In 2007 the Nobel Peace Prize went to former United States Vice President Al Gore and his organization, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). One of Gore’s very deserving co-nominees was a frail 97 year old woman names Irena Sendler from Poland.
During the Holocaust Irena was a nurse and was allowed to enter the Warsaw Ghetto to check for the spread of Typhus. Unknown to the Nazis at the time, Irena was selected as the leader of Zegota, “The Council to Aid Jews”, under her code name Jolanta.
Irena would use multiple tactics to get the children hidden and out of the Ghetto during her almost daily visits to the Ghetto. She would put children in boxes, suitcases, and crates, as well as use her ability to get in and out of the ghetto in ambulances and trams to bring in medical equipment and supplies and to smuggle out many of the larger, and older children. These efforts allowed her to PERSONALLY save over 2000 children that would of otherwise undoubtedly been killed by the Nazis while in the ghetto or while at one of the many concentration camps in the area.
In 1943 Irena was arrested by the Nazis and sentenced to death, though she was tortoured aggressively and serverly, she refused to give up any information about her actions or the secret group, Zegota, that she was in. She was saved from execution by her group who bribed the guards yet she was still thrown into the woods, left alone with broken bones, scars and bruises from her torture.
Sendler has been awarded almost every award possible by her native Polish government and many international organizations. She was recognized as early as 1965 by Yad Vashem as on eof the “Righteous Among the Nations”. She also recieved the Order of the White Eagle, Poland’s highest civilian decoration in 2003. And even after her death in 2008, the U.N. awarded her the 2009 Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award, presented to persons and organizations recognized for helping children.
Though all these awards are prestigious, one award, undeservingly missed her. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. Though this nomination was well past due, given 65 years after she first entered the Warsaw Ghetto, it was also obviously well deserved. Irena was defeated in 2007 by Al Gore’s group, yet after learning of her story I cannot say I know how she could of been pasted over.
The Nobel Peace Prize is awards to humanitarians, peace negotiators, refugee activists, and national heros like Nelson Mandela. There are other Nobel Prizes in physics, medicine, math, chemistry, and economics. Al Gore’s work could of gone into the chemistry, physics, or even economic category, but I think that one of the last choices should of been to put it up against such exploits as those of Irena Sendler.
Though Al Gore’s work has brough the obvious problem of oil dependence to the forefront of the debate in America and the world, I do not believe that work measures up to the 2500 lives save by a single frail polish woman. As the great grandchildren of those 2500 lives saved by Mrs. Sendler begin their walk in this world we must look at them and say that a video and slide show presentation about Global Warming means more to the world than all of your lives put together. I for one can never and will never do that.