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Franceska Mann was a performer at the Melody Palace nightclub in Warsaw. She is mentioned in Filip Mueller's eyewitness account "Eyewitness Auschwitz" as well as in the account of Jerzey Tabau, a former Birkenau prisoner. Tabau's report was filed for the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg as Document L-022

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 Franceska 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. Franceska Mann was threatened by Josef Schillinger when she refused to enter the gas chamber. Suddenly Franceska Mann grabbed his pistol and fired two shots, wounding him in the stomach. Then she fired a third shot which wounded another SS Sergeant named Emmerich. Schillinger died on the way to the hospital.

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. 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.

References

  • Müller, Filip (1999) [1979]. 'Eyewitness Auschwitz - Three Years in the Gas Chambers. trans. Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd. and Susanne Flatauer. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee & in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. p. 180. ISBN 1-56663-271-4.  
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