Many of the books that are popular with young adults have a life crisis as their theme. All teenagers can relate to trauma and good novels and biographies often help the reader to see through the anguish. They can show us how others behave in difficult situations, how they manage to survive and grow stronger. One such book is In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer.
This memoir, written by Irene Gut Opdyke, discusses the author’s experience as a Holocaust rescuer in Poland. Opdyke, now a senior citizen living in Southern California, decided to write about her experiences during the Holocaust when she saw Southern Californian teenagers claiming to be ‘neo-Nazis.’
Irene Gut was a Polish Catholic who had been raised to ‘do the right thing.’ When she was seventeen, her country was invaded, first by Russians who rape and imprison her, and later by Germans who hold her as a slave laborer. When a German officer discovers that Irene speaks German fluently, he removes her from a factory and places her in a German officers’ hall. Here she befriends several Jews who work in the laundry and can view the Jewish ghetto, created by the Germans. She witnesses the murder of innocent people in the streets and learns that extermination camps are the German answer to “the Jewish problem.” From this day forward, Irene helps Jewish people whenever she can although she knows the penalty for doing so is death.
Beginning with small acts such as stealing food from the officers’ hall and taking it to the ghetto, Irene’s bravery becomes astounding as she saves all of her friends who work in the laundry from being removed to death camps, aids freedom fighters in the forest, and even hides Jews in the basement of a high-ranking German officer’s home. I think her story is so inspiring to teenagers because Irene was between seventeen and twenty-two years old when she did these things.
In My Hands is available in our library now.
In response to Elizabeth C., I wouldn’t have been able to risk my life like Irene because I would be too scared of having a gun pointed in my face and I wouldn’t have the courage to hide the Jews and pretend like nothing was wrong in front of all the Germans.
In response to Stephen A.A., I wouldn’t have trusted Shlutz so easily because he was a German, the same people who bombed Poland and after being raped I would probably have held a grudge.
I agree with Erika J.L., that young people can make a difference in world; looking at Irene you know it’s true.
At first, I thought, this book was unbearably booring, but then it started to get interesting, and I began to think to myself, how did she live through it all?
Answering Elijah D. question, I think that Schulz was very aware of what Irene was doing. I believe he also wanted to help the Jews but only in the most indirect way because he feared suffering the punishment of being a “Jew-Lover” or helping out the Jews. So I think allowing Irene to take blankets or tarpaper and other such items was his own little way of supporting Irene in her undercover operation to protect her friends.
Irene illustrated courage and love throughout this book as she struggled to protect the lives of her Jewish friends as well as her own. She took on the responsibility of caring for at least twelve people even though she knew that this huge risk could cost her life. It was made clear that she could have passed off as a German if she chose to with Gut as her name, but she remained loyal to herself and her Polish roots.
Although the stork did die, he didn’t die without didgnity. He died a majestic and powerful creature, just how he lived. I think Irene thought of him as a way to give herself strength, and to think, “If I die here, I still would not have given up, and died with honor.”
I love how Irene took care of every single Jew she met. She treated them as if they were her own kids.
What I irene did was very risky, bold, and brave. Anybody would be lucky to be as driven as she was to accomplish their goal.
I think what happened to Irene is nothing to be sad about. Of course, bad things did happen to her, but they only made her stronger. Without those situations, she most likely would not have been as motivated as she was to do the great deeds that she did.
i also think that she is a very strong person
i think that it is horrible what happened to irene
This book realy opened my eyes and showed me what it was like to be living in the war. Irene was an amazing person who had a big heart, big enough to risk her own life and be able to help a lot of Jews.
At one point, I wanted to start crying when Irene had to give herself up to Major Rugemer to help her friends. I wished there was another way. Also. I was exceptionally sad to learn that Irene’s mother and father died before she could see them again.
I really enjoyed this book, because I like learning more about the Holocaust. Usually, books are put into people who survived this tragedy. Now, it’s coming from a rescuer, and a hero.
In response to Raven M.W, I cannot live without my family for 6 years, atleast not at this age or at Irene’s age. My family is so important to me. They support me through everything and guide me with their knowledge.
In response to Josh R.B, I think I would be inspired to help Jews if I viewed their death. However, I would not do it the way Irene did. I dont think I would have the brains to secretly hide Jews or anyone during that time, especially because it’s during war.
Why do you think Major Rugmer gave her a chance to still keep the Jews in hiding and not turn them in?
After reading the book, I wonder whatever happened to some of the Jewish people that she helped. I wish that it went into more detail about that.
In regards to how the SS found out that they were hiding in the villa, maybe Rokita’s girlfriend heard them in the gazebo during the party.
I also think Irene was strong because she helped so many people escape death even though she had to go through lots of trouble and miserable times. She sttod up for what she believed in and kept fighting until the war was over.
I also agree with Charisse because if I were Irene I would have made sure my family were somewhere safe and then I’d try and help save my friends.
Same thing with me jessica f i felt like i was there too
I agree with Amylee because Iene was very brave in this war because she risked her own life to save about 12 Jewish people.
in response to u kevin aa
what else could she have done than not sleep with him even though it is nasty
this is definitely my favorite book out of the three that i had to read
If I was Irene I don’t think I would have been capable of being as brave as she was because she risked her life for saving her 12 Jewish friends.
I agree with Lachelle M.P.:
There must have been some other thing than to have slept with him.Things like the work she has done for him. If i think about it more I think that was the only thing she could do with no power.
Irene is one of the greatest women of all time for me shes amazing
I honestly left this book for last to read thinking it would have been really boring, but once I started reading it I started to get more interested in it. I think Irene was very brave to have done what she did and then writing about it 50 years later.
After reading this book I still wonder:who told the S.S. men that there were Jews living in the Villa?
In response to Raven M.W.:
I think that I would be able to live away from my family for more than 6 years, knowing that they were safe. If I didn’t know that i don’t think i would be able to bear the pain from being away so long.
I think that Irene is a powerful and smart woman who not only survived ,but saved the lives of many people during this evil, dark time. Using resources like: her femininity to manipulate men or her being “just” a girl and the opportunities that came to help her friends and loved ones.
In response to Christine M.H.
I wouldn’t ever sleep with the mayor.
I think that was really gross.
She could have found something else to do besides sleeping with him.
In response to Raven M.W.
I dont think i would be able to live without my family for that long.
I would miss them too much.
This was my favorite book of the summer! It showed a different point of view of someone else’s life living during the halocaust
In response to Christine M.H.’s question i think i would not have run away because if i ran away i would eventually be caught in hiding, and its better to have done something and get caught than it is to do nothing and get caught.
I thought this book was really amazing to see what she went through and how brave she was helping the people in the ghetto.
In response to Raven M.W.’s Question i think i would be able to go without my family for more than 6 years because the needs of others outway the needs of yourself.
For a Polish girl to go through all that is just amazing. If more people were like that, he world would be a lot better.
In my hands was a great book!
It really opened my eyes and allowedme to really begin to understand what the Holocaust really was and how hard it was to live during those times.
Out of all three books this was my 2nd favorite because its been done before but alot better than most holocaust books, a lot of detail, and just the right amount of dialogue, but not too much so not to include some detail of the war.
This is in response to Christine M.H. question.
I would never allow myself to sleep with a man for the safety of others.
I believe that you could find a way out of situations like that and come up with another option.
In response to Christine M.H. question:
I am not a fan of violence so I am sure i would run-away from it all. I dont think I could go through everything she went through
Would you ever be able to go through living without your family for 6 plus years?
I really enjoyed this book because it was like reading an exicting Non-Fiction book. I was awed by her courage and bravery that helped her through the rough times.
In Response to Christine M.H. :
I hope I wouldn,t run away in Irene’s situation. You would never know though sometimes war brings the best and worst out of people.
This book was way better than I thought it would be. I am glad that I read it. It made me appreciate the war alot more than I did before.
Would you run away from everything in Irene’s situation of the war?
Hannah W. A. I agree with you it was realy realistic. I felt like I was actually there with her. There was times when I was holding my breath because she was too.
Would you have slept with the Mayor to save all those people?
Do you think that you would of been able to have gone through what Irene went through?
AmyLee M.M. I agree with you Irene was very courageous during this war. I would not have the courage that she did. I would have been scared out of my mind.
In response to Robert L.S:
If I was in the situation Irene was in I dont know how I could manage. I would seek help with my family but then again she had none. I would be hopeless. Good question Robert.
Why do you think that Adolf Hitler commited suicide at the end of the war?
If you were Irene would you have risked your life to save Jews? If so, why?
In my hands is a story like no other. It is a story of the tragic years during the reign of Hitler. It shows how some people in this world actually show generosity and care. It is of a young girl, torn apart from her family, and the events that follow. Facing death in the face, she still has hope that she will one day be reunited with her family. This is a story of courage and hope, that will never be forgotten.
In response to Stephen A.A.
