The film, The Zookeeper’s Wife, starring Jessica Chastain tells the true story of how Antonina Zabinski and her husband defied Nazi orders and saved hundreds of Jews from the Holocaust. In an act of civil disobedience, the Zabinskis took Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto and hid them in the Warsaw Zoo.
Many eventually made their way to freedom. Acts of civil disobedience such as this are inspirational stories in history and could inspire your next research paper.
The story of The Zookeeper’s Wife
In her book, The Zookeeper’s Wife, Diane Ackerman told the story of Antonina and her husband, Jan Zabinski who was director of the Warsaw Zoo.
The Zabinskis witnessed thousands of Jews being relocated to what became known as the Warsaw Ghetto; a section of the city comprised of a mere 1.3 square miles in area.
From the Ghetto, the next step would be shipment to an internment camp and very likely, death. The Nazis declared it illegal to shelter Jews as they carried out raids to imprison Jews. The Zabinkis decided to do what they could to defy Nazi orders and save Jewish lives.
D.T. Max described Ackerman’s account of events in a September 9, 2007, article for NYTimes.com, “Antonina’s List.”
According to Dictionary.com, civil disobedience is “refusal to obey certain laws or governmental demands for the purpose of influencing legislation or government policy, characterized by the employment of such nonviolent techniques as boycotting, picketing, and nonpayment of taxes.”
One of the most well-known proponents of civil disobedience is Henry David Thoreau whose famous essay on the subject in 1848 has become an American classic. Thoreau’s act of civil disobedience was a refusal to pay a poll tax because he objected to the government’s support of slavery. For his refusal to pay, Thoreau spent a night in jail.
In his essay on civil disobedience, Thoreau stated that a jail was the one place in a slave State where a free man could abide with honor.
Dissent and disobedience
You can read the works of Thoreau and explore related topics such as civil rights and social movements at Questia. One example is the book, Crimes of Dissent: Civil Disobedience, Criminal Justice, and the Politics of Conscience, by Jarret S. Lovell.
Crimes of Dissent features the voices of activists, presenting a fascinating insider’s look at the motivations, costs and consequences of deliberately violating the law as a strategy of social change. This book provides readers with an in-depth understanding of why activists break the law, and what happens to them when they do.
Using dynamic examples, both historic and recent, Jarret Lovell explores how seasoned protesters are handled and treated by the criminal justice system, shedding light on the intersection between the political and the criminal.
In the book, Lovell pointed out that how dissent can be a crime. His examples included the philosopher Socrates who was executed for expressing beliefs that were not recognized by the State. Lovell went on to describe how Jesus was also executed as a criminal for expressing his beliefs.
“Like Socrates, Jesus refused to apologize and saw arrest and punishment as necessary to raise the consciousness of the masses. It was then, and only after Jesus’s recalcitrance, that Pilate ordered the crucifixion, therein exposing the violence of the State while rendering Jesus among the most celebrated of pure criminals in the annals of tragic figures,” Lovell said.
Learn more about social movements in peace and war at Questia.
Do you think that one is justified in opposing a law that seems unjust? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.