Almost completely unknown Irene Gut

If it were not for an accident, probably for a long time I would not know anything about Irene Gut. Precisiely if Dan Gordon did not write a play, if Michael Parva did not direct it and Tovah Feldshuh did not play a heroine and if accidentally I did not watch TV at proper moment I would not hear about Irene Gut – Polish woman who saved twevle Polish Jews.

During the World War II Irene Gut was forced to work as a housekeeper for a prominent German officer. For almost two years she had a courage to protect and give shelter fo twelve Jews. She hid them in a villa of her “employer” – mentioned above German. When he got to know her “mystery” gave her a dramatic choice – she could stay his mistress and save twelve Jewish lives or cause that her “charges” would be given away for sure death. For Irene Gut there was only one possible choice. She decided to sacrifice her dignity and purity to save people’s lives. For an ardent catholic woman it was a really dramatic decision, but she did not have doubts that her duty as a human being and catholic was to act on behalf of her neighbours.

It is a strongly impressive story, but In Poland only few heard about Irene Gut. Myself, tohugh I am Pole interested in contemporary and past relations between Poles and national minorities and ethnic groups, in Polish history, have not heard about courageous Irene Gut. I confess it is a shame. But I blame not only myself, there is a great negligence of Polish magazines, Polish press, Polish media at all, Polish schools, educational system, Polish Univeristies, etc. I have been always interested in searching and finding such stories like that about Irene Gut and have not come across even mention of her anywhere.

It is difficult to understand. Now in Poland we are witnesses of a wonderful rerbirth of interest in Jewish history and culture. Many exhibitions, many concerts, many books, articles, documentary films dovoted to Polish Jews, to Polish Righteous among the nations and almost complete ignorance with regard to Irene Gut.

I am a little bit ashamed.


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