May 12 marked the death of a 98-year-old lady named Irena Sendler (1910-2008).
During WWII, Irena received permission from the Nazis to work in the Warsaw ghetto as a plumbing/sewer specialist. She had an ulterior motive.
Being German, she knew the Nazis' plans for the Jews and smuggled infants out in the bottom of the large tool box she carried. Larger children were placed in a burlap sack in the back of her truck. Also in the back was a dog that she had trained to bark each time the Nazi guards allowed her out of the ghetto and back in. The soldiers, of course, wanted nothing to do with the dog, and its barking covered any noise made by the infants and small children Irena managed to smuggle out--approximately 2,500 children--before she was finally caught. When she was captured, the Nazis beat her severely, breaking both her arms and her legs.
Irena kept a record of the names of all the children she smuggled out of that Warsaw ghetto and kept them in a glass jar buried under a tree in her back yard. After the war, she tried to locate any parents who may have survived so she might reunite the child with its family. Most, of course, did not survive the Holocaust, and the vast majority of the surviving children were placed in foster homes or adopted.
Last year Irena was considered for the Nobel Peace Prize, but she lost to Al Gore, who won the award for a slide show on global warming.