Irena Sendler

Irena Sendler

15 febrero, 1910 - 12 marzo, 2014

"If being a saint is complete devotion to a cause, bravery and altruism, then I think Mrs Sendlerowa fulfils all the conditions.I think about her the way you think about someone you owe your life to." - Michal Glowinski


Irena Sendler risked her life to save over 2, 500 Jewish babies and children during the Second World War. Her role in the Polish underground was extensive and her work in many ways changed the course of Jewish history. As part of the underground movement Zegota, Sendler and her compatriots smuggled out Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto, provided them with false papers and found housing for them. Sadly, many of these children would never see their parents again. Sendler was twice married and had three children. She died in 2008, leaving behind her daughter Janina.

The Warsaw ghetto was the largest Jewish ghetto in Europe. At one point it housed over 400, 000 Jews from all over Europe. It is estimated that at least 300, 000 of those people were killed; either by way of extermination camps, hunger, disease or as casualties of war. The ghetto was created in 1940, sealing off a large portion of Warsaw with a large wall. Although Jewish cultural life flourished, even under such harsh conditions, life in the ghetto was hard. Unemployment rates were staggering, hunger was rampant as was disease and the constant risk of death. Throughout the 3 or so years of it's existance, over 250, 000 residents were sent to Treblinka to be murder by the Nazis. After the Warsaw ghetto uprising in 1943, the Nazis destroyed the ghetto and sent the remaining Jews to their deaths.

Irena Sendler was employed by the Social Welfare Department as a nurse. Beginning in 1939, Sendler and her sister began creating false documents for Jews and aided in their hiding. By 1943, sensing the impending disaster, Sendler was appointed by the Underground Polish Council as head of Zegota's Jewish children's section. Her and her cohorts would enter the ghetto under the guise of seeking and treating Typhus victims. The Nazis were paranoid of Typhus being transmitted outside of the ghetto. Sendler would then sneak babies and children out of the ghetto in ambulances and delivery trucks. Once out, the children would be given new idenities and placed either in secret homes, orphanages or convents. A little known fact is the role the Catholic nuns in Warsaw played in safeguarding Jewish children.

Sendler clandestine work was destined to be exposed and in 1943 she was arrested by the Gestapo. It is unbelievable that after the literal torture she was put through, she never once revealed any information to the Nazis. The Gestapo broke her legs and feet, beat her brutally and soon sentenced her to death. Luckily on the way to her execution, German guards were bribed and she was able to escape. Sendler remained in hiding until the end of the war.

Although she detested being described as one, Irena Sendler was a true hero. In the face of death, torture and inhumanity, her and her compatriots found the courage to resist. These acts of resistence characterizes the triumph of good in a world that often seems so full of hatred. Irena Sendler was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, given the Order of the White Eagle by the Polish government and was posthumously granted the Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award. Sendler died in Warsaw in 2008 at the age of 98 and is survived by her daughter. Truly a life well lived.

You can read more about her life at the Jewish Virtual Library.

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Nombre Irena Sendler
Fecha de nacimiento 15 febrero, 1910
Fecha de defunción 12 marzo, 2014
Ciudad de origen Warsaw, Masovian Voivodeship, PL 
Otra ciudad Warsaw, Masovian Voivodeship, PL 
Frase favorita "Let me stress most emphatically that we who were rescuing children are not some kind of heroes. Indeed, that term irritates me greatly. The opposite is true. I continue to have pangs of conscience that I did so little."

Página conmemorativa

Cementerio Powązki Cemetery
Dirección 14 Powązkowska
Warsaw Masovian Voivodeship
Momento importante

Momentos importantes

1910 Born Irena Krzyżanowska in Warsaw
1917 Her father Dr. Stanisław Krzyżanowski dies
1939 Her and her sister begin creating false documents for thousands of Jews
1943 Enters the ghetto and beings smuggling children out
1943 By the end of 1943, Sendler is caught be the Gestapo and brutally tortured
1947 Divorces Mieczyslaw Sendler
1947 Marries Stefan Zgrzembski. They have 3 children together
1959 Divorces Stefan Zgrzembsk
1959 Remarries Mieczyslaw Sendler(they soon divorce again)
2003 Receives a personal letter of gratitude from Pope John Paul II
2007 Nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize
2007 Receives the Order of the Smile
2007 Honoured by the Polish government
2009 Posthumously granted the Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award


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Kat published a tribute .

how could i never have heard about you in your lifetime? you've done more good in this world than anyone. blessings on your family and those of all you saved, you amazing woman!

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