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Heroic WWII film is almost unbelievable, but it’s true!

Irena's Vow

Quiver Distribution

Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 04/12/24

A World War II heroine finally gets her due attention with a new feature film, 'Irena’s Vow.' This never-before-told story sounds wild but is based on fact.

It seems that every day we hear about a new book, movie, or TV series about World War II. What is it about that time period that so captures our interest?

Many of us living today had ancestors who fought in it, and it took place recently enough that it’s still well-remembered and heavily documented. 

But it’s more than mere proximity. The demarcation of good and evil feels so stark in World War II: Few wars had such a horrific evil hidden on one side. When the stakes are so high, no wonder storytellers return to this theme again and again. 

And World War II changed history: It feels personal, as we are still living out the consequences that affected us all. 

Whatever the reason, there is a seemingly endless demand for World War II stories, and we are quick to listen whenever a new one comes to light. 

A powerful untold story

One previously untold story of World War II will finally get its due attention with a new feature film, Irena’s Vow. It is the incredible true story of a Polish Catholic nurse who risked her life to help hide Jews persecuted by Nazi Germany during WWII. 

Irena’s story is so wild that it would hardly seem believable if it hadn’t actually happened.


Irena Gut was just 19 when she was promoted to housekeeper in the home of a highly respected Nazi officer, and found out that the Jewish ghetto was about to be liquidated. 

Determined to help Jewish workers, she decided to shelter them in the safest place she could think of, which just happened to be the basement of the German major’s house! 

Over the next two years, Irena used her wit, humor, and courage to hide her friends until the end of the German occupation, concealing them amid countless Nazi gatherings, a blackmail scheme, and even keeping secret the birth of a child. 

You can see the trailer here:

Theaters across the country will show Irena’s Vow on April 15 and 16. Anyone who loves a gripping, moving, edge-of-your-seat drama will want to watchthis film.

The power of faith

The best part is that it’s not some concocted Hollywood drama but a true story. 

Dan Gordon, screenwriter for Irena’s Vow, shared with Aleteia some of what led him to this amazing and unusual narrative:

Irena drew me to her story. Her story was neither something I read nor something I was told about. One evening I heard Irena speaking on a radio show [and] she had such a sense of pure faith… She was, after all, only 20 years old when it fell into her hands to save 12 Jews by hiding them in the basement of a German major without his knowledge. The idea was so outlandishly stupid that no one without perfect faith could have undertaken it. 


That faith became clearest when one of the married Jewish women became pregnant. They had discovered a hiding place under the gazebo and because there were three married couples they created a space called ” The Honeymoon Suite.” Even in hiding, life went on. Love went on. Intimacy between married couples went on. When the woman became pregnant the Jews collectively decided it would be too dangerous to bring a baby into the world they now inhabited. The major would be sure to hear the baby cry and that would mean death for all of them. 

They asked Irena, who had been a student nurse, to go to the pharmacy to get what was needed for an abortion. Irene had seen a baby ripped out his mother’s arms and killed before the mother was killed as well. That is when she made her vow to God that if it ever came into her hands to save a life, she would. She didn’t so much oppose the abortion on religious grounds, though she was a devout Catholic. Her reasoning was somehow more innocent. Hitler was not going to get another Jewish baby. 

She was utterly and completely convinced that God would let no harm befall them because of this baby. Ultimately she convinced not only the mother, but also the Jews hiding in the basement to have that same faith. They did. When we did the play of Irena’s Vow, on opening night on Broadway, to thunderous applause, the man who began his life as that baby conceived in the hiding place, walked out onto stage. So, oddly, what drew me to Irene’s story had almost nothing to do with the Holocaust and everything to do with faith, nothing to do with death and everything to do with life.

The lasting consequences of Irena’s courage

Bringing home the incredible consequences of Irena’s courage, each screening will be accompanied by exclusive video footage featuring Jeannie Smith, Irena’s real-life daughter, and Roman Haller, the baby who was conceived and born in captivity.

Lila Rose reacted to a powerful scene in the film when Irena chose to protect the unborn baby’s life, against terrible odds:

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Lila Rose (@lilaroseofficial)

Among all the World War II stories coming out this year, Irena’s Vow is the one to make sure to watch. Irena’s heroic faith and courage under unimaginable pressure is a story with great hope for our time.

HistoryMoviesWorld War II
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