Monday, April 20, 2009

The Courageous Heart of Irene Sendler

And in totally unrelated news after my first post today (you can see how my mind jumps from one thing to the next) I got sucked into watching the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie last night. I know they're usually top-notch and all but this one was called The Courageous Heart of Irene Sendler about a woman who rescued Jews from the Warsaw ghetto during the occupation of Poland in World War II and I was determined not to watch another Holocaust movie.

I just can't take the emotion the genre invokes but wouldn't you know it I started watching and couldn't stop until the inevitable tear-stained ending.

As is usual when I watch an historical movie I want to know more and after looking up Ms. Sendler's life (yea, I spoiled the ending by reading up before the movie was even over) I found out some interesting things.

This Polish Catholic nurse not only spent her early years working among the Jewish typhus victims (her father died from his exposure to the disease) but as the war continued she worked with the Polish underground to aid 3,000 Polish Jews. Soon that wasn't enough for her, she felt she wasn't doing enough, so she began a project which eventually saved 2,500 Jewish children by sneaking them out of the ghetto under the noses of the Nazis.

She died last year at the age of 98

Every day she risked her life because to be caught aiding the Jews was a capital offense in Poland--harder than in any other European nation. She was eventually captured by the Gestapo, severely tortured and left for dead in a snowy wood with broken arms and legs after the Underground bribed a guard and saved her on the way to her execution. Still that didn't stop her and she did all she could to reunite the families after the war though most of the parents had been killed.

In a move reminiscent of the great Mother Theresa of Calcutta and because of her selfless and heroic life, Sendler was nominated in 2007 for the Nobel Peace Prize.

She lost to Al Gore.

Makes you wonder what is wrong with the world sometimes doesn't it?

42 comments:

Stephanie said...

I too watched. And I too looked into her story further. I did not glean the loss of the noble peace prize to Al Gore. Now I am even more upset. I am astounded that their was a holocaust. How could a human being treat another in such a horrible unthinkable fashion. And then years later give a peace prize to a man over global warming instead of a woman who cared to risk her life to help others. Unbelievable.

The Source said...

Well now I've got to go and look her up. I enjoy learning about fascinating people. What a selfless woman. And what a slap in the face to lose any prize to Al Gore.

Lucy said...

I too have never been able to figure out what Al Gore did to get that Nobel Peace Prize. Who did he sleep with or pay to get it when compared to the selfless acts of other human beings like this well deserved woman. All he did was scare the crap out of everybody. Shame on those who gave that out.

One Mom said...

Irene is the type of person that I hope I would have been in that time and place. She put everythig at risk for those children, in the name of peace and love. Isn't that what the Nobel Peace Prize is all about? Can't for a second think what Al Gore did for peace and love.

Jolanthe said...

That irked me so much when I first heard about her - and the loss to Al Gore. I mean seriously, people. She was an amazing woman who sacrificed and gave so much of herself.

Definitely deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Bee said...

She lost to Al Gore?! Unbelievable.

The Holocaust certainly showed us that man can do unspeakably evil things to man. But it also showed us that there are those rare people who risk everything to do unfathomable good in the midst of that evil.

gretchen from lifenut said...

Your final sentence? Yes.

I remember when she passed away and being surprised I never heard of her. She was such a remarkable woman. I was especially struck by the loveliness of her face.

Just Mom said...

She losst the Nobel to Al Gore?!?! Yeah, I'd say something is wrong with the world.

Summer said...

She lost to Al Gore?!? That's disgusting!

jubilee said...

I'd like to reiterate: Al Gore winning instead of Irene Sendler is disgusting.

I am usually not into conspiracy theories and all that, but it does make you wonder about how his winning contributes to revisionist history. Seems like anything to do with the Holocaust is being systematically eradicated from our history.

So glad there are movies like this to preserve that part of history. We'd do well to remember the horror so that it's not repeated.

Babystepper said...

I only had a very thin thread of respect left for the Nobels as it was, and you have just snapped it.

I've studied WWII history since grade school, and been what some might call obsessed, so this hit me pretty hard. It's a good thing I didn't watch the movie. I'm not good with emotion.

Janelle said...

I watched it, too. Whose life has been made better, even possible because of Al Gore?

Amber M. said...

Yes, seriously wrong. Al Gore??

Please.

But you know, in all her humility, she probably didn't even care that she lost to him.

Ah, what we can learn from people like his.

~3 Sides of Crazy~ said...

I taped it and haven't watched it yet, but am anxious to do so. If anyone deserved the world peace prize it certainly sound like she did! I'll do some more research too now.

a Tonggu Momma said...

It is an absolute CRIME that she lost the Nobel Peace Prize to the "inventor of the internet." It boggles the mind.

Maddy said...

New one to me, thank you. It always seemed to be an arbitrary choice when it comes to the Nobel.
Best wishes

Alice Wills Gold said...

