Yesterday Irena Sendler died in Warsaw. She was a real hero, exceptional person, who appears rarely in all societies or nations. During the World War II she together with her friends and many other unknown people saved about 2.500 Jewish children from Warsaw ghetto.
Irena Sendler worked at that time as a social worker in a municipal office in Warsaw and also as a nurse. Many times as a nurse she visited Warsaw ghetto and “smuggled” little Jewish children hidden in packs, cartons, bags to the Aryan side of the city. Later on those children were taken and looked after by Polish families and nuns in convents. Members of Polish Resistance forged documents for those small survivers to hide their Jewish descent; according to those false documents they were Polish children.
All those people who were involved in helping Jews during the World War II in Poland were exposed to capital punishment. It was not necessary to save or hide Jews to be killed by German Nazis, it was enough to give food, slice of bread, a mug of water, clothing for fugitive from ghetto or from train going to the extermination camp, or for hiding Jews.
In October 1942 Irena Sendler was apprehended by Gestapo and sentenced to death, but her friends bribed a German warder, and even though she was in the list of executed people, she stayed alive.
For many years she was an unknown person, especially in communist Poland. As she was a member of anticommunist Polish Resistance, it was forbidden to talk about such persons in communist country, even if they were real heros.
Only in 1965 Irena Sendler was given the honourable title – the Righteous Among the Nations – title granted by Yad Vashem for people who helped and saved Jews during the horrific period of the war. Israel Institute as a first appreciated greatness, bravery and heroism of that fragile, modest and humble woman.
Irena Sendler was compared to Oskar Schindler, but it was not right. Schindler was a German entrepreneur and as a German he was not exposed to death penalty for his activities on behalf of the Jews, he did not risk his life helping Jews as Irena Sendler did.
She is an excellent example of a quiet, peacful hero, who does not search for a fame and publicity. She has been always smiled, modest, humble and good to all people, who were in need, who were poor and weak.
Irena Sendler was born and raised in Polish intelligentsia family. Her parents taught her that people deserve help regardless of their descent, nationality, material or social status, sex, race, religion. Her father was a doctor in a small town near Warsaw – in Otwock – were he treated mainly the Jewish poor and died when he caught typhus from his patients. It was her first lesson of the sacrifice on behalf of the other and she grasped that lesson very well.