I think that if I had been in Ida’s or Lazar’s position I would have let the baby live like they did. This is because I would not want to end another human’s life, especially if it was a baby, also because I trust in God and I think that he will always protect you if you are fighting for the right reason.
I think if Irene wasn’t so pretty, as the book says, she wouldn’t have gotten as far as she did. In many situations she had to flirt with the patrol men to get around them and if she was ugly then it wouldn’t have worked out at all.
In my opinion Irene was extremely courageous for risking her life continuously for people she hardly knew. She saved 12 lives in the home of a German Officer, she put her life after these 12 people, what she did is a legend.
I think if I was in Irene’s shoes I would’ve tried to help the Jews, because they didn’t do anything to anybody so i don’t see a reason for Hitler wanting them dead. It’s just wrong.
In my opinion Irene was very courageou doing what she did,I myself do not know if I would have helped Jawish people at the time,but I dearly hope that I would have. I do not care if people belong to a differrent religious group than myself because I think about it,people are people nomatter what they look like or what they believe in and I think that God does not separates the good from the bad by whaet we do in our lives and not by what we believe in.
In response to Martin D.A’s question:
Yes, if I had been given the chance of saving an unfortunate innocent life I would. Whether the consequence was death or not. The fact that Hitler had seperated and killed almost every Jewish family sickens me. I would do what ever I could to help some of the Jews.
Another part that was really harsh for me to read was when her fiance died. I had a feeling he was going to die when she told him she didn’t want him to go and he went anyways…Did anyone else catch that? I thought her life was finally getting back on track until I read that.
i think Irene is really really brave for everything she went through. I didn’t expect some parts to be detailed and horrifying. For example i didn’t expect for them to explain how the Germans threw the babies in the air and shot them like birds! I was completely shocked and utterly disgusted by that part.
I agree with you Mallory. The major was a VERY old man, and for her to sleep with him. I tip my hat off to Irene.
in response to Martin D.A.’s question:
Of course i would want to help out the Jewish people, but in the time, the consequences were real, and there was no getting out of them. I would probably think to myself, do I really have the courage to risk it all? Maybe i would, I hope I would have had the strength in myself to help them. Hopefully at the moment I would be courageous and brave enough for it.
Response to Adrian H.
I think that America would have deployed even more forces to Germany to put an end to them, or maybe I just think this because I couldn’t possibly imagine what a totally Nazi/Japanese ruled world would be like.
I’m not very sure.
Question – Would you have fled to America after the war, or would you go back to your homeland to rebuild it?
Response to Richie W.C.
Yes, I would have helped those Jewish people. My life for twelve, innocent saved lives? That’s a pretty good deal in my mind.
I agree with what Martin D.A. says about how we must appreciate what we have and all the opportunities that we are given living as free people. It is also great to see all the changes and how far people have grow to be more acceptive of different people. We can learn from this book that we can all be heroes.
This was probably my favorite book of the three I was assigned to read. Irene was not only courageous and caring, she was also totally selfless. She didn’t care about herself enough to flee when she was helping her twelve Jewish friends, she simply did what she had to do to help people.
Irene is definitely one of the most influential people during the WWII era.
Irene was seperated from her family for many years, if that happened to you, how would you have handled it??
Irene risked her life to save the lives of her friends, would you have done the same??
This book made me think about how fortunate I am because I couldnt even imagine going through what Irene went through.
I think that irene is one of the most caring and brave people i have read about,
in the book when irene sees the baby being thrown in the air and she says “it was not a bird it was not a bird” that part was really emotional for me. i couldnt imagin seeing something like that happeneing.
i think its amazing what irene did. i was thinking about how she slept with major rugemer just to save those Jews. i looked at his picture in the book and he was a very old man at the time. it shows that she really loved these people and wanted to save them and she would do anything to keep them safe.
I honestly have to say I don’t think I be able to help the Jews if death was the penalty for it. I am ashamed of it but it’s true. I definitely don’t have the same courage and confidence that Irene had.
I did expect Major Rugemer to come up with the deal he presented to Irene.I mean he wanted something from her and he saw this as a chance to get what he wanted. I thought it was very low of him to present it ,but what amazed me was that Irene accepted the deal.
Irene was an amazing and inspiring person to me. Even though she had known that the penalty for helping a jew was death she still helped them because she knew it was the right thing to do.
I thought this book was good yet it was also depressing. I realize that it was based on Irene’s actual life ,but I still can’t believe how cruel the nazi’s were.I mean the part about throwing the baby in the air was just horrifying.
If you had the chance to help out a Jewish person during the Holocaust, would you help them knowing what could happen if you helped them out?
I think that this book really helps us appreciate what we have now, because during the Holocaust it was very harsh, and you would be lucky if you even survived.
In response to Fernando J. E. :
I think that Adolf Hitler was a very evil and sick person. He was too proud of his race and was very greedy to think that the Jews don’t deserve to live.
To response to Morgan C.L.G.:
I agree 100% that Rokita was as evil as Hitler.
This book really inspired me but in the book I had a couple of questions on the history of the book for example : If the United States hadn’t supported the Jews in giving them their own land, would Osama Bin Laden still have planned the attack on the United States which stole many lives from innocent Americans ?
Inn response to Richie W.C. : I think I would have helped the Jews because I don’t believe in cruelty towards your own brother’s, even if it would’ve cost me my life.
One of the question’s I had for this book is if Russia hadn’t shut down Germany how much longer had the holocaust gone, and would it have gone across the sea to the U.S. ?
This book personally showed me that even a young person can help towards society even if it’s small things. The book though was really good it had struggles and suffering but it also had happiness, which increased as the book went along.
At the end of the book, Irene goes to America and begins to live a new life. If you had all of the things Irene had happen to you, would it be harder or easier to start a new life? Or with all the things that has happen to you, would you be able to start a new life at all?
If you were Irene in the Russian hospital, would you comply like she did, and try to learn Russian while tending to sick Russian patients, or would you be unresponsive and not care about what would happen to you if you didn’t do what you were told.
I would with out a doubt help the Jews like Irene did. What was happening then was bigger then any one person. The lives of many out weigh the needs of the few. If I were Irene, I would put aside my own fears and help the people who needed the help the most, which in this case were the Jews.
I think I would have kept the baby and trusted God to know what he was doing. Sure I would have been probably the most scafred in my life, but you never know what will happen in life, It might have been my only chance to have a child, or like some people if they choose to give up their baby, would be too depressed to carry on. So it would have been easier in the long run to decided to have the child.
True, the book was different from the others, but it did mention the Our Lady. I was wondering if that was the same one from The Secret Life of Bees because in that book it says that the Our Lady came from Europe.
To Stephen A.A
I think that I would have done exactly what they did. I would have trusted in god to take care of my baby. As we know, God did take care of them because thay had their baby safely.
My question is if you were Irene, would you of helped out the jews knowing one false step and you could be killed?
Response to Elijah D.
I don’t think Irene ever thought of giving up, because if she did lots more of jews would of been killed.
Response to Stephen A.A.
I wouldn’t of trusted Shultz especially with every thing going on.
This book was very different from the others, but still interesting. I thought Irene was really brave for what she did.
I really enjoyed this book and it was my favorite out of all the ones I had to read over summer.It really shocked me when I was reading the things that Irene had to suffer through and how she kept holding on when all seemed at its worst. I really admired Irene for her perseverance.
Did you expect Major Rugemer to come up with the deal he thought up for Irene to keep her secret? What did you think of it?
Response to Morgan C.L.G
I also think Rokita was like Hitler. I did a bit of research on him and he was very ruthless.
Response to Nicole E.A
I would save someones life even if it meant risking my own. If I didn’t, I would end up regretting that I passed up the chance to do something that would mean something.
Stephen A. I like these two questions:
1st if I were in one of there postions I would be very scared because having the baby would danger everyone but it would also be wrong to stop the baby from being born so I’d probably keep the baby.
2nd It would probably take me a while to trust Shultz because of all that was going on at the time.
If you were Irene would you have trusted Shultz right away or would you have stayed afraid since he was a German or in that case would you trust anybody after what you had been through?
If you were in Ida or Lazar’s position would you have prevented the birth of your son for the safety of your friends or trusted in God like they did?
i agree with what Nicole K.C. says her memories of Bociek can easily be compared to the experiences of the 12 people in the basement.
I found this book really sad though because Irene was always getting seperated from her family and when she was about to get married her fiance had died.
In response to Ian P.C
I think I would try to help them knowing Im risking my life because then I would be making a difference, and trying to save 12 lives and risking your own, in my opinion, is better than just letting them all die.
To answer Fernando’s question I think Hitler was a deranged man with a lot of charisma since he was able to brainwash so many of his supporters.
I agree he is very evil. trying to kill Jews exactly like Hitler.
In response to Morgan C.L.G
I also think Rokita was a terrible person. The way he kept trying to eliminate all of the jews.
At first i didnt really enjoy this book, but I started getting more into it when the war started. It was interesting to see how Irene kept disguising herself as German to get out of some situations. It was also inspiring the way Irene risked her life to help her Jewish friends.
