During WWII, Irena, got permission to work in the Warsaw Ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist. She had an ulterior motive...
Irena, a non-Jewish social worker, KNEW what the Nazi's plans were for the Jews, (being German).
Irena smuggled infants out in the bottom of her tool box she carried, and she also 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 and course of doing this, she smuggled out and saved the lives of 2500 kids/infants.
She was caught, and the Nazi's broke both her legs and 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, of course, had been gassed. Those, she helped were placed into foster family homes or adopted.
In 1965, Sendler was recognized by Yad Vashem as a Righteous Among the Nations, which was confirmed in 1983 by the Israeli Supreme Court. She also was awarded the Commanders Cross by the Israeli Institute.
In 2003, Pope John Paul II sent a personal letter to Sendler, praising her wartime efforts.
On 10 October 2003, Irena Sendler received the Order of the White Eagle, Poland's highest civilian decoration. She was also awarded the Jan Karski Award "For Courage and Heart," given by the American Center of Polish Culture in Washington, D.C..
On 14 March 2007 Sendler was honored by Poland's Senate. Polish President Lech Kaczyński stated that she "can justly be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize" (though nominations are supposed to be kept secret). At age 97, she was unable to leave her nursing home to receive the honor, but she sent a statement through Elżbieta Ficowska, whom Sendler had saved as an infant.
Sendler was the last survivor of the Children's Section of the Żegota Council for Assistance to the Jews, which she had headed from January 1943 until the end of World War II.
Additionally, The LIFE IN A JAR PROJECT has been set up in her honor to continue to fund projects that heal the world.
One sad note that needs to also be healed. Irena was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize....She was competing against Al Gore.
It's not too late to have her nominated again and have this omission repaired. She is a war hero and an icon of FAMILY PRESERVATION. I proudly present Irena Sendler with a posthumous Family Preservationist Award of the year 2008.
Thanks for posting this Mirah! I'd not heard of Irina before. I just posted a short blog about your blog to send people over here to read more about this extraordinary woman!
She's an amazingly well kept secret.
I had not heard of her before either. Thanks! Makes me proud to be Polish:-) She was truly a hero.
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