Holocaust Remembrance Day April 21st

“...to remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all…” Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and author


Irena Sendler, a Polish Catholic woman, was born in 1910.  During World War II, because she was a social health worker, Sendler had access to the Warsaw Ghetto and the  Jewish children imprisoned there. Secretly she worked with a unit of the Polish underground, concealing children from the Nazi authorities.  Sendler depended on the Church to help hide the Jewish children by forging documents for them.  In 1942 and 1943, Sendler led 2,500 children out of the ghetto to safe places of hiding. The Jewish children were hidden by Polish families, or by Catholic clergy. She preserved the children’s true identities in buried glass jars. She took upon herself enormous risk in protecting the identities so  that the children could be returned to their families after the war had ended. 

In October of 1943, Sendler was arrested by the Gestapo after a colleague gave away her name while being tortured. Sendler herself was then imprisoned and tortured, but refused to give away any names, of either Polish Underground members or children in hiding. Sentenced to death, Sendler was saved as she was being taken to her execution. She escaped when an associate bribed a German officer.  She was left in the woods, unconscious and with broken arms and legs. She was listed on public bulletin boards as among those executed. For the remainder of the war, she lived in hiding, but continued her work for the Jewish children. After the war, she dug up the jars containing the children’s identities and attempted to find the children and return them to their parents. 

After the war, Sendler was  persecuted by the communist authorities, for her association with the Polish anti-Nazi resistance groups. She was imprisoned, miscarried her second child, and her other  children were denied the right to study at Polish universities.

In 1965, Sendler was recognized by Israel as one of the Righteous Among the Nations. She also was awarded the Commanders Cross by the Israeli Institute. In 1983 the Communist Polish government allowed her to travel abroad, to receive the award in Israel.  In 2003, Pope John Paul II sent a personal letter to Sendler, praising her wartime efforts. She also received awards from the Polish people after the overthrow of Communism. 

 In 2007 Irena Sendler was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. The award instead went to Al Gore.  She passed away May 12, 2008.

May we never forget the horror of the Holocaust. May we remember a brave Polish woman Irena Sendler, who exemplified Christ and his teaching, ” love thy neighbor as thyself”.

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About JA Benson

Joanna entered the world as a BYU baby. Continuing family tradition, she graduated BYU with a degree in Elementary Education and taught for several years. Growing up in Salt Lake County, her favorite childhood hobbies were visiting cemeteries and eavesdropping on adult conversations. Her ancestral DNA is multi-ethnic and she is Mormon pioneer stock on every familial line. Joanna resides in the Southeastern USA with her five children ranging in age from 8 to 24. Her husband passed away in 2009. She is an avid reader and a student of history. Her current intellectual obsession is Sephardic Jewish history, influence and genealogy. She served as a board member for her local chapter of Families with Children from China. She is the author of “DNA Mormons?” Summer Sunstone 2007 http://www.bycommonconsent.com/2007/04/dna-mormons/ and “Becoming Hong Mei`s Mother” in the Winter Sunstone 2009 http://theredbrickstore.com/sunstone/becoming-hong-meis-mother/.

17 thoughts on “Holocaust Remembrance Day April 21st

  1. If only the Irena Sendlers of this world were as well known as the evildoers they stand against! I had never heard of Irena before — thank you for sharing her story.

  2. Thank you, JA. I also was not aware of Irena.

    I so want to make a particular statement, but she deserves better than that. I’m sure God has blessed this amazing woman with something much more eternally valuable than the worldly prize she should have received in mortality.

  3. JA, I just got through reading “The Zookeeper’s Wife,” which is a true story about the keepers of the Warsaw zoo who helped hide hundreds of Jews during WWII. It’s the story of extraordinary courage in a difficult time, just as Irena’s story is.


    It seems to me extraordinarily important to keep on telling the story of the Holocaust — I have personally known a number of otherwise good people who refuse to believe the Holocaust took place, if you can believe it. There really are a lot of conspiracy theorists in the world.

  4. Thanks Ardis for stopping by. I am a big fan of yours. I think because the Communist government in Poland was able to suppress the truth for so long, many brave Polish heros were forgotten.

    Thank you Ray, as always lovely.

    Geoff B. Thank you for that link. I shall put it in my must read pile.

    I have never met anyone who has denied the Holocaust. I knew they existed. So tell me *THREADJACK ALERT* WHY!!?? AND HOW???!!! does this happen?

    The most amazing gift was given to me in my DNA test. I have such a spiritual closeness to people I have not met in this life. My Polish ancestors were probably the Sawicz (lots of different English spellings fo this name) or Savage in English. Sawicz is a found in Eastern Poland. Sawicz is a Jewish name. I guesstimate that my Polish ancestor left Poland early 1700’s.

