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Woman of the Month - Irena Sendler

Irena Sendler was born Irena Krzyżanowska on February 15, 1910, in Otwock, Poland. In 1931 Sendler married Mieczysław Sendler, and the couple moved to Warsaw before the outbreak of World War II. In Warsaw, Sendler became a social worker, overseeing the city’s “canteens,” which provided assistance to people in need. When the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, Sendler and her colleagues also used the canteens to provide medicine, clothing and other necessities to the city’s persecuted Jewish population.  In 1940, the Nazis forced Warsaw’s more than 400,000 Jewish residents into a small locked ghetto area, where thousands died every month from disease and starvation. As a social worker, Sendler was able to enter the ghetto regularly to help the residents and soon joined Żegota, the Council to Aid Jews. Putting themselves at great risk, she and about two dozen of her colleagues set out to save as many Jewish children as possible from death in the ghetto or deportation to concentration camps. Żegota began by saving Jewish orphans. They had several ways of smuggling them out of the ghetto: Some were carried out in caskets or potato sacks; others left in ambulances or snuck out through underground tunnels. Still others entered the Jewish side of a Catholic church that straddled the ghetto boundary and left on the other side with new identities. Sendler then helped place the children at convents or with non-Jewish families.  As the situation became more dire for the ghetto’s inhabitants, Sendler went beyond rescuing orphans and began asking parents to let her try to get their children to safety. Although she couldn’t guarantee the children’s survival, she could tell parents that their children would at least have a chance. Sendler kept detailed records and lists of the children she helped buried in a jar. Her plan was to reunite the rescued children and their parents after the war. However, most of the parents did not survive. On October 20, 1943, the Nazis arrested Sendler and sent her to Pawiak Prison. There they tortured her, trying to get her to reveal the names of her associates. She refused and was sentenced to death. However, Żegota members bribed the prison guards, and Sendler was released in February 1944. Sendler continued her work until the war ended, by which time she and her colleagues had rescued some 2,500 children. It has been estimated that Sendler personally saved about 400. In 1965, Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial organization, named Sendler as Righteous Among the Nations for her work saving Jewish children. In 2003, Poland honored her with its Order of the White Eagle. In 2008, Sendler was nominated for (but did not win) a Nobel Peace Prize. The story of her life was also captured in a 2009 TV movie The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler, which starred Anna Paquin in the title role. Sendler died on May 12, 2008, in Warsaw, Poland, at the age of 98. 

Woman of the Month - Billie Jean King

Today we honor one of the greatest tennis players of all time and champion of gender equality, Billie Jean King. King (née Billie Jean Moffitt) was born in Long Beach, CA on November 22, 1943 into a family of athletes. She played softball as a young child and switched to...

Woman of the Month - Bertha Benz

Ever heard of a little car company called Mercedes Benz? Today we honor the CRAZY co-founding entrepreneur, Bertha Benz. That’s right, one of the co-founders of Mercedes Benz, the source of the seed money, and the mind behind the marketing, was a woman. Bertha Ringer married Karl Benz in 1872...

Woman of the Month - Wang Zhenyi

We honor the CRAZY and AMAZING Wang Zhenyi. This badass woman was a famous scientist and astronomer during the Qing Dynasty. Born in 1768 in China, at a time when women were largely forbidden from reading, she was self taught in advanced mathematics and astronomy. She was also an accomplished...

Woman of the Month - Truus Wijsmuller

C R A Z Y Protective - We celebrate Truus Wijsmuller, who devoted her life to rescuing Jewish children from the Nazis.  She delighted in caring for others, and even though she could not have any children of her own, she became a mother to thousands.  She volunteered with multiple...

Woman of the Month - Sarojini Naidu

Sarojini Naidu, The Nightingale of India, was an Indian political activist, poet, and first Indian woman to be president of the Indian National Congress . Naidu was born February 13, 1879 in Hyderabad, India.  Following her studies and work as a suffragist in England, Naidu became interested in Indian National...

Woman of the Month - Hedy Lamarr

Actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr (née Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler) was born on November 9, 1914 in Vienna, Austria. She appeared in 30 films during her 28 year film career.At the start of WWII, Lamarr, along with with George Anthiell, developed a radio guidance system using frequency-hopping spread spectrum technology...

Woman of the Month - Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman was born into slavery in 1820 or 1821. At a young age she suffered a severe head injury and suffered seizures the rest of her life. She escaped slavery in 1850 and worked as a "conductor" on the Underground Railroad in Maryland. She was illiterate, but employed coded songs...

Woman of the Month - Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks, born February 4, 1913, is best known for her refusal to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger on December 1, 1955. Parks' fight for equality was measured over a lifetime.  Parks joined the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP in 1943, serving as the...

Women of the Month - Marina Raskova

Marina Raskova was the first women aviator in combat and founded the Night Witches. The Night Witches were a Russian combat unit in World War 2, and played a major role in the surrender of the Nazis. Raskova assembled over 1,000 female pilots who flew tiny planes made of plywood with no...