I agree with Morgan C.L.G Rokita was as evil as Hitler, trying to wipe all jews in the country.
It’s amazing how Irene still remembers almost all of her life in Poland. I guess theirs somethings that will always haunt us.
When Irene was helping the jewish workes while working for Schulz, she knew he was suspicious of her but how aware of her actions do you think he was?
I loved this book. I’d put it up their with the diaries of Anne Frank.
I can only dream to be as courageous as Irene is. I would not be asking myself, “how will I do this.” It would be,”Am I really going to risk my life for another person?”
My first question about this book would be, during the many times she was interogated, did Irene ever think of just giving up?
I also saw Rokita as a horrible person. I felt like Rokita was a smaller Hitler doing the killing.
My most sincerely honest answer to your question would be no.
Seeing a group of jews being killed right in front of me wouldn’t inspire me to go out and help anyone. All i would think of after seeing that would be, when will they get me and my family?
What Irene did was extremley brave. She is and extraordinary person.
I agree with you all the way Morgan C.L.G.
I bet if Rokita had the chance he would have started the holocaust himself.
They way I saw the character Rokita, I think that he was as horrible as Hitler was. What do you guys think?
I have to reply to Charmaine C.M.M.
Adolf Hitler was a smart man, but he was a horrible man at that. Did anybody know that Adolf Hitler went to jail for blaming the Jews, but even after he got out of prison he continued on with the hate crime. Someone said, I don’t remeber who, that if you repeat a lie so many times, then people will start to believe it. Hitler said that Germany lost World War I because of the Jews. At that time in Germany, 0.8% of the population was Jewish. Therefore, I highly doubt that Germany lost the war because of Jewish people. Also during the holocaust Hitler was responsible for the killings about 6 million Jews and 1.5 million were children under 14. HITLER WAS A HORRIBLE MAN!!!!!!!
I agree with Ms. Waddle, young people can make a difference. We may not always be heard but sometimes actions are louder than words. Irene proves this point to be true.
My answer to Hanni’s quetions is that Bociek the stork reminded Irene of her 12 Jewish friends. Both of them were put down in the basement and were cared fo by her. Thinking of Bociek flying away after healing made her want to escape or “fly away” so she could find her friends just like Bociek. As for the bird being thrown up and being shot down we learn on page 104 that it is a child. Irene wants to think of it as a bird because it is to painful to think of the trutth. the bird or the child can represent the dreams and hopes of the Jews that were being shot down by the Germans.
One of the reasons I think Irene helped her friends hide was that they were the only she had then. At the time she didn’t know if her family was still alive or where they were, so to keep her distracted her 12 Jewish friends filled the spots of her family members. You would do anything to protect the people you cared about, and thats what Irene did.
In response to Elizabeth C.’s question, I think I would risk my life to save others, especially if they were worst off than me. I know it would take a lot of courage and always the chance of getting caught, but at least if I die I can say I did something to help.
In response to Nicole E.A.
In my opinion I believe Irene’s motivation to keep going was because she didn’t see the Jews as being any different than her. She saw all of them as human beings with a right to live.
I aggree with Alejandra Q. Everything happens for a reason and there’s know telling what will ever happen. I believe hher fiance died for a significant reason.
This was by far my favorite book because it had so much history involved, and I think it made such an impact on all of us.
I enjoyed this book alot because of the courage that Irene had in order to do something so astounding. She is a hero to all of us.
I can’t imagine all the harshness and cruelty that occured during the Holocaust and Im glad that Hitler no longer is around cause who knows what this world could have become if he was still under control
In response to Josh R. B. I know that if i saw any type of innocent people not only Jews being killed I would feel obligated to do my best and help them in any way possible.
In response to Morgan
Im not completely positive but i think that they called her Irenka in Poland because that is more of a Polish name and she probably Americanized her name by changing it to Irene instead.
I think Irene was a very brave and couragious girl that put her life at stake in order to save the lives of innocent Jews and helped them escape from what would have been a terrible death from Nazi soldiers.
When you think about the different decisions Irene had to make, it really amazes me because the amount of pressure she must have been under must have been devastating, It’s hard for me to choose which sport to play in high school! And she made life-threatening decisions! That’s crazy!
I would have to say that no matter what was going on around her, Irene always seemed to think of those around her and not about saving herself. You really have to bear to the truth, that you can’t save the whole world, you just gotta do what you can. Even that little bit of help, makes a GIANT difference to those that you helped.
Response to Josh R.B.
If I was seeing a group of Jews being killed, it would inspire me to help them out but if I really thought about it. I might end up being one those innocent lives being taken away. But even if I was killed in the attempt to rescue Jews, I would call myself a hero for giving my life to try and save another’s.
Response to Savanah V.H.
To tell the truth, If I were in the situation Irene was in, I would try to save those that are of some significance to me such as family or friends. Otherwise I would try to meet up with my parents, brothers and sisters, just so we can be together in a time like that.
I think that this book turned out great in the end. At the beginning, I wasn’t interested but when it got to the middle of the book. it just kept getting better. I even went to the museum of tolerence to learn more about the holocaust and Adolf Hitler. I kept getting confused because they kept calling her Irenka. Was that a nickname or something? But my favorite part was when she was hiding the jews inside of the vents. I thought that that wa very brave and that inspired me a alot.
Many have talked already about Irene’s fiance that she was suppoesed to marry but ended up getting killed. It was really sad, and that part really got me. Alot of you are saying that its not fair and how could god do such a thing! and stuff like that. But doesn’t everything in life happen for a reason. Dont you think that god did that because he ddnt want Irene to marry him? Ya it was done unfairly, but their was a reason for him dying.
oh thanks for telling me about the united states KNOWING about what was happening. i figured that they didnt know but i guess they did. the holacaust does seem like an important subject to be informed about.
In response to Jenevie:
i never thought of that. i think that irene being prettty did have a part to her staying alive. Like in the book when the major saw her sister he automatically reacted and was ready to give her special treatments. They all new what they wanted.
in response to Elizabeth C.
i think i would of , nowing that if i didnt other peoples lives were at stake.
if u were irene would u go to nursing school knowing that your parents wanted u to go back home?
in response to Melinda N.S.
i think i would have trusted those people just because im a trusting person as long as the person is nice to me.
if u were irene would u really hide all those people in the adict nowing the risk u were taking?
In response to Danielle L.-August 13(first blog of the day):
Danielle, I agree with you 100%! Irene wasn’t “only a girl” and her actions prove it. However, I also think that other people referring to Irene as “only a girl” was advantage she had. After all if she hadn’t been “only a girl” don’t you think that the officers that saw Irene near their table would stop talking about their plans for the Jewish people? They thought that Irene “being only a girl”, wouldn’t pay attention to them. What do you guys think about this?
In response to Melinda N.S.
Yes, I probably would have trusted those people because they would be most likely be fighting for the same cause I was if I was in that situation.
Would seeing a group of Jew’s being killed inspire you to help them the way it inspired Irene?
In response to Jenevie A.
As random as your question may be, I actually think that her looks DID actually help her solve many situations. For example, without her good looks, Major Rugemer may not have fallen in love with her. And him falling in love with her was one of the reasons she was able to help her friends.
I thought that this was a very good and inspiring book because it showed that no matter how young or inexperienced the person is, they can still make a world of difference.
In response to Ana C.V- July 10. :
Good question Ana! I think that I would try to help my friends as much as possible, even if it meant risking my life, because with God’s help I know I would accomplish it. However, if it meant losing touch with my family, I think I would have thought of it twice, because I value my family a lot. But I would have done everything in my power to help them while trying my best to stay in touch with my family.
I enjoyed reading this book very much because I saw how much one person can change and help the world. I thought that Irene was very brave and I was glad that she found happiness after so many years of suffering and misery.
In response to Hanni M.S. :
The stork, Bociek was a reminder to Irene of happier and easier times with her parents and sisters. I think she kept on making references to him because she wanted to remember the good times.
Irene is remembering the infant that was thrown up into the air and killed. She keeps on making references to that scene because she lost her innocence when she saw the infant being killed.
In response to Andria N.R. :
I think being religious gave Irene the strength to help her Jewish friends, realizing that she couldn’t lose anything else, and knowing that she could be as a German woman.
I think Irene didn’t want to quit because quitting meant giving up hope.
This book has been one of the best books I have ever read! This is mostly due to the fact that Irene shows a tremendous amount of courage and determination throughout the war. For example, Irene risks her life making sure her Jewish friends survive and I think this takes a lot of courage. Not only does she do that, but she also loses any communication she had with her family just to save them. I don’t think I would have done that. Also, Irene was so determined to save her friend’s lives that she did anything she could to help keep them alive including being Major Ruegemer’s mistress. I really admire Irene’s personality and strength.
