Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Honoring a hero

The Polish Senate FINALLY honored one of the first of the Righteous Among the Nations -- Gentiles recognized by the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum for their efforts to save Jews during the Holocaust. The honoree is Polish Catholic Irena Sendler, who is currently 97. She helped save more than 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto.

Sendler led about 20 helpers who smuggled Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto to safety between 1940 and 1943, placing them in Polish families, convents or orphanages.

She wrote the children's names on slips of paper and buried them in jars in a neighbor's yard as a record that could help locate their parents after the war. The Nazis arrested her in 1943, but she refused — despite repeated torture — to reveal their names.

Anyone caught helping Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland risked being summarily shot, along with family members.

A true hero.

Yad Vashem honored Ms. Sendler in 1965 and Poland's Commie government allowed her to travel to Israel to receive a medal from the Museum in 1983.

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