In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer

In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553494112
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 09/14/2004
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 4.19(w) x 6.88(h) x 0.81(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Irene Gut Opdyke (1922–2003) was named by the Israeli Holocaust Commission one of the Righteous Among the Nations, a title given to those who risked their lives by aiding and saving Jews during the Holocaust. She was granted the Israel Medal of Honor, Israel’s highest tribute, in a ceremony at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial. The Vatican honored her with a special commendation. And her story is part of the permanent exhibit at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
 
Jennifer Armstrong is an award-winning author, perhaps best known for her books of history and historical fiction. Those books include The American Story: 100 True Tales from American History, Shattered, and Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World.


From the Hardcover edition.

Read an Excerpt

An Excerpt from In My Hands
Part Two: Finding Wings


I was awakened by gunfire and explosions. I sat bolt upright in bed, looking around in confusion. When I moved to the window and nudged aside the blackout curtain, I was greeted by the dull clap of detonation. Rokita's men were doing their work, the final Aktion in Ternopol. I could not keep the tears from coming. They spilled onto the front of my dress as I tied my apron around my waist.
——
Schulz was already in the kitchen when I arrived, wide-eyed and shaking. He handed me a cup of coffee and put one arm across my shoulders. "Irene, the pogrom will be over soon. You must compose yourself."
——
Through the window, we could see smoke billowing up beyond the roof of the factory, from the direction of the ghetto. Behind us, the door opened and the major came in, pale and sick-looking.
——
"Schulz, something for a hangover," he said, groping for a chair. He sat down, and with each explosion and burst of gunfire, his shoulders jerked. He was muttering to himself. "Stupid, stupid war."
——
In the dining room, the officers and secretaries were making their late appearance. Hardly anyone spoke, and when they did, it was with a sour, wincing irritableness. The entire German staff of HKP was hungover and in foul spirits. Beyond these walls, people were dying, but the officers and secretaries cared only that the noise hurt their heads, and that work would be hard enough today with disruptions from the SS. It was all I could do to serve those people breakfast, all the time knowing that my friends must be hearing the same terrible sounds I heard, andwondering about friends and relatives who had not escaped.
——
Finally, all the late arrivals had dragged themselves off to work. I was desperate to get to the major's suite and check on my friends. The moment the door shut behind the last straggler, I raced upstairs. The bathroom door was wide open, and I hurried inside, shutting it behind me. Just as I was about to open my mouth to speak, the door opened again.
——
I whirled around. A young SS trooper stood with his hand on the doorknob. He was turning pink with embarrassment at bursting in on me in the bathroom.
——
"Forgive me, Fraulein. I beg your pardon," he stammered.
——
My entire body had gone icy cold. "What are you doing here?"
——
"I — we have orders — " He pulled himself together before I did. "What are you doing here?"
——
"I'm Major R¸gemer's housekeeper, and I'm about to clean his suite. You are in the major's bedroom. Will you please excuse me?"
——
"Of course, Fraulein."
——
Looking quite sheepish, he turned and let himself out. Obviously, he did not expect to find any Jews hiding in the major's bathroom. If he had taken even a moment to look around, he would have spotted the vent. And he would have seen the shadowy form of Ida Haller, sitting cross-legged behind the screen.
——
I closed and locked the door, and drew a shaky breath.
——
"Irene!" Ida whispered. "You must turn us in. This is too dangerous for you."
——
"No! Just wait. I'll let you have a break when I know the SS are gone. Don't do anything until I get back!"
——
I fumbled open the lock and slipped out the door, refusing to argue with them for their lives. I hurried back to my duties, while the SS continued to search HKP. I was as conscious of their presence as a quail who knows a fox is nearby. My skin prickled with their movements around the hotel. By late morning, they had finished at the plant and gone away in their trucks, but detonations and gunfire from surrounding areas of Ternopol continued to break on the summer air all day.
——
As soon as the SS had left the factory complex, I had snuck upstairs to give my friends a chance to stretch their legs and use the toilet. Then I ordered them into the vent again, ignoring their pleas to stop endangering my own life for theirs. I told them it was impossible, what they were suggesting, and that I would not hear of it. I shoved the screen back in place and left them still arguing with me in urgent whispers.
——
After lunch, I went to the villa on foot. The tenants were just leaving as I arrived; they cursed me and called me a whore of the Germans. I stood silently aside to let them pass me; the lives of my friends were more important than my own wounded feelings. I prayed silently for them to hurry up, to leave, to turn the corner of the street and be gone, never to come back.
——
And then the house was mine. Perhaps the major thought it was to be his house, but I knew better. The house was mine, my treasure box, my sword, my henhouse. I turned around and around in the front hall, owning the moldings around the door frames, owning the chandelier over the staircase, owning the door to the basement.
——
I opened that door and went downstairs, taking the time to examine the space more thoroughly. As servants' quarters, the basement rooms were outfitted with everything necessary — two bedrooms, a kitchenette, a bathroom, closets. All the windows up by the ceiling, windows and ground level, were covered with dark cardboard for the Verdunklung, the blackouts. No one could see into the basement from the outside. No light would show. I felt a surge of elation as I went into the furnace room and opened the coal chute. For a moment, as I stood clapping coal dust from my hands, I had a picture of my friends sliding down the chute like children in a playground. I even pictured myself, like a proud mother, catching them in my arms and setting them safely on the ground, while a blue sky embraced us from above.
——
Then the sunny picture faded, and I was left with one more question: How was I going to get them out of the major's bathroom and out of HKP?


