Thousands (6,620) of Polish citizens were given the title of “Righteous Among the Nations” by Yad-Vashem. Those citizens were Polish women and men who chose not to stay indifferent when faced with German Nazis horrors and who, at great personal risk, did not abandon the Jews – their friends, neighbors or colleagues – who lived among them. Many of those Polish citizens were murdered by the German Nazis due to this choice of theirs.
The story of Irena Sendler is the first of a series of stories about the Righteous Among the Nations that we will tell here, once a month, from today, the annual International Day of the Holocaust. In honour of those who, forever, tied their destiny with that of the persecuted innocents.
Irena Sendler was a Polish nurse and social worker who resisted the Nazis, served in the Polish underground in occupied Warsaw during World War II, and was named “Righteous Among the Nations” and an Israeli Citizen of Honour due to her activity to save Jewish children. She was head of the Children`s Section of the Zegota – the Polish Council to Aid Jews – and smuggled approximately 2500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto. She provided them with false documents and shelter outside the Ghetto. Sendler saved more Jews than any other individual (with the exception of a few diplomats) during the Holocaust. The German occupiers eventually discovered her activities, and she was arrested by the Gestapo, tortured and sentenced to death, but managed to avoid execution and survive the war. In 1965, Sendler was recognized by the state of Israel as a Righteous Among the Nations. She died in Poland in 2008. In 2009, came out a movie about her life story called “The Brave Heart of Irena Sendler”. The Polish Parliament declared the year 2018 as “The Year of Irena Sendler”.