    I have found a few Sawicz individuals who died in the Holocaust and here is one individual:

    Sawicz Szlome

    Szlome Sawicz was born in Wilno in 1903. He was a clerk and married. Prior to WWII he lived in Wilno, Poland. During the war he was in Wilno, Poland. Szlome perished in 1942 in Wilno, Poland. This information is based on a Page of Testimony (displayed on left) submitted on 18-Jun-1957 by his relative.

    from The Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names

  5. JA, keep in mind that I have traveled throughout the world and talked to a lot of different people about a lot of different things. And there are a tremendous amount of conspiracy theorists out there. I personally know probably a half-dozen people who believe that 9/11 was an inside job orchestrated by the Bush administration.

    When it comes to the Holocaust, I had one friend who simply refused to accept that there were more than 1 million Jews in Europe before WWII. He had gotten hold of some pamphlet that “proved” it with supposed census information city by city. (News for the uninformed: there were nearly 1 million Jews just in and around the city of Warsaw, and if you add up the Jews in the rest of Nazi-occupied Europe the number easily exceeds 7 million). I had a very serious talk with him and said that such a line of thinking was simply not acceptable — it was contemptible and hateful. I told him in the most serious way I can that I could not associate myself with somebody with such views. As you can imagine, this is not generally my position — I have friends who are Marxists and friends who are libertarians and many, many liberal and conservatives friends with all kinds of views, but I really needed to find some way to drive home the point that being a Holocaust denier is not an acceptable viewpoint in polite society. This was probably 15 years ago, and we have really not been friends since.

  6. Did LDS missionaries preach among any Jewish populations in Europe in the approximately 100 years prior to World War II ?

  7. One of my favorite books of Jewish History is “The Indestructible Jews” by Max I. Dimont.

    I’d like to think that mankind isn’t capable of such brutality any more, but post WWII history, and all it’s genocides proves otherwise.

    As bad as the genocidal holocaust of Jews (and others killed by the Nazis) was, communism continued to kill even more after WWII. See:

  8. If you are asking me Bookslinger I would have to say yes in England. The Jewish people in England were not segregated like the rest of Europe. For more information see: The Jews of Georgian England, 1714-1830: Tradition and Change in a Liberal Society.

    You are right about the continuation of the Holocaust under the Communists.

  9. There is some mystery about the 20th century holocaust that I hope to find out some day. In the Bible, up through the conquest of Jerusalem in AD 70 at least, the Israelites didn’t suffer catastrophe unless a) they did something bad, and b) ignored prophetic warnings about it over a period of time. The holocaust went far beyond the previous almost two millenia of persecution, at least in terms of the percentage of Jews wiped out. I forget how Max Dimont worded it, but it was miraculous that the Jewish heritage, culture and religion persisted after having been almost continuously persecuted.

    My belief is that God lets things happen, even evil things, because of man’s agency. Yet at the same time, he also has His purposes for allowing things to happen. I’m curious to find out the heavenly point-of-view of many things in history, and this is one of those topics. “The rest of the story” has got to be fascinating.

    One side of my family is Jewish. A grandfather was born in Poland in 1902, and my grandmother was born here of Lithuanian parents.

  10. Bookslinger- I am in agreement with you. It is amazing the Jews, as a people, have hung on so long. It has been one persecution after another for the last 2,000 years. Elie Weisel lost his faith because he was unable to justify the Holocaust. I empathize with him because the European Jews were so very devout. Perhaps as you said, God does allow men their agency and maybe He used the persecutions to scatter and bless the gentile nations.

    The Sephardic Jews suffered immensely during the Spanish Inquisition and other Inquisitions. They were very nearly extinct until just a few years ago. There has been a resurgence of Sephardic people returning to Judaism or Messianic-Judaism. The Sephardic Rabbis see the gathering taking place so clearly; they are prophesying quite a bit now that Jehovah will appear soon.

    Do you know where in Poland your family was from?

  11. There is a reason why we are reminded about the Jewish holocaust… and it has nothing to do with it being a horrible event. There have been more horrific events in history before (the Armenian Genocide) and after (the Cambodian Genocide) yet there is constantly something in the current news to keep the Jewish holocaust fresh. Why do you suppose that would be true? And then there are those ridiculous Jewish holocaust museums in Washington DC and LA. Why? The Jewish holocaust didn’t even happen on this continent! The US had almost nothing to do with it. Why no day in April for the Cambodians or the Armenians? You’re being swindled by the law firm of Dewey, Skrowum and Howe. Start digging and be amazed by what you discover.

  12. I have deep ties to Germany, and I think the main reason we remember the Holocaust of the Jews over other genocides is because we all know, deep down, that the Germans could have easily been us. We are afraid of our own internal capacity to look the other way.

    If we forget that, we fail to learn what we need to learn from what happened.

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