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The Polish Government and several Holocaust organizations are recommending that Irena Sendler, a 96-year-old Polish Righteous Among the Nations who has been credited with saving as many as 2,500 Jewish children, be awarded the Nobel Prize, Polish and Israeli officials said Sunday.
The suggestion to honor Sendler, who was awarded Yad Vashem's highest prize four decades ago, was initiated by Polish President Lech Kaczynski during his recent visit, Polish Ambassador Agnieszka Magdziak-Miszewska said.
Sendler, who was active in the Polish underground group Zegota, managed, along with a small group of friends, to smuggle the Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto by posing as a nurse.
"Bestowing the Nobel Prize on a Righteous Among the Nations is a worthy response to those who still deny the Holocaust," said Noah Plug, chairman of the Organization of Holocaust Survivors in Israel.
Magdziak-Miszewska said that Poland was now seeking the official support of the State of Israel - including Yad Vashem - in pressing the case to the Nobel Prize committee, having already received informal support from Israeli government officials.
She noted that the committee could only consider people who are still alive, and that bestowing the prize on Sendler would serve to preserve the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust.
A Yad Vashem spokesman welcomed any initiative which recognized the Righteous Among the Nations, including Sendler.
In the past, Yad Vashem officials have maintained that the award should be given to all the Righteous Among the Nations.
More than 21,000 people have been recognized by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations.
Sendler, who was caught and tortured by the Gestapo near the end of the war, but never gave up the information about the children she saved, lived for decades in communist Poland without any Polish recognition.
"I get mad when someone calls me a hero," Sendler told The Jerusalem Post in an interview in Warsaw two years ago. "I did a normal thing."
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