History's HEROES? 1910 - 2008
Views and opinions
That was when we witnessed infernal scenes. Father agreed but mother didn't. Grandmother cuddled the child very tenderly and, weeping bitterly, said 'I won't give away my grandchild at any price…We sometimes had to leave such unfortunate families without taking their children from them. I went there the next day to see what the whole building had come to and often found that everyone had been taken for transport to the death camps
Every child saved with my help and the help of all the wonderful secret messengers, who today are no longer living, is the justification of my existence on this earth, and not a title to glory
I once carried such a tearful, broken-hearted little boy to other guardians when he asked me, crying and sobbing, 'Please tell me how many mums can you have, for this is the third one I'm going to
I kept silent. I preferred to die than to reveal our activity
Let me stress most emphatically that we who were rescuing children are not some kind of heroes. Indeed, that term irritates me greatly. The opposite is true. I continue to have pangs of conscience that I did so little.
If being a saint is complete devotion to a cause, bravery and altruism, then I think Mrs Sendlerowa fulfils all the conditions. I think about her the way you think about someone you owe your life to.
A great person has died — a person with a great heart, with great organisational talents, a person who always stood on the side of the weak.
When the war started, all of Poland was drowning in a sea of blood. But most of all, it affected the Jewish nation. And within that nation, it was the children who suffered most. That's why we needed to give our hearts to them.
I personally feel very uncomfortable because of this whole “fuss” which constantly makes “heroes” of us. These grand festivities which accompany the planting of a tree in Jerusalem, the big celebration which occurs in Israel, it is all very embarrassing for persons of my type, who don’t consider themselves to be great people, or heroes. We did these things as completely normal things, on the principle that when a person is drowning, we should reach out a hand to them, or at least a pinky finger. This constant emphasis on how extraordinary our work was – it is uncomfortable. A Jew, a Frenchman, a German, they are, after all, the same people, like us – that was the only thought in our minds. That which we did came from a need in our hearts
It took a true miracle to save a Jewish child... Mrs. Sendlerowa saved not only us, but also our children and grandchildren and the generations to come
I still carry the marks on my body of what those 'German supermen' did to me then. I was sentenced to death
It is beyond description to tell you what you feel when travelling to your own execution and, at the last moment, you find you have been bought out
But we and future generations must also remember the human cruelty and hate which led those who handed over their neighbours to the enemy, the hate which told them to commit murder. There was also indifference towards the tragedy of those who perished. It is my dream that this memory become a warning to the world and that humanity never experience such tragedy ever again.
To me and many rescued children, Irena Sendlerowa is a third mother. Good, wise, kind, always accepting, she shares our happiness and worries. We drop in for Irena's advice when life presents us with difficulties.
Her courageous activities rescuing Jews during the Holocaust serve as a beacon of light to the world, inspiring hope and restoring faith in the innate goodness of mankind.
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