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HALLMARK Irena sendler – a force to be reckoned

Movie Poster

Movie Poster

This is not just another “Hallmark Hall of Fame” flick. On April 20, 2009 CBS aired brilliantly crafted made-for-tv movie “The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler”. It tells the story of a Polish Catholic social worker, who with the help of volunteers rescued around 2,500 Jewish children in the depressing times of World War II. Academy Award winning actress Anna Paquin donned the role of Irena Sendler and is based on the book “The Mother of the Holocaust Children” written by Anna Mieszkowska. Have a look at the official TV site: http://www.cbs.com/specials/courageous_heart

The story begins with the gloomy Warsaw ghetto with some 4,50,000 packed Jews in squalid conditions. And outside the ghetto, Irena Sendler and her compatriots disguised as nurses and social workers visit the emaciated and dying children for service. As chief organizer of secret movement called Zegota – Council for Assistance to the Jews, she started her rescue operations for ailing Jewish children. Prior to working with Zegota, she assisted hundreds of Jews of all ages with fake documents to hide at places outside the ghetto.

She maintained a secret document of birth names of the children and had had the hope that on one day they will reunite with their families. Sadly, many of the relatives died in the Holocaust. When Nazis found the Sendler’s courageous ruse they arrested and tortured her and on the day of execution, she was rescued by “Zegota”. It is to be noted that not a single rescued child of hers was ever discovered or betrayed by the Nazis. A spine-chilling moment of the movie is that when she finds one of the toughest task to accomplish – to convince the families to handover the children to unknown Christian rescuers and the relatives fear the pain of separation. The children were then emptied at a place called Treblinka- a camp solely raised to execute Jewish people.

Irena in Action

Irena in Action

For many years her altruistic story was relatively unknown, even though she was given due credit from Yad Vashem in 1965 and recognition from the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous in New York City. Her story was buried in her own country by haughty communists.

Anna Paquin’s performance as selfless Irena is exceedingly well and the rest of the cast consists of Nathaniel Parker as Dr. Majkowski, head of Warsaw’s Department of Health and Marcia Gay Harden, who portrayed as Irena’s mother, Janina.

In addition to the movie, her selfless story was recently taken up by four high school students from Kansas and they did some research into her life and works. Finally, they came up with a play, “Life in a Jar”. You can have a look at their project and the play at: http://www.irenasendler.org/default.asp

Talmud said, “He who saves one life, saves the whole world”. Irena is the best example for that. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize after some hundred years – yet disheartening to note that NPP committee failed to recognise her outstanding service for the mankind. At a time when saving a children penalizes immediate death, her bold attempt to save 2,500 children did not deserve any credit from them.

Real Irena!

Real Irena!

Irena left us on May 12, 2008. Still her determination and valour will remain in our hearts forever. Her story as a play ‘Life in a Jar’ retains her legacy for years to come.

Sendler recalled her Ghetto trauma, “Did the World help me when I was saving these children? I walked the streets, crying over my helplessness”. Shortly before her death in 2008, she said, “The world has learned nothing from the lessons of World War II and the Shoah”. Wasn’t her comment justifiable?

Post your comments here!


April 20, 2009 - Posted by | Global Politics | , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Irena was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize but lost to Al Gore’s slide show.

    Comment by CopyKatnj | April 23, 2009 | Reply

    • There is a disingenuity in comparing Irena Sendler to Al Gore’s message in relation to the Nobel Prize. If we compare two good actions in the world and try to demean one in comparison to the other, I think there is something convoluted in the mind of the commenter. Two positives do not make a negative. The trouble is that Irena Sendler was not recognized 30 or 40 or 50 years. Notably she was recognized by Israel more than 40 years ago. I suggest that the Catholic Church stop the canonization of Pacelli, Pius the 12th, who valued the safety of the church when he coiuld have stood high for morality instead of making an agreement with the Nazi’s and canonize Elena who was the real saint.. not this political emissary who remained silent as people were slaughtered.
      that would be a just comparison..not this thinly veiled attack on Al Gore. Shame….

      Comment by Sam Bryks | March 21, 2010 | Reply

    • There’s no proof she was nominated. See snopes.com.

      Comment by Tom Morris | June 15, 2010 | Reply

  2. Nominate her again.

    Comment by Doug Olson | May 11, 2009 | Reply

    • yes she deserves for that coveted award.

      Comment by sriram5179 | May 22, 2009 | Reply

  3. Yes, Irena certainly does deserve that coveted award but she
    has a much better reward now with her Lord. God Bless you
    Irena for all the wonderful works you did perform. You will
    never be forgotten.
    Doris Morlachetta

    Comment by Doris | June 20, 2009 | Reply

  4. On April 20th 2009 most of the Atlanta area was watching Irena”s Sendlerss story. Unfortunately the local CBS channel broke into the movie with bad weather reports and never wnet back to this wonderful story. We were all left unable to watch the ending. Will this be on network Hallmark channel again in the near future?

    Comment by Sandra Davis | September 1, 2009 | Reply

  5. Al Gore’s reward is of this world;

    Inena Sembler’s is of the next.

    Comment by Alexander M. Williamson | September 11, 2009 | Reply

  6. Why settle for a miserable politally led prize when one of unearthly proportion would seem more fitting – a sainthood no less……how can we, in the relatively free world of Europe, understand the drive and loving heart this woman had for mankind….who then turn away when the war is over.

    Comment by Nich Cunliffe | September 17, 2009 | Reply

  7. Every day a new hero/heroine is discovered. I’d never heard of this brave lady before. What a wonderful story, I advise all to watch the movie.

    Comment by Dave | October 8, 2009 | Reply

  8. a posthumous award perhaps?

    Comment by Hope Serate | November 23, 2009 | Reply

  9. It’s not Al Gore’s fault, so stop it.
    She needs to be nominated again.

    Comment by vladimir | December 7, 2009 | Reply

  10. I’m speechless. What courage!

    Comment by Trena | January 2, 2010 | Reply

  11. Yes her comment was justifiable. People are more interested in what some bimbo like Victoria Beckham is doing than hearing about actions like hers. We should be ashamed of ourselves, allowing a world like exists today to do so. People like her and those who died fighting did not do so in order that a society could be such that old people are frightened to go out at night and respect is a word that has been erased from the language.

    Comment by len | January 10, 2010 | Reply

  12. Lost to Al Gore!!! – Just about sums up the world’s attitude to all things that are wrong with it…

    Comment by Steven Bird | May 5, 2010 | Reply

  13. Irena has deserved all these years more than a simple recognition, she has deserved infinite love and devotion, which is closer to what she gave to humanity.
    Morella Parisca

    Comment by Morella Parisca | February 28, 2011 | Reply

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