An email recently passed by my desk that has been circling the globe for almost a year. It was the story of one brave courageous heart that was broadcast as The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler, by the Hallmark Hall of Fame production broadcast on April 19, 2009. It is the story of the biography written by Anna Mieszkowska, titled; Mother of the Children of the Holocaust: The Irena Sendler Story.
Irena Sendler's Story is almost Unbelievable, and Yes it is True.
During World War II, Irena Sendler was a Polish activist of the Zegota, a Polish anti-Holocaust resistance in Warsaw, where she with up to twenty five other associates that she recruited, helped to save more than 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto. Together they provided these children with false documents and hid them in individual and group homes outside of the Ghetto.
In one story, Sendler received a permit to work in the Warsaw Ghetto as a plumber. With great courage, she smuggled babies in her tool box and carried larger children in her sack that she placed in the back of her truck. There with her dog that was trained her dog to bark when the Nazi soldiers were nearby, she smuggled the children, at time sedated, out of the ghetto where the barking dog muffled the sounds of the cries or sniffling of the children.
In other stories, Sendler was a social worker, who was refused entry into the Polish Ghetto surrounded by a wall and a fence where inside typhoid dysentery soon was rampant. With fake identity, she posed as a nurse, who was allowed to bring in food, clothing and medication into the ghetto. There she smuggled children out in suitcases, boxes, coffins, and sack, plus used a series of hidden basements and secret passages, one through the German courthouse, plus sewage manholes to spirit children out of the ghetto. There they were put into foster homes, orphanages, and Roman Catholic convents.
Sendler kept a record of the children's names in a glass jar buried under an apple tree in her friend’s backyard garden that was next door to the German barracks. She was later caught by the Gestapo and put in the Pawiak Prison, yet under intense interrogation, she refused to tell her captors who were her co-conspirators or give them the names of those children she had saved. There in prison, according to one legend, she with her co-workers made holes in the underwear of the German Gestapo. When this was discovered, they were all lined up and every other one of them was executed by shooting. The God of Israel spared her life.
Sendler was tortured and had one leg and angle fractured before she went unconscious. When she awoke, the Gestapo guard told her that he had accepted a bribe by the Zegota underground, added her name to those executed, and assisted in her escape where she remained in hiding for the rest of the war. The next day, the Germans announced the death of Irena Sendler on Germany’s national radio.
After the end of World War II, Sendler began a lengthy process of trying to reconnect as many of the Jewish children back with their families. This was most difficult for most of the adults had been sent to the Treblinka death camp, yet many of the children were reunited, some even to Israel.
On May 12, 2008, Irena Sendlerowa passed away at the age of 98 years of age with pneumonia. In the year of 2007, as the female “Oscar Schindler”, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, for saving the lives of over 3,000 Jews that included 2,500 children and over 500 adult, one of whom became her husband. To the disappointment of the International Federation of Social Workers, Sendler’s nomination was not accepted by instead given to Former U.S. Vice President Albert Gore and the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change.
The Life of Irena Sendler still resounds a powerful message to never forget the heroism to resist evil. This powerful message adequately portrayed this message in the above cartoon. Now after 63 years (1945-2008), may the message continue to be shared from one person to another.
Most of her life the heroic deeds of Sendler were buried by the efforts of the Russians against the Polish anti-fascist partisans. Unlike Oscar Schindler, whose life story was documented in the Academy Award Winning 1993 movie; “Schindler’s List”, Sendler heroism remained in obscurity until the year of 1999, four Kansas high school students wrote and performed her life story in a play called, “Life in a Jar”.
Now in its 10th year, Sendler has become world famous after 285 performances as of November 2009 have shown in the United States, Canada and Europe. Her last words to the play’s cast a week before her death was, “You have changed Poland, you have changed the United States, you have changed the world [by bringing Sendler's story to light]. Poland has seen great changes in Holocaust education, in the perception of the time and have provided a grand hero for their country and the world. I love you very, very much.”
In 1965 Sendler was recognized by Yad Vashem as one of the Righteous among the Nations, which was confirmed in 1983 by the Israeli Supreme Court. She also was awarded the Commander's Cross by the Israeli Institute. Only in that year did the Polish communist government allow her to travel abroad, to receive the award in Israel.
It is the hope that the Story of Irena Sendler will reach 40 million people. You are welcome to send a link to this post to any of your friends to remind them that there was a day in which Germany, Russia and even America turned a blind eye as over 6,000,0000 Jews plus 10 million Christians were murdered in the Holocaust.
Links to other sites of Irena Sendler:
Everyday Heroesby Zimbio
Irena Sendlerby Snoops Rumor has It
The Irena Sendler Storyby Urban Legends
Irena Sendlerby Wikipedia