During World War II, Irena Sendler worked in the Warsaw Ghetto as a plumbing specialist. She spent most of her days there helping to smuggle Jewish children out before it was too late. Infants were often carried in the bottom of the toolbox she used and older children were often hidden in a burlap sack she kept in the back of her truck.
Sendler also had a dog in the back of the truck that she trained to bark whenever the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto. This helped keep the soldiers at bay and also hid the noises often made by the hidden children and infants. It has been reported that Irena managed to smuggle and save about 2,500 children overall.
Eventually, the Nazis caught her. They broke both of her arms, both of her legs, and beat her severely.
Irena kept a record of the names of all the children she helped smuggle out. She kept those names in a glass jar buried under a tree in her backyard. After the war was over, she attempted to locate any parents that may have survived and reunite the families. Sadly, most of the parents she tried to contact had been killed. She then helped those kids get placed into foster homes.
In 2007, Irena Sendler was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, but did not meet the criteria of “significant activities during the past two years.” She was not selected.
Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shared the prize that year for presenting a slide show on global warming.
Her incredible story was largely unknown until, according to the Irena Sendler website, in the fall of 1999, a rural Kansas school teacher encouraged four students to work on a year-long National History Day project. The result was “Life in a Jar”, a dramatic performance of Sendler’s life that has since been presented all over the U.S. and Europe and has now been made into a book.
“Life in a Jar” students gathered more than 200 letters of support for Sendler’s Nobel nomination. Even though she didn’t win the coveted prize, the garnered worldwide attention.
Let us never forget Irena Sendler’s bravery. Please forward this on to everyone you know so that her courage will never be forgotten.
More in the videos below.