Irene was truly an amazing person and the good news is that we can use the same determination she showed throughout the war in our daily lives. Like, for example, being determined to get that A in a certain class. Or maybe being determined to clean up our room once a week. You should also keep in mind that the thing you’re determined to do doesn’t have to be anything big like what Irene did, it just has to be a good thing.(in my previous blog strengh is supposed to be spelled strength)
This book has been one of the best books I have ever read! This is mostly due to the fact that Irene shows a tremendous amount of courage and determination throughout the war. For example, Irene risks her life making sure her Jewish friends survive and I think this takes a lot of courage. Not only does she do that, but she also loses any communication she had with her family just to save them. I don’t think I would have done that. Also, Irene was so determined to save her friend’s lives that she did anything she could to help keep them alive including being Major Ruegemer’s mistress. I really admire Irene’s personality and strengh.
Do you think Irene could have pulled off what she did, without the help of her “cousin”? Why or why not?
In response to Melinda N.S’s question, I am not sure I would have trusted everyone that easily. The way I see it though, is that God gave her the strength and the ability to know who to trust.
If you were Irene, would you risk your life like she did?
I finished this book in two days. i was very much into this book. It’s not easy risking your life at such an early age for people that you don’t fully know. Irene fought for what she thought was right. Like many of you said this book really teaches you that young people can make a difference if you really want to. It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible.
In response to Robert L. S.
Major Rugemer only kept the secret because he loved Irene. It was not our of kindness and fear it was the fact that he had deeeep feelings for Irene!
In response to Savanah V. H.
if I were Irene, i probably would have not helped people unless they were my family or friends. If they were close to me and i was as smart as Irene than i would have definitely helped them
This question is totally random but if Irene hadn’t been as good looking as she was, do you think she would have lived this long and not have been killed like the rest of the people?
This book i thought was the best out of them three, because of the way Irene acted in a situation where she could have been killed. If i were in her situation i would have never done that! She is soo young and yet she is so courageous and smart.
I think that this book was very well written. You really get an idea of what it would’ve been like to be in Irene’s situation. There was a great use of detail and description that made everything seem so real. Irene had to go through so much during those years and for her to be able share her adventures in the way that she did was utterly amazing. She was a very brave woman and risked so much.
I am not sure if i would have risked my life to save some of the people that Irene saved. I may have tried to help to the best of my abilities, but I don’t think I would’ve done the amount of work that Irene did, or go to the great lengths that she did to save people, some she didn’t even know. I may have done it for my very close friends, but probably not for the people that I don’t know.
Throughout the story, Irene was raped many times. She was afraid to tell people about what the men had done to her. In one situation, Irene sacrifices her body to save her friends and to keep their hiding a secret. Do you think that you would have done the same in order to save your friends and keep them safe?
I beileve that I would have trusted the many warmhearted people with the secrets that I possesed as Irene did. I am usually very trustworthy and so I expect the same from others. Though I may not always get the same trustworthiness in return, I still let others in, that I think can help me, and tell them about my problems or my struggles. This sometimes is a problem because, at times, I trust the wrong people and the whole thing backfires and ends up getting me into trouble or into a situation that I wanted to avoid.
Irene had the courage and resources that alowed her to save a large number of innocent lives, including hers. My question is if you could save someone else’s life if it meant risking your own, would you? Why or why not? [My appologies if this has already been asked.]
I know this isn’t exctly a question that can be answered, but I’d like to hear some opinions: What could have driven Irene throughout all of those years? I mean, how could she even believe there was hope after what life had carelessly thrown at her? I believe that eveyone needs something like that- a good reason to keep on going.
Response to Mrs. Waddle:
I’m pretty certain that Irene i refferring to a baby being tossed into the air and shot. I think it’s a gesture at the cruelty and heartlessness of a lot of Nazi officers. It gives her nightmares because it’s disturbing, o say the least. I mean, I didn’t even seet, but the mere mention of it is enough to rip a part of me to shreds. I can [but would rather not] imagine the effect of actually witnessing it.
Response to Amylee M.M.:
I believe that Hitler sought to destroy the Jewish poulation because of a difference in religious belief. I, of course, can’t speak for him or the Nazi party. Some of the Nazis, however, supported Hitler out of fear. If they went against Hitler, they were as much of a target as the ‘Jews.’
After this story it says that Irene flees to the U.S to escape capture do these people ever catch up with Irene?
In response to Savanah V. H. I think if I had the chance to help this innocent men and women I would risk it all to help them.
In this book how many times did she get rapped by the major and was it everyday?
In response to Olivia K. D. I really thought this was a good biography because it showed the holocaust from a different perspecticve and it showed her struggle through all this.
If you were given an opportunity like Irene to help the Jewish men and women during this time period would you risk you life in order to help another?
I think what gave Irene the strength to risk her life was that she was brought up to do the right thing. In this case helping Jewish men and women escape and hide was the right thing to do and she didn’t care if her life was in danger as long as she knew what was right.
Irene may struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Sydrome but I am unsure.
In this book you see the courage that Irene had to help the Jews. This book got my attention because when you read books about the Holocaust you always hear it from the view of a surviver but not a rescuer.
I really liked this book. Irene’s description of everything was so realistic I felt like I was there. Throughout the book we see Irene’s courage. I think she hid of all of those Jewish men and women because she knew she could pass as a German woman. Also, I think she thought if she showed these people kindness others may show her parents and sisters the same.
In response to Alejandra M. M.:
I wondered the same thing! But heres my guess: She was basically the only one looking through the closet, so most people didn’t notice. Plus, her major probably let some things slide, because it felt like he secretly wanted to help the jews, but wouldn’t admit it. So
i really enjoyed reading this book! It was nice to hear the story from the perspective of someone who wasn’t Jewish, but someone who tried to help them!
In response to Hanni M.S. question:
I think Irene remembered the stork was because of the memory itself. “The bird was thrown into the sky,” I think it resembles the fact that the bird was forced to fly into the unknown world,the bird unwillingly wanted to fly. I also think she remembered the stork because when the bird was flying towards its destinations,it has to be shot down. So,after know that,I feel that she remembered this because she almost reached her goal,or well is striving for a goal,but then got “shot” or made an obstacle on the way to success.
I hope you bloggers understand the concept of this post.
[I decided to change my post names from “Amy S.” to “Emily S.”]
Reply to Melinda N.S. Question:
My answer for this question is yes,well and no at the same time. I think this as I read your question,”What would total strangers get from helping me?” I would take the chance,if I could tell if they had a “pure” heart. Honestly,once I think about it the second time,I would take the risk because meeting very warmhearted people is quite rare,in my case.
She had to trust those people even if she didn’t know what their real motive was because she didn’t want to get caught from the Germans and Russians. She didn’t want to die,because she still wanted to live to save innocent lives.
[I decided to change my post names from “Amy S.” to “Emily S.”]
In the story, Irene met many warmhearted people that helped her escape from the germans and later the russians. If you were in her place, would you of trusted those people as easily as she did? why or why not?
I really liked this book and the fact that it was all true makes it even that much more interesting.The true events she explains in this book make you think about how twisted people can get when they recieve power and try to seek more of it.
I probably would have hid 12 of my friends in the basement because I know about the dangers and the horros those people have gone through and I would feel horrible if I just let them get killed because they didn’t do anything to recieve that kind of hatred.
If i knew my family were safe and that they were alright with me leaving so that i could help other people survive through a very brutal and unbearable war then i would leave thinking that it is for the best for me and others.
She may have suffered greatly from the lost of the man that she claims to have loved so dearly, but she believed that God had a reason for everything. He probably died because she still had a lot of things she needed to do and people to help that if she got married then, it would of coalesed with her problems she already had. The dangers she was going to face probably wouldn’t of happened if they were wedded because she would have panicked if anything bad happened to him because of her doings.Either that, or the dangers for both of them would of increased witht e effort to try and travel from place to place.
Another reason he might of died was the fact that they were so young at that time and they didn’t know exactly what they wanted in life and what kind of a person they would want to spend their whole life with.If they waited until the war was over and settled down for a little while, their opinions on each other might have changed because they see different qualities in people as they think about what is best for each other’s future and the future of their descendants after them.
In response to Ana I would have the courage to leave my family and help my friends survive only knowing if my family was safe and out of harms way.
In response to Hanni maybe she remembered the stork while being interrogated because that was the first happy memory that went through her mind. Maybe she wanted to zone out into a happy memory because the interrogation was traumatic.
What gave Irene the strength to risk her life for her Jewish friends? What made her not want to quit? She been through so much and she didn’t even care about her own life at the time.
The greatest thing about Irene was that she risked her life for her family and friends. For example if she didn’t get her sister out of ternopal Rokita could of got his hands on her. She kept her sisters life safe.
I thought that it was kind of weird when the man in the buggy asked if Irene wanted a ride, and she said yes (pg 67). I mean I would never get into a car with a total stranger.
When Irene was Captured in the church, they sent her to work at a ammunition factory. Days later they found that she was slowing down the line, so they sent her to an office. At the office, they asked her questions, and to my surprise she didn’t try to pass of as a German. Do you think things would have gone better for her if she lied, and said that she was German? Or do you think that she did well by telling the truth?
