May 12, 2022
You have no doubt heard of Oskar Schindler. You probably have not heard of Irena Sendler, who died at the age of 98 on this date in 2008.
Sendler was a Polish nurse who worked surreptitiously in the underground during World War II. Among other things, she provided desperately-needed medicines and supplies to the Warsaw Ghetto, and was involved in smuggling Jewish children out of the ghetto and into safe places such as convents, orphanages or the homes of ordinary Poles. Unlike Schindler, she was tortured and sentenced to death; the death sentences was commuted on the day of her scheduled execution when the German officials involved were bribed to let her go.
Later in life, she was awarded the Order of the White Eagle, Poland’s highest civilian accolade, and the State of Israel recognized her as a Righteous Among the Nations.
In about ten years, there will be no people left on the planet with any present memory of World War II or the Holocaust. It will be up to us never to forget, and to remember people like Irena Sendler.