Based on the book The Mother Of The Holocaust Children by Anna Miezkowska, this 2009 film starring Anna Paquin is a remarkable true story of World War II hero Irena Sendler who rescued over 2,500 Jewish children during the German occupation of Poland.
In 1941, World War II rages through Europe. In occupied Poland, the Germans have established the Warsaw Ghetto for all the Jewish residents of the city. Over 440,000 Jews are forced inside its walls. There are some folks who want to help, but if the Germans find them hiding a Jew, they will be executed.
Recalling what her late father told her: “If you see a man drowning, you must save him even if you cannot swim”,Irena Sendler, who works at the Department of Social Servies at the Warsaw Civic Centre, wants to help the children inside the ghetto. (There are at least 80,000 of them, half of them under 10.)
One of the safe ways to get out is through blind spots the Germans overlook, for example the courthouse with a side entrance that is forgotten.
Hitler calls Jews a cancer to thte nation. What did Jews ever do? It’s not fair. Concentration camps are being built; 300 train cars transport them there regularly. In such a camp, the only purpose is death.
To survive, Irena Sendler must teach the children to lie about their faith and family background. Outside the walls of the ghetto there are Poles who are willing to save the children. Irena created an efficient network (an underground network that provides funds, papers and identifications) to save many children; she will then keep a record of where she places the children by writing them on scraps of paper in jars buried in the ground.
The Germans decide to deport all orphanages and all Jews will be resettled in the East; Jews found hiding will be shot. There is plenty of destruction, devastation and cruelty. Nobody can promise anything any more. Irena is arrested and taken in for questioning. she is manhandled, restrained and beaten severely on the soles, and threatened with execution. She is put in solitary confinement and tortured repeatedly.
Not a single child she rescued was ever betrayed or discovered by the Nazis. In 2007, Irena Sendler was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. she died in Warsaw, Poland in May 2008. She was 98 years old.
I find Irena Sendler to be truly courageous. War is appalling and meaningless. It is not a cliche to hope for world peace.