Irena Sendler was one of the most remarkable and noble figures to have emerged from the horrors of World War II. But her extraordinary compassion and heroism went largely unrecorded. This Roman Catholic social worker smuggled Jewish children out of the heavily-guarded Jewish ghetto in Warsaw: in suitcases, ambulances, coffins, sewer pipes, rucksacks and, on one occasion, even a tool box.
She kept a meticulous record of whom she rescued, their real names and new identities -created to protect the Jewish youngsters from the pursuing Nazis - and where they were sent. This coded information was written on tissue paper. Identical lists were hidden in two glass jars, buried under the apple tree in her neighbor’s garden, across the street from a German army barracks, hoping she could someday dig up the jars, locate the children and inform them of their past.
This was hardly ideal as the jars had to be dug up every time the name of a new escapee was added. But they were never found. In all, the jars contained the names of 2,500 children. As soon as the war ended, she handed over the tissue lists to Jewish representatives.