Jewish Journal

Zoo director’s home to be museum to righteous couple


May 25, 2011 | 3:19 pm

The house where the Warsaw Zoo’s World War II-era director Jan Zabinski and his wife, Antonina, sheltered Jews from the Nazis is to become a small museum dedicated to their heroism.

The museum dedicated to the couple will open this fall, according to a report Wednesday on Polish Radio.

Yad Vashem recognized the Zabinskis as Righteous Among the Nations in 1965.

Zabinski, who was allowed to enter the Warsaw Ghetto as a municipal official, helped get Jews “over to the Aryan side, provided them with indispensable personal documents, looked for accommodations, and when necessary hid them at his villa or on the zoo’s grounds,” according to the Yad Vashem website.

With the Zabinskis’ help, according to the website, many Jews found temporary shelter in the zoo’s abandoned animal cells, “until they were able to relocate to permanent places of refuge elsewhere.”

In addition, the couple, aided by their son, sheltered nearly a dozen Jews in their two-story private home on the zoo’s grounds. According to the Polish Radio report, when Nazis officials visited, Antonina Zabinski would play a certain piece on the family piano to warn Jews in the house that they should hide.

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