The ballerina who led an Auschwitz uprising

The ballerina who led an Auschwitz uprising


norman lebrecht

October 26, 2018

It was 75 years ago this week, on October 23, 1943, that a Polish dancer, Franciszka Mann, was herded with others into a changing room at Auschwitz and ordered to strip naked for the ‘showers’.

Using all of her dramatic skills to deflect male attention as she undressed, Franciszka Mann grabbed a revolver from an SS guard and opened fire. She killed an officer, Josef Schillinger, and injured a sergeant Wilhelm Emmerich.

Other women joined her in attacking the SS guards, one of them tearing a German soldier’s nose off. Reinforcements soon arrived and all the women died in a hail of bullets. According to one version, Franciszka saved the last bullet in her revolver for herself.

She was 26 years old.


Remember Franciszka.



  • lavy hollender says:

    brave woman never heard this story before

  • M McAlpine says:

    Brave lass. Shows the extreme cowardly nature of the brutes of the SS

  • Anthony Langstreth says:

    What a brave lady pity she couldent have gassed the ss insted b……s

  • Mike says:

    What a fantastic and brave event, it is unreal! What guts those women had.

  • Mike says:

    Extreme bravery, those were real brave women, It is a story of pure guts!

  • Tim wall says:

    And today the Snowflake generation want to forget men and women like this who gave there all and fought back, Never, remember remember never forget

  • Brettermeier says:

    How depressing. Let’s not vote for populists again, shall we?

  • Marian says:

    Wow, what a super super brave lady! One of the many unsung acts of bravery during 2nd world war.

  • Michael Endres says:

    The SS officer she shot, Josef Schillinger, was known for his abhorrent brutality ( as described and testified by survivors ) and was – quelle surprise – buried in a so called ‘Ehrenfeld’ ( field of honour ) in Oberrimsingen with a headstone commemorating him until 2003, when hobby historian Andreas Meckel managed to have Schillinger’s headstone removed.

    Hard to believe but a chilling fact: the Wikipedia article about Oberrimsingen still lists Schillinger under “Persoenlichkeiten” ( personalities ).

    (Source: Wikipedia)

  • Barbara Steward says:

    So brave and I know I would have had a go knowing the inevitable was coming. Very quick thinking to grab the gun…wish I could have given all the ladies a gun too. Terrifying for so many, never forget the cruelty of the camps.

  • John Borstlap says:

    A pulverizing story. It remains difficult to imagine the reality of such barbarism, and the heroism of such courageous people. Her spirit should live on.

    In these times, with the rise of rightwing extremism and populism, the brown period should be a continuous warning. Perplexing that so many people seem to forget history. ‘He who does not want to know the past, is doomed to repeat it.’ Cicero, I believe.