In the story, Irene helped the “Jews” by bringing them food , helping them escape, and not only that but by giving them hope. If you were in the same position as Irene, and had a chance to help the “Jews” would you?
Even though everyone thinks of Irene as just a girl, she isn’t. She helped a lot of people even when she knew there was a death penalty for doing so. If that isn’t courage I don’t know what is!
In response to Amylee’s comment about the behavior and the habits of the Germans; I don’t think that the Jews did anything to the Germans. It’s just that the Germans thought themselves the superior race and the Jews were nothing compared to them, and I think this is a perfect example of “just plain inhumanity.”
Besides his love for Irene, what else do you think compelled the General to not expose the fact she was hiding Jews in the basement? Would it take much more to convince him to keep quiet about something that extreme?
This particular story of the holocaust demonstrated many bad things that happened during WWII. Many other memoirs and stories about that time also tell about the horrors that took place, but at the same time, they told about how the holocaust improved the victims’ self-character and made them stronger. I realize that the holocaust did make Irene much stronger, but I have met soldiers that have come back from Iraq and they suffer from something that is called Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome which is a condition that some soldiers have that makes them unable to deal with civilian life because they have seen so many unreal a hellish things while they were in the service. Do you think that Irene suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome?
In response to Robert’s comment about how the book also talked about the Russian side of the story; before this book, I had absolutely no idea what hardships the Russians went through during WWII. I knew that they experienced hard times, but I had no idea that it was really that horrendous.
Wynter S. H.
True! 🙂 You know, if you just believe in yourself all the time, you make the biggest changes, not to the world, but to the people.
I completely agree with Tasnuva. this book does this lady (Irene) went through so much pain yet she still fought.
I really liked this book because it enabled us to see through another individual’s perspective on their personal journey and all the pain Hitler and his posse caused. I think it showed female empowerment in some ways, like how Irene handled certain situations, and her courage to secretly aid others. So, yeah, I agree with Richard because this book really does show the strength and bravery a woman can have.
You are absolutly right. I also think that the whole Houlocast had a pourpose. Just think, the surviver(after this great ordeal) must have been mentally and emotionally strong after having those barbaric events take place. I guess when something like that happens its like an alarm that goes off and you have to be prepared for anything that comes your way.
In response to your question I agree that the Germans were surreal towards the Jewish. I think that the Germans were so relentless because they had hate in their hearts and it was so hard to let go.
It is amazing to me to think that, at the time, someone our age can do something so great. But it hurts to think of how many lives were lost. What I dont understand is how can a man (one man) responsible for tons of murders feel no shame. One man responsible for the murders of families and children….. its so wrong!!!
Out of all the books, this one is my fav. I belive the Houlocaust is an event that will be remenbered forever. In this book I like that Irene was bold enough to hide her friends in the Majiors villa. This shows that she was a very brave and caring person and that her chivalrous acts to help the Jewish was non stop.
Yeah i feel the same way.
i’m like i should stop blogging but no im hooked 😀
hah or maybe i should just stop making convo with you.
Yeah I hope we don’t give someone that power again.
Haha Fernando J.E.
I know dude, I was too.
That’s about the craziest thing I’ve heard.
One even asked if they wanted another Holocaust.
That’s NOT a funny way of asking.
Shoot. If I were Jew…
Man.. WATCH OUUUT! :))
I feel like a nerd over-doing my blogging.
I love the books though.
Man! Can you blame me?
I don’t even know how much I type until I post it!
Again guys, I’m really sorry for the long things I’m posting.
I’m a bit into it.
Say TOO, it’s cool..
I’m getting annoyed with myself ’cause I can’t stop making convo here. 😛
Anyway, yeah… Hitler just got way up there that he took Advantage.
Look what POWER DOES TO YOU.
Wow thats crazy I can’t believe he just went off on all the jews in the world.
He had no right to say what he said.
That was a pretty cruel statement and I’m still in shcok.:(
WOW.. I mean.. just.. WOW!
I’m not going to pick on Germans okay.. But I read that one issue talking about the Holocaust DENIAL.
I’m not going to get into details, but I want to know what you guys think of this thought an Anonymous person had set out:
He thinks that Jewish people are psychologically nuts. He thinks they’re basically exaggerating about things. Wow dude.. back down.. that a bit harsh right there..
One got so offended she said that it didn’t mean that just because Jews were declined in 109 places it meant they were nuts.
I mean.. okay. This dude got a point about their psychological thoughts.. Maybe they were a bit paranoid with things, like he had said.. BUT it is NOT right that he tells them they’re psycho, nuts, IRRESPONSIBLE, etc! Omg!
That is just wrong!
I’m not so sure about Jews having the highest vote for mental illness, but if so, I can’t blame them.
“Mrs Merkel said that Germans would do everything they could to help Israel and protect the Jewish people from anti-Semitism,” she says, her voice cracking. “But when we got here we found we had to pay for our own hotel accommodation and none of the restaurants will let us eat for free, even though we’re Jews and have a long and unique history of suffering.”
This Anti-Semitism going on…
[The word “anti-Semitism” is inadequate. It is a misnomer. The word was coined in 1879 from the Greek words “anti”, meaning “against” and “Semite”, meaning a descendant of Shem. The word was first used by Wilhelm Marr a German agitator, who created it to explain the current anti-Jewish campaigns in Europe. Since the Arab peoples are also Semitic people it is not the best expression. Anti-Jewish, and Jew- hatred, are more descriptive. It is more than just prejudice. The word came into general use in the past hundred years and encompasses all forms of hostility manifested toward Jews throughout history. ]
Is so wrong.
Guys, what do you think?
In response to Charmaine C.M.M.
You pin-pointed every great detail of HItler did and basically was. Hitler was a genius as you can see he was winning the war half the time. He manipulated the minds of his country men to think what they were doing was the the best for Germany. At first i believe he was trying to help his people ti regain their honor and of course the countries honor. Then Hitler got greedy and thought of only himself. He had so much power too much actually. His mind swerved and took a detour he wanted the world for himself. He slowly turned himself into a selfish corrupted man.
I do see where your coming from with all this.
Maybe God wanted it this way so we can learn never to make the mistake again. I think he showed us the path of unrightiousness and selfishness is not the way to go.
All the people that were lost in this war may have had a better purpose with god.
That feelng leads you to greatness it says so much.
The oppertunity is there no grasp it.
Using our parents is a marvelous example , so are your friend they influence you the most.
It’s probably no the best but if you don’t believe in god everything else doesnt make sense.
How did we get here . Big bang i doubt it. Explosions need space to move there was absolutley nothing many scientist have proved wrong as well.
Sorry for getting way off topic.
Like Irene said god had a plan for me and now we can all read what she did.
Ohh and Charmaine yeah i feel that.
I think Adolf Hitler was a Brilliant Massacre.
I think Adolf Hitler had great psycho skills.
I think Adolf Hitler taught us in So Many ways.
I think Adolf Hitler cared about his own race a lot.
I think Adolf Hitler stuck with his pride.
I think Adolf Hitler had his own ways of thoughts.
I Don’t want to get into any Religion basis, okay?
I hate that.
It just messes up the conversations.
Especially talking to useless people; not to say any of you are, but you Know what I mean.
In my Opinion, God is the Only one to say what is right and wrong.
God is the one who can tell me what should be done and what shouldn’t.
I am So sure he wouldn’t tell me that, because he gave me the free will to do anything in my life.
Please don’t get angry if I’m wrong at things. I’m not that intelligent okay..
But to me, if I was Hitler, and I thought like him… I would tell myself that I was doing it for my people. I did it because I didn’t like what the Jews did and I envy them. I did it because I want my people to rise up there. I did it for Myself. This is going to be a one-time thing. Life is too short to let things pass my way. I want to be the boss. I want to be higher than the highest out there! I’d think to myself that God would forgive me because I was only doing my part.. you understand?
I don’t know if he did believe in God or if he had any other beliefs because I don’t know Hitler myself, but what I’m trying to point out is.. maybe That Is what he was trying to say…
But the bad he did to people, the ignorant thought of killing them wasn’t right.
We all know that for a fact.
Nevertheless, I still resent him for the things he did to those innocent, loving people.
Sometimes though, things that you think are good for you, are bad for most.
Sometimes, you feel like it’s time you listen to yourself, right?
I have a question..
Has anyone ever felt that?
I mean, of course!
Especially when it comes to parent-combats.
Parents tell you this and that, and you don’t want to do it.
Sometimes you feel like your parents aren’t appreciating you, so you work harder.
In the end, you feel like…
Okay, this is enough. I need to listen to what my mind wants to tell me. I need to listen to my heart and take the course that I want, not They want.
Anyone ever felt that?
I’m just using parents as an example because they’re the most pinned-down ones.
i would like to say thank you to Richard R.P., I’m sure women everywhere enjoy getting a little recognition that they are more than what some people like to think. But i would also like to point out that it’s not just women who can be encouraged by this book. Anyone that has ever been looked down upon whether it be for their gender, their race, or even their age, can be greatly encouraged by this book.
