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Polish humanitarian Irena Sendler dies at age 98

Monday, May 12, 2008

Irena Sendler, a Polish humanitarian who saved the lives of 2,500 Jewish people during World War II, died on May 12 in a Warsaw hospital. She was 98.

In 1942, when the Germans began liquidating the Warsaw Ghetto, Sendler, who had been active in the Żegota underground organisation dedicated to helping Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland, smuggled children out by drugging them and placing them in body bags as typhoid fever victims. She then placed them with Polish families and in convents, hiding their records in jars so they could have their identities re-established after the war.

She was arrested by the Gestapo Gestapo in 1943 and sentenced to death after being tortured in Warsaw's Pawiak prison. Her colleagues from Żegota saved her by bribing her German captors before the planned execution.

Born on February 15, 1910 in Otwock, Poland, Selndler had been a front-runner for the Nobel Peace Prize, and had been recognised by Israel’s Yad Vashem institute as one of the Righteous Among the Nations for her work.

In 2007, she was honoured by the National Assembly for organising the "rescue of the most defenceless victims of the Nazi ideology: the Jewish children."


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