——
I would need a key. The street entrance of the hotel was not guarded, and was well out of sight of the guardhouse at the main gate. But the door was always locked at night, for fear of sabotage or murder by the locals, I suppose, or of unauthorized late-night rendezvous. All through dinner preparations I tried to think of ways to get the major's keys, trying out first one then another story to explain why I needed them. In the end, I decided simply to steal the keys.
——
Every one of staff was still suffering from the effects of their party the night before. The dining room was quiet during dinner. Voices were subdued, and barely a laugh rose above the sullen murmur. People tried to handle their forks and knives carefully to avoid clattering, and many officers and secretaries excused themselves early. There was little billiard playing or after-dinner drinking.
——
I went to the major's table, where he sat alone, nursing a glass of wine and looking down at his uneaten dinner.
——
"Can I get you anything, Herr Major?" I asked.
——
He looked up at me, his glasses catching the light in such a way as to obscure his eyes; he regarded me with a round, blank stare.
——
"I think perhaps I will take a glass of warm milk with me to bed, Irene. And I'll take something to help me sleep. This has been a terrible day."
——
I tried to keep the excitement out of my voice as I began clearing his dishes. "Oh, I'm sorry to hear that, Herr Major. I'll be happy to bring some milk to your room right away."
——
He pushed himself away from the table. "Good. And tomorrow I will send some men to paint inside the house. If you could just watch over them, see that they do the job properly . . ."
——
"Of course."
——
I practically hauled him to his feet and shoved him out of the dining room, so anxious was I to see him in bed and unconscious. At the bottom of the staircase I left him and ran to the kitchen to heat the milk, and in five minutes I was knocking on his door.
——
Major R¸gemer took the glass from the little tray and put a small white pill on his tongue. While he gulped down the milk I glanced at his dressing table. His keys were there.
——
——
"Sleep well, Herr Major," I said as he turned away.
——
"Hmm? What's that?"
——
I smiled and raised my voice. "Good night, Herr Major!"
——
        I left the door slightly ajar and hurried back downstairs. Now, for the second night in a row, I had to keep my vigil, waiting for the hotel to fall asleep. I sat on the edge of my bed, not daring to lie down while I waited, for in spite of my state of nervous anxiety, I was as weary as if I'd been juggling bricks all day. So I sat, staring out my open door into the hallway, listening to the sounds that came further and further apart. At last, the place was still. I kicked my shoes off and tiptoed up to the third floor.
——
        At the door to the major's bedroom I stopped to listen; from within came a labored snoring. I remembered the sensation of waiting in the wings offstage in high school, then taking a deep breath and walking out into the lights. There was the same fluttering in my stomach, the same twitch of muscles between my shoulder blades as I straightened my back. And so, I took a deep breath and went in.
——
The light from the hallway slanted in across the room and illuminated the dressing table. I gave a quick glance to the bed, which was in shadow. The major snored on. I closed my hand over the bulky set of keys to keep them from jingling, and then backed out, locking the door behind me. I don't know what I was thinking, for if the major had woken and tried to leave his room, he would have raised a commotion. But I could not have him walk into the bathroom until I'd gotten my friends.
——
They were stiff, cramped, and tired. One at a time they lowered themselves from the air duct and stood rubbing their aching muscles. Fanka swung her arms in circles to get the blood moving, and Steiner's back let out a crack as he stretched himself.
——
"Let's hurry," I said, opening the door to peek out. I waved them after me, and we went single file and down the staircase as fast as their stiff legs would allow. They stood behind me, watching anxiously, while I found the right key from the ring in my hands; then I had the street door open, and they were stepping out into the fresh night air.
——
"You know the address," I whispered. "Go through the coal chute on the left side of the house and wait for me in the basement. I'll be over first thing in the morning. Go! Stay in the shadows, and God bless you."
——
In a moment, they had disappeared into the darkness. I locked the door again, returned the keys to the major's room, and then threw myself onto my own bed, telling myself that they would make it. I did not allow myself to imagine otherwise.
——
Before I fell asleep, I felt a surge of triumph: Rokita thought Ternopol was judenrein tonight, that his Aktions had rid the city of Jews once and for all. But I had taken action myself. There were at least six Jews left in town. As long as I could help it, Ternopol would never be judenrein.
——
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 planters 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 wooded 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 merged 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, 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.

