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In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer

Narrated by: Hope Davis
Length: 7 hrs and 6 mins
5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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

©2008 Irene Gut Opdyke (P)2015 Listening Library

Critic Reviews

"No matter how many Holocaust stories one has read, this one is a must, for its impact is so powerful." ( School Library Journal)
A Book Sense Top Ten Pick
A Publisher's Weekly Choice of the Year's Best Books

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  • Simone
  • 04-10-2016

Gripping Memoir

I have read an endless number of books that cover people’s experiences through WW2 and the Holocaust, and I continue to be riveted by the experiences of the survivors and the tales they lived to tell.

Throughout them all, I notice 3 consistent themes:

1 - Luck. Be it cruel or merciful, there is a lot of luck involved. The good or bad luck of being able to speak German, having a limp, having blond hair, looking Arian, having connections in the community, playing an instrument, being rich, being poor … Random accidents of birth leading to so many outcomes, both positive and negative, are so often attributed to either serendipity or misfortune.

2 - Courage. If you are blessed with good luck and have the brains to recognise it, the courage to DO SOMETHING is astonishing. As opposed to being frozen in fear, they take action! Driven by an unseen force to take incredible risks in order to help others and improve their own circumstances - admirable doesn’t begin to cover it! Would you be so brave in the same conditions?

3 - Resilience. The sheer force of will to live through it all and survive is not to be overlooked. The temptation to just give up must be so strong when day after day you are losing those around you and are subject to unspeakable horrors, yet these people just keep going and living and surviving! It’s beyond impressive.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • James R Terry, II
  • 16-06-2016

In My Hands

I could not quit listening. Hope Davis brought to life the struggles that the Jewish people faced.
As hard as it was to imagine the horrific atrocities they faced it is important that the story be told.
Thank you Ms Irene for telling your story and Jennifer Armstrong for bringing her history to life. I will listen to this book again and will make sure that my children listen as well. We should always be aware of what can happen when an evil dictator spoils the minds and hearts of people.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Jfm
  • 10-07-2016

Great story. But....

I always like to give fair and honest reviews of all of the books I listen to. This story is such a great story. And it is read very well by the narrator. That being said, this story is very tame in comparison to other holocaust era memoirs I've read.

Keep in mind that the main character is not Jewish, but a Polish national who did have issues with both the Russian and German military, but did not encounter nearly the same amount of trials and tribulations that Jews did during this period.

The numerous situations the mak character goes through make for a very interesting story and I listened in maybe 3 sittings.

Finally it is read very well in my opinion. The narrator does not have any displeasing traits in her voice that distracts you from the story. If you are like me and have read most holocaust memoirs already, give this a shot. It is interesting to hear it told from this point of view.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Nadine
  • 02-02-2017

Amazing story

I have read in my hands, but I needed to reread it and opted for the audio book. The narrator gave a brilliant performance moving me to tears at time. Irene's story needs to be told, especially now with the problems in the US government.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • amy woda
  • 11-10-2015

Loved this book.

Hope Davis does a wonderfull job . This was the first book on the Holocaust I've read from a Polish author. I highly recommend it.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-05-2019

WONDERFUL LIFE STORY

This is the definition of bravery, humanity and intelligence all in one. I have read numerous articles, books and editorials on the holocaust but this is my 1st book on a rescuer. I totally reccomend it to everyone

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Camille
  • 05-11-2016

Historically rich beautifully written

I have listened to and read many historical accounts during WWII. Some are dry and others try too hard. This is a wonderful book that touches many emotions without feeling overbearing or pushing the author's objective. I would highly recommend to anyone. The narration is great. Well done.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 15-07-2019

for me personally it was hard to understand

blah it was okay but was hard to understand the story line, the reader was great tho

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  • Patricia A. Reiland
  • 28-04-2019

Inspiring and Heroic

To say that Irene Gut Updyke is a WWII “hero” is a bold statement, almost no one has heard of this small, young, unassuming Polish girl. Yet she lived in a time that modern Americans cannot understand and the world can hardly grasp. Yet to survive the horrors perpetrated on the Jewish people at the hands of the Natzi regime requires extraordinary heroism. This young teen who thought more of her friends and family than she did for her own self preservation takes extraordinary character and fortitude. This story is told with the depths of emotion that you feel you are standing next to Irene in the retelling of her journey. How she suffered personally, you will also feel even as a quiet observer in listening to her story. This story will impact you, and it should. Let us never forget. Thank you Irene, Jennifer and Hope for having the courage to give this story life & meaning in the 21st century.

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  • Freedom Fighter
  • 18-03-2019

An Undiscovered Gem!

While there are as many stories of the Holocaust as the are/were survivors, this one is unusual and of particular interest. The narrative is done in first person, as she comes of age during the German invasion of Poland in September 1939. Poland was her home, and the only place she knew. As a Polish Catholic, she was not targeted for death as the Jews were, but was made into a slave housekeeper at a German military headquarters in Ternopol. She served a Nazi major as his personal housekeeper, while audaciously hiding 12 Jews in the basement of the major's estate, a house which was stolen from wealthy Polish Jews. She was "liberated" by the Red Army in 1945, suspected of being a spy, and held in a Soviet prison. She eventually made her way to the United States, and married the diplomat who offered her US asylum. She was honored as a "righteous among the nations" at Yad Vashem, in Jersusalem, Israel. I was honored to hear her daughter speak and tell her story at the Chabad of the Conjeo Center in Agoura Hills, CA in 2019.

If you are interested in the Holocaust, don't miss this one.

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  • Holly
  • 11-07-2019

Astounding

The true story of Irene Gut, a young Polish Catholic nurse and her life, specifically during the German occupation of Poland during WWII and some of the Russian communist occupation that followed. Gut endured terrible ordeals at the hands of both the Germans and the Russians but through all that somehow managed to remain strong and resilient. Holding firmly to her strong moral compass and her belief in the power of good over evil, Gut saved the lives of many German and Polish Jews whilst being forced to work as a housemaid for a high ranking German officer.

Being a true story of one of the most heinous times in history, it's going to be a compelling read but with stories like this one, it isn't always a given that the writing will be good or the characters compelling. But this book, written by Jennifer Armstrong after extensive interviews with Gut and research and interviews with others involved, is a masterpiece! Somehow Irene Gut was able to recall her life in such detail, down to the slightest sound or smell and she and Armstrong capture all of these so beautifully that you can see and hear and smell everything going on around you as though you are stood in the midst of it all!

This is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever seen, Through Hope Davis' beautiful narration, Gut describes her ordeals with honesty, humility and resoluteness and through it all even manages to find moments of kindness in her oppressors, she brings to life the best and very worst of what humanity is capable of and makes it understandable and deeply real. It made me smile, it made me cry and simultaneously made me despair for and restored my faith in humanity.