Friday, January 22, 2010

Peace Activist of the Week- Irena Sendler

So the last post made me cry. I don't like crying. Long story as to why. But this person makes me cry in a good way.

Irena Sendler (1910-2008) was a Polish Catholic who saved 2,500 children out of the Warsaw Ghetto during the Holocaust. In 1939, she and several helpers started creating false documents for over 3,000 Jewish families so that they could leave Poland. In 1942, she became part of the Social Welfare Department and was allowed access to check Jewish children for diseases like typhoid. She wore a Jewish Star of David on her trips to show solidarity even though she was not Jewish. During her trips she would smuggle children out in boxes, in packages, trams, and suitcases. She would then transport these children to a Catholic orphanage, convents, and even priest's rectories. Because some of these children were so young, she placed their information in glass jars and buried the jars in hopes that after the war these children could be identified and returned to their families. There's a documentary about her life and a play titled "Life in a Jar."

Sendler was arrested by the Gestapo and was several tortured and sentenced to death in 1943. The group that she was a part of ended up bribing the German guards on the way to her execution. She was dumped in the woods unconscious with both her arms and legs broken. She was rescued and secretly continued her work. Israel recognized her as one of the Righteous Among Nations and she received an Order of the White Eagle from her native Poland.

This courageous woman looked beyond hatred and anti-semitism that was prevalent in Poland and saved thousands of lives while risking her own. And she didn't fight with a gun or her fists. That is why I made her my peace activist of the week.

1 comment:

I love to read your thoughts. Thanks for sharing!