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THE DIRECTOR OF Warsaw zookeepers and his wife always conceded cyanide during World War II. Danger was ever-present but they were prepared to take their top secret to the grave.
The couple put out of sight nearly 300 Jews and resistance fighters on zoo grounds during most of the war, below the noses of the German Nazis dwell in Poland.
These reverberations of a Hollywood movie, The Zookeeper’s Wife, which opens in buff cinemas this week before progressing out internationally, is based on real events.
Director: Niki Caro
Writers: Angela Workman (screenplay), Diane Ackerman (book)
Stars: Jessica Chastain, Johan Heldenbergh, Daniel Brühl |
Inside the zookeeper’s villa, whose windowless underground room had a secret tunnel leading to the garden, Jan Zabinski and his wife Antonina offered refuge to the frequently Jews smuggled out of the city’s ghetto.
“I remember, I sat on your heels under this concrete shelf in the basement and keeping my hand over my sister’s mouth to mute her cries because she was continuously crying, day and night,” said Moshe Tirosh, ripened five at the time.
“When someone thumped the door upstairs, terror would pass through me, lest they find us,” the 80-year-old said.
.The retired businessman and grandfather-of-seven, who have lived in Israel since 1957, still cannot accept as truth what he lived through.
I saw children’s lifeless bodies on the street. Horrifying things… I remember wondering why everyone desires to kill us. I couldn’t realize it.
All but two of the zoo’s hidden guests survived the war and Nazi troop stationed on the bombed-out zoo grounds never uncover the artifice.