Hear how the Żabiński family saved the lives of countless Jews during the Nazi German occupation.
In September 1939, Nazi Germany began their infamous invasion of Poland and occupied the country shortly thereafter, thus marking the beginning of the Second World War. Amidst all the destruction and loss of human, a nearly unbelievable act of selflessness proved to be a light of humanity that shone through the darkness and desolation of war in, of all places, a zoo.
In this episode, our hosts discuss the remarkable story of Jan and Antonina Żabiński and the Warsaw Zoo. How was this formerly prosperous zoo transformed into a shelter for Jewish refugees escaping the brutality of the Nazis? How was Jan Żabiński able to travel in and out of the Warsaw Ghetto and save so many Jewish people in the process? How were the Żabińskis able to avoid being discovered? Most importantly, what can Jan and Antonina’s daring act of humanity teach us about compassion, altruism, and selflessness?
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[02:43] Introduction to the Warsaw Zoo as well as Jan and Antonina Żabiński [04:10] Origins of the Crazy Star Villa and how it got its unique name [05:01] The Warsaw Zoo’s rise to prominence in the 1930s [05:39] How the German invasion of Poland in 1939 affected the Warsaw Zoo [08:00] How the Żabińskis became involved in underground resistance efforts against the Nazis [08:42] Jan’s relationships with entomologist Szymon Tenenbaum and German officer Friedrich Ziegler [11:15] The mystery of how Jan Żabiński was able to travel in and out of the ghetto [12:58] How the Warsaw Zoo was converted into a shelter for Jewish people [14:07] How the Żabińskis were able to hide Jewish people and avoid being caught [18:37] The Żabińskis become the 'Righteous Among the Nations' [22:20] What can we learn from the Żabińskis’ altruism?
SFTEW Team: Wojciech Oleksiak, Adam Zulawski, John Beauchamp, Lea Berriault, Nitzan Reisner, Michael Keller and Weronika Fay.