Prof. Barbara Engelking Winner of 2021 Irena Sendler Award

Redakcja / Editorial staff / English translation: Andrew Rajcher, 12th May 2021
The winner of this year’s Irena Sendler Award, presented by Taube Philanthropies, is Prof. Barbara Engelking – psychologist and sociologist, co-founder and Director of the Polish Centre for Historical Research, a part of the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, chair of the International Auschwitz Council (2014–2018) and curator (together with Prof. Jacek Leociak) of the “Holocaust” gallery in the Core Exhibition of POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Profesor Engelking was honoured in recognition of her overall academic achievements.

“Professor Barbara Engelking is an outstanding Holocaust scholar, respected around the world. Through the Irena Sendler Award, Taube Philanthropies expresses its deep appreciation and respect for her great achievements” – Tad Taube, President Taube Philanthropies and Honorary Consul of the Republic of Poland in San Francisco.

Professor Barbara Engelking is co-founder and Director of the Polish Centre for Historical Research. Within this internationally recognised research institution, established at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences in 2003, she has initiated and developed new inter-disciplinary research directions in the study of the extermination of Jews.

She has published numerous works in various languages, among them being: It’s Such a Beautiful Sunny Day. The Fate of Jews Seeking Help in the Polish Countryside 1942–1945 (2011; French version: 2014; English version: 2017); together with Prof. Jacek Leociak: The Warsaw Ghetto. A Guide to a Non-Existent City (2001); English version: 2009). Her latest publication, jointly edited with Prof. Jan Grabowski, is a two-volume publication entitled: Night without End. The Fate of Jews in Selected Counties of Occupied Poland (2018) which, this year, will be published in shortened version by (Indiana University Press). 

In 2014–2018, Prof. Engelking chaired the International Auschwitz Council. In 2015–2016, she was Visiting Professor at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Centre for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the Holocaust Museum in Washington. Together with Prof. Jacek Leociak, she curated the “Holocaust” Gallery of the Core Exhibition of POLIN Museum.


» Read an historical studty by Prof. Barbara Engelking on the Polish Righteous portal: Jews Helping Other Jews on the “Aryan Side”


“Professor Barbara Engelking is an outstanding Holocaust scholar, respected around the world”, said Tad Taube, President of Taube Philanthropies. “Through the Irena Sendler Award, Taube Philanthropies expresses its deep appreciation and respect for her great achievements”. Plans for the presentation of this annual award, which usually takes place during the Jewish Cultural Festival in Kraków or at POLIN Museum in Warsaw, will be announced shortly.

About the Irena Sendler Award 

The Irena Sendler Award was established in 2008 by Taube Philanthropies, in honour of Irena Sendler, whom the Yad Vashem Institute honoured with the title of Righteous Among the Nations. The Award is presented annually to recipients who excel in activities aimed at preserving and revitalising Poland’s Jewish heritage. Nominations for the Award are verified by a Taube Philanthropies Advisory Panel and by Jewish cultural leaders in Poland.


» Read: The Story of Irena Sendler


According to Taube Philanthropies, “For over thrity years, we have supported a variety of educational, research, cultural, community and youth organisations in the San Francisco Bay area, Poland and Israel. Taube Philanthropies was founded by businessman and philanthropist Tad Taube in 1981. It is currently head by Tad and his wife, Dianne Taube. It works towards enduring that citizens are free and can acheve their goals and dreams”. 


Irena Sendler Award Winners (2008–2020):


2008: Janusz Makuch, Director of the Jewish Cultural Festival in Kraków;

2009: the late Jan Jagielski, archivist at the Emanual Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute;

2010: former President of the Republic of Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski;

2011: Magda Grodzka-Gużkowska who, risking her own life, helped Irena Sendler to rescue children from the Warsw Ghetto;

2012: outstanding academics Prof. Maria Janion, Prof. Jolanta Ambrosewicz-Jacobs;

2013: Bogdan Zdrojewski, for Minister of Culture and National Heritage; former Mayor of Warsaw Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz;

2014: Małgorzata Niezabitowska, author and journalist; Tomasz Pietrasiewicz, Director of Ośrodka “Brama Grodzka – Teatr NN”;

2015: Krzysztof Czyżewski, Director of the Pogranicze Foundation; the late Dr Jan Kulczyk, distinguished donor to POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews;

2016: Prof. Monika Adamczyk-Garbowska, Professor of Jewish Literatur at the Marie Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin; Maria Piechotkowa, renowned architect and researcher into the architecture of Polish synagogues;

2017: Stefan Wilkanowicz, author, director, pedagogue and Catholic activist; Bogdan Białek, founder of the Jan Karski Society;

2018: Norman Conard, American pedagogue, who drew the world’s attention to Irena Sendler; Ola Bilińska, researcher into Yiddish culture and musician;

2019: Zuzanna Radzik, activist for Christian-Jewish relations; Adam Bartosz, ethnographer and museologist;

2020: Prof. Dariusz Stola, former Director of POLIN Museum of the HIstory of Polish Jews.