On the 110th anniversary of the birth of Irena Sendler (1910 - 2008), who during the Nazi German occupation of Poland saved around 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto, the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in collaboration with Google Arts & Culture created a virtual exhibition that tells the story of her extraordinary life.
Irena Sendler was a Polish charity worker and social activist. She is a well known Polish heroine for saving Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto. She cooperated with the Polish Underground State, especially its special organisation called ‘Żegota’ (Council to Aid Jews by the Polish Government in Exile operating from London, UK) and Jewish partisan organisations. Her role was to transport Jewish children and workers to the ‘Aryan’ side of the city divided by the Ghetto’s walls.
She was arrested and detained by the Germans in Pawiak prison where she was questioned and tortured. However, she continued her actions saving around 2,500 children from the Warsaw Ghetto. After the war, she continued activities on behalf of the children, helping create orphanages. She also established the Mother & Child Health Care Centre. Her WWII-time actions were unknown to the wider public until early 2000.
"I would like the memory about the many noble people who risked their lives to save their Jewish brothers whose names no one remembers to be preserved. But our generation as well as the next ones also have to keep in mind the image of human meanness and hatred, which moved some people to give their neighbours into the enemy’s hands (...). We also saw indifference to the disappearing tragedies. My dream is to make this memory a warning to the world. Let there never be a similar tragedy of humanity,” said Irena Sendler while receiving the Jan Karski Award in 2003.
Among other honours, Irena Sendler received the title of Righteous Among The Nations (1965) and was a Nobel Peace Prize candidate twice (in 2007 and 2008). She died on May 12, 2008, in Warsaw.
The virtual exhibition can be visited here.
Read more about Irena Sendler here.