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The Ballerina Who Shot Nazis on Her Way to the Gas Chamber

Franceska Mann was a talented dancer, a rising star in the entertainment scene in pre-war Poland. During the Nazi occupation, she was confined to the Warsaw ghetto, where she performed at the Melody Palace nightclub. In 1943, Germans rounded up the 600 or Jewish people living at the hotel and told them they would either be exchanged for German POWs or allowed to emigrate to South America. They were taken to Birkenau. Among them was the 26-year-old ballerina.   

According to Jerzy Tabau, a prisoner who later escaped from Birkenau and wrote a report on the incident, the new arrivals were not registered at Birkenau. Instead, they were told that they had to be disinfected before crossing the border into Switzerland. They were taken into an undressing room next to one of the gas chambers and ordered to undress. The beautiful Franceska caught the attention of SS Sergeant Major Josef Schillinger, who stared at her and ordered her to undress completely. Suddenly Franceska threw her shoe into Schillinger's face, and as he opened his gun holster, Franceska 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.

The other women took this as a signal to attack the SS men. Read the conflicting reports of what happened when the ballerina fought back at Vintage Everyday. -via Strange Company


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