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The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler (2009)

TV Movie  -   -  Biography | Drama | War  -  19 April 2009 (USA)
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The story of Irena Sendler, a social worker who was part of the Polish underground during World War II and was arrested by the Nazis for saving the lives of nearly 2,500 Jewish children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw ghetto.


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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win & 9 nominations. See more awards »
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95-year-old Polish heroine Irena Sendler tells the unknown story of a conspiracy of women who outwitted the Nazis and rescued thousands of Jewish children from the Warsaw ghetto during WWII.

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Stars: Irena Sendlerowa, Jan Becker


Cast overview, first billed only:
Janina Krzyzanowska
Stefan Zgrzembski
Dr. Majkowski
Monsignor Godlewski
Ewa Rozenfeld
Danuta Stenka ...
Hanna Rozenfeld
Jakub Rozenfeld
Maja Ostaszewska ...
Krzysztof Pieczynski ...
Rebecca Windheim ...
Karolina Rozenfeld
Olga Boladz ...
Leigh Lawson ...
Rabbi Rozenfeld
Michal Laski


The story of Irena Sendler, a social worker who was part of the Polish underground during World War II and was arrested by the Nazis for saving the lives of nearly 2,500 Jewish children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw ghetto.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Biography | Drama | War


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Release Date:

19 April 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hallmark Hall of Fame: The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler (#58.3)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


This film's opening prologue states: "World War II rages through Europe. In occupied Poland, the Germans have established the Warsaw Ghetto for all the Jewish residents of the city. Over 440,000 Jews are forced inside its walls . . . There are some Poles who want to help . . . " See more »


Karolina Rozenfeld: Why do I have to be a Jew?
Irena Sendler [owa]: You were born into the Jewish faith.
Karolina Rozenfeld: What if I want to be something else? I don't like being hated by everybody.
Irena Sendler [owa]: Everybody does not hate you.
Karolina Rozenfeld: Yes they do. You know it's true. What did we ever do? It's not fair.
Irena Sendler [owa]: No, It's not.
See more »


Featured in The 61st Primetime Emmy Awards (2009) See more »

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User Reviews

A Sort-Of Companion To "Schindler's List"
17 December 2010 | by (Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada) – See all my reviews

I found this movie a worthwhile watch. Over the years I've done a fair bit of reading about the Second World War, Nazi Germany and the Holocaust - but until now I've never heard of Irena Spendler. Her story is worth knowing, and is reasonably portrayed (albeit in a kind of bare bones fashion) by this made for TV movie. Anna Paquin put on a solid performance in the title role. Irena was a Polish social worker in Nazi- occupied Warsaw who worked in the Jewish Ghetto, and became determined to save the Jewish children who were there. In the end, by smuggling them out of the Ghetto and placing them with willing Polish families, 2500 children were saved.

This lacks the sustained intensity of "Schindler's List." For probably three-quarters of the movie, although the conditions of the Ghetto are portrayed as dreadful, the threat from the Germans seems muted and distant, albeit it ever present. Having said that, the intensity of the movie increases dramatically after Irena is arrested by the Gestapo, and the scenes in which she's tortured are quite unnervingly realistic. A nice touch at the movie's end was a few brief words from the real Irena Spendler, who died in 2008.

For those interested in this period of history, this is a worthwhile movie - not the best of the Holocaust-themed movies, but certainly a good one.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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