RIP Irena Sendler

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on May 14, 2008

The Jerusalem Post reports:

When Germany invaded Poland in the fall of 1939, Sendler was just shy of her 30th birthday.

"The whole of Poland was drowning in blood, but the Jewish nation was suffering the most, with the Jewish children the most vulnerable," she recalled.

Sendler and a group of friends in the Warsaw municipality's social welfare department started producing false documents to provide Jews in the ghetto with monetary assistance that the Germans had cut off.

After 1940 the ghetto was closed off to non-Jews, and Sendler and her friends could not get in to distribute the funds.

She soon learned that one sanitation company was still allowed into the ghetto. Sendler got the Polish director of the service to employ her and 10 friends so they could continue helping Jews.

For the next two years, dressed as nurses, Sendler and her friends carried food, money, and medicine hidden in their dresses to ghetto residents. As conditions deteriorated, and the liquidation of ghetto began, Sendler came to the realization that the only chance for the children to survive was to escape.

In 1942, she joined the Polish underground movement, "Zegota," and, with the help of a dozen friends, initiated a large-scale clandestine campaign to save Jewish children. "You know the people, we have the money," the president of the organization told her, she recalled.

Acting on information provided by two Jewish policemen in the ghetto, Sendler and her friends went to Jewish homes in areas that were to be liquidated first and offered to save the children.

"We would go into the houses slated for deportation, and would tell the family members we can't help everybody, but we will help the children," she said.

When asked by the families what guarantee she could give that the children would survive, Sendler could only tell them that she was not even sure that she and the children would get out of the ghetto alive.

Sendler and her friends managed to save 2,500 children.

Read the whole thing.

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