Irena Sendler: In the Name of Their Mothers on WXXI-TV

Sun, 05/01/2011 - 10:00pm

Photo: Irena Sendler

Credit: Courtesy of 2B Productions

During WWII, Irena Sendler rescued over 2,500 Jewish children from the Nazis.

In honor of National Holocaust Remembrance Day, WXXI  presents Irena Sendler: In the Name of Their Mothers on Sunday, May 1 at 10 p.m. on WXXI-TV/HD (DT21.1/cable 1011 and 11). Mary Skinner is the director of this documentary film about Polish heroine Irena Sendler and her wartime conspiracy of women who outfoxed the Nazis and saved the lives of thousands of Jewish children. 

Sendler was a 29-year-old social worker when the Nazis invaded Poland. After Warsaw’s Jews were imprisoned behind the ghetto walls without food or medicine, Sendler and those she most trusted smuggled aid in and began smuggling orphans out ­– hiding them in convents, orphanages and private homes in the city and the Polish countryside. Before the Nazis burned the ghetto to the ground, they managed to rescue over 2,500 children.

Irena Sendler was eventually captured by the Gestapo, imprisoned and tortured after refusing to divulge the identities of her co-workers.  On the way to her execution, she escaped thanks to friends who managed to bribe a guard at the last moment.  Irena and her co-conspirators were silenced by the Communists who came to power after the Nazis.  And they were afraid to speak out for many decades afterwards.

Now at last, their story can be told. Irena Sendler: In the Name of Their Mothers features the last in-depth interview with Sendler before her death at the age of 98. Rare archival footage, family photographs and evocative re-creations shot in Warsaw bring the lives of the hidden Jewish children, Sendler and her co-workers into dramatic focus.  The film is testament to the power of moral courage in the darkest of times.