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Irene Sendler was born as Irena Krzyzanowska on 15 February 1910 in Warsaw. Her father, Stanislaw Krzyzanowski, was a physician. Sendler and her father sympathised with Jews from childhood even though they were Catholic. Her father died in February 1917 of typhus contracted while treating patients his colleagues refused to treat. Many of those patients were Jews. After his death, Jewish community leaders offered to pay for Sendler's education. She opposed the ghetto-bench system that existed at some prewar Polish universities and as a result she was suspended from Warsaw University for three years.

In 2007, at last, it was deemed appropriate she at least be nominated for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize. She lost to a more "deserving" recipient.

She did win many other lesser known awards.

Little was known about her until some students in Kansas did a research project on her, in addition to PBS doing a documentary in 2003.

During WWII, Irena, got permission to work in the Warsaw ghetto, as a plumbing/sewer specialist.

She had an 'ulterior motive'.

She KNEW what the Nazi's plans were for the Jews (being German).

Irena smuggled infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried in the back of her truck and a burlap sack, (for larger kids). She hid them in Catholic convents.

She also had a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto.

The soldiers of course wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the kids/infants noises.

During her time of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2500 kids/infants.

She was caught, and the Nazi's broke both her legs, arms and beat her severely.

Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she smuggled out and kept them in a glass jar, buried under a tree in her back yard.

After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived it and reunited the family.

Most had been gassed. Those kids she helped got placed into foster family homes or adopted.
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There is a PBS series on her and those like her:

Irena Sendler, a petite social worker, was not yet thirty years old when Nazi tanks rolled into Warsaw in September of 1939. When the city's Jews were imprisoned behind a ghetto wall without food or medicine, she appealed to her closest friends and colleagues, mostly young women, some barely out of their teens. Together, they smuggled aid in and smuggled Jewish orphans out of the ghetto by hiding infants on trams and garbage wagons and leading older children out through secret passageways and the city’s sewers. Catholic birth certificates and identity papers were forged and signed by priests and high ranking officials in the Social Services Department so that the children could be taken from safe houses in Warsaw to orphanages and convents in the surrounding countryside.
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Of other interest related to this topic, curiously, after the war there was intense interest in these orphans. All the competing philosophies and religions wanted the children, some less race specific than others, and in some instances accusing others who acted heroically of stealing these babies.

Many of the ones Irena Krzyzanowska saved that had not been smuggled out of the country already, the Soviets swooped up.
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