So many books have been published concerning the events that took place since the World War II and the unethical events that took place during the times of the Holocaust. This book- In My Hands by Irene Gut Opdyke who is also known by the name Irena Gutowna is a real life true story. This story is written in a manner that shows the heroism that an individual can rise up to when such kinds of situations arise. Irene Gut was born in the year 1922, in a small town in the Eastern part of Poland called Koziencice. She was the eldest in a loving family of five siblings that were all female. This family was religious and had an identity that was linked to the Polish Catholic denomination. As events would have it, she ended up losing her home, her family, and eventually her innocence.
This story is told from a point where Irene Gut was a nursing student in the St. Mary’s Hospital that was situated in Random, Poland. This was during the World War II and no one seemed to be sure about the impending danger that loomed over this region. On September 1, 1939, the day that these atrocities began, Irene Gut was at the St. Mary’s Hospital seated in her Desk catching up with her studies when that downpour of the German bombs began to descend upon this area. This led to a state of panic where everyone was scared for their lives and confused which led to them running away to seek shelter form these lethal weapons. Irene Gut’s first show of brevity in this book is depicted in her efforts to try helping people to safety then tending to the needs of the people who were injured during the first raid of the German troops.
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Irene Gut was later viciously beaten and raped by a group of Russian soldiers that caused her to lose her innocence. This was a brutal act done by the Russian soldiers and as a result would have a detrimental effect on the life of an individual. She was involved in a number of captivity situations, which she evaded and managed to escape when she was caught. This was her own way of fighting against the German Nazis who had destroyed her life as she once knew it. Irene Gut used her ability to speak German and her undoubtedly good looks to charm her way through many situations that were going to be of her survival or for the efforts against the Nazis. Her good looks erased the doubt that she could be a member of any resistance group. This led to her being forced to work a part of the munitions team in the German camp and later being shifted to work in the officers dining room in a hotel near the place described as a Jewish Ghetto. She worked in the Laundry room and Kitchen of the institution. This was within the Tarnpol area of the ghetto.
The work at Jewish Ghetto
This is the point where her life begins to take a turn around as she begins getting more and more involved with the resistance groups. She began by sneaking out food from her work place and hiding it under a fence at that linked to the Jewish Ghetto. This was the conception of a fully pledged resistance fighter to the Jewish Partisans as we later came to see. Irene Gut used her proximity to the German soldiers to listen into conversations where she learnt what the German army was going to do to the people of the Jewish Ghetto. The Partisan Freedom Fighters were a group of Jewish citizens who were able to escape from the ghetto life and away from the concentration camps. Their main objective was to aid the Jewish communities win the war against the invading Germans. Their main hiding place was within the wooded forests of Poland where they survived on very little supplies and tools that they used in their fight against the Germans. They were always being hunted down so they became a nomadic group. These freedom fighters then used this information in the fight against the German troops. Her position in this group drove her to taking more and more risks such as the smuggling the Jewish people to the places of hiding in the forests of Poland.
Irene Gut was later given the job of being a house keeper to a German Major. During the time that she worked at the officers dining quarters, the most daring encounter she had was when she hid twelve Jewish people while in the duty of this German major. She hid these individual in the basement of her bosses establishment. She saved the lives of these individuals as the ghetto was going to be liquidated. She was able to hide these individuals in this basement for almost a year before they were discovered.
The German Major could have blown the whistle in this matter but chose another route. She offered Irene Gut a different deal. He asked her to become his mistress and that that would be the buying price for his silence. At the time, this was the only way she could save herself and this group of twelve individuals so she chose to go along with it. She had to tolerate this for months before the Germans started losing ground in their battle against the Russians. Not many people would have done what she was able to do. After this, she was able to plan and execute their escape into the forest.
In this book, she speaks that she had already been a resistance fighter for so long that she could no longer see herself doing anything else with her life. Her pledge against the German army was true as she vowed to continue fighting against this colonist nation. Her undoubted devotion to the enemies of Poland made her want to live her life the way it had already formed into. Her efforts to this resistance saw her rise to reach the most wanted list that was drafted by The Russian Red Army.
One would think that since the Germans retreated back to their own homes things would get better. After the removal of this army, the Soviet nation took over its place. The new authority in Poland arrested Irene Gut. She was able to escape out of these places. The Jews that she had once helped this time returned the favor. This was an ironic twist of faith. They helped her evade the Soviets by disguising her to fit the description of a Jew; she was later transferred to a camp where the displaced people in Germany came to seek shelter. The Soviets were hot on her trails but she managed to escape the wroth that was to be dealt to her.
The Russian Army arrested Irene Guts family that included her mother and sisters. This was done in order to get information on her whereabouts. This was a waste of resources, as they did not get anything out of them. Irene Gut knew that her proximity of the United Nations at the time to her family would only cause them more harm so she chose to avoid this. At the camp William Opdyke who was a delegate of the United Nations at the time interviewed her and approved her emigration.
Emigration to the United States
In the year 1949, at the age of 26, Irene Gut emigrated to the United States of America. She sailed unaccompanied to the New York Harbor so as to start a brand new life. Five years after they had met and he had approved her emigration, Irene Gut and William Opdyke met by chance at a cafeteria in the UN. The couple got married six weeks after that fateful day.
This story would never have been heard if it wasn’t for the situation where she heard a neo-Nazi mention that the Holocaust was a fraud. This led to her decision to share her story with the whole world. The story that is told by Ms. Gut touches on different aspect of the war. It tells of the obliteration of Poland, the illusory nature of the war, the cruelty and brutality of the invading armies that was expressed on the Poles and Jews. As a woman, she faced situations that are more difficult but still managed to come through whenever she was called upon.
The incredible risks that these Jewish rescuing operations had to be organized and executed were an indication of the limits that some individuals were willing to rebel against the invading Soviet nation. Irene Gut has been inducted into the Righteous Among the Nations and has even planted a tree on the Avenue of the Righteous that is in Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, Israel. The day that she never thought will come was one that she was finally reunited with her four sisters. Not much is said about her sibling in this book (Monroe 2004).