What do you think of Adolf Hitler? 😀
In response to Robert L.S latet comment
Yeah i wasn’t being very thorough about it.
I also missed the pacific theater. Which also played a great deal in the war.
I think you said it all Charisse M.S., Irene is incredible! I don’t know if I could ever have done what she did. I don’t even think I could have done half of what she did! I believe we all can learn from her experiences and better ourselves from her challenges.
In response to Fernando’s latest comment, there’s still some stuff you missed: 1) The Allies found evidence of the Holocaust near the end of the war. 2) Germany tried to hide all evidence of the Holocaust. 3)Don’t forget they fought all over Europe, even the unknown countries (sorry for picking on them).
And DON’T think that I’m being anal about it! 🙂
Reply to Alequandra Q.’s comment on July 29th.
The United States knew about the holocaust. They actually fought to free the Jews we foughtin many sites like Norhern Africa, Germany, and we also fought against the Japanese after Pearl Harbor. The Americans found many extermination camps and Jews that were in hiding. There were two side the Axis against the Allies. The Axis consisted of Germany, Italy, and Japan. While the Allies contained England, France, USSR(The Soviet Union), and the United States. It just seems that some people think its better off forgotten or people simply don’t care.
I really hope everyone learns about the Holocaust we need to learn from it. History tends to repeat itself.
In response to Janiece B.’s entry on August 4th at 12 A.M.
I agree with you Hitler wasn’t all evil he lost his mother and father at a very young age. He lived in poverty for most of his teenage years. When World War 1 started he enlisted into the army as Sebastien C.W. pointed out her was a message runner until a british shell pierced into his left leg. After the war he joined the german Workers’ comitee which started his political career. After gaining political popularity he rose to power. He promised Germany that he would regain the land taken form World War 1 and get rid of the Jews who were taking all the money making jobs. Which influenced his ideas in exterminating all the Jews. His rise to abolute power led him to absolute corruption. His insanity drove him to do these many inhuman acts to the entire world.
To all you bloggers 😀
Imagine if Adolf Hitler won this war. Think of everyone he would have killed remeber he wasn’t limited to killing Jews he killed anyone who was disabled or wasn’t the perfect race(blond hair blue eyes). Think of everyone who you ever met how many would survive?
Thank people like Irene who committed great acts of heroism to stop this true evil.
You and your family is sitting down eating dinner laughing, talking about the days news. Then all of a sudden you here the cluster bombing from a couple of B 52’s the earth shakes at the intensity of an earthquake. German infantry storm your house and hold you at gun point. They first take out your father and mother then your sisters and brothers. It’s you who the leave to rot because their commanding officer wants to push forward. You sit there in shock mourning the death of everyone you held close to you. This is the life of most holocaust survivors. As you take in the moment of disbelief also start thinking these attacks come in waves after waves where will you go? How will you survive?
Many of you would want to die some of you may seek vengeance. War forgives no one the angel of death walks among the war zone. Irene decided neither she picked to save the lives of people she didn’t even know over herself. This is what makes a hero having the ability to do what is right in the darkest abyss. Strike the match light the flame. This can happen any day.
Irene Gut Opdyke what an extraordinary women courageous,strong,and quick-witted. Words cannot suffice the many things she represents. In the darkest of our times this teenager of only 17 years of age finds the light within her and presses on to do unbelievable accomplishments. Through unbearable
peril such as rape, abuse, and enslavement she managed to carry on with her life-threatening mission. To save the lives of 12 Jews and so many others. War brings out the best and the worst out of people. The things that Hitler and the Nazi party did were not only inhuman ,but completely insane. Irene gave her life in everything she did. She demonstrated to all of us that we are not powerless and at times we have all the power in the world. One person can make a difference its just your decision if you want to or not. I can tell you right now the world is not getting any better we are heading into times of sure calamity and affliction. Catastrophe is imminent but will you try to help? Will you make the right decision? Will you be like Irene? Ask yourself this. The power is there you just have to embrace it.
_In My Hands_ was definitely different than most books, because in most books, once the hero has saved someone, or the fight is over, everything goes back to being happy. But for Irene (and many others), she couldn’t find her family and was wanted by the police. She didn’t know where to begin her new life after being “liberated.” She is finally given an opportunity to go to America, where she can finally find happiness.
This book was pretty intense, every chapter something happened! The scariest part to me was when the Major caught her with Fanka, right after she had seen some Poles and Jews being executed. Yet she still did all she could do to save them! The amazing thing is that she was able to save the 12 people that were living in the basement, and the unborn baby, and also the people she had brought into the woods before.
I also like what Janiece B. said about how the book encourages women to be courageous no matter what their age. Because Irene went through so much herself, but she didn’t let that stop her. She always had hope, and her will to resist the German’s and save innocent lives helped her through the war. She showed that even with humanity at its worst, there is still good.
I agree with Amylee M.M. when I was reading the part where Irene sees the Jews simply shot, I couldn’t even understand how anybody could just do something so evil. I still don’t understand it, but _In My Hands_ shows how cruel the Holocaust really was, not only to the Jews, but also to the Polish.
Robert’s question about the Major is also a very interesting one. While I do agree that his actions could have been out of shame or fear I don’t know if that would be entirely accurate because in the long run what did he have to fear, and if he really was ashamed to be doing what he was doing, then why continue? Unless it’s the fear of the person he is receiving orders from. So I tend to think it was out of compassion. Or him trying to in some small way make amends for what he’d done. As Alejandra said, I tend to doubt that the majority of people following Hitler’s order actually believe in them. I the majority just went along either out of fear of him or there desire for power.
I think that analogy of the bird, between tears and amber, that Hanni brought up was a very interesting way to start and end the story. I, from the begging, had wondered what she was referring to. Now after understanding that it wasn’t really a bird make sense as to why she had nightmares. It also, however, brings up another question for me and hopefully an answer to someone Else’s. While it is easier to think of a bird being killed rather than a human, could the “bird” being shoot down mean something more that than the injustices of killing a newly born? Could, in the begging, the bird being shot not only represent the killing of Jews, but all of the hopes, innocence and freedom that was “shot down” during the holocaust?
Something else that’s interesting to think about is the internal struggle that she must have face while trying to help other. What of her own life, or her sisters, or even her entire family. Would you have still aided strangers, some of which you’d never meet, knowing it jeopardizes your life and a family members safety?
Irene shows though her book that you don’t always have to follow the grain. If you know something is wrong then you have a moral obligation to at the very least play a part in the resolution. Which, while no one person could single handily stop the holocaust, is exactally what she does. The small things like protecting families and bring food to starving people were one of the most critical elements during this time. Which just goes to show that no matter how insignificant what you doing looks in the grand spectrum of what going on, it does make a difference. It not always the largest acts that play the biggest role.
Wow! So much to say, huh?? Yes, I think everyone LOVED this book. It’s just So great! I really hope that we get to discuss this in class and talk out with our hearts fully open. I really love all these comments! We just can’t get enough of Irene’s heroic terms.. Janiece, I agree with you. She sure did need some happiness along the way.. Good Lord, who doesn’t? Richard, I believe this doesn’t only inspire women but also all you men out there.. 🙂 Taking care of your wife isn’t easy. Girls are such fuss [ heehee ]. I mean, imagine having a wife that lived in the basement that was PREGNANT! Your wife is all stuffed up when she should be happy outdoors walking around while shopping for baby clothes.. Her husband helped her through those months.. What a great husband. I’m sure every man (errmmmm…. I hope!) would do this for his loved one.. But I do agree with you, Richard; “This book inspires women to be courageous and self-confident”.
In response to Alejandra M.M.’s question involving Irene’s late husband, Janek, I think that God had a plan for her to marry someone else all along but just decided that she needed at least some form of happiness along the way.
i personally think this book inspires women to be courages and self-confident.
i really was surprised when i read this book seeing a woman accomplished so much when she simply could have just given up.
So i have to give the girls their props on this one.
How was Irene able to get so much supplies from the closet for so many people but nobody ever noticed?
I like what it says in the Postscript, that Irene’s favorite audience to talk to is high school students because we are able to make a difference and have the power to fight against evil.
I felt really bad when Irene’s finance Janek died in the German transport. Why would God want her to suffer again after she had found happiness after what seemed like forever?
I found Irene’s story inspirational, how she saved so many peoples lives, and had the courage to risk her own.
Would you bee able to hold 12 people in your Major’s basement? Would you have the courage to leave your family and help your friends survive?
In response to Ana C.V.’s questions, I would definitely try to hide as many Jewish friends that I could. Because of Irene’s age she was able to pull it off. She was young enough that every thought “she’s just a girl,” but old enough where people held her with respect and trust. She took advantage of that trust and managed to save many people. I wouldn’t want to leave my friends and family, but I would have no choice in the matter. Irene was held prisioner, taken to work in a factory, and sent to work for a cook. She no choice. She had to move on hoping and helping, doing what she thought was right.
