Scrapbookpages Blog

March 10, 2017

The story of Franceska Mann — what really happened?

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 9:38 am

You can read a recent article about Franceska Mann at http://www.snopes.com/franceska-mann/

The beautiful Franceska Mann is shown in the photo above

This quote is from the article:

The story of Franceska Mann and her purported defiance of Nazis as she faced death has gained popularity on social media.

I have blogged about Franceska Mann on these two blog posts:

https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/02/11/josef-schillinger-the-ss-man-who-was-shot-in-the-undressing-room-of-gas-chamber-2-at-auschwitz/

https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/holocaust-survivor-gives-a-new-version-of-the-story-of-franceska-mann/

 

June 5, 2015

Photo of the “Little Boy with his hands up” — the rest of the story

Famous photo of the

Famous photo of the “little boy with his hands up”

A little over 5 years ago, I blogged about the famous photo of “the little boy with his hands up”.

https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/03/10/controversial-photo-from-warsaw-ghetto/

This subject has come up for discussion again because the photo shown above has been put up on the Holocaust Facebook page.  The Holocaust Facebook page does not allow discussion, except from the True Believer point of view, so I am putting in my two cents worth on my blog today.

The people shown in the famous photo above were not part of the Holocaust, contrary to what is now believed by Holocaustians world wide.

The soldier, who is holding a gun on the little boy in the photo, was Josef Blösche; he was put on trial in East Germany after the war and was executed after being convicted of being a war criminal.

Seven-year-old Tsvi C. Nussbaum, who is allegedly the boy in the photo, was one of the Polish Jews who had been arrested, along with his aunt, on July 13, 1943, in front of the Hotel Polski on the Aryan side of the Warsaw ghetto, where they had been living as Gentiles. The soldier in the photo believes that he is holding a gun on a Gentile boy.

Since they had foreign passports, the little boy and his aunt were allegedly sent to the Bergen-Belsen detention camp as “exchange Jews.”

Little Tsvi’s parents had emigrated to Palestine in 1935, but had returned to Sandomierz, Poland in 1939 just before World War II started.

At the end of the war, Tsvi was one of the survivors of Bergen-Belsen. In 1945, he emigrated to Palestine where he lived until 1953, at which time he moved to America. He became a doctor, specializing in ear, nose and throat, in Rockland County in upstate New York.

Long after the war, Tsvi Nussbaum claimed that he was the little boy, with his hands up, in the photo above.

However, some sources say that the photo above was taken during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising which took place between April 19, 1943 and May 16, 1943 before Tsvi was arrested.

The photo is one of the photos included in the Stroop Report about the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto.

On October 23, 1943 a transport of around 1700 of these 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 Jews on one of these trains was Franceska Mann, a beautiful dancer who was a performer at the Melody Palace nightclub in Warsaw. She had probably obtained her foreign passport from the Hotel Polski on the Aryan side of the Warsaw Ghetto, since she was pretending to be Aryan.

I blogged about the story of Franceska Mann in one of my very first blog posts: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/02/11/josef-schillinger-the-ss-man-who-was-shot-in-the-undressing-room-of-gas-chamber-2-at-auschwitz/

In July 1943, the Germans arrested the 600 Jewish inhabitants of the hotel and some of them, including Tsvi Nussbaum, were sent to Bergen-Belsen as exchange Jews. Others were sent to Vittel in France to await transfer to South America.

According to Jerzy Tabau, who later escaped from Auschwitz-Birkenau and wrote a report on the incident, the new arrivals were not registered at Auschwitz. Instead, they were told that they had to be disinfected before crossing the border into Switzerland. They were shoved into the 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.

According to Tabau, whose report, called “The Polish Major’s Report,” was entered into the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal as Document L-022, 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, according to Tabau’s report which was quoted by Martin Gilbert in his book, The Holocaust.

Reinforcements were summoned and the camp commander, Rudolf Höss, came with other SS men carrying machine guns and grenades.

According to another report, called “Jewish Resistance in Nazi-occupied Europe” written by Ainsztein and quoted by Martin Gilbert, the women were then removed one by one, taken outside and shot to death. However, Eberhard Kolb [at Bergen-Belsen] wrote that they were all murdered in the gas chamber.

September 2, 2012

“Brief Encounter With a Hero, Name Unknown” a poem about the Josef Shillinger story

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 12:06 pm

I was doing some research on the Josef Shillinger story this morning when I came across a website featuring University of Utah Professor Jacqueline Osherow, who wrote a poem entitled Brief Encounter with a Hero, Name Unknown.

I am pretty sure that the Hero, Name Unknown is not Josef Schillinger, but rather the woman who shot him.

Jacqueline Osherow has written several books.  One of her books, published in 1994, is entitled Conversations with Survivors.

