Sendler, Irena (b. 1910)

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

Sendler, Irena (b. 1910)

Polish social worker and hero. Name variations: Irena Sendlerowa; (code name) Jolanta. Born 1910 in Otwock, near Warsaw, Poland; dau. of a Socialist physician; married; children: 2.

As head of the children's section of Zegota, an underground organization of gentiles dedicated to assisting and aiding the Jews of Poland, helped smuggle more than 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw ghetto; arrested by the Gestapo (Oct 1943), was tortured (both her feet and legs were broken) and sentenced to death, but Zegota rescued her before her execution; assumed a new identity and continued work for Zegota. Named Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem (1965); awarded Order of White Eagle (2003); received Jan Karski Award for Valor and Compassion from the American Center of Polish Culture (2003).