Teen Courage and Resistance – Guest Speaker Irena Szpak

Irena Szpak, author of the memoir Trains: A Journey of Remembrances, was  attending a Catholic, girls’ private school in Warsaw, the capital of Poland, when  the Nazi occupiers arrived.

Bombs fell from the sky. The Polish police collaborated with the Nazis. What to do? The young Irena, at age sixteen, joined an illegal Girl Guide troupe and became part of the resistance group that tried, from August to October 1944, to push the Nazi occupiers out of Warsaw. No Allied aid ever materialized.  Irena tells stories of working as a messenger in the streets of Warsaw and the year she spent in a German POW camp.

Irena Szpak spoke to Secondary V students about her experiences, on May 13. Two students tell us what Ms. Szpak’s story means to them.

trains_cvr-500x500 Irena Szpak to Sec V

It was a pleasure and honour hearing Mrs. Irena Szpak speak. Her moving tale of bravery taught us to always appreciate what we have. She fought for her city and her nation and was sent to a prisoner of war camp for her cause. Can you imagine running from building to building at age sixteen trying not to get hit by a bullet? It is incredible!

Mrs. Szpak was and still is a courageous woman. We can all learn from her bravery. She spent many months in this camp at the young age of sixteen. That is how old I am. I cannot fathom going through what Mrs. Szpak did.

In the course of this, she chose not to work in a hospital. She wanted to stay with her friends in the POW camp. That is true loyalty to your friends and shows us that being with friends and family during difficult times eases the troubles. Finally she finished high school and went to university in London, England,  becoming fluent in many languages.

Mrs. Szpak’s story tells us to never give up on what we believe in, what we fight for and to always keep pushing forward through difficult times. Even in the darkest of times there will always be a ray of light. Thank you Mrs.Szpak for coming to speak to us. We appreciate it very much.

by Charlotte Le Fèvre VA


It was truly amazing to have the opportunity to go to Ottawa with Operation Veteran to listen to Mrs. Irena Szpak speak and then to meet her this week. She shared with us her incredible life story and spoke about her book called Trains: A Journey of Remembrances, an autobiography describing her adolescence during the Second World War.

These are experiences that I will carry with me into adulthood and never forget, thanks to this wonderful woman. I really hope that the  Sacred Heart School of Montreal will continue giving such opportunities to students, as it is a really amazing experience and I wish more people could live it.

by Carolyn Jeanson IVB

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