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Irena Sendler

POLAND, 1910 – 2008

Activist, social worker and a whole lot of heroin, Irena Sendler saved the lives of 2,500 children from the Warsaw ghetto. The Third Reich could not against the courage of the Polish Catholic who was saved from being executed and went underground. Belatedly, he has received numerous awards and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 2007. A year later, he died.

Until 1999, nothing was known about Irena Sendler. After World War II this woman, social worker, activist and Catholic, lived in absolute anonymity, attending the most deprived people, loading mourning her son Adam and always acting with stealth, as if permanently keep a secret. He said not to be repented of risks assumed during the war that the Nazis faced in defense of human rights and in the name of social justice. Irena it was clear from the beginning until the end of his days rescuing 2,500 children from the Warsaw ghetto was “justification of my existence and not a title to glory”, as he said in a letter to the Polish Parliament and therefore “we are not some kind of heroes. On the contrary, I still have pangs of conscience for having done very little”.

rena Sendlerowa born on February 15, 1910 in Otwock, south of Warsaw. I had no brothers and suffered the death of his father when he was only seven years. The maturity fell on him. Suddenly. The man, a country doctor who died of typhus for helping the disadvantaged, mostly Jews, marked her for the rest of his life. “If you see someone drowning you must try to save even if they know how to swim,” he said Stanislaw Krzyzanowski, and dying. And he did. In his personal career and in the exercise of their profession respected and loved our neighbor without distinction of any kind.

In the heart of German domination, “Jolanta” fictitious-name in the war years working in the Department of Social Welfare Warsaw. As a social worker took food canteens, blankets to shelter the elderly and medicine to the sick. Also money, and created false documents to some 3,000 Jewish families. Shortly later join the Council for Aid to Jews, Zegota, where he was responsible for the child unit. Was responsible for a team of 24 women and one man.

Irena challenged his own strength when once built the Warsaw ghetto, she decided to enter and pass through the streets wearing an armband with the Star of David as a symbol of solidarity and in his attempt to go unnoticed. Between walls managed to move into the limited space of action that the Nazis had granted the Jews. Belonging Department of Epidemiological Control of the capital gave some assurance, though the death threat was always there: the penalty for helping Jews was unmistakable.

Ran 1942 and the decisions of the Third Reich dropped full force. Against all caution, but with unflinching courage that characterized, was rescuing Jewish children from the ghetto. The lowest of all is a small five months now leads the association Children of the Holocaust, in Warsaw. A Elzbieta Ficowska, Irena Sendler cleared in a wooden box with holes so he could breathe. At this point any method worth when Jews faced certain death. Bags, tool chests, caskets stretchers and ambulances were useful to save from death the children of the ghetto media. But the hardest part was separating children from their mothers, Irena said anxiously. A memory that pursued until his last days, with the look of a mother who also knew what it was to lose a child, his own Adam, decades later, in 1999, of heart failure.

The other children “Jolanta”, however, managed to live. One, two, three, and up to 2,500 were rescued from inside the walls and taken to churches and incorporated into Catholic families. Irena had changed their names, which jealously guarded in bottles then buried in the apple tree in the house of a neighbor, across the ravines of the German police. Hoped to recover them in the near future to restore their past. Irena lived the atrocities of World War II thinking peacetime.

But before you see the light, Irena suffered the Nazi horror firsthand. On 20 October 1943 he was arrested at his home by the Gestapo and taken to Pawiak where he was brutally tortured. “I still carry the marks on my body that these “supermen Germans” did to me. I he was sentenced to death”, he said. “They broke the feet and legs, but failed to reveal the whereabouts of the children who had hidden or the identity of its employees”, said Anna Mieszkwoska, author of the children’s mother Holocaust biography. Minutes before his execution, Zegota managed to bribe a German guard to save Irena death. He was finally released and went underground.

Although it is difficult to understand, the world did not know of Irena Sendler until 1999. As an irony of life, that fateful year this Polish nurse lost her son Adam, but was reunited with “your children” Warsaw Ghetto. A group of students from Kansas rescue its history under the rubble of shame and throw to light his private battle against weapons, hatred and discrimination, spreading it through a play called Life in a Jar. Later, the media echo this feat would.

One of the children recognized the face of “Jolanta” and telephoned Warsaw. “I remember your face, you are who got me out of the ghetto.” Glowinski, Polish literary critic, and one of the few children rescued by Irena who was reunited with his parents at the end of World War II, wrote in his memoirs, The Black Seasons: “I owe my life to Mrs. Sendler.” For the historian Jacek Leociak award for the book Karol Malcuzynski The Warsaw Ghetto, “it was light in the terrible darkness of the ghetto.” Megan Stewart created the website “Life in a Jar: the Irena Sendler Project” after understanding that “my life has been forever touched by his testimony of the victory of good over evil”.

Visits to the elderly of almost ninety years succeeded and grew under the warning of his daughter, Janka, that whoever entered her room crying out. Wise, kind, wise and elegant, so remember this Polish woman prostrate finished his last years in a wheelchair at a nursing home in Warsaw, next to a table full of flowers, medicinal and pictures. “It was a terribly touching a real pacifist who has saved many lives encounter. She has one of the brightest smiles I’ve ever seen, “said Joachim Wieler, who traveled from Germany to Poland to offer the highest distinction awarded the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) on its 50th anniversary in 2006, in response their humanitarian acts during World War II.

In addition to this recognition, Irena held the title of “Righteous Among the Nations of the World ‘awarded by the Yad Vashem Institute of the State of Israel, the Ente Remembrance of the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes (1965). The Polish Government was also expressed after a long silence that lasted more than half a century. In November 2003 he received the President, Aleksander Kwasniewski, the highest civilian award given by Poland: the Order of the White Eagle, while the Senate noted for his “humanitarian values​​” in the Declaration of March 14, 2007. that same year he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, an award that went to Al Gore. Almost a year later, the “Schindler of Warsaw” died in the Polish capital at 98 years of age.