Franciszka Mann (04.02.1917–23.10.1943)




She was born on February 4, 1917 as Franciszka Manheimer. She began her dance training at the school of Tacjanna Wysocka and then continued her training at the ballet school of Zygmunt Dąbrowski. She attended the School of Gymnastics and Artistic Dance of Irena Prusicka, where she studied free dance, ballet and tap dance together with Stefania Grodzieńska and Wiera Gran. During her studies and after graduation, she gave recitals at the Great Theater in Warsaw. She was one of the most promising Polish dancers of 1936-1939, performing on opera and cabaret stages, in cafes, revue shows and at private parties, and even in front of the camera – in the short film “Poles are famous”. Just before the outbreak of World War II, Mann won 4th prize at the Brussels International Dance Competition, where she performed a ballerina dance inspired by Degas’ ballet sketches, beating out over one hundred and twenty dancers. She married a musician Mark Rosenberg, with whom she had a daughter.

After the outbreak of the World War II she was imprisoned in the Warsaw Ghetto, where she performed at the Femina Theater, Melody Palace or Café Bagatela.. In the spring of 1943, due to the Hotel Polski, she was taken to the camp in Bergen Belsen, from where she was transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau in a transport with 1,750 Polish Jews with South American passports. She is credited with assaulting two camp guards in the undressing room of the gas chamber II: SS -Oberscharfuehrer Josef Schillinger and Willhelm Emmerich. Based on about a dozen documents, reports, and fictional articles describing this event, it is believed that she threw a piece of clothing to the first of them, then snatched his weapon and began shooting. In doing so, she provoked a revolt from the other prisoners. As Sir Martin Gilbert writes:

“The shooting of Schillinger was the signal for other women to attack the SS men at the entrance to the gas chamber. One of the SS men eventually had his nose torn off, and another was scalped. Schillinger died on the way to the camp hospital. The remaining SS men escaped. Shortly thereafter, camp commandant Rudolf Hoess entered the chamber, accompanied by SS men with machine guns and grenades. They pulled the women out one by one and shot them outside. The uprising of Jewish women in Birkenau was remembered by two prisoners who worked in the camp [one of them was Stanisław Jankowski].”

She died on October 23, 1943, at the age of 26.