This is ostensibly from the Ladies' Home Journal, but I did a search and couldn't find it. It came to me in an email:
>Subject: A Must Read
>Date: Tue, 10 May 2005 15:12:33 EDT
>This is soooo worth the time to read: THE SCHINDLER NO ONE KNEW
>Irena Sendler rescued 2,500 children from the Nazi death camps. Her story,
>writes Marti Attoun in Ladies' Home Journal, was rescued by three Kansas
>Irena Sendler keeps a photo of "her Kansas girls" on the bedside table in
>nursing-home room in Warsaw, Poland. She rests easier now that her story is
>in good hands.
>And her story is astounding, as awe-inspiring as that of Oskar Schindler,
>whose courageous acts of Nazi resistance became a book and an Academy
>Award-winning film. But unlike Schindler, who received international
>acclaim, Sendler had
>been a footnote in history for nearly 60 years. That all changed in
>September 1999, when three teenagers in a small town in Kansas were looking
>topic for a history project and stumbled upon a short mention of Sendler in
>article in a 5-year-old newsmagazine. As a Catholic social worker, the
>said, Sendler had organized the rescue of 2,500 Jewish babies and children
>the Nazi-controlled Warsaw ghetto in 1942 and 1943.
>"We thought it was a typo," recalls Elizabeth Cambers, now 18 and a college
>freshman. "We thought it was supposed to say she rescued 250 children, not
>In September 1939, when the Nazis invaded Poland, Sendler was a 29-year-old
>social worker employed by Warsaw's social-welfare department. An only child,
>she had been just 7 when her father, a Catholic doctor, contracted typhus
>died after treating Jews during a 1917 typhus outbreak. But she never forgot
>sacrifice. "I was taught that if a man is drowning, it is irrelevant what is
>his religion or nationality," Sendler has said. "One must help him. It is a
>need of the heart."
>In the fall of 1940, Sendler watched as the Nazis forced 350,000 Jews inside
>the Warsaw ghetto, a 16-square-block area that was walled off and guarded.
>With each passing month of the war, the torment of the people locked inside
>intensified. They were dying of starvation and disease while unknowingly
>for the Nazis to herd them into freight cars that would ultimately take them
>their deaths in the gas chambers.
>Sendler joined Zegota, the code name for the Council for Aid to Jews in
>Occupied Poland, an underground network founded in December 1942 by
>Adolf Berman and six other prominent scholars, religious leaders, and social
>activists. The secret organization, which forged thousands of birth
>and other documents to give Jews safe Aryan identities, asked Sendler to
>up their operation to smuggle Jewish children out of the Warsaw ghetto.
>But first she had to get inside. Because the Nazis were on guard against the
>spread of infections, they allowed the delivery of medicine inside the
>A Zegota member working inside the Polish disease department forged a permit
>that allowed Sendler to work undercover as a nurse inside the ghetto. Her
>name was Jolanta.
>With the help of 10 "messenger friends," as Sendler called her colleagues,
>and dozens of volunteers, she organized the effort to sneak the children to
>orphanages, convents, and private homes in the Warsaw region. Children who
>old enough to talk were taught to rattle off Christian prayers and mimic
>religious behavior (such as how to make the sign of the cross) so they could
>live safely without arousing suspicion of their Jewish heritage.
>Sendler and Zegota devised several routes for smuggling children out of the
>ghetto. Kids escaped on foot or in the arms of volunteers through sewer
>or basements with underground passageways. Many also escaped through the
>courthouse, which had entrances on both the ghetto side and Aryan side.
>methods were more inventive. For instance, a trolley driver and Zegota
>crossing from the ghetto to the Aryan side, hid little ones in trunks,
>suitcases, or sacks under his back-seat, where the Nazi guards could not
>supporter, an ambulance driver, kept his dog beside him in the front seat
>trained him to bark to camouflage any cries or noises from the babies hidden
>under stretchers in back. Sendler also arranged for babies and children to
>smuggled out with merchants in potato sacks, under their loads of goods.
>Sometimes, she even sneaked sedated children out in body bags, telling the
>that they were dead.
>Day after day, for about 16 months, Sendler persuaded parents and
>grandparents to hand over their babies and children, to give them a if
>chance to live.
>"There were terrible scenes," Sendler says. "One mother I wanted a child to
>leave the ghetto while the father did not. The grandma wanted, the husband
>not. They asked what was the guarantee? What kind of guarantee could I give
>them?" She couldn't even guarantee that she could get past the guards.
