Irena Sendler: In The Name of Their Mothers

In the Name of Their Mothers tells the story of Irena Sendler and a group of young Polish women — some barely out of their teens – who outfoxed the Nazis for five years during WWII. Read more below.

In the Name of Their Mothers: The Story of Irena Sendler

In the Name of Their Mothers tells the story of Irena Sendler and a group of young Polish women — some barely out of their teens – who outfoxed the Nazis for five years during WWII.

They smuggled thousands of Jewish children out of the Warsaw ghetto and kept them safe until the end of the war.

For decades Irena Sendler, kept silent about her wartime work. Now, in the last long interviews she gave before she died, she reveals the truth about a daring conspiracy of women in occupied Poland.

Irena Sendler was a 29-year-old social worker when the Nazis invaded Poland.

When the city’s Jews were imprisoned inside the Warsaw ghetto without food and medicine, Sendler and her friends smuggled in aid and began smuggling orphaned children out – hiding them in convents, orphanages and private homes. By 1943, they had managed to smuggle over 2,500 Jewish children to safety outside the ghetto.

Over the next two years, they would care for them, disguise their identities and move them constantly, to keep them from being discovered and killed by the Nazis.

They joined forces with the Polish and Jewish Underground to get money to fund and protect the children’s caretakers and they preserved the true identities of the children in the hopes that they would one day be re-united with their Jewish families.

In October of 1943, Irena Sendler was captured by the Gestapo, imprisoned and tortured for almost three months. When she refused to divulge anything about her co-workers or her organization, she was sentenced to death.

She escaped on the day she was to be executed, when the Polish Underground bribed a German guard. With a new false identity, she continued with her work until the end of the war.

All of the 2,500 children who had been rescued by Sendler’s network survived the war, and many were re-united with their families.

After the war, Soviet authorities who took over in Poland silenced Irena Sendler and her liaisons, because of their connection to the Polish Resistance.

Many of the women endured Soviet prisons or were forced into exile. Today their stories – long kept quiet by the Communist regime in Poland – can finally be told.

Donna Kanter

Antonio Cisneros
Edward Garcia

Edward Garcia

Donna Kanter

Fred L. Zaidman

Production Company:
The Donna Kanter Company

Distributed by:


• Polish Premiere, Kamienica Theater, Warsaw, Poland, February 15, 2010

• New York City – Special Screening, Polish Consulate, NYC, February 27, 2010, 8pm

• Youngstown — an event co-sponsored by the Jewish Federation and the Polish Club, April 25, 2010

• Co-hosted by the Honorary Consuls for the Republic of Poland in the Bay Area and the Taube-Koret Center for Jewish Peoplehood at the JCCSF, San Francisco, California May 4, 2010


• Shoresh Charitable Trust Audience Award for the best documentary Film at the UK Jewish Film Festival, November 2010

• Best Public Interest Award from American International Film Festival in Ann Arbor, MI, October 2010

National PBS
Sunday, May 1, 2011
Presented by KQED Public Television/San Francisco

Irena Sendler: In The Name of Their Mothers is a documentary film about Polish heroine Irena Sendler and her wartime conspiracy of women who outfoxed the Nazis and saved the lives of thousands of Jewish children. Sendler was a 29-year-old social worker when Nazi Germany invaded Poland. After Warsaw’s Jews were imprisoned behind the ghetto walls without food or medicine, Sendler and those she most trusted smuggled aid in and began smuggling orphans out – hiding them in convents, orphanages and private homes in the city and the Polish countryside. Before the Nazis burned the ghetto to the ground, they rescued more than 2,500 children.

Irena Sendler was eventually captured by the Gestapo, imprisoned and tortured after refusing to divulge the identities of her co-workers. On the way to her execution, she escaped thanks to friends who managed to bribe a guard at the last moment. Irena and her co-conspirators were silenced by the Communists who came to power after the Nazis. And they were afraid to speak out for many decades afterwards.

Now at last, their story can be told. Irena Sendler: In The Name of Their Mothers features the last in-depth interview with Sendler before her death at the age of 98. Rare archival footage, family photographs and evocative re-creations shot in Warsaw bring the lives of the hidden Jewish children, Sendler and her co-workers into dramatic focus. The film is testament to the power of moral courage in the darkest of times.

“This documentary is a stirring tribute to the courage and cunning of a group of women who saved lives at the risk of losing their own,” states John Boland, KQED President and CEO. “We thought there was no better time to premiere this heretofore unknown story than on National Holocaust Remembrance Day. KQED is honored to present IRENA SENDLER In the Name of Their Mothers to our national PBS audience.”

Lead underwriters of the PBS National Broadcast include Taube Philanthropies and the Koret Foundation, The Williams Family Trust, the Foundation for Polish German Collaboration, the Polish American artist, Rafal Olbinski, the Legion of Young Polish Women, and many more organizations and individuals. A complete list of funders is available from PBS.

Premiere of New Film About Irena Sendler, Office of the President Release
February 15 2010

February 15, 2010, on the centenary of the birth of Irena Sendler – a Righteous Among the Nations, in the Kamienica Theater in Warsaw in a ceremony presided over by the Prime Minister, an American documentary film directed by Mary Skinner, “In the Name of their Mothers, The Story of Irena Sendler” made its worldwide debut.

The premiere ceremony was attended by Secretary of State in the President’s Chancellery Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka, as well as the U.S. Ambassador to Poland, Lee A. Feinstein. Also represented at the ceremony were Honorary Patrons, President Lech Kaczynski and the Mayor of Warsaw.

Premiera Filmu o Irenie Sendlerowej, Oficjalna strona Prezydenta Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej
Poniedzialek, 15 lutego 2010

15 lutego 2010, w setna rocznice urodzin Ireny Sendler – Sprawiedliwej wsród Narodów swiata, w Teatrze Kamienica w Warszawie odbyla sie uroczysta premiera amerykanskiego filmu dokumentalnego w rezyserii Mary Skinner pt.: „W imie ich matek – historia Ireny Sendlerowej”.

W uroczystej premierze udzial wziela Sekretarz Stanu w Kancelarii Prezydenta RP Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka, a takze Ambasador USA w Polsce, Lee A. Feinstein. Uroczystosc objeta zostala Honorowym Patronatem Prezydenta RP Lecha Kaczynskiego oraz Prezydent Miasta Stolecznego Warszawy.

Podczas premiery Pani Minister Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka poinformowala, ze 15 lutego 2010, w setna rocznice urodzin Ireny Sendler, Prezydent RP Lech Kaczynski spotkal sie z Davidem Harrisem, Dyrektorem Wykonawczym Amerykanskiego Komitetu Zydowskiego. W trakcie spotkania Prezydent RP zaproponowal ustanowienie Miedzynarodowego Dnia Pami?ci o Sprawiedliwych wsród Narodów Swiata, na wzór ustanowionego przez ONZ Miedzynarodowego Dnia Pamieci o Holokauscie. Rocznica urodzin Ireny Sendler – jednej z 6135 polskich Sprawiedliwych – bylaby jednoczesnie Dniem Pamieci o wszystkich Sprawiedliwym wsród Narodów Swiata.


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