Brother of murdered Irish journalist Pierre Zakrzewski: ‘All nieces and nephews loved and adored him…it was his free spirit’

The brothers of Irish journalist Pierre Zakrzewski have said he is “very proud” to be Irish and has spent his life telling the truth.

ick and Greg Zakrzewski say their brother has been heavily involved in humanitarian work throughout his career and will want to be remembered for the striking images he captured highlighting the realities of war.

Last month, the 55-year-old packed up and traveled to Ukraine to cover the invasion for Fox News.

On Monday, he was killed by Russian shelling outside Kyiv.

“First of all, we’re testing automatically as if we hadn’t handled anything. So we initially heard the news Monday about Benjamin Hall and then we’ll see that it’s a Fox costume and then I’ll do a little bit of snooping and watch Fox’s statement,” Greg said.

“And I was like, oh, that doesn’t sound good, and then around 11am on Tuesday our sister called us from London to say he’d been missing for 12 hours. so that’s bad.

“Benjamin is [seriously injured]and I think about an hour or two it’s been confirmed that they’ve found [Pierre’s] bodies in a local morgue.

“So between two hours and now we’re not processing anything.”

Nick said the tragic ordeal has been a “roller coaster” for the whole family, saying: “As long as the messages come in, everyone’s memories and condolences come in from everyone, that’s it. a real roller coaster ride.”

The Zakrzewski family moved to Dublin in the 1970s and settled in Leopardstown. Their father is Polish and their mother, Maire-Ange, is French.

Pierre is the second of five children, three boys and two girls, and he attended St Conleth’s College in Donnybrook before studying art at UCD.

“Pierre was the only one not born in Dublin and that was only because he was born two months premature and he happened to be born in Paris because his mother was in Paris at the time. We all grew up here in Leopardstown, we all went to school and went to college here,” Nick told RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne.


Pierre Zakrzewski (right), who was killed reporting in Ukraine (Image: FOX News/PA Wire)

“Four brothers, it’s pretty strong and it’s weird.

Nick says his brother’s photojournalism career was first inspired by his love of travel.

“It was initially driven by travel, he had a real love of photography, which later developed into cinematography, and the combination of travel later developed into photojournalism,” he said. .

“After graduating from college, he left and just traveled and traveled a lot on his own. We are used to traveling, we used to spend our childhood going to Poland, going to France for family reunion, it was just an extension of it, and we just thought it was real. great and we all followed in his footsteps.

“It’s weird that we’re chatting about our brother, but we’ll never have conversations like this with each other, so we had to sit down yesterday and go, you are thinking and talking about yourself. him in a completely different way.

“Like normal, we would go head-to-head and now we have to take a step back and look at it in a completely different way. If you look at this career, the first 10 or 12 years were freelance and that kind of thing made him, I suppose.

“Because he’s doing his own thing and this isn’t a role you go to college, it’s a role you do for yourself.”

For the past 15 years, Mr Zakrzewski has lived in London with his wife Michelle, who was previously a BBC correspondent. He has covered stories in conflict zones around the world and recently reported on the situation in war-torn Afghanistan.

“It was pure experience, it was a lifetime of self-education so all those years he would regularly pick up the camera himself and shoot these things. So this is that time in ’89 in Afghanistan when the mujahideen are fighting among themselves and he’s going in there to find out who you’re talking to to go see the head of the tribe,” said Greg. .

“He would do all that alone and you can’t learn that.

“What’s interesting is what made him go from freelance to working for Fox. There has always been this constant pattern of media teams being attacked and considered fair game in wartime.

“It is increasingly difficult for freelancers to protect themselves. If you think back to Iraq, all the people who were kidnapped and then beheaded, they were freelancers with no security behind them.

“Gone are the days when you could wake up in toddler crazes and just live by your wits. So I think my brother saw that happen and also saw the changes in the media, so he switched to Fox.

“And I’d say he might have mixed feelings about it. He’s lost a certain amount of independence, we’ve never talked about it now, but I doubt he could. would say something along the lines of ‘listen, I don’t have a choice’.”

Nick said his brother has been a “calculated risk-taker” throughout his career and has 30 years of experience dealing with dangerous situations.

“He’s a calculated risk-taker, he looks at risks, he finds the best way to manage them when things get more complicated and difficult and journalism becomes the target. more,” he said.

“He is very proud to be Irish and the worldwide reach and visibility of Irish people is a really positive thing. I also think the fact that he’s Irish is a very important part of his moral makeup. ”

Greg said his brother is concerned about the Russian invasion because Ukraine has no frontline and civilians are being targeted.

“He always said it was the most reckless scenario that could happen. The scenario in Ukraine right now is you don’t know where the guns are hitting you, are they in front, behind, left or right, you. don’t know,” he said.

Greg said two weeks ago, Mr. Zakrzewski and his colleagues found a baby on the street near Kyiv and took it to the nearest hospital.

Greg and Nick said they are both very proud of their brother who is “beloved by their nieces and nephews”.

“He is the uncle that everyone admires, there are 11 of them who love him and adore him.

“I think his free spirit is something very compelling. It’s important work, we talked about what would sum him up and in terms of his work, it’s just that. truth and no bullshit.

“He is no nonsense, he does his job very well and he is a very hard worker. That’s who he is too, he’s going to want to be remembered for that and he’s going to want to be remembered for the images he’s created and is there for.

“Without those images, people wouldn’t see what was really going on and that’s ultimately what I think he really wanted to be remembered for.”

The family is working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Fox News and family in Poland to bring the younger brother home. Brother of murdered Irish journalist Pierre Zakrzewski: ‘All nieces and nephews loved and adored him…it was his free spirit’

Fry Electronics Team

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