Irena’s Children by Tilar J. Mazzeo is the true and amazing account of Irena Sandler. Irena has been called the female Oskar Schindler as she rescued an estimated 2,500 children from the Warsaw ghetto. The story opens in 1942 when Irena realizes that the Gestapo is coming to arrest her and she makes every effort to save the list she has of the names of the children and where they have gone. As the general of an underground army, Irena and her network has successfully hidden Jewish children in Warsaw and beyond. The story then takes the reader back to her beginnings. As the only child of a Catholic doctor and his wife, Irena learns from a very early age to care for all people regardless of religion. If they are in need and you are able to help, you are to help. This philosophy helps mold Irena’s sense of social obligation to help those less fortune. As the war breaks out and the Jews are being rounded up and pushed into the ghetto, Irena begins her plan to save all she can.
Irena’s Children is an amazing story of one woman’s determination to stand up to injustice even if it means her own death. Told from her birth to the end of the war, Irena’s story is one of danger and ingenuity in order to smuggle children out of the ghetto. An amazing story which remained untold until a group of American schoolchildren discovered her story and created a play which brought her name out of the shadows. When she died in 2008 at the age of 98, she was still very humble about her efforts. I highly recommend Irena’s Children. Her story needs to be told and retold so that the contributions of Irena and others will not be forgotten in the horrors of Holocaust.
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