Mann as stage performer
4 February 1917
Warsaw, Congress Poland
|Died||23 October 1943
Auschwitz concentration camp
|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 heroic action in the Auschwitz concentration camp during the Holocaust in occupied Poland. Along with a group of new arrivals, Mann was taken into a room next to a gas chamber and ordered to disrobe for "delousing". While taking off her clothes in a calculated manner in order to distract the guard, she managed to grab the roll-call officer's pistol, and reportedly shot him fatally in the stomach. She fired a second shot that wounded an SS sergeant. It was a signal for other prisoners to stage a riot which was broken up when other guards opened fire at the group using machine guns. Mann died on the spot.
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 placed IV 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.
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.
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, accounts vary: 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.
- Edward Colimore (January 20, 2015). "Polish Jewish dancer Franceska Mann". A survivor, David Wisnia, remembers the Holocaust. Philadelphia Media Network, PBC. Retrieved April 2, 2016.
- 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.