In The Name of Their Mothers
A documentary film (by Mary Skinner) about Polish heroine Irena Sendler and her wartime conspiracy of women and men who outfoxed the Nazis and saved the lives of thousands of Jewish children. Sendler was a 29-year-old Catholic social worker when Nazi Germany invaded Poland. After Warsaw's Jews were imprisoned behind ghetto walls without food or medicine, Sendler, and those she most trusted, and who were willing to risk their lives, smuggled aid into the ghetto, and began smuggling orphans out -- hiding them in convents, orphanages and private homes in the city and in the Polish countryside. Those who gave shelter risked not only their own lives but also the lives of their families. Before the Nazis burned the ghetto to the ground, Irena Sendler and the Żegota network (Council to Aid Jews in Occupied Poland) rescued more than 2,500 Jewish children. All of the children on "Sendler's List" survived the war.
Irena Sendler was captured by the Gestapo, imprisoned and tortured after refusing to divulge the identities of her co-workers or the names of the hidden Jewish children. On the way to her execution, Sendler escaped at the last moment, thanks to friends who managed to bribe a Nazi guard. Irena and her co-conspirators, and others who sheltered Jews, were silenced by the Communists, who came to power after the Nazis and who harassed, sometimes imprisoned, and persecuted as enemies of the State those who fought for a free and independent Poland. When WWII ended for the West, Poland was still beseiged.
Since the fall of Communism and the emergence of free Poland, the rescuers' stories 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 a testament to the power of moral courage in the darkest of times.
"This documentary is a stirring tribute to the courage and cunning of a group of women who saved [Jewish] lives at the risk of losing their own," states John Boland, KQED President and CEO. KQED is honored to present IRENA SENDLER: In the Name of Their Mothers to our national PBS audience."
Video Clip - May 1, 2011 PBS Broadcast
KQED, 10 PM Broadcast
Code Name: Żegota: Rescuing Jews in Occupied Poland, 1942-1945: The Most Dangerous Conspiracy in Wartime Europe
Irena Sendler: Mother of the Children of the Holocaust