Irena Sendler

Mother of the Children of the Holocaust

by Anna Mieszkowska


Irena Sendler said, "There are two kinds of people: good and bad. Nationality, race, and religion do not play any role; what is important is which human you are." This Nobel Peace Prize nominee was largely unknown in America—until a group of teenagers in Kansas discovered her inspiring and heartbreaking life story.

Print Flyer

November 2010


Pages 224
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics World History/Conflict

This book offers the first English translation of the compelling heroine story of Irena Sendler, a Polish Catholic who organized the rescue of more than 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw ghetto during World War II.

In the fall of 1999, four young girls from Kansas began research for a high school history project. The students were inspired by a magazine article about Irena Sendler, and after discovering that Sendler was still alive, they exchanged letters with her and eventually traveled to Poland to meet with her. The play the students wrote as a result of their research and multiple interviews spawned worldwide interest in the epic story of one person who managed to save the lives of 2,500 children in Poland under German occupation.

This new translation brings the universally appealing story of Irena Sendler to an English-speaking audience for the first time. It contains moving accounts of courage and hope in the face of tremendous danger, cruelty, and terrifying uncertainty. It also portrays the unspeakable emotional distress suffered by the children's parents who chose to give them up, and communicates the decades of immense longing, loneliness, and guilt of the rescuees for having survived while their families did not.


  • Based on sound scholarship and research while also being easy to read and accessible to a wide readership
  • Provides a complete, chronological presentation of Sendler's life, from her childhood, education, and wartime humanitarian efforts to her postwar experiences, including her professional and personal life and her visit to Israel
  • Presents unique information from letters and interviews with the now-elderly children Sendler rescued over 60 years ago, illuminating the dramatic influence she had upon their lives
  • Contains several sections written in the voice of Irena Sendler, resulting in a lively, conversational first-person narrative that gives a reading experience akin to sitting with Sendler and hearing her story firsthand


  • Contains a compelling presentation of a subject popular with everyone ranging from elementary school children to elderly adults who experienced World War II firsthand
  • A recounting of a globally significant person's life that has never previously been documented in the written English language
  • The story Irena Sendler sparked the writing of the student-authored play, Life in a Jar, which continues to be staged in schools, churches, and synagogues across North America and Europe
  • Particularly appropriate for young students as a poignant example of the wide-reaching good can result from the efforts of a very small number of individuals
  • Presents an inspirational, true story of an ordinary human being who put her belief in equality for all into action and simply took whatever action was necessary to help those in need
  • Mieszkowska's book was the basis for the 2009 Hallmark Hall of Fame film, "The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler," starring Anna Paquin
Author Info

Anna Mieszkowska is an archivist at the Polish Academy of Science in Warsaw, Poland, and holds a master's degree in theatre studies from the University of Warsaw. She is the author of six books, has contributed to numerous journals and archives, and is a frequent guest on Polish public radio and literary and cultural television shows. Mieszkowska was a consultant to Mary Skinner's documentary, In the Name of Their Mothers, as well as on the 2009 television movie The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler.



"Irena Sendler wrote that tragic events can produce beautiful feelings. Such events can also produce beautiful actions like the breathtakingly brave rescue of 2500 Jewish children by Sendler and her network of helpers in occupied Poland. This book finally does justice to her extraordinary story, offering elegant testimony to the best in the human spirit."

—Andrew Nagorski, former Warsaw bureau chief for Newsweek and author of The Greatest Battle: Stalin, Hitler, and the Desperate Struggle for Moscow That Changed the Course of World War II

"Irena Sendler saved the lives of thousands of Jewish children by sneaking them out of the Warsaw Ghetto under the eyes of the German occupation. For long decades, the exploits of one of the genuine heroines of modern history remained unknown. But in this book tells the story of Irena Sendler, her brave co-workers, and those they rescued, largely in their own words. It is gripping reading. The inspiring thing is that it is all true." —Neal Pease, Professor of History, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

"The heroic rescue work of Irena Sendler and her fellow conspirators of the secret Zegota organization is breathtaking. In this book, we not only read about her, but, thanks to Mieszkowska, we almost get to meet Sendler, a gentle powerhouse of such courage, love, faith and humility that for once, the word 'awesome,' regains its true meaning."—Irene Tomaszewski, co-author Codename Zegota: Rescuing Jews in Wartime Poland, 1942-1945 – the Most Dangerous Conspiracy in Occupied Europe

"The beautiful story of Irena Sendler, as told in this work, needs to be shared to a world of great need. Irena's desire to 'repair the world' is one which is dealt with in these pages. As the teacher of the 'Life in a Jar' girls, I have felt first-hand the great story of Irena. She is the hero of my students, who have helped make Irena's story known to the world. Read this book with ideas on how you can make a difference."
—Norman Conard, Director of Life in a Jar/the Irena Sendler Project

Other Titles of Interest

Code Name: Zegota cover imageHolocaust Denial as an International Movement cover imageLittle Holocaust Survivors cover image
Shards of Memory cover imageBritain's Medieval Castles cover imageOver the Top cover image

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