During World War II, Catholic Polish national Irena Sendler (1910 – 2008) received permission to work in the Warsaw Ghetto as a sewer specialist.
Sendler had an ulterior motive.
Irena smuggled Jewish infants out of the ghetto in the bottom of her tool box. She also smuggled larger Jewish children in a burlap sack placed in the back of her truck.
Irena kept a dog in her truck that barked ferociously at Nazi soldiers who manned the ghetto checkpoints. Frightened, the soldiers waved her through without searching her truck. The barking dog also masked any noises made by the hidden children.
Irena smuggled out and rescued 2,500 Jewish children.
But finally, Irena was caught. The Nazis tortured her, breaking her legs and her arms. Despite this, she refused to betray any of her comrades or the children they rescued. She was sentenced to death by firing squad. Miraculously, Irena managed to escape.
Irena kept records of all the names of the children she rescued. After the war she attempted to locate any parents who may have survived and reunite them with their children. Most of the parents had been gassed to death in the Nazi concentration camps.
In 1965 Sendler was recognized by Israel’s Yad Vashem as one of the Righteous among the Nations. But Poland’s communist government did not allow her to travel abroad to receive the award in Israel. She was able to do so only in 1983.
In 2007 Irena Sendler was proposed for the Nobel Peace Prize.
She was not selected.
Instead, Al Gore received the Nobel Peace Price for a slide show on so-called global warming.
Here’s Irena Sendler’s entry at Yad Vashem.