March of the Living Update: Monday May 6

Dear BU Wheelock Community,

On Monday, May 6, as we prepared to leave Poland, we visited the Warsaw Zoo, site of the story now made famous by Diane Ackerman’s book, the Zookeeper’s Wife.  The zoo grounds include the house owned by Jan and Antonina Zabinski, the zoo’s keepers. The Zabinskis harbored Jews from the Warsaw ghetto.  They would bring them “temporarily” to the zoo to help, then aid them in getting papers to escape Poland.  The first photo below shows the end of the tunnel where the Jews would escape to when Nazis or collaborators came to the Zookeeper’s house.  Antonina would play at the piano to warn the Jews in the basement to move to the tunnel, the entrance of the tunnel is shown below.  They would move to a pheasant’s exhibit outside until the Nazis departed.  The Zabinskis harbored hundreds of Jews in this manner.  When they were honored by Yad Vashem for their efforts, they noted that they did it because they were humans and it was the only thing they could do.

We had to keep asking ourselves if we could stand up and do the same under similar circumstances. What would you have done in the face of the Nazi dangers?