Irena Sendler was a social worker who resisted the Nazi occupation of Poland.
She first worked independently with Matylda Getter, and later joined the Zegota. They smuggled infants and toddlers from the Warsaw Ghetto and gave them new identities and new families. She carried out the children in toolboxes, potato sacks and body bags. She wrote their real names in code and put the information in jars which she buried in her neighbor’s yard.
In 1943, they arrested her and, during her interrogation, they broke her legs and arms. The Zegota bribed the guards with a bag of money to spare her life and she was left unconscious by the side of the road.
Sendler later uncovered the jars and tried to reunite the children with their families. There were few survivors.
In 1965, Yad Vashem recognized Irena Sendler as Righteous Among the Nations.
In 2003, Poland awarded Sendler its highest distinction, the Order of White Eagle.
She was also nominated for awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. However, she was not given that honor. She died in 2008.
She saved 2,500 lives.
- Yad Vashem – link
- International Federation of Social Workers – Nobel Peace Prize nomination
- Irena Sendler Project – site
- Holocaust Forgotten – children create play
- Auschwitz.dk – short bio
- The Guardian – insists she is not a hero
- History’s Hero’s – link
- Snopes.com – link (this is where I started)