Poland recognises Israeli musicians singing Sendler's praises

10th January 2009, Comments 0 comments

Irena Sendler saved the lives of about 2,500 Jewish children, smuggling them out against all odds of the Warsaw ghetto and certain death during Nazi Germany's World War II occupation of Poland.

Warsaw -- Poland's First Lady Maria Kaczynska on Friday recognised Israel's Raanana Symphony Orchestra for creating a musical score honouring Poland's unsung Holocaust hero, the late Irena Sendler.

"This woman was the closest to an angel that I have ever heard of," orchestra director Orit Fogel-Shafran said of Sendler upon receiving the Polish state order. "Her story is one every human being should know. She proves one person can make such a huge difference during the most horrible time in the world."

Sendler saved the lives of about 2,500 Jewish children, smuggling them out against all odds of the Warsaw ghetto and certain death during Nazi Germany's World War II occupation of Poland. She died at 98 last May.

Irena’s Song -- A Ray of Light in the Darkness, a composition for orchestra, voice and violin honouring Sendler by Israeli musician Kobi Oshrat had its premiere by the Raanana orchestra January 6 in Israel.

Another performance is planned in the western Polish city of Poznan on January 14.

Poles honoured by Israel's Yad Vashem Institute for having saved Jews during the Holocaust along with Polish and Israeli primary and high school students attended Friday's award ceremony at the presidential palace in Warsaw.

"I hope that in the near future there will be a meeting of peace-loving Polish, Israeli and Palestinian children focused on Irena Sendler's work," Polish presidential official Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka said.

In 1942, Sendler joined "Zegota," a movement set up by the Polish resistance to help Jews in Nazi German-occupied Poland, and began the risky work of smuggling children out of the Warsaw ghetto and placing them with Polish Catholic families or in convents.

The children were taken out by firemen or in rubbish trucks, concealed in suitcases or hidden under the coats of non-Jews who were allowed into the ghetto, such as Sendler and her team of social workers.

She was arrested by the Nazis in October 1943. Sentenced to death before a firing squad, she was saved at the last minute when Zegota members bribed a Nazi soldier to let her go.

In 1965, she received the highest Israeli honour for gentiles who saved Jews during the Holocaust and in 1991 was declared an honorary Israeli citizen. She also received Poland's highest distinction, the Order of the White Eagle in 2003.

Although Poland nominated her twice, she was never awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.

AFP/Expatica

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