Posted by: Elena's Israel Blog | 08/30/2011

Who Gets the Prize?

Irena Sendler – In MEMORIAM – 63 YEARS LATER

There recently was a death of a 98 year-old Christian woman named Irena. During WWII, Irena got permission to work in the Warsaw ghetto as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist. She had an ‘ulterior motive’.  She KNEW what the Nazis’ plans were for the Jews (being German).  Irena, who wore a yellow star armband as a sign of her solidarity to Jews,  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. Irena had a remarkable record of cooperation when placing the youngsters: “No one ever refused to take a child from me,” she said. The children were given false identities and placed in homes, orphanages and convents. Irena Sendler carefully noted, in coded form, the children’s original names and their new identities. She kept the only record of their true identities in jars buried beneath an apple tree in a neighbor’s back yard, across the street from German barracks, hoping she could someday dig up the jars, locate the children and inform them of their past. In all there were 2500 names in that jar.

Warsaw Ghetto

On October 20, 1943 she was caught by the Nazis, arrested, imprisoned and tortured by the Gestapo, who broke her feet and legs. She ended up in the Pawiak Prison, but no one could break her spirit. Though she was the only one who knew the names and addresses of the families sheltering the Jewish children, she withstood the torture that crippled her for life, refusing to betray either her associates or any of the Jewish children in hiding. Sentenced to death, Irena was saved at the last minute when Zegota, (the Council for Aid to Jews) members bribed one of the Gestapo agents to halt the execution. She escaped from prison but for the rest of the war she was pursued by the Nazis. 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 dug up the jars and used the notes to track down the 2,500 children she placed with adoptive families and to reunite them with relatives scattered across Europe. But most had lost their families to gassing during the Holocaust in Nazi death camps. Those kids she helped got placed into foster family homes or adopted.  The children had known her only by her code name Jolanta. But years later, after she was honored for her wartime work, her picture appeared in a newspaper. “A man, a painter, telephoned me,” said Sendler, “`I remember your face,’ he said. `It was you who took me out of the ghetto.’ I had many calls like that!”

In 2009 Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize.  She was not selected.  The winner that year was selected for his work as a community organizer for ACORN. And another person won in 2007 for a slide show on Global Warming.

It is now more than 60 years after the Second World War in Europe ended.  This blog post is in memory of the 6 million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians and 1,900 Catholic priests who were murdered, massacred, raped, burned, starved and humiliated!

Irena Sendler did not think of herself as a hero. She claimed no credit for her actions. “I could have done more,” she said. “This regret will follow me to my death.” She has been honored by international Jewish organizations – in 1965 she accorded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by the Yad Vashem (Holocaust Museum) organization in Jerusalem and in 1991 she was made an honorary citizen of Israel.

Now, more than ever, with 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.

“In those times there was darkness everywhere. In heaven and on earth, all the gates of compassion seemed to have been closed. The killer killed and the Jews died and the outside world adopted an attitude either of complicity or of indifference. Only a few had the courage to care …”  – Louis Bülow




  1. Thanks for keeping this story alive!

  2. […] Who Gets the Prize? ( […]

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