Irena was born February 15, 1910 in Otwock (which is now Poland). Her parents were Dr. Stanisław Krzyżanowski, a physician, and Janina (Grzybowska) Krzyżanowski. When she was 21 years of age Irena married Mieczysław Sendler, but they would later divorce in 1947. 
About eight years after they married WWII broke out in Europe. On September 1, 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland and approximately 450,000 Jews, 30% of Warsaw’s population, was crammed into a tiny section of the city and barricaded behind seven-foot-high walls.
Irena, a Roman Catholic, was a social worker and headed the children’s bureau of Zegota, an underground organization set up to save Jews. Her group of about 30 volunteers, mostly women, were involved in helping hundreds of infants, young children and teenagers slip to safety.
Debórah Dwork, the Rose professor of Holocaust history at Clark University in Massachusetts, is quoted as saying Irena, “was the inspiration and the prime mover for the whole network that saved those 2,500 Jewish children.” Professor Dwork is the author of “Children With a Star” (Yale University Press, 1991), also credited Irena for smuggling out about 400 children herself.
As a social worker for the city, Irena had been given a pass that allowed her to entrance to the ghetto where the Jews were being housed, forgeries of the government pass, allowed other members of Zegota to enter the ghetto.
Zegota volunteers would attempt to convince the quarantined, Jewish parents, to allow them to rescue their children. Irena later recalled, "Here I am, a stranger, asking them to place their child in my care. They ask if I can guarantee their safety. I have to answer no. Sometimes they would give me their child. Other times they would say come back. I would come back a few days later and the family had already been deported."
The parents who agreed to the rescue, were instructed to dress the children as nicely as possible, and without a star. There were several hoaxes they used to save the children. The most common escape route, was through the Warsaw Municipal Law Courts, which abutted the ghetto. It had underground corridors with entrances on the ghetto side. The Polish police were bribed to allow through traffic. Another route was the Jewish Cemetery and some children were placed in coffins with their mouths taped, or were sedated, so they wouldn’t cry. Other children were smuggled out in potato sacks.
At times an ambulance wagon was used with the driver accompanied by a dog. The children were under the floor boards and were taken out of the gates. The barking dog would drown out a child’s cries. A Catholic church straddled the ghetto border and children would be taken into the church, go into the confessional, and come out with papers as Catholic. From there they would be taken to a Christian home, a convent or an orphanage.
In 1965, Mrs. Irena Sendler became one of the first of the so-called righteous gentiles honored by the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. Poland’s Communist leaders did not allow her to travel to Israel; she was presented the award in 1983.
In 2007 Poland finally honored her efforts and Irena wrote a letter to the Polish Senate, “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.”
On April 19, 1943, the Nazis began what they expected would be a rapid liquidation of the ghetto. It took them more than a month to quell the Warsaw ghetto uprising. By then, only about 55,000 Jews were still alive; most of them were sent to death camps.
Irena later then married Stefan Zgrzembski and they had three children, Janina, Andrzej (who died in infancy), and Adam (who died of heart failure in 1999). Irena and Stefan were divorced In 1959. She subsequently remarried her first husband, Mieczysław Sendler, however they too eventually divorced.
Irena lived to be 98 years old and died May 12, 2008 in Warsaw, Poland and is buried in the Powązki Cemetery in Warsaw, Poland. She is survived by her daughter, Janka, and a granddaughter.
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On 20 Jun 2017 at 11:14 GMT Dorothy Barry wrote:
The Woman Who Smuggled Over 2,500 Jewish Kids Out Of the Warsaw Ghetto In Suitcases or Medical Bags included in this link: https://www.warhistoryonline.com/world-war-ii/irenasendler-x.html