Irena's Children

By Tilar J. Mazzeo,

Book cover of Irena's Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghetto

Book description

For desperate families trapped inside the Warsaw ghetto in 1942 with small children, one name was whispered urgently. It was the name of a young social worker in her thirties with the courage to take staggering risks and to save over 2,000 of those children from death and deportation.

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Why read it?

3 authors picked Irena's Children as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Social worker, Irene Sendler went into the Warsaw Ghetto, her job ostensibly as a public health specialist. The Jewish inmates allowed her to take their children out of the ghetto and to safety. She ultimately rescued several thousand children, down sewers, through abandoned buildings, and sometimes in her large medical bag. She kept the names of all rescued children in a glass bottle under an apple tree so that, at the end of the war, those Jewish mothers who survived would be reunited with their children. Her heroism is inspiring.

From Jenny's list on the human cost of war.

I can’t recall reading a more absorbing nonfiction book than this National Jewish Book Award Finalist. An astounding story of well-known Upstander Irena Sendler, who saved roughly 2,500 Jewish children in Poland at great personal cost. She survived capture and torture, and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. While many films and biographies exist about Sendler, this one, heavily researched, gripping, and minutely detailed, is a must. Available also in a special edition for young adults.

Irena (Sendlerowa) Sendler, a Polish Catholic, worked as a social worker for the City of Warsaw. After the Germans invaded Poland in 1939, she worked forging identity papers and assisting Jews, many of whom were friends. She used her access to the Warsaw ghetto to help rescue over 2,500 Jewish children. After the Gestapo arrested her, she survived brutal torture but never once gave up a child’s or fellow rescuer’s name. 

Irena’s story serves as a symbol of all those people who helped her, the members of Polish resistance organizations, and the thousands of Poles who risked their own lives…

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