Irena Sendler was raised in a home of compassion. Her father was a doctor, and her mother was a social worker. Her father died of Typhus, which he contracted by caring for the Jewish patients that his fellow doctors refused to treat.
(Photo credit: East News Poland)
When the Nazis occupied Poland, the Jews of Warsaw were confined to a ghetto. Because there were so many people in such a small area, disease began to spread. Worried that the diseases would kill Germans too, Irena was allowed in and out of the tightly guarded camp to distribute medicines and vaccinations.
She smuggled the Jewish children out of the ghetto in boxes and bags in the back of delivery trucks and ambulances. Hopeful that the children could reunite with their families after the war was over, she kept records of the children’s names, and their new identities, on tissue paper that she put in glass jars and buried in the yard. Unfortunately, many of the parents of the smuggled children were killed.
When the Nazis caught Irena they did not find the records. In fact, they mistakenly thought she was working alone, and not the leader of a well-organized team that had saved the lives of over 2,500 children. She was sentenced to death but escaped execution only after she was beaten and, with her arms and legs broken, she was left for dead in a vacant field, where her team rescued her. She spent the rest of the war working to help save Jewish children in secret under an assumed name.
(Photo credit:Mariusz Kubik)
Irena, who died in May 2008 at the age of 98 in Warsaw, Poland, is my hero. She is an example of pure religion, “to visit the fatherless in their affliction.”
I believe that Irena Sendler is an example of the “Caring” pillar of character. She was truly concerned for the welfare of others and felt the pain of the Jewish families in the Warsaw ghetto with great empathy.