>On slips of tissue paper, Sendler recorded the identity of every child she
>rescued. Whenever possible, she wrote down the child's Jewish name as well
>the child's new Christian name and new address. Sendler buried these names
>jars under an apple tree in a friend's garden. After the war, Sendler hoped,
>children would be located and their Jewish identities revealed to them.
>On Oct. 20, 1943, the Gestapo arrested Sendler. They had long suspected she
>was running a smuggling operation, and one of her messengers had been caught
>and tortured until she gave up Sendler's name and home address. The Gestapo
>interrogated Sendler, demanding information about the identities of the
>rescuers and the children in hiding. But she refused to talk, even when she
>beaten until her legs and feet were broken. "I was quiet as a mouse,"
>has said. "I would have rather died than disclose anything about our
>operations." She was then taken to Pawiak prison, where she was sentenced to
>At the last minute, however, the woman who had rescued so many others was
>herself rescued. On the day she was to be executed, Zegota paid a hefty
>a guard, who allowed Sendler to escape. The guard subsequently posted
>Sendler's name on public bulletin boards as one of the executed,
>essentially rendering her invisible to the Nazis. She then went into hiding
>in Poland, just like the children she'd saved.
>When Poland was liberated a year and three months later, in January 1945,
>Sendler returned to the friend's garden and dug up the jars. She turned over
>rescued children's names to Zegota's Berman, and he and other members of the
>group tried to locate the children's foster families. Sadly, most of the
>children had no parents or grandparents to be found. Less than 1 percent of
>Jews inside the ghetto survived the war, most having perished at the
>death camp in northeast Poland. After the war, Sendler married, raised two
>children of her own, and continued her career as a social worker in Warsaw.
>beatings she had suffered at the hands of the Gestapo left her permanently
>disabled, and she has had trouble walking ever since. But she never talked
>about her rescue work. Poland was under a communist regime, and the postwar
>climate wasn't safe. For almost 60 years, her story was essentially lost to
>Then, in March 2000, she received a letter from Elizabeth Cambers and two of
>her classmates at Uniontown High School in Uniontown, Kan. Encouraged by
>social studies teacher, the girls had selected Sendler as the subject of
>their National History Day project, and though information about her was
>they had been able to write a 10-minute play, titled "Life in a Jar", that
>already won first place at the state level of the national contest. "We
>explained who we were and what we were doing," says Sabrina Coons, now 20
>student at Kansas State University. "We told her that we found her story
>Sendler's response, handwritten in Polish, arrived in Kansas three weeks
>later. "I am very eager to receive and read your play," Sendler wrote. In a
>of letters, Sendler answered the students' questions, and slowly the details
>of her remarkable story unfolded; an international friendship was forged.
>After an emotional performance of Life in a Jar at Uniontown High, the
>students were invited to perform the play for church groups, nursing homes,
>civic organizations throughout southeast Kansas. Through their
>Sendler, the teens learned that she lived quite meagerly. So at each
>performance, they set out a donation jar. Their first gift to Sendler was
>they told her to use for postage. "We found out later that she gave the $3
>to a children's home," says Coons. "That's just how she is."
>Although the girls didn't win any awards when they traveled to Maryland in
>June 2000 to compete in the national contest, their play gained national and
>international attention, and the students have since given more than 100
>performances of the play in eight different states. As a result, Sendler has
>numerous awards for her courageous work. After learning she was to be given
>$10,000 humanitarian award from the American Center of Polish Culture in
>Washington, she wrote to her girls "My emotion is being shadowed by the fact
>no one from the circle of my faithful coworkers, who constantly risked their
>lives, could live long enough to enjoy all the honors that now are falling
>me.... I can't find the words to thank you, my dear girls.... Before the day
>you have written the play "Life in a Jar" -- nobody in my own country and in
>the whole world cared about my person and my work during the war ..." One
>of a Kansas City audience was so profoundly moved by S
>story that he raised money to send the play's three authors to Poland to
>meet Sendler in May 2001.
>"It wasn't real until I actually met Irena," says Megan Stewart. "We all ran
>up and hugged her. She wanted to just hold our hands and hear about our
>lives." Cambers told Sendler, "I love you. You are my hero."
>Sendler, a 4-foot-11-inch woman who now uses a wheelchair, deflected the
>girls' praise. "A hero is someone doing extraordinary things," she told
>"What I did was not extraordinary. It was a normal thing to do."
>From "The Woman Who Loved Children," Ladies' Home Journal