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  • IRENA SENDLER (1910-2008)

    Irena Sendler passed away at the age of  98 on Monday May 12th, 2008
    in Warsaw, Poland.

    Irena Sendler was a Polish social worker, who, among others, gained her
    recognition by saving 2,500 Jewish children from the Holocaust in Nazi
    occupied Warsaw, Poland.

    During the Second World War Irena Sendler was a member of the Polish
    Underground called the Home Army (Armia Krajowa) and a member of its
    affiliate "Żegota" - the only organization in Europe whose aim was to provide
    systematic assistance to the Jewish People. Since its establishment in 1942
    she headed the Children's Section of the Żegota Council for Assistance to the Jews.

    In 1943 she was arrested by the Gestapo, tortured and sentenced to death. 
    The members of "Żegota" saved her by bribing the German guards on the way
    to her execution. To cover up for her disappearance she was officially listed on
    public bulletin boards as among those executed. Then, in full conspiracy, she
    went on with her heroic mission to save the Jewish children.

    In 1965, she was recognized by the Yad Vashem Institute and received the
    Righteous Among the Nations Award. She also was awarded the Commander
    Cross by the Israeli Institute.

    In 1980 she joined the "Solidarity" movement which led to the collapse of 
    communism in Central and Eastern Europe.

    In 2003, Pope John Paul II sent a personal letter to Irena Sendler,
    praising her altruistic wartime efforts.

    Irena Sendler received the Order of the White Eagle, Poland's highest
    civilian distinction and the Commander Cross of Polonia Restituta with Star.
    She was also awarded the Order of the Smile and the Jan Karski Award
    "For Courage and Heart", which is given by the American Center of Polish
    Culture in Washington.

    Irena Sendler was honored by the Polish Senate and the President
    of Poland Lech Kaczynski, who initiated the procedure to name her
    for the Nobel Peace Prize, for which she was nominated in 2007,
    but lost to Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States.

    Irena Sendler remained forever a remarkably modest person when
    describing her wartime experience. She never called herself a hero.
    She insisted that "each Jewish child that she saved was in fact the reason
    for her existence in this world, not the title to glory". Nonetheless, the life
    of Irena Sendler is a true testimony of love, courage and respect for other people,
    regardless of their race, religion or creed. Irena Sendler remains a symbol of the
    best Polish features of character - humanism, tolerance and devotion to her country.

    Irena Sendler was born on the 15th of February 1910 in Otwock, Poland.
    She studied at the Department of Polish Studies at the Warsaw University.

    She is now gone, but she will never be forgotten. 

    Click here for more info about Polish hero Irena Sendler 

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