Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Monday, May 12, 2014


Unit 1012 will honor and always remember Irena Sendler, a Heroine during the Holocaust every year on 12 May, as she passed away at the age of 98 on that date in 2008. We will remember her for saving Jewish children and she rightfully deserve to be recognized by the State of Israel as Righteous among the Nations. Her story should be an inspiration for us to support victims’ rights and the death penalty.

We will post information about her from Wikipedia and other links.


Irena Sendlerowa, chairman of children section of Polish underground Council to Aid Jews in Warsaw, who saved several thousands of Jewish children during Holocaust.
Irena Krzyżanowska
15 February 1910
Otwock, Poland
12 May 2008 (aged 98)
Warsaw, Poland
Social worker, humanitarian, Legend
Roman Catholic
Mieczyslaw Sendler (1931-1947;[1] divorced)
Stefan Zgrzembski (1947-1959; divorced; 3 children)
Mieczyslaw Sendler (1960s; divorced)
Stanisław Krzyżanowski
Janina Krzyżanowska

Irena Sendler (née Krzyżanowska, also referred to as Irena Sendlerowa in Poland, Nom de guerre Jolanta; 15 February 1910 – 12 May 2008) was a Polish nurse/social worker who served in the Polish Underground during World War II, and as head of children's section of Żegota, an underground resistance organization in German-occupied Warsaw. Assisted by some two dozen other Żegota members, Sendler smuggled some 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto and then provided them with false identity documents and with housing outside the Ghetto, saving those children during the Holocaust.

The Nazis eventually discovered her activities, tortured her, and sentenced her to death, but she managed to evade execution and survive the war. In 1965, Sendler was recognized by the State of Israel as Righteous among the Nations. Late in life she was awarded Poland's highest honor for her wartime humanitarian efforts. She appears on a silver 2008 Polish commemorative coin honoring some of the Polish Righteous among the Nations.

Irena Sendler [PHOTO SOURCE: http://izquotes.com/quote/265881]
Highlights from personal life

Irena Sendler was born as Irena Krzyżanowska on 15 February 1910 in Warsaw to Dr. Stanisław Krzyżanowski, a physician, and his wife, Janina. Her father died in February 1917 from typhus contracted while treating patients whom his colleagues refused to treat in fear of contracting the disease, among them many Jews. After his death, Jewish community leaders offered her mother help in paying for Sendler's education. Sendler studied Polish literature at Warsaw University, and joined the Polish Socialist Party. She opposed the ghetto-bench system that existed at some prewar Polish universities and defaced her grade card. As a result of her public protest she was suspended from the University of Warsaw for three years.

She married Mieczyslaw Sendler, but then divorced in 1947. In 1947, she married Stefan Zgrzembski, a Jewish friend from her university days. They had three children, Janina, Andrzej (who died in infancy) and Adam (who died of heart failure in 1999). She divorced Zgrzembski in 1959, and remarried her first husband, Mieczyslaw Sendler. This rematch also failed. She lived in Warsaw for the rest of her life and is survived by daughter, Janina "Janka" Zgrzembska.

German poster announcing officially the death penalty to every Pole who assists Jews, it reads:


W.r.t.: Capital punishment for support to Jews, who have left the jewish settlement without authorisation.

Of late numerous Jews have departed from the designated Jewish living district. They are as yet delayed in the District of Warsaw. I point your attention thereto, that by the third Decree of the Governor General concerning settlement allocation of the General Government (VBl. GG. S. 595) of 15.10.1941, not only the Jews who in this way, departed unauthorised from their allocated living district, will receive capital punishment, but that the same punishment awaits those, who knowingly aid such Jews by harbouring them. Hereby is not only included the furnishing of overnight facilities and health care, but also any additional assistance, for instance transportation in a vehicle of any sort, purchasing of Jewish business interests, and so forth. I hereby appeal to the residents of the District of Warsaw, with respect to any Jews, who are residing outside the designated Jewish living areas, to be immediately reported to the nearest police station or constabulary post. Those who participated in assisting Jews, or who at this time are assisting Jews, who from this point however to 9.9.42 at 16 hours, inform the nearest police service station, will NOT BE LEGALLY PROSECUTED. In the same way, punitive prosecution will not proceed against those, who from this point to 9.9.42 at 16 hours, deliver or report valuables purchased from Jews at Niska Street 20, Warsaw, or submit a declaration to the nearest police station or constabulary post.

Warsaw, 5th September, 1942.
The SS- and Police-führer of the District of Warsaw

Starving children in Warsaw Ghetto during the German occupation of Poland. Agfacolor photo.
World War II

During the German occupation of Poland, Sendler lived in Warsaw (prior to that, she had lived in Otwock and Tarczyn while working for urban Social Welfare departments). As early as 1939, when the Germans invaded Poland, she began aiding Jews. She and her helpers created more than 3,000 false documents to help Jewish families, prior to joining the organized Żegota resistance and the children's division. Helping Jews in German-occupied Poland meant all household members risked death if they were found to be hiding Jews, a punishment far more severe than in other occupied European countries.

