President commemorates couple who rescued Jews at Warsaw zoo

“Thanks to Jan and Antonina Żabiński, the House Under the Crazy Star became an asylum, where Jews condemned to extermination found shelter. For hundreds of people, the zoo was a hideout from the criminals who hunted them,” Polish President Andrzej Duda wrote in a letter to the participants of the unveiling of the plaque dedicated to the Żabiński family.

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On Wednesday, a plaque commemorating Jan and Antonina Żabiński was unveiled at Warsaw Zoo. It was prepared by the Warsaw branch of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN).

“Thanks to Jan and Antonina Żabiński, the House Under the Crazy Star became a sanctuary, where Jews condemned to extermination found shelter. For hundreds of people, the zoo was a hideout from the criminals who hunted them,” President Duda stressed in a letter addressed to the participants of the ceremony.

“I am glad that despite the difficulties related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, today we can celebrate the National Day of Remembrance of Poles saving Jews under German occupation for the fourth time. I consider this new state holiday to be an extremely important element of care for the memory and truth about the history of our community,” Poland’s head of state emphasised.

Jan Żabiński was the director of Warsaw Zoo. During WWII, he and his wife hid some 300 Jews in their house and in the empty facilities of Warsaw Zoo. The vast majority of them survived the war.

In 1965 both Jan and Antonina Żabiński were recognised as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Centre.

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