Table of Contents

Tears1
Part 1I Was Almost Fast Enough3
Part 2Finding Wings69
Part 3Where Could I Come to Rest?207
Amber235
Postscript237
Polish: A Rough Guide to Pronunciation239
German: A Rough Guide to Pronunciation241
Some Historical Background243
A Note on the Writing of This Book247

Reading Group Guide

1. When Germany invades Poland, Irene is separated from her family and loses her country. She says, “In the war, everything was unnatural and unreal. . . .” What is life like during wartime? How does Irene react to her new circumstances? How does she manage to adapt to the new reality that is thrust upon her?

2. Irene asks “Was that girl me? In the war . . . we wore masks and spoke lines that were not our own.” Discuss the different masks that Irene wears during the war. How much do you think her flair for acting contributes to her survival? What role does she finally define for herself?

3. “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 cross-road; I must take the right path, or I would no longer be myself.” How does Irene grow into her role as a rescuer? What is her first small step? How does she gradually increase the risks she takes? What skills does she acquire that help her succeed? How does her telling her story now relate to her resistance during the war?

4. “How could I presume to be their savior? And yet I had promised. I had to do it.” What motivates Irene to take such incredible risks? Is it her religious belief? Her upbringing? Her anger at the cruelty all around her? Does she truly consider the alternatives–does she think it possible not to help?

5. Throughout the war, and for many years after, Irene is separated from her family--first by circumstance, but later as a direct result of having helped her friends. When does this separation weigh on her the most heavily? In what ways do the people whom she has helped become her family? Many years after the war, Irene meets Roman Haller–the child of two of the people she hid. How might he be considered a closer relative than her own nieces and nephews?

6. Discuss how being female affects Irene throughout the war. She often refers to herself as “only a girl.” For example: “I was only a girl, alone among the enemy. What could I do?” Yet a page later she says, “I was only a girl, nobody paid much attention to me.” What are some other advantages and disadvantages of her being “only a girl”? How do you think she views this status in the end?

7. Early in the story, Irene is raped, beaten, and left for dead by Russian soldiers. How does this change her feelings about herself? Her feelings about men?

8. Later in the story, Major Rügemer agrees that he will not turn the Jews hidden in his basement over to the Gestapo if Irene will become his mistress. She describes this relationship as “worse than rape.” In what ways is it worse? Does she believe she has any choice? What does she imagine the people she is hiding would want her to do?

