Action Hero

Jan Żabiński

Jan Żabiński

Origin:
Warsaw, Poland
8 April 1897 – 26 July 1974

At the start of World War II, Jan Żabiński was the director of the Warsaw Zoo.  When the war reached Warsaw, much of the zoo was destroyed and many animals were killed, escaped, or were taken by the Germans.  He knew many Jews through his work at the zoo and began visiting them in the ghetto under the guise of caring for the small park there.

When it became clear there was a need for people to flee the ghetto, Żabiński offered his zoo and his house on the grounds as something of a half-way home.  Temporary shelter was given to hundreds of Jewish escapees while they found more permanent hideouts.  They lived in the enclosures left by the animals and also in the the Żabiński home.

Together with his wife, Antonina and son, Ryszard, Jan Żabiński spent three years hiding Jews from the Nazis.  Both Jan and Antonina were recognized as Righteous Among The Nations in 1965.  Jan stated in the local press, “It was not an act of heroism, just a simple human obligation.”

Sources:

Wikipedia

The Righteous Among The Nations

Haaretz.com

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