The fantastic story of Irena Sendler

Leadership lessons

Irena Sendler wasn’t a hero. She just did what she and everyone else was called to do. Get to know the story of Irena Sendler, a “normal” person who saved more than 2500 from the ghetto in Warsaw during the Second World War.

Isn’t a person saving 2500 people from the Ghetto and from a certain death in concentration camps a hero? We might say so, but read what Irena Sendler thought about her status and what she had done.

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.

To Irena doing good was simply a part of the task of being a human being. She stresses this even more as she said: „I was brought up to believe that a person must be rescued when drowning, regardless of religion and nationality. „

What did Irena Sendler do?

story of Irena SendlerShe was a social worker during the Second World War. She was part of the resistance movement in Warsaw and in Poland, working underground. Irena and her helpers created more than 3000 false documents to help Jewish families. This was a work with high risk involved because if someone was found hiding Jews during the Second World War it meant the death sentence for them and their entire family, so not only did she take risks, but everyone else working together with Irena.

Working as a social worker Irena was allowed entrance to the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw. During these visits, she often smuggled babies and children out in packages, in backpacks, in potato sacks, under sick children taken out from the ghetto to hospitals and in similarly creative ways. Once they were smuggled out, the children were taken to Catholic children homes and similar institutions.

Records where being kept of the children smuggled out from the ghetto. These records were hidden in jars and were to help the Jewish children get their old identity back once the war was over.

When the Germans found out

In October 1943 Gestapo and the Germans found out about the smuggling and they captured Irena. She was tortured (they broke her legs and arms), but she did not give away the secrets about the location of the children that had been smuggled out from the ghetto. She was then sentenced to death. Irena was supposed to be executed, and they even had her day of execution set, but due to bribes, the German guards allowed to let her live on.

After the war, Irena and her helpers tried to gather the children with their families again, but unfortunately, almost all of their parents had been killed in a concentration/extermination camp.

After the Second World War, end especially in newer time Irena received several awards, including the „Righteous among the Nations” from Israel. A documentary was made about Irena Sendler which was broadcasted in 2011 with the name: „Irena Sendler, In the Name of Their Mothers. „

A final quote from Irena Sendler

Let me simply end with yet another quote from Irena:

„Heroes do extraordinary things. What I did was not an extraordinary thing. It was normal. „

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