Her heroism is due to her commitment and sacrifice under horrific circumstances. When the easiest thing would have been to simply apply her efforts and ingenuity to save herself, she did something amazing, instead.
During WWII, Irena got permission to work in the Warsaw ghetto as a plumbing and sewer specialist. She had an ulterior motive. Irena smuggled Jewish infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried. She also carried a burlap sack in the back of her truck for larger kids.
Irena kept a dog in the back of her truck which she had trained to bark when stopped by the Nazi soldiers to be let in and out of the ghetto. The soldiers, of course, wanted nothing to do with the dog, and the barking covered the children’s noises.
During her time of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2500 kids/infants.
Eventually, she was caught, however. The Nazis broke both of her legs and arms and beat her severely.
Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she had smuggled out in a glass jar that she buried under a tree in her back yard. After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived and tried to reunite the family. Most had been gassed.
The kids she had helped got placed into foster family homes or were adopted.
In 2007, Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize. She was not selected. Al Gore won for a slide show on Global Warming.
Later, another politician, Barack Obama, won for his work as a community organizer for ACORN.
More than 67 years after the war ended, she is remembered along with the six million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians and 1,900 Catholic priests who were murdered, massacred, raped, burned, starved and humiliated!