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Irena Sendler
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Nurse
    (February 15, 1910-May 12, 2008)
    Born in Otwock, Poland
    Birth name was Irena Krzyżanowska
    Nurse and social worker
    Joined the Polish resistance group Zegota during World War II
    Organized a network that smuggled 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw ghetto
    Honored as Righteous Among the Nations by Israel (1965)
    She married and divorced Mieczyslaw Sendler twice.
    Poland's Communist government kept her from traveling to Israel when she was named Righteous Among the Nations.
    She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize but lost to Al Gore (2007).
    She was suspended from the University of Warsaw after she defaced her grade card to protest against Jews being seated separately from Christians.
    As a member of the Social Welfare Department, she was allowed into the Warsaw ghetto to check for signs of typhus and other diseases.
    She took advantage of the trips to smuggle in medicine and supplies and to smuggle out children, who might be hidden in ambulances, or carried out in suitcases, or, in the case of some sedated infants, hidden inside a toolbox.
    She was captured and tortured by the Gestapo (1943).
    Despite having her feet and legs broken, she refused to name other members of the network or any of the children they had rescued.
    She was spared from the firing squad after the Zegota bribed a guard to release her but keep her name on the list of executed persons.
    In her old age, she was cared for by a nurse who she had rescued from the ghetto as an infant.

Credit: C. Fishel


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