Irena Sendler (also called as Irena Sendlerowa in Polish) (15 February 1910 - 12 May 2008) 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 was brought up to believe that a person must be rescued when drowning, regardless of religion and nationality.
- I still carry the marks on my body of what those "German supermen" did to me then. I was sentenced to death.
- Referring to Nazi doctrines that German "Aryans" were a "master-race" of "supermen", as quoted in "Holocaust heroine's survival tale" by Adam Easton in BBC News (3 March 2005)
- 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.
- As quoted in "Holocaust heroine's survival tale" by Adam Easton in BBC News (3 March 2005)
- I am the only person still alive of that rescuing group but I want everyone to know that, while I was coordinating our efforts, we were about twenty to twenty five people. I did not do it alone.
- Quoted in "The Long Path to Irena Sendler - Mother of the Holocaust Children", by Joachim Wieler Social Work & Society, vol. 4 (2006)
- 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.
- Letter to the Polish Senate (2007), quoted in "Irena Sendler: An Unsung Heroine" by Louis Bülow (2007)
- 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.
- Letter to the Polish Senate (2007), quoted in "Irena Sendler, Lifeline to Young Jews, Is Dead at 98" by Dennis Hevesi in The New York Times (13 May 2008)
- 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 (14 May 2008)
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 (3 March 2005)
- 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 (3 March 2005)
- She smuggled out the children in suitcases, ambulances, coffins, sewer pipes, rucksacks and, on one occasion, even a tool box.
Those old enough to ask knew their saviour only by her codename "Jolanta".
But she kept hidden a meticulous record of all their real names and new identities — created to protect the Jewish youngsters from the pursuing Nazis — so they might later be re-united with their families.
By any measure, Irena Sendler was one of the most remarkable and noble figures to have emerged from the horrors of World War II. But, until recently, her extraordinary compassion and heroism went largely unrecorded.
When the Germans finally caught her, the Roman Catholic social worker had managed to save 2,500 Jewish babies and toddlers from deportation to the concentration camps.
- "Irena Sendler: An Unsung Heroine" by Louis Bülow (2007)
- Irena Sendler at yadvashem.org
- Irena Sendler at holocaustforgotten.com
- IrenaSendler.org Project
- Tribute page
- "Pole who saved WWII Jews honoured" in BBC News Online (14 March 2007)
- "I'm no hero, says woman who saved 2,500 ghetto children" in Guardian Online (15 March 2007)
- Obituary in The Times (12 May 2008)