Sendler Irena

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The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler - the biography and film

Irena Sendler, a Righteous Among the Nations, devoted herself to saving many Jewish children during World War II. Her story is told in a biographical book and in an American film released in 2009.

Between 1939 and 1942, Irena Sendler worked in the Warsaw City Council's Social Welfare Department.  She organised a network of Social Welfare workers which aided her in leading many Jewish children out of the Warsaw ghetto. She then placed these children with pre-arranged families on the so-called "Aryan side", as well as into orphanages and into convents. Thanks to the notes she made (each child's first name and surname written on cards, placed into a milk bottle and buried in the ground), the true identity of many of these rescued children was able to be established after the War.


The Film - „Dzieci Ireny Sendlerowej” ("The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler")

This American film, directed by John Kent Harrison, tells of Irena Sendler's activities during the War. Anna Paquin stars as the film's heroine.

The film is based on the book by Anna Mieszkowska „Matka Dzieci Holocaustu. Historia Ireny Sendlerowej” (The Mother of the Children of the Holocaust - the Story of irena Sendler"). The film was produced by Hallmark Hall of Fame, commissioned by the CBS television network. Its world premiere took place on 19th April 2009, on the anniversary of the outbreak of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. It was first shown in Europe on 31st August 2009, during commemorations marking the anniversary of the outbreak of World War II.

Numerous American and Polish feature in this film, among them being Krzysztof Pieczyński, Danuta Stenka and Olga Bołądź.

The film was not greeted with favourable reviews. The film's creators were accused of presenting Sendler's biography in a superficial and shallow manner, without being able to portray her motivations and emotions. The story of this woman, who saved more lives than even Oskar Schindler, however was presented accurately.


The Book - „Dzieci Ireny Sendlerowej” ("Irena Sendler's Children")

„Dzieci Ireny Sendlerowej” is a special edition of Anna Mieszkowska's previously published book entitled "„Matka Dzieci Holocaustu. Historia Ireny Sendlerowej”. A new chapter, entitled "Life After the Book", has been added.

Mieszkowska's book was the first extensive biography to be written about Irena Sendler. The majority of her biography is told, in the first person, by Irena Sendler herself. The book's foreward was written by one of those rescued, Michał Głowiński, and includes a detailed description of the activities of Kansas school students, thanks to which, the lifesaving work of Sendler and her helpers became more widely known. The book also contains selected stories of some of those who were rescued.

The book tells of Sendler's life story - pre-War, her childhood, her youth, her life during the War and her life afterwards. The greater emphasis is placed on life life during the occupation and Sendler's underground activities, above all else, with the Council to Aid Jews Żegota.

The book's central theme is the saving of Jewish children in Warsaw during the occupation. Mieszkowska endeavours to reconstruct the actions of those involved in this activity and investigates how they searched for these children and then how they were rescued.

The book is dedicated to Sendler's co-workers who helped her to rescue children from the ghetto.

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