Fate may have led Irena Sendler to the moment almost 70 years ago when she began to risk her life for the children of strangers.
But for this humble Polish Catholic social worker, who was barely 30 when one of history's most nightmarish chapters unfolded before her, the pivotal influence was something her parents had drummed into her.
"I was taught that if you see a person drowning," she said, "you must jump into the water to save them, whether you can swim or not."
When the Nazis occupying Poland began rounding up Jews in 1940 and sending them to the Warsaw ghetto, Sendler plunged in.read more here
With daring and ingenuity, she saved the lives of more than 2,500 Jews, most of them children, a feat that went largely unrecognized until the last years of her life.
Sendler died in Warsaw one year ago today.