Polish World War II heroine who saved 2,500 Jewish children dies

Other News Materials 12 May 2008 18:56 (UTC +04:00)

Polish resistance fighter Irena Sendlerowa, who organized the rescue of 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto during Nazi occupation, died Monday aged 98, reported dpa with link on Polish radio reported.

Sendlerowa was part of the Zegota resistance movement. Together with a group of 20 helpers, she smuggled 2,500 children out of the Warsaw Ghetto in ambulances, through sewers and once under her skirt.

She then obtained forged identity cards for them and hid the children with foster families, at monasteries and orphanages.

"Irena Sendlerowa rescued the future of the Jewish people," Piotr Kadlcik, the head of the Jewish Community in Poland, told Radio Information Agency (IAR).

Sendlerowa made a coded list of the children's names, which she hid in her cellar, in the hope of reuniting them with their families after the war.

She was later arrested and tortured by the Gestapo, but never gave details of the resistance movement's work nor did she reveal the children's names.

Members of the resistance movement bribed SS guards at the Gestapo prison where Sendlerowa was held and she was saved on the day of her scheduled execution.

In 2006, Poland and Israel recommended Sendlerowa for the Nobel Peace Prize and the latter awarded her the title "Righteous Among the Nations".

Last year, the Polish parliament passed a unanimous resolution honouring her for organizing the "rescue of the most defenceless victims of the Nazi ideology - the Jewish children."

Similar to German factory owner Oscar Schindler, Sendlerowa long remained little known to the public.