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Maria Morera Johnson reviews a film based on a true story about a Polish woman who risked everything to save lives during the Holocaust.

Irena's Vow (2023), directed by Louise Archambault, left me speechless. Based on a true story, the film focuses on Irena Gut, a Polish woman conscripted to serve as housekeeper to a Nazi officer in Warsaw after it fell to the Nazis. Irina witnesses an unspeakable atrocity against a mother and infant. Powerless to do anything to protect them, she returns to work, shaken. Her supervisor, a kind German civilian, instructs her to keep to herself and survive as she can. She willin a heartbreaking sacrifice. 




Irena supervises a group of Jews forced into labor as tailors to the German officers. They become her friends, sharing the fear of their impending deaths. Irena becomes their source of information for the progression of the Nazi plan in their village. She learns they will be executed soon and acts quickly to hide them in the German officer’s cellar.  

As housekeeper, Irena has the run of the household, and keeps her friends hidden for many months before being discovered. During this period, we learn about Irena's vow to save as many lives as she can. Her vow, buoyed by her Catholic conviction, saves one more life. 




In the 1980s, while living in Miami, I had the unique experience of meeting Holocaust survivors. Each personal story of survival carried with it the meaning of the dignity of the human person. When we think of the Holocaust, images from death camps spring to mind, and certainly, as the heinous end for the 6 million persons murdered at the hand of Nazis. We should also know the other stories of that persecution, stories that should horrify and enrage us as we contemplate the depths of the inhumanity that led to those camps.  

Irena's Vow is one such story of courage, the instinct for survival, remarkable generosity, and the ultimate miracle of life. 

Highly recommended for mature teens and older. In theaters April 15-16. Tickets and information are available at FathomEvents.com.




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Copyright 2024 Maria Morera Johnson
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