Mann as stage performer
4 February 1917
Warsaw, Kingdom of Poland
|Died||23 October 1943 (aged 26)|
Auschwitz, Gau Upper Silesia, German Reich
|Other names||Rosenberg-Manheimer, Man, and Mannówna|
Franceska Mann (or Franciszka Mann in Polish, a.k.a. Rosenberg-Manheimer, also: Franciszka Mannówna, or Man; February 4, 1917 – October 23, 1943) was a Polish-Jewish dancer mentioned by Jewish Holocaust survivors in the context of her actions in the Auschwitz concentration camp during the Holocaust in occupied Poland. Along with a group of new arrivals, Mann was meant to be taken to the gas chamber for immediate death. During the incident, which was either at the selection ramp, a work area or at the gas chamber, depending on the telling, she managed to shoot and fatally wound roll call officer Josef Schillinger and injure Work Service Leader Sergeant Wilhelm Emmerich, before her own subsequent death.
Franciszka Mann was a young dancer residing in Warsaw before the Second World War. She studied dance in the dance school of Irena Prusicka. Her friends at that time included Wiera Gran and Stefania Grodzieńska. In 1939 she was 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 in the Warsaw Ghetto. In several publications she is mentioned as a German collaborator. Her name is associated with the "Hotel Polski affair".
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 1,700 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.
According to some versions, 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. Other versions of the story mention the events that follow taking place at either the selection ramp or a labor area of the camp. Regardless of location, 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, accounts vary: in some Schillinger and Emmerich are the only casualties. 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 were mowed down by machine guns. Other mentioned outcomes are the Jewish women being herded into the gas chamber, taken outside and executed, or Franceska taking her own life with the stolen pistol. 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.
- Terpsychora i lekkie muzy, Bożena Mamontowicz-Łojek, Polskie Wydawn. Muzyczne, 1972
- JON, Kurier Poranny, 31 V 1939
- H. Liński, 1935, Kino, nr 28
- H. Liński, Światowid, 1938, nr. 9
- H. Liński, Światowid, 1938, nr. 18
- Edward Reichter, W ostrym świetle dnia. Dziennik żydowskiego lekarza 1939-1945, Londyn, 1989
- Agata Tuszyńska, Oskarżona – Wiera Gran, Wydawnictwo Literackie, 2010.
- Jonas Turkow, C´etait ainsi. 1939-1943 la vie dans le ghetto de Varsovie, Paryż, 1995
- Muzyka ocalona: judaica polskie. Marian Fuks, Wydawnictwa Radia i Telewizji, 1989
- Cynthia Southern (2015). The Vixen Who Shot A Nazi: The story of Franceska Mann, who shot SS Guard Josef Schillinger, in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Kindle Edition. Amazon. ASIN B00KUZY0UQ.