STORIES
Lifesavers

Irena Sendler

by Ridge Branchflower from Fort Collins

Under the Apple Tree

 

In 1941, Irena Sendler had to watch as children died from starvation and disease at the hands of the Nazis. Irena decided to help those children from this torture, and she managed to save 2,500 children. She clearly displayed great courage by saving those children from cruel and gruesome deaths at the hands of the Nazis. 

In 1941, the Jewish enclosure was known as the Warsaw Ghetto, created by the Nazis to keep the Jews in one place. It was a terrible place to live, with cramped living conditions, very poor sanitation, not enough food to go around, and plenty of dead bodies lying around. Every time Irena wanted to see her friends, she had to step over the bodies of dead children that had died from hunger and a disease known as Typhus, which her dad had died from. Irena did try to help these children by giving them food and other supplies. When the Nazis started to bring the Jews to the so-called work camps, children and adults alike were stuffed into a train station. Irena and a few friends who were doctors and nurses tried to make their last moments better than what would've happened if they had been alone. They gave them food, sang songs to the children and tried to help people who were hurt. Irena and her friends came up with a plan. They would try to sneak children out. They started with orphans because they didn’t have to ask their parents, and once they got them out, they started asking the parents. Some of them accepted, but most of them wanted to be with their families. She still got quite a few families to give her their children, which she then gave to Christian families. Some of the tactics used by Irena’s group were putting the children in body bags, coffins, and gunny sacks. One child apparently even got smuggled out in a mechanics toolbox.

Irena had a list with her that had the names of all 2,500 children and which families she gave them to, but that all changed in October of 1943 when one of the members of her underground organization, which was known by the name Zegota, was caught by the Gestapo. They tortured her and she gave up Irena’s name before they killed her. When Irena found out about this, she was in her apartment. Just as the Gestapo broke down her door and before they were able to take the names, she gave them to her friend. When Irena was imprisoned, they tortured her and even ended up breaking her feet and legs, but she never gave up the names of the families where the children were hidden or where the other members of the group were hidden. On the day she was supposed to be executed, November 13, 1943, and because of her friends and a not-so-small bribe, she was released from prison, and she escaped. After that, she went into hiding, but when the war was over, she still wanted to help people. In December of 1945, she became part of Warsaw’s government as head of the Department of Social Welfare.

Irena’s actions impacted the world in many ways; her bravery kept the generations of hundreds of families alive and kept the underground members safe. Her role in this world not only inspired me, but they inspired four high school students who in the year 2000 created a play about this woman’s bravery; the play was called Life in a Jar.

She impacted my life by making my view of the world different. Now I’m looking around and thinking about how I can help people and how bravery is a good, even if sometimes painful, thing. Bravery can help others but it can also be foolish. You have to find the perfect amount of courage or you might just hurt those you are trying to protect. So, I don’t know if I’m ready to try and change the world, but I hope that in the future I am.

Irena Sendler, a person whose bravery saved lives, a person who stood up to the strong, to the dangerous, if only the rest of the world had a fraction of her kindness, then I think the world would be a much better place. All good things must come to an end, but her story can live on through all of us and maybe, just maybe, the world can learn from this great person and will be a much better place.

 

Page created on 3/4/2021 4:42:37 PM

Last edited 3/5/2021 6:35:37 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.