Irena's Children

Irena's Children

The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children From the Warsaw Ghetto

Book - 2016
Average Rating:
Rate this:
A New York Post Best Book of 2016

One of Kirkus Reviews ' Ten Most Anticipated Nonfiction Books of Fall 2016

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Widow Clicquot comes an extraordinary and gripping account of Irena Sendler--the "female Oskar Schindler"--who took staggering risks to save 2,500 children from death and deportation in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II.

In 1942, one young social worker, Irena Sendler, was granted access to the Warsaw ghetto as a public health specialist. While there, she reached out to the trapped Jewish families, going from door to door and asking the parents to trust her with their young children. She started smuggling them out of the walled district, convincing her friends and neighbors to hide them. Driven to extreme measures and with the help of a network of local tradesmen, ghetto residents, and her star-crossed lover in the Jewish resistance, Irena ultimately smuggled thousands of children past the Nazis. She made dangerous trips through the city's sewers, hid children in coffins, snuck them under overcoats at checkpoints, and slipped them through secret passages in abandoned buildings.

But Irena did something even more astonishing at immense personal risk: she kept secret lists buried in bottles under an old apple tree in a friend's back garden. On them were the names and true identities of those Jewish children, recorded with the hope that their relatives could find them after the war. She could not have known that more than ninety percent of their families would perish.

In Irena's Children, Tilar Mazzeo tells the incredible story of this courageous and brave woman who risked her life to save innocent children from the Holocaust--a truly heroic tale of survival, resilience, and redemption.
Publisher: New York :, Gallery Books,, 2016
Edition: First Gallery Books hardcover edition
ISBN: 9781476778501
Branch Call Number: B SENDLEROWA
Characteristics: xiii, 317 pages, 16 pages of unnumbered plates :,illustrations ;,24 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
ArapahoeMaryA Feb 29, 2020

This is a gripping and inspirational account of an ordinary woman who went to extraordinary lengths to save lives during the holocaust. Irena Sendler is truly an unsung hero and her story will stay with you long after you turn the last page.

Dec 10, 2019

This was such a great book! It took a while to get into but hang in there, you'll be so glad you read it. The quiet heroism of Irena Sendler is extremely touching.

brown_monkey_203 Aug 19, 2019

Once I started reading, it was hard to put down. Very well written. I now have a better understanding of the magnitude of the suffering of Jews and the Resistance fighters during this dark period of history. I also better understand why Israel says "never again".

Aug 17, 2019

Irena has strength and endurance beyond the ordinary. An truly amazing account of a truly amazing woman. A must read for everyone.

Jul 26, 2019

Irena's is another amazing woman resister in WW2, the Holocaust would not have happened if people had reacted like she did( wearing star of david even though she was not a jew, standing with jews in class when they were first being segregated- the citizens who were fearful went along with Nazi's and anti-semites turned Jews in and the people that were giving them a piece a bread. Anyway, am so glad her story is finally out and maybe others will find courage to stand up for what is right. How she kept track of all the children and families is beyond belief. The daily stress, in and out of the ghetto several times a day for months hiding babies under her coat, her resourcefulness is just unbelievable.
She also continued to help bring the children and their parents together after the war was over but most of the children were left without parent or family members due to "the final solution".
It is sad that she had to live many years under communism and that her children were penalized under that system because of her activism fighting Nazi's(she was a socialist).
Her love life took a couple twists that were unexpected. She is my heroine.

Sep 15, 2017

I found this book very interesting, especially in light of the somewhat soft-focused made-for-TV movie. I enjoyed the movie but this book put flesh and blood on Irena Sendler. She was no saint, she was human, though most definitely a "righteous Gentile" and a female Schindler. I enjoy stories of the resistance from WWII. My relatives are from Holland and the Dutch Resistance was fearless. Loved hearing the amazing network the Polish set up during their occupation.

Jun 10, 2017

This amazing biography takes readers into Nazi-controlled Warsaw, the Polish Resistance movement and a woman’s network doing extraordinary rescues during WW II. Irena Sendler was unaccountably brave, but always believed she was just trying to do the right thing. Poland’s history during and after the war is part of the story well worth knowing.

I couldn’t put this book down. A Kansas friend recommended reading it along with Jack Mayer’s 'Life in A Jar: The Irena Sendler Project,' which tells the story of three Kansas high school girls who took Irena’s story as the subject of their History Day performance and ‘rescued the rescuer’ from obscurity.

Jun 08, 2017

An excellent and inspiring account that gives insight into Warsaw and its ghetto during the Holocaust. Amidst the tragedy and darkness of Hitler's reign, Irena and her colleagues, normal and courageous citizens, are a beacon of light and hope reminding the reader of what is capable when a few are willing to make a stand against evil. The story includes heartbreak and death, yet also great triumph and survival. It was hard to put down.

May 13, 2017

As you read this book, that comes across more as a novel than nonfiction, you slowly feel immersed into a cold and brutal new world. It dawned on me, I hope more people appreciate this book also for its underlying thread -- kindness. Irene "Jolanta" Sendler and her network of co-heroes, most of whom were ill, tortured, and/or murdered were a courageous group who did what was decent, and believed it was just a normal thing to do even under such horrific circumstances. Recently, there was a news story about a woman who complained to a group of teenagers at a pool party to lower their music. One teenager thought it would be funny, I guess, to throw her into the pool. Unfortunately, it backfired. He ended up falling to the ground and she was body slammed into the pavement. He still decided to continue his stupid act by throwing this now injured woman into the pool as his friends fled the scene. All I could think was - this teenager needs to read this book instead of receiving a prison sentence. Everyone needs to read a book like this one to remind ourselves just how important we are to one another. Hope this makes sense.

Mar 12, 2017

I want to read this so badly; when is the library going to obtain some print copies?

View All Comments


Add a Quote
ArapahoeMaryA Feb 29, 2020

I tell their stories here to do all of them some small honor. Their lives and, sometimes, their deaths speak to what we are capable of as average people in the face of evil and horror.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at my library

To Top