The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler

April 20th, 2009 - 7:23 pm ICT by GD  

CBS is airing a movie tonight about Irena Sendler, a Polish Catholic social worker in the 1940s who created and then led a secret group of women who traveled in and out of the Warsaw’s Jewish Ghetto in the guise of nurses employed by the Warsaw Health Department. They pretended to be working only to prevent and contain the spread of Typhus and Spotted fever but in truth Sendler and her brave conspiracy of women was working to bring out children of consenting Jewish parents from inside the Ghetto. They often had to sedate the children and hide them in boxes, suitcases and coffins so as to save them from their imminent sending away to death camps. Once, outside the ghetto, the children were given new identities and were placed in the care of Polish families and convents. Meanwhile Sendler kept a secret record of their birth names and maintained it hoping o reunite them with their families one day.

But the good work was interrupted when in 1943 the Nazis discovered Sendler’s activities and arrested her. She was tortured by the Gestapo and they broke her feet. But on the day when she was to be executed she was rescued by the Zegota, the underground network with which she rescued the children. Sendler and her network helped save over 2500 children and none of them was ever betrayed or discovered by the Nazis.

The CBS film is based on her authorized biography, Mother of the Children of the Holocaust: The Irena Sendler Story, by Anna Mieszkowska, published in 2005.

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