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Franciszka Mann

ImageFranciszka Mann (Franciszka Mann) – 4th February 1917 to October 23 1943 was a polish dancer, who is mentioned in the context of a heroic action in Auschwitz concentration camp.

Before the Second World War she was a young dancer located in Warsaw. She studied dance in the dance school of Irena Prusicka. Her friends at that time included Wiera Granand Stefania Grodzieńska. In 1939 she placed 4th during the international dance competition in Brussels among 125 other young ballet dancers. She was considered one of the most beautiful and promising dancers of her generation in Poland both in classical and modern repertoire.

At the beginning of the Second World War she was a performer at the Melody Palace nightclub in Warsaw. She was a prisoner of Warsaw Ghetto. In several publications she is mentioned as a German collaborator. Her name is associated with the “Hotel Polski affair”. At the same time she is mentioned in the context of heroic behavior in Auschwitz.

On October 23, 1943 a transport of around 1700 Polish Jews arrived on passenger trains at the death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, although they had been told that they were being taken to a transfer camp called Bergau near Dresden, from where they would continue on to Switzerland to be exchanged for German POWs. One of the passengers was Franciszka Mann. She had probably obtained her foreign passport from the Hotel Polski on the Aryan side. In July 1943 the Germans arrested the 600 Jewish inhabitants of the hotel and some of them were sent to Bergen-Belsen as exchange Jews. Others were sent to Vittel in France to await transfer to South America.

The new arrivals were not registered but were told that they had to be disinfected before crossing the border into Switzerland. They were taken into the undressing room next to the gas chamber and ordered to undress. Different accounts give different details of what happened next, but what is confirmed is that she fatally wounded the roll call officer Josef Schillinger, using a pistol (many accounts say his own) and fired two shots, wounding him in the stomach. Then she fired a third shot which wounded another SS Sergeant named Emmerich.

According to Tabau, the shots served as a signal for the other women to attack the SS men; one SS man had his nose torn off, and another was scalped. However, different accounts say different things; in some Schillinger and Emmerich are the only victims. Reinforcements were summoned and the camp commander, Rudolf Höss, came with other SS men carrying machine guns and grenades. According to Filip Mueller, all people not yet inside the gas chamber where mowed down by machine guns. Due to various conflicting accounts, it is unclear what truly happened next; the only things that are certain are on that day Schillinger died, Emmerich was wounded, and all the Jewish women were killed.

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October 23, 2012 - Posted by | News | , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Hello, Could anyone please help me. I am researching the story of Franciszka Mann. Is there any way I could find out more information about the Melody Palace nightclub or the Irena Prusicka dance school?
    Any sources greatly appreciated.
    All the best,

    Thorin Seex (London, UK)

    Comment by Thorin Seex | April 30, 2013 | Reply


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