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CBS to air movie on 'courageous' Polish Catholic who rescued Jewish children

.- On Sunday evening CBS will broadcast a movie about the heroic efforts and “courageous heart” of Irena Sendler, a Polish Catholic social worker who created and led an underground group that rescued Jewish children from Nazi persecution. Sendler created and led a conspiracy of women who moved in and out of Warsaw’s Jewish Ghetto disguised as nurses. While saying that they were simply to prevent and contain the spread of Typhus and Spotted Fever, Sendler and her companions helped the children of consenting Jewish parents escape imminent deportation to death camps, CBS' website says.

The children were sometimes sedated and hidden inside boxes, suitcases and coffins to escape the ghetto. They were given new identities and placed with Polish families and in convents.

Sendler kept a hidden record of the children’s birth names and locations in hopes that they could be reunited with their families. About 2,500 children were smuggled to safety, with none being discovered by the Nazis.

After the Nazis discovered her operation in 1943, Sendler was arrested and tortured by the Gestapo, who broke her feet. On the day of her execution, she was rescued by the underground network “Zegota,” with which she had worked to save Jewish children.

She kept a Divine Mercy holy card from her prison cell until 1979, when she gave the card to Pope John Paul II as a gift.

CBS will broadcast “The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler,” a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, on Sunday, April 19 at 9 p.m. Eastern Time. It will star Anna Paquin as Irena while her mother will be played by Academy Award winner Marcia Gay Harden.

Nathaniel Parker will play the role of Dr. Majkowski, the head of Warsaw’s Department of Health who helped Sendler’s operation. Goran Visnjic will play Stefan, a Jewish university friend of Sendler with whom she fell in love when she began her underground operation.

The movie is based on Sendler’s authorized biography, Anna Mieszkowska’s 2005 book “Mother of the Children of the Holocaust: The Irena Sendler Story.”

Sendler was granted the title “Righteous among the Nations” by the organization Yad Vashem of Jerusalem in 1965 and was nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize. She died on May 12, 2008 at the age of 98.

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