Woman Who Saved Jews from Nazis Dies

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The woman credited with saving 2,500 Jewish children from the Nazi Holocaust has died. Irena Sendler was 98.

Sendler worked as a social worker in Poland when Germany invaded in 1939. The Warsaw Jews were forced to live in a closed-off ghetto.

But Sendler conducted rescue operations -- using her social worker status -- to smuggle out children.

Using every means at her disposal, she transported the children in ambulances, garbage cans, coffins, potato sacks, or anything else she could use to hide them from the Gestapo. She even feigned contagious diseases.

She drew up hundreds of false identity papers and hid documentation of the children's true identities in jars that she buried in a neighbor's back yard.

Later, she would dig them up and work to unite the children with family members who survived the death camps.

In October 1943, the Germans arrested and imprisoned her. They tortured her, breaking her legs and feet, but they were unable to get names of her co-workers or the hiding places of her records.

Finally, they sentenced her to death, but a German soldier orchestrated her escape.

In 1965, Irena was among the first to be named a righteous gentile by Jerusalem's Yad VaShem, the Holocaust's Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority.

She also received honorary Israeli citizenship at that time.

The Polish parliament honored Sendler last year for her heroic rescue efforts. At the special session, Polish parliamentarians voted unanimously to honor both Sendler and the Polish Underground, whose members aided the beleaguered Jews of Poland during the Nazi occupation.

Polish President Lech Kaczynski expressed great regret over Sendler's death, calling her "extremely brave" and "an exceptional person," according to The Jerusalem Post.

"A great person has died - a person with a great heart, with great organizational talents, a person who always stood on the side of the weak," Warsaw Ghetto uprising leader Marek Edelman told Polish TV.

Sources: CBN News, The Jerusalem Post

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