Irena Sendler is someone whose story really should be told: the woman saved 2,500 children during the Holocaust.
Although she saved almost twice as many people from the atrocities of the Holocaust as Oskar Schindler, - no slouch in the heroism department himself - Irena Sendler was until recently completely unknown. As a social worker in Poland, Sendler smuggled 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw ghetto, and although she was tortured for three months - with Gestapo officers crushing her legs in a vice and smashing her bones with hammers - she refused to divulge their whereabouts. Having buried their names in jars, after the war Sendler used the information to help the children track down surviving relatives.
Under Communism, Sendler was persecuted and imprisoned for her affiliation with the "capitalist and bourgeois" exile government, and even with the anti-Nazi resistance groups, who were regarded as reactionary; later, as a result, her children were denied the right to study at Polish universities. In 1965, she was recognized by Israel as Righteous Among the Nations, but Sendler's story did not come to larger attention until 1999, when three Kansas ninth-graders, began researching her for a history project. Although Sendler remained modest until her death last year- giving much credit for her heroism to her compatriots in Zegota, the Polish Council to Aid the Jews - she was honored by the Pope in 2003, granted Order of the White Eagle, Poland's highest civilian decoration, and in 2007 inspired a movement to award the 97-year-old the Nobel Prize (it went to Al Gore.)
This Sunday, CBS will premiere The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler, starring Anna Paquin. While we can't help feeling such a woman deserves a feature film, we're eager to see it. Here's Paquin talking about the role on the Tavis Smiley Show on Wednesday:
'Irena Sendler': A Heroine for the Ages [Washington Post]
The Courageous Heart Of Irena Sendler [Variety]
Nobel Prize Is Sought for Polish Heroine [NY Sun]