course of history by doing this. To tell you the truth, I don&rsquo;t think I have a single dislike about this book. I enjoyed reading every page. I would strongly recommend this remarkable memoir to anyone. -Jordan Harnum
keepcalmandcarryon More than 1 year ago
It was heartbreaking yet perspective changing. The novel discusses Irene&rsquo;s journey and experiences throughout and of the holocaust. She provides insight into how it affected her as a Polish native instead of a Jew and how it led to her hiding, protecting, and trying to save Jews. Major themes include suspense with her escapes, survival in many different places, love of people and wanting what&rsquo;s best for them, and selflessness as she sacrificed her life to do the right thing by saving people and putting others first. All these themes contribute to major overall messages of what is right verses what is easy, and finding good among what seems to be all bad. The things I liked most were that the author, Irene, wasn&rsquo;t afraid to provide vivid detail in tragic situations even though the recollections may have been difficult she wanted the reader to feel every amount of emotion possible. Also I liked how there was a happy ending and she didn&rsquo;t leave any loose ends; she resolved and explained everything in the end. People should read this novel because it provides a closer look into someone&rsquo;s perspective of what it was like to help Jews during the holocaust and being faced with the responsibility of having people&rsquo;s lives in your hands.