How many of you have heard of a lady named Irena Sendler? If you’ve heard of her, you may know she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for her work in smuggling 2500 Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II. But did you know there was a dog involved?
By trade a social worker but carrying false papers identifying her as a sanitation worker (some sources identify her as a nurse), Ms. Sendler was allowed to enter the ghetto each day. She was concerned because she knew what the plans were for the Polish Jews.
She joined a resistance group which each day smuggled children out of the ghetto. The group used various methods, including placing infants in the bottom of a tool box and older children in the back of an ambulance in burlap potato bags or even coffins. They would place them with foster families or in convents where they could be raised in safety.
Here’s the dog part: As a way to keep the German guards at bay, Ms. Sendler kept a large dog in the back of her truck. She trained the dog to bark as they entered and left the ghetto, which covered any noises the children might be making. In addition, the guards weren’t too interested in searching the truck with the dog guarding it.
The rest of the story is too good not to share, even though the dog part is over. When the Nazis finally caught Ms. Sendler, they beat her, breaking many of the bones in her body. Thrown into prison and forced to work in the laundry, she put holes in the soldiers’ underwear as a means of continuing her resistance.
After a friend bribed a guard to let Irena out of jail, the woman dug up the jars she had buried which contained lists of the names of the children she had rescued. She tried to reunite them with any parents who had survived the camps, and worked to find adoptive homes for the orphans.
In 1999, four Kansas high school students wrote and produced a play called Life in a Jar to teach people about this remarkable woman’s life.
She died on May 12, 2008 at the age of 98.
BTW, The Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 went to Al Gore for his work on global warming.
Read more: The Irena Sendler Project
Obituary from the NY Times.
Until next time,
Good day, and good dog!