“Polish Schindler” in Film

A film about Irena Sendler, the Polish woman who saved about 2,500 Jewish children from the Holocaust, was aired in the U.S. last month. The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler stars Anna Paquin as the Polish heroine who smuggled children out of the Nazis Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw. Mrs. Paquin’s real-life counterpart, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee who only gained international recognition in her 98th year, was always modest about her achievements, saying that she could have done more. During the war, she worked for Żegota, the Polish Underground’s Council to Aid Jews. As a nurse, she had official papers that granted her access to the ghetto in order to check for typhus. The risks of the rescue operation were great, both for herself and her colleagues. As historians point out, even helping one person of Jewish descent was enough to merit the death penalty for the entire family of a “good Samaritan.” The film, which stars several Polish actors including Danuta Stenka, has gained largely favourable reviews in the American press.

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