The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler

Dzieci Ireny Sendlerowej, 2009, 120 min.


Emmy Awards
Outstanding Makeup for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special


Director John Kent Harrison
Screenplay John Kent Harrison, Lawrence Spagnola
(Based on the book by Anna Miszkowska)
Cinematography Jerzy Zielinski
Music Jan A.P. Kaczmarek
Art Director Waldemar Kalinowski
Producers Jeff Most, Jeff Rice, Brent Shields, Beata Pisula
Irena Sendler Anna Paquin
Janina Sendler Marcia Gay Harden
Stefan Goran Visnijc
Dr. Majkowski Nathaniel Parker
Piotr Steve Speirs
Monsignor Godlewski Paul Freeman
Jadwiga Maja Ostaszewska
Hannah Rozenfeld Danuta Stenka
Dr. Janusz Korczak Krzysztof Pieczynski
Rabbi Elderey Jerzy Nowak
As a Polish Catholic social worker in the early 1940’s, Irena Sendler created and led a conspiracy of women who moved in and out of Warsaw’s Jewish Ghetto disguised as nurses employed by the Warsaw’s Health Department. Though they worked under the guise of merely attempting to prevent and contain the spread of typhus and spotted fever, Sendler and her brave cohorts emerged each time with the children of consenting Jewish parents. The children were sometimes sedated and hidden inside boxes, suitcases and coffins as a means of rescuing them from their imminent deportation to death camps. They were given new identities and placed with Polish families and in convents. Sendler kept a hidden record of their birth names and where they were placed with the hope that they would some day be reunited with their own families.

In 1943, the Nazis discovered Sendler’s daring and dangerous ruse and arrested her. She was tortured by Gestapo agents and suffered broken feet. On the day of her scheduled execution she was rescued by “Zegota,” the underground network with which she worked to save the Jewish children.

As a result of Sendler’s efforts, approximately 2,500 children were smuggled to safety. Not a single child she rescued was ever betrayed or discovered by the Nazis.