Irena Sendler

Guardian of the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto


Irena Sendler is a young Catholic woman that saved the children of the Warsaw Ghetto during the Holocaust. She volunteered to help move Jewish children to foster families. In the end, she managed to safely save 2.500 children from future agony at the ghetto.

To Help The Children

  • young Catholic worker at the time of the beginning of WWII

  • joined the resistance movement of the Polish Socialist party

  • kept Jews from starving by giving them fake documents that they were Polish

  • protested to sit with Jews

  • Jews were forced to build a wall around the Warsaw ghetto

    • restricted to leave the ghetto

    • poor sanitation left many dying

    • fought against many diseases in the Warsaw ghettos

How She Helped

  • Sendler decided to help the Jews

    • even wore the Star of David, a sign of the Jews.

  • After a while, the Germans emptied the ghetto

    • people who were still alive were sent to death camps

  • Irena joined the Council for Aid to Jews

    • codename Zegota

    • to save all Jews from save the children

    • secret organization with code names and fake IDs

    • taught children the prayers of the Lord

    • children fled through the sewers

    • hid under the floorboards of an ambulance

    • taught children Polish to fit in

    • gave children to Polish foster parents

    • kept a record on a roll of paper and hid it from the Germans

    • helped smuggle out many of the children from the terrible conditions and adopted them to non-Jewish families

    • Zegota provided financial aid for the sheltering families

    • helped the Jews not because of her religion, but of her heart

    • “My family taught me that what matters is whether people are honest or dishonest, not what religion they belong to.”


  • she was scared to give a child away

    • ‘What guarantee is there that the child will live?' I said, 'None. I don't even know if I will get out of the ghetto alive today."

    • sent her to Pawiak Prison and was tortured

  • Gestapo found them in 1943 and managed to hide the paper

    • Irena went to Pawiak prison where she met many of her friends

      • their secret meeting had been discovered

    • When she was to be executed, she ran away

      • stayed at the Warsaw Zoo, where many safe children lived

      • buried the list of children under an apple tree

  • The Warsaw Uprising

    • children and women fought with Polish soldiers

    • Polish forces surrendered

    • hundreds of thousands of people died

    • almost all of Warsaw was destroyed

    • Irena survived and the list was still safe

Results of her Bravery

  • managed to save at least 2,500 Jewish children

    • 200 orphanages helped

  • after war, tried to rescue children back with parents

    • only one percent found their parents back

  • many children kept in touch after the war

    • many found her as a motherly figure

  • won Righteous Gentile in 1965

  • tree was planted for her honor in 1983

  • Kansas students began performing plays about her story

    • media began to catch on

    • Uniontown proclaimed an Irena Sendler Day, and other towns followed

    • when they realized that she was still alive, they wrote to her using a Polish-fluent university student to translate

  • the students then raised money to meet her

    • performed the play there

  • more stories came about her work and education in the Holocaust rose, and she became more famous

    • earned Order of the White Eagle, Jan Karski award for Valor and Courage, and became the president of World Federation of Jewish Survivors of the Holocaust, and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize

    • posthumously awarded Humanitarian Award
    • Awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations in 1965 by Yad Vashem


Image citations are in their respective descriptions.

  • Irena Sendler: In the Name of their Mothers ("Irena Sendler: In the Name of Their Mothers." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2015.)
  • Sendler, Irena; from Encyclopedia Judaica (GVRL-Paldiel, Mordecai. "Sendler, Irena°." Encyclopaedia Judaica. Ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. 2nd ed. Vol. 18. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. 287. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 9 Dec. 2015.)
  • Irena Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto (Book-Rubin, Susan Goldman., and Bill Farnsworth. Irena Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto. New York: Holiday House, 2012. Print.)