In August 1943, Sendler (known by her nom de guerre: Jolanta) was nominated by the underground Polish Council to Aid Jews Żegota, to head its Jewish children's section. As an employee of the Social Welfare Department, she had a special permit to enter the Warsaw Ghetto to check for signs of typhus – something the Nazis feared would spread beyond the Ghetto. During these visits, she wore a Star of David as a sign of solidarity with the Jewish people and so as not to call attention to herself.

Sendler cooperated with others in Warsaw's Municipal Social Services department, and the RGO (Central Welfare Council), a Polish relief organization that was tolerated under German supervision. She and her co-workers organized the smuggling of Jewish children out of the Ghetto. Under the pretext of conducting inspections of sanitary conditions during a typhus outbreak, Sendler and her co-workers visited the Ghetto and smuggled out babies and small children in ambulances and trams, sometimes disguising them as packages.

Children were placed with Polish families, the Warsaw orphanage of the Sisters of the Family of Mary, or Roman Catholic convents such as the Little Sister Servants of the Blessed Virgin Mary Conceived Immaculate at Turkowice and Chotomów. Sendler worked closely with Zofia Kossak-Szczucka, a resistance fighter and writer, and with Matylda Getter, Mother Provincial of the Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary. Sendler and her cohorts helped rescue about 2,500 Jewish children in different education and care facilities for children in Anin, Białołęka, Chotomów, Międzylesie, Płudy, Sejny, Wilno, and other places. Some children were smuggled to priests in parish rectories. Mrs. Sendler’s group of about 30 volunteers, mostly women, managed to slip hundreds of infants, young children and teenagers to safety.

“She was the inspiration and the prime mover for the whole network that saved those 2,500 Jewish children,” Debórah Dwork, the Rose professor of Holocaust history at Clark University in Massachusetts, said. Professor Dwork, the author of “Children With a Star” (Yale University Press, 1991), said about 400 children had been directly smuggled out by Mrs. Sendler. She and her co-workers buried lists of the hidden children in jars in order to keep track of their original and new identities. Żegota assured the children that, when the war was over, they would be returned to Jewish relatives.

In 1943, Sendler was arrested by the Gestapo, severely tortured, the Gestapo beat her brutally, fracturing her feet and legs in the process, despite this Irena refused to betray any of her comrades or the children they rescued. Irena was sentenced to death by firing squad. The Żegota saved her by bribing German guards on the way to her execution. She was listed on public bulletin boards as among those executed. For the remainder of the war, she lived in hiding, but continued her work for the Jewish children. After the war, she and her co-workers gathered together all of their records with the names and locations of the hidden Jewish children and gave them to their Żegota colleague Adolf Berman and his staff at the Central Committee of Polish Jews. However, almost all of their parents had been killed at the Treblinka extermination camp or gone missing.

Irena Sendler in 2005

Irena Sendler (1910-2008), Polish social worker and activist, Righteous Among the Nations. Photo taken on February 13, 2005

Sendler with some people she saved as children, Warsaw, 2005

In 1965, Sendler was recognized by Yad Vashem as one of the Polish Righteous among the Nations. A tree was planted in her honor at the entrance to the Avenue of the Righteous at Yad Vashem. She was also awarded the Commander's Cross by the Israeli Institute. That same year the Polish communist government allowed her to travel abroad, to receive the award in Israel. In 2003, Pope John Paul II sent Sendler a personal letter praising her wartime efforts. On 10 October 2003 she received the Order of the White Eagle, Poland's highest civilian decoration, and the Jan Karski Award, "For Courage and Heart", given by the American Center of Polish Culture in Washington, D.C. She was also awarded the Commander's Cross with Star of the Order of Polonia Restituta (7 November 2001).

On 14 March 2007, Sendler was honored by the Polish Senate. Aged 97, she was unable to leave her nursing home to receive the honor, but she sent a statement through Elżbieta Ficowska, whom Sendler had helped to save as an infant. Polish President Lech Kaczyński stated she "can justly be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize." Also in 2007 the Polish government presented her as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. This initiative was officially supported by the State of Israel through its prime minister, Ehud Olmert, and the Organization of Holocaust Survivors in Israel residents. The authorities of Oświęcim (Auschwitz in German) expressed support for this nomination, because Irena Sendler was considered one of the last living heroes of her generation, and demonstrated a strength, conviction and extraordinary values against an evil of an extraordinary nature. She was passed over that year for the Nobel Peace Prize, which was given to Al Gore, and to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 

