In My Hands began as one non-Jew’s challenge to any who would deny the Holocaust. Much like The Diary of Anne Frank, it has become a profound document of an individual’s heroism in the face of the greatest evil mankind has known.
In the fall of 1939 the Nazis invaded Irene Gut’s beloved Poland, ending her training as a nurse and thrusting the sixteen-year-old Catholic girl into a world of degradation that somehow gave her the strength to accomplish what amounted to miracles. Forced into the service of the German army, young Irene was able, due in part to her Aryan good looks, to use her position as a servant in an officers’ club to steal food and supplies (and even information overheard at the officers’ tables) for the Jews in the ghetto. She smuggled Jews out of the work camps, ultimately hiding a dozen people in the home of a Nazi major for whom she was housekeeper.
An important addition to the literature of human survival and heroism, In My Hands is further proof of why, in spite of everything, we must believe in the goodness of people.
“Even among WWII memoirs–a genre studded with extraordinary stories–this autobiography looms large, a work of exceptional substance and style.... Readers will be riveted–and no one can fail to be inspired by Opdyke’s courage.”–Publishers Weekly, starred and boxed review
WINNER - YALSA Best Books for Young Adults
WINNER - ALA Best Books for Young Adults
WINNER - New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age
Irene Gut Opdyke has received international recognition for her actions: the Israeli Holocaust Commission named her one of the Righteous Among the Nations, a title given to those who risked their lives by aiding and saving Jews during the Holocaust, and so she was presented with the Israel Medal of Honor, Israel's highest tribute, in a ceremony at Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial; the Vatican has given her a special commendation; and her story is part of a permanent exhibit in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
Ms. Opdyke began to share her story only recently—after hearing the Holocaust denounced as a hoax or propaganda. She now travels the country, speaking to groups large and small, old and young.
Irene also opened her life, through many hours of interviews, to Jennifer Armstrong, a noted author of books for young adults, so that her story could continue to be told, even beyond her ability to tell it.