Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"That we may never forget . . ."

As the son of a Holocaust survivor, I receive from my dad little reminders every now and then of things like the following story. I think they are worth remembering no matter what your religious persuasion.

Who are the heroes of any age?

Irena Sendlerowa would make a good one.

Sendlerowa, more commonly known as Irena Sendler, died in May 2008 at the age of 98.

Why should we remember her? Here's her story, in brief:

During the Nazi occupation of Poland during World War II, Irena helped smuggle Jews out of the Warsaw Ghetto. She used various means. She smuggled some babies in the bottom of a tool box she carried. She placed some older children in a burlap sack that she had in the back of a truck she borrowed. A couple of times she took a dog with her to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto.

The soldiers of course would want nothing to do with the dog, and, hopefully, the barking would also cover any inadvertent noises the children might make.

Over the course of a little more than three months in the summer of 1942, she managed to smuggle out and save close to a thousand children and adults.

Eventually Irena was caught, and the Nazis tortured her and fractured one of her legs and a foot.

Irena kept a record of the names of many of the children she smuggled out and kept them in glass jars, buried under an apple tree in her friend's back yard. After the war, she and the others from the group with whom she worked (there were 24 women and a man) tried to reunite the families of the almost 2500 people they had saved. Sadly, few were able to be reunited because so many family members had died at Treblinka.

Today she is remembered through a play called Life in a Jar.


In the original email that alerted me to Irena's life, the author attached this cartoon by Wiley Miller and commented,
It is now more than 60 years after the Second World War in Europe ended. This e-mail is being sent as a memorial chain, in memory of the six million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians and 1,900 Catholic priests who were murdered. Now, more than ever, with Iran and others claiming the Holocaust to be 'a myth,' it's imperative to make sure the world never forgets, because there are others who would like to do it again.

This e-mail is intended to reach 40 million people worldwide!

Join us and be a link in the memorial chain and help us distribute it around the world.

Please send this e-mail to people you know and ask them to continue the memorial chain.
It is with that intention in mind that I did my own research, discovered many errors in the original email (but a fair enough conglomeration of facts) and determined to make this post.
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