Oh I am so bummed that I missed the documentary....I just posted about Irene a few weeks back...SO INSPIRING!!!

Alice Wills Gold said...

Oh and I am so like you in not being able to handle the emotion of the halocaust....the other day I was crying my eyes out because I saw a crow trying to steal a baby bunny away from its mother. AHHHH!

Kim said...

Oh my goodness. A lifetime of selfless, sacrificial work helping other doesn't pay what it used to, does it? But traveling the lecture circuit certainly does.

Robin said...

I have to admit, as a Jew who lost relatives in the Holocaust and who is marking Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel, I'm saddened to see this turn into what is mainly a discussion of the relative merits of Nobel Prize winners and a lot of Gore-bashing, rather than remaining focused on the tremendous courage shown by Irene Sender and the lives she was able to save, and more importantly on remembering the millions she wasn't able to help - those who were murdered by the Nazis, my relatives among them.

I recognize that I'm projecting and that everyone here clearly recognizes the good this woman did, but I do feel it is a point worth making.

mum2twelve said...

YES - it does make you wonder doesn't it! Thank you for sharing her story with us!
Christi

angie said...

I wish I had seen this. Did you see on Robin's blog (Around the Island) that there will be a day to remember the Holocaust in Israel?

Suzanne said...

It was such a good movie, wasn't it? I love true life movies that inspire. She was obviously a remarkable woman. Can't believe she lost the Nobel Peace Prize. That committee lost all credibility with that one!

Kathryn said...

What an incredible woman! I didn't get to see the movie but I hope I can find it on netflix or something.

Flea said...

There is definitely something wrong with the world. Oh geez. Thank you for sharing her story.

Tracy B. said...

This also makes you wonder why we are just now seeing and hearing about this, some seventy years later. Did it really take seventy years for her efforts to be recognized? What a shame... But God bless this woman.

Scribbit said...

In answer--apparently there was a play written about her life called "jar of Life" or "pieces in a jar" or something like that--I can't remember exactly. It got critical attention and that got her life story some attention as well.

Sonja said...

Seriously.

thechickadeefeeder said...

I also had to run to the computer to read more about this wonderful woman--and was dismayed to find out the harsher realities that the Hallmark program didn't show. I'm very glad she has gotten some recognition.

Serena said...

She lost to Al Gore?!!! That makes me spitting mad.

Katy said...

Fire those people who voted for Al Gore. Have they no heart??

stayseemakedo said...

"Men invent new ideals because they dare not attempt old ideals. They look forward with enthusiasm, because they are afraid to look back." - What's Wrong With The World, 1910 by GK Chesterton

Robin said...

Tracy, Irene was officially recognized as a "Righteous Gentile" (the term used for those non-Jews who risked everything to save Jews) by Yad Vashem, Israel's official Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority on October 19, 1965. The tree planted in her honor stands at the entrance to Yad Vashem's Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations.

You can read more about this incredible woman on this page about her from Yad Vashem's website here

Michele said...

As a fellow Jew, I have to agree with Robin on this one. This woman was recognized by Yad Vashem along with hundreds of others who risked their lives to save Jews in the Holocaust. The fact that Al Gore won a Nobel Peace Prize in the same year that this woman was nominated does not bother me one bit and is inconsequential. The Kansas school children who brought this woman's story to light are to be commended.

Barb said...

I couldn't watch it, for the same reason you thought you couldn't, but I know this woman's story and yes, it's just not right that Al Gore won when her name was on the list.

Lisa said...

Wow! To it all. What an adorable smile and courageous woman! She is so much more deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize. Unbelievable.

Lori said...

I'm sensing a lot of Al Gore hating here. The Nobel Peace Prize is so subjective. Not even Gandhi got one.

Stephanie said...

She sounds like a brave and wonderful woman. And that smile is positively endearing...

Thanks for sharing her story.

Madeline said...

What IS wrong with this world?? Her story is truly inspiring. Al Gore's...not nearly so much!

The Random Muse said...

That is completely infuriating.

Al Gore is a bit of an idiot, and she was a truly amazing woman.

Alexandra said...

I wish I had seen this movie! Netflix doesn't have it, so I'll have to look elsewhere.

Al Gore? I'll have to look that one up. What a strange choice though. Good thing for the Hallmark Hall of Fame or few would know of her tremendous courage. The new generations are already beginning to forget the Holocaust. We need to be reminded so that we don't go that way again.

So many other countries have gone through holocausts, ethnic cleansing, etc. in the recent past. Maybe they have become complacent as well, or never cared about the value of life and personal freedom in the first place. We need to keep moving forward, and remember.

perilloparodies said...

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? She lost to Al Gore? That is so wrong. Politics, what do you expect? Sheesh!! I loved and was moved by this post. thank you.. need to go look up more on her.

celita
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