Unsung Heroine: Irena Sendler

Irena Sendler (1900 -1998)

WARSAW – A 98 year-old Irena died 12 May 2008. Irena Sendler was born in 1910 in Otwock, a town some 15 miles southeast of Warsaw. She was greatly influenced by her father who was one of the first Polish Socialists. As a doctor his patients were mostly poor Jews. In 1939, Germany invaded Poland, and the brutality of the Nazis accelerated with murder, violence and terror. At the time, Irena was a Senior Administrator in the Warsaw Social Welfare Department, which operated the canteens in every district of the city. Previously, the canteens provided meals, financial aid, and other services for orphans, the elderly, the poor and the destitute. Now, through Irena, the canteens also provided clothing, medicine and money for the Jews. They were registered under fictitious Christian names, and to prevent inspections, the Jewish families were reported as being afflicted with such highly infectious diseases as typhus and tuberculosis.
But in 1942, the Nazis herded hundreds of thousands of Jews into a 16-block area that came to be known as the Warsaw Ghetto. The Ghetto was sealed and the Jewish families ended up behind its walls, only to await certain death. Irena Sendler was so appalled by the conditions that she joined Zegota, the Council for Aid to Jews, organized by the Polish underground resistance movement, as one of its first recruits and directed the efforts to rescue Jewish children.
Irena, got permission to work in the Warsaw ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist. She had an ‘ulterior motive’ … She KNEW what the Nazi’s plans were for the Jews, (being German.) Irena smuggled infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried and she carried in the back of her truck a burlap sack, (for larger kids.)
She also had a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto.
The soldiers of course wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the kids/infants noises.
During her time of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2500 kids/infants. She was caught, and the Nazi’s broke both her legs, arms and beat her severely.
Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she smuggled out and kept them in a glass jar, buried under a tree in her back yard.
After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived it and reunited the family. Most had been gassed.
Those kids she helped got placed into foster family homes or adopted.
Last year Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize … She was not selected.
Al Gore won, for a slide show on Global Warming.
It is now more than 60 years after the Second World War in Europe ended.
20 million Russians, 10 million Christians, 6 million Jews and 1,900 Catholic priests were murdered, massacred, raped, burned, starved and humiliated with the German and Russian Peoples looking the other way!
Now, more than ever, with Iraq , Iran , and others, claiming the Holocaust to be ‘a myth,’ it’s imperative to make sure the world never forgets, because there are others who would like to do it again.

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Filed under School, Student, Teacher, Unsung Heroine

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