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Irena Sendler

On February 15, 1910, a future nurse, and savior was born. Obviously, no one knew this, but Irena Krzyzanowska saved over 2,500 Jewish children and babies. Irena was supported and inspired by many people, but her father inspired her most of all. During her childhood, “She was greatly influenced by his selfless service to the patients, most of whom were Jewish and poor… ” (thefamouspeople. com) Her father was a physician, who helped people that others refused to treat for fear of catching a disease. In addition, both her parents were part of the Polish Socialist Party, which had a key role against communists.

Bravery and compassion ran in her family’s blood, as Irena’s great grandfather led a rebellion against the Czars. Eventually, Stanislaw Krzyzanowski, her father, died after catching Typhus from the poor and unhealthy Jews. Her father once said, “If you see someone drowning, you must jump in and try to save them, even if you don’t know how to swim. ” Irena grew up learning and living by his beliefs. After his death, the Jewish community leaders offered their support for Irena and her mother. Using this, Irena studied Polish literature at Warsaw University.

Since Irena was so compassionate about people, she outwardly opposed the ghetto-bench system. This caused her to be suspended from the school for three years. Clearly, Irena was a strong, stubborn, and determined woman who went on to help many Holocaust victims. In 1939, the Germans invaded Poland, and with that came the Nazis, who terrorized the citizens. The Jews, feeling the most of the wrath were scared and in danger. At the time, Irena, now Irena Sendler, was Senior Administrator in the Warsaw Social Welfare Department, which means she, like her father, helped and cared for the poor.

Not only was she the Senior Administrator, she, “… was in charge of the Children’s Division of Zegota, a Polish underground group to assist Jewish people. ” (Biography. com) She clearly saw the pain and torture that was being inflicted by the Nazis in the ghettos, and decided to stop it. At first, she was sneaking in food, clothing and other necessities, but she soon realized that this was only prolonging their lives, not saving them. After joining Zegota, she started actually saving lives, but only the children, as that was the most she could do. To do this, she and other followed a plan.

Since she was a nurse and a social worker, she was allowed entrance into the Warsaw ghetto to examine the people for diseases. Using this as an excuse, she got into the ghetto, and left with children. The article, Irena Sendler Biography, by biography. com explains how and what Irena did to safely transport the Jewish kids, “Some were carried out in caskets or potato sacks; others left in ambulances or snuck out through underground tunnels. Still others entered the Jewish side of a Catholic church that straddled the ghetto boundary and left on the other side with new identities.

Sendler then helped place the children at convents or with non-Jewish families. ” To keep the kids safe from inquisition and questioning, Sendler created over 3,000 fake identity papers. Sendler and some of the other Zegota, also called the Council to Aid Jews, put their lives at risk regularly to save and shelter those Jewish children. To protect the kids’ real identities, she wrote all their real information down, and buried it. Later on, the information was found, and even thought most of the kids’ relatives were gone, some still found their remaining family.

All of their hard work paid off because in the end they saved over 2,500 lives. But still, Irena was still not pleased, she says, “I only did what was normal. I could have done more. ” In reality, she saved many more lives than even the most famous of Holocaust heroes. As previously stated, Irena grew up watching and learning from her father. He was a very compassionate and loving man, who deeply cared about the people. While growing up, her father was someone that she was deeply influenced by, so his beliefs and goals were then passed on to her.

At the age of seven, Irena lost him, but he lived on in her heart. So when WWII began, and she saw the horrible things that were happening, and she couldn’t resist the need to help the victims. At the age of almost thirty, she took the new and frightening situation head on. “When the war started, all of Poland was drowning in a sea of blood. But most of all, it affected the Jewish nation. And within that nation, it was the children who suffered most. That’s why we needed to give our hearts to them,” Irena Sendler stated on ABC news.

This shows that she was willing to risk her life to save the Jewish children, who were experiencing so much pain, physically and mentally. Her father’s beliefs and ways made Irena who she was, and that is why she did what she did. Irena Sendler was a kind and compassionate woman who saved over 2,500 lives. Until very late in her life, she was not very known. Today, she has won the following: 2007 – Order of the Smile, 1996 – Commander’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta, and the higher award; 2001 -Commander’s Cross with Star of the Order of Polonia Restituta.

Some of her lesser known awards are: 2009: the Humanitarian of the Year award from The Sister Rose Thering Endowment, and the Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award. Also, she was recognized by Yad Vashem as one of the Polish Righteous among the Nations in 1965, and in addition, a tree was planted in her honor at the entrance to the Avenue of the Righteous. On top of all these awards, she was also nominated for the Nobel Prize. Other than awards, there was a play that was made in her honor, which depicted her life in a mere ten minutes. Now, it is performed around the world, and it was made by a group of high-schooler girls.

Unquestionably Irena Sendler was a very important person in the dark times of WWII. She was not only honored by awards and plays, but a long life, and a lot of love. Sendler lived until she was ninety-eight, which is almost a century! Her life spanned out from 1910-2008, which after the war, was spent confined in a wheelchair. Still, love poured into her life, many of the survivors of WWII that she saved came to thank her. Irena is someone that I chose to acknowledge because even though she isn’t widely known, she saved so many lives.

To me, even saving one life is a feat in itself, and Irena saved 2,500 souls, and still thought that she didn’t save enough! Mahatma Gandhi once said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world,” and Irena definitely made a change. During the Holocaust, over six million people died in the hands of the heartless Nazis. But through it all there were many heroes, for there cannot be evil without good, cruel without nice, sad without happy, or even dark without light. Irena Sendler was one of these heroes who saved so many lives, and stood bravely in the face of death.

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