THE HOUSE UNDER A WACKY STAR - Jews in Hiding at the Warsaw Zoo

An asylum, a harbour, an ark - this is how the Warsaw Zoo was described by those who survived World War II there with the help of the Żabiński family. 2015 marks fifty years since the Żabiński family was honoured with the title of Righteous Among the Nations.  We present our virtual exhibition which tells the stories of those Jews rescued in this unique place.

Jan Żabiński, an agricultural engineer and and an animal lover, was director of the Warsaw Zoological Garden. Together with his wife Antonina, who shared his passion for the Zoo, he lived in a villa on the Zoo grounds. The couple developed the Zoo, importing numerous species into the Zoo's animal collection.

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When war broke out, the Żabiński couple became involved with the underground. The majority of the animals were either killed or taken way by the Germans. The Żabiński couple used the empty cages and pavilions, as well as their home, to hide people, arms and ammunition. Many Jews found shelter at the Zoo. Among those hidden in the so-called "House Under a Wacky Star" were sculptor Magdalena Gross and writer Rachela Auerbach.

After the War, in 1965, on the basis of testimonies provided by those rescued, Jan and Antonina Żabiński were honoured with the title of Righteous Among the Nations.

Our virtual exhibition tells the story of the Zoo under occupation, including stories of those whom the Żabiński couple helped - among them, sculptor Magdalena Gross, writer Rachela Auerbach, boxer Samuel Keningswein and entomologist Szymon Tenenbaum.

The House Under a Wacky Star. Jews in Hiding at the Warsaw Zoo