Irena's Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghetto

When Nazi Germany invaded Poland during World War II, it was the beginning of the end for the millions of Jews who called that country home. But thanks to the heroic efforts of one woman, Irena Sendler, who was in charge of a resistance group, almost 2,500 Jewish children living in the Warsaw Ghetto escaped annihilation. Using meticulous research to back her account, Tilar Mazzeo takes readers to the chaotic years under Nazi rule where the slightest transgressions by Jews or their sympathizers, or the whims of a Nazi soldier, could mean life or death.

Mazzeo (The Hotel on the Place Vendome) engrosses readers with the long-buried story of "the female Schindler." Sendler was a Pole, in love with a Jewish man and had many Jewish friends; she risked death multiple times a day sneaking food, clothing and much-needed drugs and medical supplies into the ghetto while smuggling children out, through the sewers, or in suitcases, wooden vegetable bins and toolboxes, past the wall that separated the Jews from the rest of the Polish citizens. Like any history of the Holocaust, Irena's Children is not an easy read; it lays bare the atrocities committed by the Nazis and the indifference of many Poles toward the Jews. Mazzeo has written a tense account that superbly balances the horrors of the war with the valiant and incredible efforts of Sendler and her group of resistance fighters, who didn't see Jews or Aryans, but children in need of food, clothing, shelter and love. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

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