Story of the ‘female Schindler’ who saved 2,500 children and wishing she’d rescued more

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The Second World War is an inexhaustible source of heroic stories. Simple acts of kindness have reached great lengths.

The deadliest war gave rise to Irena Sendler, a Polish nurse whose act of selfishness saved thousands of lives. Irena’s pursuit in medicine was inspired by her father’s work. Unfortunately, her father died when she was just seven years old.

Despite her young age, Irena dedicated her life’s work for the service of others. During the war, she was assigned in one of the war’s infamous places – the Warsaw Ghetto.

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At the Ghetto, Irena witnessed the abuse of the Nazi’s to the Jews.

Irena knew that she wanted to save the people from the Ghetto, especially the children. She made contact with a resistance organization called “Zegota.” The group was rescuing and freeing the Jews trapped in prison warzones like the ghettos.

Given her status as a staff of the municipal Social Welfare Department, she gained special access in the area without much suspicion. At first, she concealed rations of food and clothing in her medical items.

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Irena used her nursing knowledge to help kids. Kids were weak and malnourished then and were likely victims of diseases and infections. The death rate was high that time. Irena used this as an opportunity to save the kids. She smuggled the children outside the ghettos to freedom by placing them in coffins and disguised them as casualties of the war.

Nazi’s feared sickness and infection for it will mean death due to the scarcity of medical aid. Irena spirited away thousands of children and gave them a new life someplace else.

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However, Irena was caught by the Nazi’s. She was interrogated and tortured to reveal information about the detractors. Irena remained silent and did not utter a single word about the Zegota nor the kids she saved.

Irena’s friends managed to bribe an officer and sneaked her out of prison. For the following years, until the war was over, Irena went into hiding under new names.

Despite fearing that she will be discovered and captured, Irena went back to her former home to retrieve a special treasure. Irena kept a list of all the kids she saved and kept them in metal cans that she buried in her neighbor’s backyard.

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Once the war was over, Irena contacted every child on her list to bring them healing, closure, and answers about their identity and their situation.

Because of her heroic act, she received various recognitions. She also had the opportunity to meet the families of the children she helped years ago.

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Irena had a long meaningful life and was put to rest at the age of 98. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the death of a fearless hero.

Watch the 15-minute documentary of Irena Sendler’s life below.

Photo credit: Facebook | Irena Sendler.Una Heroína

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