In response to Hannah W.A.’s questions, Irene substituted the baby with a bird because it was easier for her to grasp what she had just witnessed. Towards the middle of the book when Irene was hiding in the forest, she was watching a bird fly by and then it was shot down by one of the members in her group. The baby probably reminded her of the bird so it was easier to relate and think about the bird instead of the baby. In the last chapter, Ambers, Irene talks about the bird being thrown up into the, but this time it got away and flew free.
To answer Hanni’s question, I also did not understand what happened when Irene had described the bird she saw being shot. I still dont quite understand what happened.
Irene’s bravery was very inspiring. Her dedication to her Jewish friends were very courageous. I was glad that she never let them down and was determined to save them despite the consequences.
I agree with Alejandra Q. because it is very amazing that Irene vividly remembers the terrible events that occurred at a young age. Especially when she saved 12 lives including her own.
I think the book In my Hands was a very interesting and insightful. It actually made me cry at the thought of having to endure so much pain and seperation. What really amazed me was when Irene had been taken into custody and the officers wouldnt let her go and her story had stayed the same.
In this novel, Irene is not one that you would want to mess with. Just go on with your life and leave her to her buisness. She risked her life for her Jewish friends and I believe that is greatest work that is possible in this lifetime. I know that her bravery has encouraged other peeps to stand up and be brave for themselves. RIGHT ON IRENE!!!
I agree on some accounts with Charmaine in her most recent blog. I feel that God did have a purpose for the Jews which is why he let the Holocaust take place at all. Though we all understand that Hitler had some stupid reasons for killing Jews, he probably felt that what he was doing was helping his country. So you could sorta call him a bad/good (sorta) guy when you look at it from his perspective. But I DO NOT back him in a way that says he was right for killing innocent people. Look at it through his eyes if your up for the challenge.
Question. Why didn’t Irene stay with her Jewish friends when she took them into the woods? Shouldn’t she have went to check to see that the place they decided to settle in was safe? Just wondering.
Irene did what she had to do in order to save her Jewish friends. I admire her very much. U GO GIRL!!!
In response to Hannah W. A.’s question, I do think that it was easier for Irene to think about the murdered baby as a bird because it was probably to hard to believe that a baby was killed AS IF it was just a bird.
When Irene referred to Schulz she said that he knew she had been helping her friends escape, yet he acted as if he had no idea. Why would he do that? It is understandable that he feared for his life and may have just been covering up, but things would have been much easier if Irene could have known for sure. Nevertheless, things may not have ended up the way they did without the help of Schulz.
The fact that Irene Gut, a girl who was just a teenager when the war began, could survive and protect the innocent (even if it meant risking her own life) is amazing. I think that by reading this story, we can learn a lot, not only about courage, but also about the confidence we must have in ourselves and the small flame of hope inside us that we must keep alive, even in our darkest times.
In response to Rebeca D., from what I know Hitler earned many medals during World War I as a message runner. Maybe the things Hitler saw during his service drove him to insanity. Or, maybe he was just a power hungry cretin, who found the Jews inferior (or maybe he feared them!). Whatever the reason, he had no excuse for the inhumanities he committed during World War II.
In response to Hannah W.A., I think she used the idea of a bird instead of a baby because it was easier to think about. The thought of a baby being thrown in the air is a horrible and gruesome thought. Definitely a memory that haunted Irene for a long time to come.
In response to Robert L.S.’s two most recent entries. I agree that it was nice to see the Russian side, too. In most WW2 books we read, they only talk about the Jewish, who were the victims. It was nice to see into the Russian and German side, if only just a little.
And to your question, what would do if I were the enemy of both sides? To be honest, I would have no clue how to react. What Irene did is like a spur of the moment thing; it isn’t something you can plan for, kind of like a war. Even though you can train your armies, not everything is going to go according to plan, like soldiers dying, or bombs going off.
I absolutely agree with Hanni M.S., although it would take many more than one word to describe Irene, including, but not limited to bravery, determination, and lifesaver. (LITERALLY!!)
Why did Irene use a bird being thrown in the air as opposed to just saying a baby was thrown in the air? Was it easier to think about instead of what really happened?
The one word I would use to describe Irene and what she did is perseverance. Through the book Irene progressively keeps a steady course of action to help her Jewish friends. Not once does she have second thoughts about helping them even when her own life was at stake. Even though sometimes it pained Irene, she always did what she thought was best, even when she sent her sister, Janina, back to live with their family.
Irene was very young when she got mixedwith this traggic war. She was about sixteen! Yet she was able to save twelve lives! Ms. Waddle is right even if your young you can still make a difference in the world.
Well, I have not read this book for a while and after reading all of these comments and questions, I already want to go back and read this whole book over again and again. Irene had so many adventures, that were not always fun. She was the most courageous person I know. I greatly admire her strength and quickness in coming up with these plans to save her friends. She no longer had any communication with her family and had nothing left, but her friends. I still cannot believe that after everything that had happened to her, she still kept on going, through all the bad times. She kept her head up high and did what ever she could to save as many as she could. Now, after reading these comments, Robert’s question really caught my attention and was something I had overlooked earlier when I was reading the book. He asked what had compeled the Major to keep Irene’s Jew friends a secret? Now that I think of it, I’m not quite sure how to answer the question. Does anyone else have an idea?
I agree with Alejandra Q. every little episode of her life was important and her story wouldn’t have made sense with out the other peices keeping it together.
I wonder how it must have been to live Irene’s life and feel what Irene felt. I not sure that I would have been able to take all the stress that she must have been under.
Irene showed courage that many people do not have. I thought that she was very inspiring and admiring.
I had left this book for the end because I thought it was going to be the most boring book. But it was actually a really good book. Every little piece has its importance. It must have really been something terrible to have gone through to be able to remember it 50 years later. I look up to Iren Gut because she showed that it doesn’t matter how old you are that you can still make a difference. she fought for what she believed in. She even saved the life of a baby that was still yet to be born. That showsalot about her personality.
After I finished the book though, I was left wondering, if Irene stayed in contact with any of her Jewish friends. It was kind of surprising to hear that in another place like the United state, they did not hear or know anything about the holoucaust. After reading ths book it seems like something so big to me that i wonder to myself how EVERYBODY did’nt know about it.
Irene was a very brave person for everything that she did, and this book lets us see how everything felt while it was going on. But I think that Irene was not alone in everthing. Like Charmaine said, I think that major Rugemor left Irene at the hotel by herself in order to give her a chance to esape. I think that there were only few people that actually believed in what Hitler wanted. But Irene was the only one brave enough to make any actions about it. But alot of people helped her secretly like Herr Shculz, Major Rugemor, Helen Weinbaum, and Zygmunt Pasiewski. But I still give her credit for having the guts to hide 12 Jews.
How could you manage if you were the enemy on both sides of a war and you had to constantly lie to protect yourselves?
It was nice that the book gave a look on the Russian side of the war and not just the Germans.
When Major Rugemer sees that Irene had hidden Jews in his villa, what compels him to keep this secret? Is it out of kindness? Of shame? Of fear?
Response to Rebecca D.: Question: What do you think was in Hitler’s mind? Why did he resent the Jews so much???If he wanted them gone,he could’ve atleast ssended them awaynot kill them don you think? In my opinion……
Aside from Charmaine’s response, here’s mine: 1) Hitler became deranged after Germany fell so low after World War 1, and promised to improve it in his way 2) Jews in Europe have always been prejudiced since the 1300’s because they took the main money-making jobs such as banking hence the stereotype of the Jewish as being greedy. This could explain why Hitler hated the Jews: his self-denial and rage was put on a scapegoat that been always hated.
If I was in Irene’s shoes, I would’ve left my family to help my friends survive. I would, too, try to help keep 12 people hidden in the Major’s basement. If I knew my family was safe, then I would have went off to go and help anyone else, just like how Irene helped save 12 Jews.
Irene is just incredible.
Irene’s morals and values of life are so strong and she proved how important they were to her by her actions during the Holocaust, in this book. She’s just a strong woman who stuck to her instincts of what’s right 100%. I was just honored reading the book about her courageous actions to help save a few Jews’ lives during a time where so many lives were at risks.
What Irene was talking about when she talks about the bird being thrown up into the air was actually a baby. It gave Irene a nightmare after 50 years because it was not right to kill a baby for being born as a Jew. Killing the baby was going against her moral values of life. It wasn’t right for the soldier to shoot the baby. The baby didn’t do anything wrong to anyone. If I was in Irene’s place, seeing this horrible event take place right in front of me, it would have given me nightmares also. I would just be traumatized just seeing a poor innocent baby getting shot because of their identity as a newborn baby Jew.
This book was the book that stood out to me the most. Irene is sucha a great inspiration to others to follow their hearts and have faith in times of trouble. I praise her courage to help save Jews, while she was risking her own life to protect them.
