Irena Sendlerlowa


Irena Sendlerlowa celebrated her 97th birthday less than a month ago. To see her now frail and restricted in her movement few would guess at the untold reservoirs of strength that made her one of the great heroes of World War Two.

As a health care worker in a beleaguered Nazi occupied Warsaw she did all she could to resist the depravity of the genocide that consumed the Jewish population of the once cosmopolitan Polish city. By documented accounts it is known now she saved no less than 2,500 children from certain death.

Using the means at her disposal she whisked them away under any and all pretext, in every concievable way, even carrying them enclosed in body bags when she was forced to do so.

In 1943 she was captured by the Gestapo tortured, and sentenced to die but she would not reveal her ties; a chance reprieve, that came by way of bribery of a guard afforded her a release and a chance to continue her mission; which she did, with abandon.

Her story was there on the BBC news today. The narrator marvelled at how she travelled into the ghetto where the Jewish population were herded, and time and time again returned with little regard for her own safety.


The world is perhaps hearing her story for the first time now and recognising what she achieved as it still tries to come to terms with the horrors of that time and the inaction that allowed to it to occur.

Today it might be said that the not so old ghosts of Rawanda and the dying in Darfur call her name but she is too old now. Others must do her work. She has done enough.