'On Animals & People': The heroism of the Warsaw Zoo directors

A new documentary about the Polish couple who hid Jews in their home at the Warsaw Zoo under the Nazis' nose will be released soon.

Nissan Tzur ,

Jews in Warsaw Ghetto, 1943
Jews in Warsaw Ghetto, 1943
Muzeum Getta Warszawskiego

The new documentary On Animals and People by Polish director Łukasz Czajka, brings many testimonies and archival documents which tell the story of the heroism of Warsaw Zoo directors Jan and Antonina Żabiński.

The Polish couple took advantage of their positions to hide Jews in the basement of their home, saving their lives from certain death.

They also managed to smuggle Jews from the Warsaw ghetto into their homes, hiding them in carts of food scraps collected from the ghetto for animals at the zoo, under the Nazis' noses.

It is estimated that the two hid over 300 Jews in their homes throughout the war, providing food and medicine for them. Many of the Jews lived in the Żabiński home for months, with Antonina Jabinski playing the piano every time the Nazis came to inspect the house, to warn the Jews hiding in the basement to keep quiet.

The documentary has interviews with Moshe Tirosh - a Holocaust survivor who survived after hiding in the Żabiński's basement, as well as Kashistoff Prochaska, whose mother hid in the Żabiński's home and befriended the couple's daughter Theresa, and became like a member of the family.

The filmmakers used previously undiscovered archival materials on the Warsaw Zoo which are still on display today and serves as a museum for the Jabinski couple, bringing many stories that reveal the heroism and courage of the Polish couple for the first time. The documentary will be released in Poland on September 6, 2019.