Irena Sendler on saving children [PHOTO SOURCE: http://izquotes.com/quote/265884]

"Every child saved with my help is the justification of my existence on this Earth, and not a title to glory." (Irena Sendler)

On 11 April 2007, she received the Order of the Smile (the oldest recipient of the award). In May 2009, Sendler was posthumously granted the Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award. The award, named in honor of the late actress and UNICEF ambassador, is presented to persons and organizations recognised for helping children. In its citation, the Audrey Hepburn Foundation recalled Sendler's heroic efforts which saved some 2,500 Jewish children during the German occupation of Poland in World War II. Sendler was the last survivor of the Children's Section of the Żegota Council to Assist Jews, which she had headed from August 1943 until the end of the war. Irena Sendler died in Warsaw on 12 May 2008, aged 98.

Selected official Sendler commemmorative art

Poles Who Saved the Jews: Irena Sendlerowa, Zofia Kossak-Szczucka and Sister Matylda Getter coin, 20 zl, silver, reverse

Architectural memorial plaque at 2 Pawińskiego Street in Warsaw.

Bronze plaque telling some of her story.

Bronze cast of polish activist Irena Sendler, made by artist Claudia Guderian
PBS documentary

American filmmaker Mary Skinner began working on a historical documentary film based on Sendler's memoir as told to biographer Anna Mieszkowska in 2003.

Irena Sendler, In the Name of Their Mothers features the last interviews Sendler gave before her death. The documentary also featured three of Sendler's co-workers, and several of the grown Jewish children they saved. Filmed in Poland and the United States with Polish cinematographers Andrzej Wolf and Sławomir Grunberg, the film uses evocative location footage of Sendler's wartime apartment, Żegota headquarters, Gestapo headquarters and the prison in Pawiak, along with rare footage of the city during the German occupation to re-create the events of Sendler's life. This is the first historical documentary made outside Poland to record the lives of Sendler and the women who worked with her to save the children of the Warsaw ghetto. Skinner recorded over 70 hours of interview material for the film and spent seven years consulting archives, historical experts, and eyewitnesses in the United States and Poland to uncover many unknown details about their operations. The film made its National US broadcast premiere through KQED Presents on PBS in May 2011 in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day and went on to receive several awards, including the 2012 Gracie Award for outstanding public television documentary.

Life in a Jar

Main article: Life in a Jar

In 1999, students at a high school in Uniontown, Kansas produced a play based on research into Irena Sendler's life story titled Life in a Jar. It was adapted for television as The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler. Actress Anna Paquin played Sendler. Her story was largely unknown to the world until the students developed The Irena Sendler Project, producing their performance Life in a Jar. This student-produced drama has now been performed over 285 times all across the United States, Canada and Poland. Sendler's message of love and respect has grown through the performances of the play, with over 1,500 references to her story appearing in the maedia, a student-developed website with over 30,000,000 hits, national teaching awards in Poland and the United States, and an educational foundation, the Lowell Milken Center, to make Sendler's story known to the world.

Irena Sendler (also called as Irena Sendlerowa in Polish) (1910-02-15 - 2008-05-12) was a social worker who during World War II was an activist in the Polish Underground and Polish anti-Holocaust resistance in Warsaw. She helped save about 2500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto by providing them with false documents and finding hiding places in individual and group children houses out of the Ghetto.

  • I still carry the marks on my body of what those "German supermen" did to me then. I was sentenced to death.
  • I was brought up to believe that a person must be rescued when drowning, regardless of religion and nationality.
    • Quoted in "Holocaust heroine's survival tale" by Adam Easton in BBC News (2005-03-03)
  • 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.
    • Quoted in "Holocaust heroine's survival tale" by Adam Easton in BBC News (2005-03-03)
  • Over a half-century has passed since the hell of the Holocaust, but its spectre still hangs over the world and doesn’t allow us to forget.
  • Every child saved with my help and the help of all the wonderful secret messengers, who today are no longer living, is the justification of my existence on this earth, and not a title to glory.
  • Heroes do extraordinary things. What I did was not an extraordinary thing. It was normal.
    • Quoted in "Irena Sendlerowa: Warsaw social worker who rescued thousands from the Jewish ghetto" by Rupert Cornwell in The Independent (2008-05-14)
Quotes about Sendler
  • 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, literature professor, quoted in Adam Easton, "Holocaust heroine's survival tale", BBC News (2005-03-03)
  • To me and many rescued children, Irena Sendlerowa is a third mother. Good, wise, kind, always accepting, she shares our happiness and worries. We drop in for Irena's advice when life presents us with difficulties.
    • Elzbieta Ficowska, one of the children saved by Sendler, quoted in Adam Easton, "Holocaust heroine's survival tale", BBC News (2005-03-03)

No comments:

Post a Comment