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In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer…
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In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer

by Irene Gut Opdyke

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00001893
  cavlibrary | Jul 24, 2012 |
( )
  beata | Oct 22, 2010 |
I'm glad that our library puts Young Adult audio books in with the Adult ones or I might have not seen this one. It's awesome and eye opening. I've read other novels and true stories about the Holocaust mostly from the viewpoint of a Jewish person. I think other than "The Hiding Place," this is the only book I've read of someone who hid them and this takes place at the other end of Europe. Very moving and exciting at times. I could hardly wait to drive some time and ended up finishing it in my room. ( )
  eliorajoy | Sep 26, 2010 |
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. ( )
1 vote 5aweek | Feb 26, 2010 |
** mild spoilers below **

This was an amazing story of how a Polish woman helped save the lives of over a dozen Jews during the Holocaust (she hid twelve of them in a Nazi officer's house, and she helped others living in the forest). It's even more powerful since Irene suffered so much during the war herself - she was raped by Russian soldiers, forced to be a Nazi's mistress to help protect her Jewish friends, lost her first love (a Polish partisan) during a raid, lost her father (who was murdered by the Nazis), and never saw her mother again (she died after Irene fled Poland for the United States). It's an amazing story of courage and survival. ( )
  schatzi | Sep 20, 2009 |
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To my daughter, Janina.

And for the young people, who can accomplish the impossible and can achieve greatness by finding the strength in God and in the goodness of the human spirit. I dedicate my life story to encourage them to find hope and strength within themselves. Courage is a whisper from above: when you listen with your heart, you will know what to do and how and when. With all my life.

Irene Gut Opdyke
I dedicate this book with love and respect to Irene.

Jennifer Armstrong
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Kozienice is a small village in eastern Poland.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553494112, Mass Market Paperback)

When World War II began, Irene Gutowna was a 17-year-old Polish nursing student. Six years later, she writes in this inspiring memoir, "I felt a million years old." In the intervening time she was separated from her family, raped by Russian soldiers, and forced to work in a hotel serving German officers. Sickened by the suffering inflicted on the local Jews, Irene began leaving food under the walls of the ghetto. Soon she was scheming to protect the Jewish workers she supervised at the hotel, and then hiding them in the lavish villa where she served as housekeeper to a German major. When he discovered them in the house, Gutowna became his mistress to protect her friends--later escaping him to join the Polish partisans during the Germans' retreat. The author presents her extraordinary heroism as the inevitable result of small steps taken over time, but her readers will not agree as they consume this thrilling adventure story, which also happens to be a drama of moral choice and courage. Although adults will find Irene's tale moving, it is appropriately published as a young adult book. Her experiences while still in her teens remind adolescents everywhere that their actions count, that the power to make a difference is in their hands. --Wendy Smith

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:56:18 -0400)

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Recounts the experiences of the author who, as a young Polish girl, hid and saved Jews during the Holocaust.

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