In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer

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In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer

by Irene Opdyke
As told by Jennifer Armstrong

Random House Children's Books | August 15, 1999 | Hardcover

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"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."

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.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 288 pages, 8.53 × 5.74 × 0.98 in

Published: August 15, 1999

Publisher: Random House Children's Books

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0679891811

ISBN - 13: 9780679891819

Appropriate for ages: 10 - 10

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– More About This Product –

In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer

by Irene Opdyke
As told by Jennifer Armstrong

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 288 pages, 8.53 × 5.74 × 0.98 in

Published: August 15, 1999

Publisher: Random House Children's Books

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0679891811

ISBN - 13: 9780679891819

Read from the Book

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 the
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From the Publisher

"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."

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.

From the Jacket

""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."
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.

About the Author

Irene Gut Opdyke has received international recognition for her actions: the Israeli Holocaust Commission named her one of the Righteous Among the Nations, a title given to those who risked their lives by aiding and saving Jews during the Holocaust, and so she was presented with the Israel Medal of Honor, Israel''s highest tribute, in a ceremony at Jerusalem''s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial;  the Vatican has given her a special commendation; and her story is part of a permanent exhibit in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
        
Ms. Opdyke began to share her story only recently -- after hearing the Holocaust denounced as a hoax or propaganda. She now travels the country, speaking to groups large and small, old and young.

Irene also opened her life, through many hours of interviews, to Jennifer Armstrong, a noted author of books for young adults, so that her story could continue to be told, even beyond her ability to tell it.

From Our Editors

When Germany and Russia divvied up Poland on the cusp of the Second World War, Irene Gut Opdyke was just 17. The 1939 occupation instigated what would become years of flight, capture, escape and hiding. When she finally gets absorbed into the German forces after being found in a church, Irene started dishing out salvation from the kitchen. Subverting the line of command, she would tip off the Jews in the work camp as to what is happening, ensuring their safety through until the war's end. In In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer, she tells her story of bravery with compassion and depth, giving readers a sense-saturating trip through terror and triumph.

Appropriate for ages: 10 - 10

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