Who`s Who in the Book

From the author
Interactive Map
Historical context
Who’s who
The Zoo
More information
Who’s who
Characters in the book…
Stefan Zabinski and Marcus Tenenbaum
Jan and Antonina Zabinski
Simon and Lonia Tenenbaum
Janusz Korczak
Kasia and Tuzinka
Shlomo and Otto
Wladyslaw Szpilman
Lutz Heck and Ziegler
Hitler, Himmler, Hydrech, Frank, Krüger
Stefan Zabinski and Marcus Tenenbaum
Stefan Zabinski and Marcus Tenenbaum are
fictional characters. The Zabinskis real son was
Ryszard who was four at the beginning of the
war. For the story in my book to work Stefan had
to be twelve. The Tenenbaums had a daughter
Irena – I created Marcus, a twelve year old
Jewish boy, to be Stefan’s friend. Although
fictitious, this friendship symbolises the
historical bond between Jews and non-Jews in
Poland and is the central relationship in the book
Jan and Antonina Zabinski
Jan Zabinski was the director of the
Warsaw Zoo from 1928. He
improved it’s facilities and
increased the number of animals
on display considerably. During the
war he and his wife Antonina used
the empty animal shelters and the
basement of their own villa, to
hide about 300 Jews.
Simon and Lonia Tenenbaum
Simon (Szymon) Tenenbaum was a world
respected entomologist, whose insect
collection was kept in the zoo during the
war for safe keeping. He died in the
ghetto in June 1941. After the war his
wife, Lonia, donated the collection to
the State Zoological Museum of Poland.
Simon Tenenbaum is buried in Warsaw’s
Jewish cemetery.
Janusz Korczak
Janusz Korczak was the founder and
principle of two orphanages in
Warsaw. He was a doctor, writer and
educator who devoted his life to the
welfare and education of children.
Although he was offered safe
passage out of the ghetto he refused
to abandon the orphans in his care
and stayed with them all the way to
the death camps of Treblinka. His
many publications are still widely
read throughout the world.
Shlomo and Otto
Shlomo and Otto are fictional
characters. Shlomo is an
amalgam of many of the
characters I have read about in
books about the time. Otto’s
character is fictional, but the
more I read about zoo life
before and during the war the
more real he seemed to
Kasia and Tuzinka
Kasia, one of the Zoo’s African
elephants, gave birth to Tuzinka
in April 1937. At that time she
was only the twelfth elephant
ever to be born in captivity –
hence her name (tuzin is Polish
for dozen).
Wladyslaw Szpilman
Before the war Wladyslaw Spilman was a
renowned Polish pianist who regularly
performed on national radio. When the
ghetto was established he continued to
entertain people in cafés and restaurants
and, after the war, was the only surviving
member of his family. His war time
experiences were chronicled in his book
“The Pianist” which was made into a
successful film in 2002.
Lutz Heck and Ziegler
Lutz Heck was the director of Berlin Zoo . Along
with his brother Heinz he set out to recreate an
extinct bread of cattle by selectively breeding
carefully chosen specimens. With the
encouragement and support of Herman Goering, a
prominent Nazi, he sort to “cleanse”
Europe's cattle population in the same way that
Hitler was “purifying” Europe’s humans.
Ziegler was a German soldier who was in charge of organising work parties of
Jewish slave labour to work in Polish factories. He was a lover of insects and a
frequent visitor to the zoo. By winning over his trust Jan Zabinski was able to
exploit this connection to help smuggle out many of the Jews he saved.
Hitler, Himmler and Hydrech
Adolf Hitler – German Chancellor from 1933-45 and leader of
the National Socialist German Workers, or NAZI , Party.
Heinrich Himmler – appointed head of the SS in 1929
and was responsible for organising and implementing
the NAZI policy of genocide based on racial purity.
Reinhard Heydrich – a leading NAZI and eventual head
of the Gestapo (Hitler’s special police force) and is
generally considered to be the mastermind behind the
“Final Solution” to annihilate Europe’s Jews.
Frank and Krüger
Hans Frank – Governor General of Occupied Poland
Friedrich Krüger – Police Leader in the General
Government of Occupied Poland

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