9. 1.Irene often contrasts the major’s decent behavior with Rokita’s cruelty. But after the major forces her into a sexual relationship, she feels confused. “I wondered how the major’s honor would allow him to make such a bargain. I had always felt that behind the uniform was a decent man. I had never seen him do anything cruel or rash. . . .” Does Irene realize the full extent of the major’s feelings for her? How does she use his affection to her advantage? Is his eventual exploitation of her inevitable, as she implies?

10. What are Major Rügemer’s feelings for Irene? He both protects her and does her harm–how would you assess his behavior as a whole? Why does he take Irene to visit her “cousin”? When he leaves Irene alone at the hotel, do you think he knows that she will run from him? Do you find his actions forgivable? Is it possible to feel sympathy for him? Does Irene forgive him? What happens to him at the end of the war?

11. How would you contrast the major’s behavior with that of Herr Schulz? Irene calls him a “good, friendly man” and admits “he made hating the Germans a complex matter, when it should have been such a straightforward one.” Why does Irene suspect that he knows what she is doing? How much is he willing to help? Is Herr Schulz’s behavior understandable? Excusable? Laudable?

12. Irene faces the threats of torture and imprisonment in Siberia. She is raped by a Russian soldier, blackmailed by a German officer, and separated for years from her family. She knows that the fate of her Jewish friends is in her hands. What does she risk to help? What is her biggest sacrifice?

13. When the Jews whom Irene has been hiding escape into the forest, she is unsure what to do next. She explains: “Shouldn’t I have been happy? But I was oddly dejected, because my great and righteous undertaking was finished.” Then, on the very next page, she says she has found her calling. She throws herself into fighting for Poland by joining the resistance. After the war, does she continue her efforts? If so, how?

14. Irene often goes to church and confession. Does religion sustain her or fail her in her times of need? Discuss the different clergymen she encounters. How does she cope with their conflicting advice and admonitions?

15. Does Irene’s faith ever waver? Does she question God? At what point in the story? She ends her memoir with the words “Go with God.” How does she hold on to her belief in God when she has witnessed so much suffering and cruelty?

16. The book is framed by the sections “Tears” and “Amber.” How are these two pieces related? How do they reflect Irene’s growth from the beginning of the war to the end? How has the meaning of amber shifted by the end of the memoir?

17. Irene often says that she had no choice but to act as she did and that God put her in the right place to act. But in her epilogue she tells us, “God gave me this free will for my treasure. I can say this now. I understand this now. The war was a series of choices made by many people.” Were Irene’s actions predestined or the result of her free will? How is free will an important idea in understanding the Holocaust?

18. Images of birds permeate Irene’s memoir. Discuss what all these different birds might mean. Sparrows, hens, storks, pigeons . . . do any of these symbolize Irene? What else do the birds represent?

19. On the very first page of Irene’s story, an image of a bird represents a horrible scene she witnessed during the war: “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 the wheat field, but you can’t understand what it was yet.” What does she need to make the reader understand? Why do you think she begins and ends her story with a reference to this incident?

20. The real scene represented by this image is one of the most indelible in the book: a soldier viciously throws a baby into the air and shoots it. The people Irene is with when she sees this happen turn away from the horror, but Irene continues to look. Why does she watch?

21. Irene and her companions do not discuss what they have seen, but keep the secret until they “could bring it out, and show it to others, and say, ‘Behold. This is the worst thing man can do.’” How does Irene “show it to others” and what does she hope to accomplish by doing so?

Introduction

The questions, discussion topics, and author biography that follow are intended to enhance your group's reading of In My Hands, written by Irene Gut Opdyke with Jennifer Armstrong. This awe-inspiring memoir of a young Polish girl who became a Holocaust rescuer—responsible for saving twelve Jews—portrays with stunning vividness the triumph of a real-life heroine over the grossest of human atrocities.

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In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 164 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.
5aweek on LibraryThing 1 days ago
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.
Marlene-NL on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Good book. Interesting to see how it was in Poland where the Germans took many of the European Jews.
Angelic55blonde on LibraryThing 3 months ago
This is a really great addition to the literature already out there on the Holocaust. I really enjoyed reading this book and it was easy to get through.
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’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’t put down! It’s a type of book that you won’t be able to stop reading after you have picked it up. It’s full of action, suspense, and can make you want to cry at some point. It’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’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’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’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 “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.
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