Irena Sendler

Life in a Jar

Early Life

Irena Sendler was born Irena Krzyżanowska on February 15, 1910 in Otwock, Poland. Her father was a major role model to her because he was one of the first Polish socialists. He mainly treated poor Jews and when he died she wanted to continue the good he was doing. He inspired her to do good for the Jews.

The Warsaw Ghetto

In 1940 the Warsaw Ghetto was established. Many Jewish families were sent here against their will. When Irena learned of the conditions in the ghetto she joined a group called Zegota which provided aid to Jews in this time of need. Her main focus was the Jewish children. Irena would go into the ghetto every day with food, clothes, and medicine. She started bringing children out of the ghetto in an ambulance. Later she snuck them out in body bags or potato sacks. With the help of the Social Welfare Department she helped many children out of the ghetto with new identities. Irena wanted to remember the children and tell them of their past when they were older. She put the new names of the children, their birth names, and where they went on a piece of paper and put them all in a jar. There were almost 2,500 names.


On October 20, 1943 Irena Sendler was arrested and sent to Pawiak Prison for helping the Jews. Not only was she arrested but she was also imprisoned and tortured. The Gestapo broke her arms and legs, crippling her for life, but she refused to give the names of the Jewish children or the other people that helped her save them. She was later sentenced to death but was saved at the last minute when some Zegota members bribed the Gestapo agents. She escaped from the prison but was pursued by the Nazis for the rest of the war.

Tracking Down The Children

After the war Irena wanted to track down the children she saved and reunite them with their families. When she found them she found out that many of their family members were victims of the concentration camps and died. Only the children knew her code name, Jolanta. Years later she was recognized for what she did for those children. She was put in a newspaper and said that many people called her saying that they remember her taking them out of the ghetto.


After the newspaper article came out she was recognized in many other ways. In 1965 she was given the title of Righteous Among The Nations. She was also given the title of the Order of White Eagle which is Poland's most prestigious award. In 2003 she was the winner of Jan Karski award of Valor and Courage. In 2007 she was nominated for a nobel peace prize.

The Irena Sendler Project

Four students (Megan Stewart, Liz Cambers, Sabrina Coons, and Jessica Shelton) started a project in 1999 to have the world remember her and what she did. They could only find 1 website that mentioned Irena. After they went to Poland and met her the world finally knew who she was. She was saddened because the people that helped her with this all died so they would never get any credit.

Irena's Death

Irena died on May 12, 2008 in Warsaw, Poland. She died of Pneumonia and was in a hospital for the last month of her life. After her death she was awarded the Humanitarian of the Year award from The Sister Rose Thering Endowment and in the same year she was awarded the Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian award. Irena Sendler was an amazing and selfless human being and she deserved many more years.
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Works Cited

"Facts about Irena - Life in a Jar." Life in a Jar. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.

"Irena Sendler." Irena Sendler. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.

"Irena Sendler." Jewish Virtual Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.

"Irena Sendler." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.

Soloman, Amanda. "Early Childhood - Irena Sendler." Early Childhood - Irena Sendler. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.