Examples of stories of courage include "Life in a Jar," the story of Irena Sendler, and "Schindler's List," the story of Oskar Schindler. Irena Sendler was a senior administrator in the Warsaw Welfare Department when the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939. She began registering Jews as Christians and bringing them food and medicine after witnessing their persecution. When the Jews were sealed inside the Warsaw Ghetto, she used her credentials to make daily visits under the guise of hygiene inspections.Continue Reading
One by one, Sendler started smuggling children out of the Warsaw Ghetto, often hiding them in garbage, body bags and even coffins. She placed most of the children with sympathetic families and Christian orphanages, keeping their names and locations in a jar that she buried in a neighbor’s yard with hopes of reuniting them with their families after the war.
The Nazis eventually learned of her activities, arrested her and sentenced her to death in 1943. Despite torture and having her legs and feet broken during a particularly brutal interrogation session, she never revealed the identities of the children, nor the families who sheltered them. Friends managed to bribe officials and gain Sendler's release a year later, and she immediately returned to her activities, aware that the Nazis were watching her.
After the war, Sendler attempted to reunite the children with their families, but most had been killed in Treblinka and Auschwitz. The communist Polish regimes refused to allow her to travel or publicize her story due to her prior associations with resistance groups. It was not until 1999 when a group of Kansas high school students stumbled upon her story and produced the play "Life in a Jar" did the world learn of this remarkable woman's heroism.Learn more about Literature