Yayyy for Mary Skinner! Her film about Irena Sendler, In the Name of Their Mothers, is an “official selection” at this year’s United Nations Association Film Festival (UNAFF).
Sendler is the Polish Holocaust heroine who, with her team from the clandestine organization Żegota, saved about 2,500 children from the Warsaw Ghetto in World War II. The story has only surfaced in the post-1989 world, since Sendler’s reputation was suppressed by the Communist regime in Poland.
From 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, October 23, Skinner will host a special “behind the scenes” event at the Mid-Peninsula Media Center, 900 San Antonio Road, Palo Alto, with a photo exhibit of many never-before-seen images from the film. Humble Moi will be “in conversation” with Mary. (I’ve interviewed her before here and here and here and here.) More about the UNAFF event here. The film will begin at 9:15 p.m. at the nearby Oshman Jewish Community Center – directions here.
“Sendler was a dedicated social worker before the war, and her wartime activities on behalf of the Jews were a logical extension of her early commitment to do what she felt was just. … Denounced to the Gestapo, arrested and tortured, Sendler was able to escape, only to be hunted down as a “dangerous communist” by extreme-right elements in the Polish underground.
“Safety eluded her even after the war, when she was arrested by the communist authorities for having been active in the general Polish underground rather than the communist one. Again imprisoned and tortured — she suffered a miscarriage — Sendler was eventually freed from prison but became a ‘nonperson’ in the eyes of the communist state. Yad Vashem remembered her, awarding her a listing in 1965, but she was otherwise surrounded by official silence, even after the communist government fell. …
“We were not alone.”
“Midrash teaches that the children of Abraham, fleeing Egypt, were joined by other slaves, who wanted their freedom no less desperately. Even then, we were not alone. And throughout the ages, thanks to those whose love of freedom and their fellow human beings was more powerful than the shackles of prejudice and fear, we never really were. Nor shall we ever be.”
Trailer for the film below. See you there!