Documentary on Polish couple who saved Jews from Holocaust released

The documentary film “Of Animal and Man”, which tells the story of Jan and Antonina Żabiński, who hid Jews in Warsaw Zoo during World War II, has been released.

“Not everyone wanted to risk themselves or their families to rescue Jews,” said Moshe Tirosh, whom Żabińskis helped survive the Holocaust.

Jan Żabiński was the director of Warsaw Zoo. During WWII, he and his wife hid some 300 Jews in their own house and in the empty facilities of the Zoo. The vast majority of them survived the war. Director Łukasz Czajka tells the couple’s story in a new documentary film.

In occupied Poland, Nazis would execute anyone caught providing help to the Jews, often killing their families, including small children, as well. The punishment for the same offense in occupied countries of Western Europe was less severe.

This is not the first movie telling the story of Jan and Antonina Żabiński. A war drama titled “The Zookeeper's Wife” directed by Niki Caro, was released in 2017. The role of Antonina Żabiński was played by Jessica Chastain. The zoo in the capital city of the Czech Republic, Prague, was used to portray Warsaw Zoo. Prague is known in Polish as “Praga”, which, coincidentally, is also the name of the district of Warsaw in which the zoo is located to this day.

In 1965 both Jan and Antonina Żabiński were awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center.