Ana has a real good question.I don’t think I could hold 12 people in my majors basement.I don’t think I would have courage to hold 12 outlaws in my care.Not to mention all the bad stuff that happened to Irene.
What Amylee asked is true,why did he be so mean to the Jews. I think it was because he had anger management issues and that it was plain inhumanity.
What got me was what happened at the end of the book.Some people in California,where Irene moved later,didn’t believe that the Holocaust was real!! If you would have lived during the Holocaust wouldn’t have been one of your life momentos? I just couldn’t believe that they thought it was fake. WOW!!
I agree with Amylee,Irene was VERY brave during this war.She risked her own life to save at least 12 hated Jews.She didn’t think of her self,she only thought of what was the right thing to do.She was an inspirational young woman who has an incredible story.
Even though Hitler was a bad guy, don’t you think he gave us a Very good lesson about life? Don’t you think he gave us points about living and values of individuals? No one knows why such a bad thing had to happen to this world, but I think God had a purpose; it’s to learn from bad and to learn from good..
As for I know, Hitler was ashamed of his family. Even he didn’t love his family; not to say his heart was full of bitterness, but it was close to that. I think he resented Jews because he didn’t like the way they looked. He liked blonde hair, and blue eyes. To him, that was Beautiful. Black hair was what he disliked. And all the people killed were like that. Some lucky ones that had a German look was a German descent. He thought that Germans were the leaders. He wanted to kill them all because he wanted to own their land and get rid of them forever. He didn’t want them alive! It’s the most bitter thing a man could do to people, and yet, people still forgive those who have done the bad…
What do you think was in Hitler’s mind? Why did he resent Jews so much??? If he wanted them gone he could’ve atleast ssended them away not kill them don’t you think? In my opinion, it’s bad either way because people are supposed to be free don’t you think?
Ana got me to think in one of her questions. When I think about having 12 people hidden in my care, I get a little queasy. How would I pull it off? Then comes my family… I would have to have a lot of bravery to just leave them behind and not know if I would see them again.
I loved this book so much. I finished it pretty quickly because of how interesting it is. Just to know that it really happened makes me sad at times. What touches me a lot too is how she had a relationship with the general just to help her friends from being killed. I feel that she sacrificed so much for them.
I agree with Hannah. The author makes the book so realistic that it’s as if I lived what she lived. I felt what she felt, but of course it’s much more worse in reality. I think that what happened to Jews was really cruel. It seems so inhuman.
This was the most realistic book that I have ever read. Knowing what we know about the Holocaust and WW2, reading Irene’s biography not only makes it seem more real but puts it into perspective as well. Just learning about the times sends shivers down my spine; imagine having to live during those times of hardship. I thought that the book was so well written that it seemed unreal.
When Irene was talking about a bird being thrown in the air, it was actually a baby being shot while thrown on his/her mother. The mother was also shot while she was crying. This saddens me, and the fact that it still gives Irene nightmares after 50 years, I’m sure it would give me nightmares too.
If I had seen the distruction of the Jews as Irene had, I would have likely done the same. This would have to be a decision based off of my morals and values. Even though this decision could have cost me my life, in my heart I believe it would be the right thing to do. If I had died, at least I had helped many people along the way and it would all be worth it.
Hanni is asking a GREAT question! What is Irene talking about when she remembers the bird beng thrown into the air? Why does it give her nightmares after 50 years?
Why did Irene think of Bociek, the stork she had rescued as a little girl, when she was being interrogated for information about the partisans? Throughout the book Irene talks about a bird being thrown up into the air and then it being shot down. It is the first thing she talks about in Tears and also the last thing in Amber. What is she referring to and how has it changed her?
I agree with Ana! This whole ordeal in this book was Amazing! This book is yet the best book Assigned for us to read. Ahahha… It didn’t only let us enjoy the book, but it also let us have a touch of feel with what she must’ve felt.. 10/10 for this book. 🙂
Irene has encouraged me a lot as I read this book. Her fears of death and punishments is incomparable to others. She risked her own life just to give the best to everyone. Irene did it not only because she needed to, but also because she wanted to! Would you do the same thing if you were in her position? Irene did everything she could to make it possible. She is right; we Young ones have the POWER to make Anything, Everything possible. Believe in yourself, and never lose hope. God has purpose for everything, Indeed.
Many of us are still questioning and waiting for answers. How harsh must we be to get what we want? Were the SS just full of ice inside? How about the Germans, did they care at all? In my opinion, Cruelty, nor Punishment is never the answer. Patience, and loyalty is. Thinking about it, the Russians and the Germans never really put their mind into it. They wanted it all. It was full of hatred and greediness. I really don’t know why they hated Jews, and for what reasons, but I’m sure not everyone was a full participant. In Irene’s story, it tells how Mjr.Rugemer helped her and her friends to get out of trouble. When he left her at the hotel, I had a feeling he left her there on purpose, to let her escape and find her own way. Herr Schulz also helped her out in some way, though never admitting, or never wanting to know her plans. Some people did things because they didn’t want trouble for themselves. Some people did it for their family’s sake. And some, some did it because they believed it was the right thing to do, and that they were the leaders. Not all were full of hate. So many Germans, Russians, and Polish tried to help. One example would be Oscar Schindler. He was a business man that was supposed to make money out of war, but instead, he used the money to help the Jews. They worked for him in his factory. He risked his life and did as Irene had for her friends. He bribed the Nazis that guarded his factory, and used up all his savings to feed the Jews. He wanted to help so much, that even at the end, he felt devastated for not thinking of selling his ring, or his car. He wanted to save them all! These people are true heroes. God has a purpose for these happenings, and I think it’s the moral that has put into it, and the encouragement, the sacrificing… He made us give ourselves more value and also give more means to people around us. Irene wanted to give a message, and it’s to make a difference by always remembering that God is there to guide you, no matter what.
Irene has given the best she could for everyone. She never gave up on people, and she did as she promised. Irene gave not only her body, but willingly, her soul. She kept every hidden trace of her mourns. God gave her answers along the way and she chose the right path every time; nothing was inexplicable. If I was in Irene’s position, I would have also helped the Jews. To me, everyone of us is an Individual. Being an individual gives as rights to give our own opinions, and think our own way. Unfortunately, not everyone thinks the good way, and this gives us a challenge. I would have taken the opportunity to take how ever many Jews there were that I could have kept, and save them too. I would have helped and risked my life too. What she has done wasn’t easy at all, but she has encountered all these problems! I believe that Anyone can do what she did. I believe we have our own choices. Life is no magic, but I still believe it can me magical. Irene has put live colors into our world. We should too.
The whole ordeal in this book was amazing. If you were put in these situations that Irene went through, what would you have done. Would you bee able to hold 12 people in your Major’s basement? Would you have the courage to leave your family and help your friends survive?
Irene’s main message in this book is to show that anyone, no matter how powerless they may seem at a certain time, can always make some sort of difference in the world in their own way. Whether it is keeping twelve Jews alive during the holocaust or just doing something that you believe in. Any person, adult or teenager, can make a difference.
I believe that everyhting that has been said is true. Irene did risk her life to protect the lives of others and herself. I believe she did this because she felt a sort of lose during the whole experience. She nearly had lost all connections of any sort of communication with her family and decided that if she could not protect them, then she should try to protect others. She swore to her Jewish friends that she would do whatever she neede to do to keep them save and salive, and she dd. I personelly admire her strength and courage in what she did.
Not only is Irene very brave, but consider how young she is–first a teen and then in her early twenties. I think this is a great book for summer reading because there is so much to discuss as a group. YOUNG people really can make a difference in the world!
In this book,it talks about how Irene saw how the Germans were “getting rid” of Jews aka “the problem” by taking them to the ghetto and shooting them. What would you have done if you had seen this? Would have risked your life just to save them?
The main character of this book,Irene,she risked her own life and pride to save the innocent lives of her family,Jews and other citizens. This act,shows the readers that Irene is a very brave,courageous,thoughtful and a knowledgeable person. This book inspires kids and adults to do what they can for other human beings even if it risks their own lives.
I agree with Amylee about the beginning of this book,but I also think that the author decides to write what happens before Hitler became President of Germany was because she wanted to show the readers how drastically the lives of the people of Poland changed.
In the beginning of the book, Irene talks about wanting to become a nun, she talks about devoting her life to others. I believe this part of the book is foreshadowing Irene’s later action because ultimately this was her fate. She valued everyone else’s lives over hers and only wished good upon others.
In the book, Irene talks about the callousness of the Germans. Many of us think how can a person be so cruel and uncaring? What could the Jewish possibly have done to cause the Germans to react so violently? Was it anger, jealously, or just plain inhumanity?
I agree, that Irene was very couragious during the war. She not only managed to survive herself, but she saved many other lives along the way. She definetly saved twelve Jewish lives, but she may have indirectly saved many others lives too. She never thought about herself or her life, but only of the others around her. Irene is very inspirational to many, not only to teenagers, but to adults to. She proves that no matter your age, you can accomplish anything that you set your mind to.