This quote about the book is from the website:

[Osherow] expanded more into her traditional background in Judaism, from the Yiddish language to the Holocaust. “I was introduced far too young,” Osherow says of the Holocaust. “It was such a gigantic overwhelming presence.” Osherow recalls at age 7 admitting to her mother the reason she refused to take showers: She feared that gas would come out of the showerhead.

A grown Osherow wasn’t seeking accounts, but her then-husband’s entire family survived the Holocaust. This included his stepmother, Fany, who wanted her memories documented. The result was “Conversations With Survivors,” a poem recalling Fany’s experience during the Holocaust and in present day.

“Brief Encounter With a Hero, Name Unknown,” a poem from her third book, With a Moon in Transit (1996), is one of her most acclaimed. Osherow tells how the poem took shape: She asked her father-in-law, a Holocaust survivor in charge of delousing at Birkenau (an extermination camp annex of Auschwitz, the Nazi’s largest concentration camp), if he knew any of the SS. He told the story of Josef Schillinger, an SS officer. In the tale, a woman brought to the gas chamber grabs Schillinger’s gun, killing him and three other guards before being gunned down herself. The story haunted Osherow until she wrote the poem. Since then, “Brief Encounter” has taken on a life of its own.

Last year, Susan Gubar released Poetry After Auschwitz: Remembering What One Never Knew, in which she discusses “Brief Encounter.”

Osherow was stunned—and incredibly thrilled—to discover the story had a history beyond her father-in-law’s account. Merely searching online, Osherow found various accounts of the incident: It occurred in October 1943, and the woman was most likely a Polish dancer named Franceska Mann.

“My mind exploded,” Osherow recalls, still astonished. “I thought it was something that only existed in my father-in-law’s head and my head. Suddenly, there was external proof.” It also lends insight to the way Osherow writes poetry: It’s about conversations, stories and experiences, not historic research.

Note that Osherow’s father-in-law was in charge of delousing at Auschwitz-Birkenau.  The main place where delousing was done was at “the central Sauna” which you can read about on this page of my website.

I previously blogged about the death of Schillinger here.  This is a fascinating story, which must be true, since there are so many versions of it. I first heard the story when I visited the Memorial Site of the Bergen-Belsen camp.  Franceska Mann was an exchange prisoner at Belsen before she was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau to be gassed.  I wrote about her on this page of my website.

One of the Sonderkommando prisoners at Birkenau was Zalmen Gradowski, who participated in the revolt of prisoners at Krema IV, the gas chamber that is close to the Central Sauna at Birkenau.  Gradowski wrote a statement which he buried at Auschwitz-Birkenau.  Included in his message was his version of the death of Josef Schillinger.

Here is what Gradowski wrote about the famous incident when Shillinger was shot:

The second incident was… that of the “Warsaw convoy”. They were from Warsaw who had taken American citizenship; some of them had been born in America. They were supposed to be transferred to an internment camp in Germany then eventually to Switzerland where they would be placed in the care of the Red Cross.

But instead of doing so, the great and “civilized” powers-that-be had them brought to the crematoria here. It was at this point that a heroic young woman, a dancer, committed an act of great bravery. Seizing the revolver of Kwakernak, the head of the camp’s political section, she used it to shoot Schillinger, a notoriously nasty character. Her act inspired the other brave women with her, who launched bottles and other missiles at those savage, rabid animals, the uniformed SS.

February 11, 2010

Josef Schillinger – the SS man who was shot in the undressing room of Gas Chamber # 2 at Auschwitz

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 5:56 am

There are five different versions of the untimely death of Josef Schillinger, the SS man who was allegedly shot by Franceska Mann, a beautiful Polish Jewess, in the undressing room of the gas chamber in Krema II at the Auschwitz II death camp, also known as Birkenau.

All versions of the story agree on these points:

1. The killing took place at Auschwitz II, also known as Birkenau.

2.  Josef Schillinger was shot in the stomach by a woman, and he died on the way to the hospital.

3.  The shooter was a strikingly beautiful woman.

4.  After the shooting, all of the prisoners in that same transport  were killed.

These are the five versions of the story  that I know of:

1. The story told by Auschwitz Commandant, Rudolf Hoess, in a deposition that he gave to the British after he was captured; this deposition was entered into the proceedings of the Nuremberg IMT.

2. The story told by Filip Müller in his book entitled “Eyewitness Auschwitz, Three Years in the Gas Chambers.”

3.  The story told by Auschwitz survivor Tadeusz Borowski in a short story entitled “The Death of Schillinger,” published in the book “This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen.”

4.  The story told by escaped Auschwitz prisoner Jerzy Tabau, whose report, called “The Polish Major’s Report,” was entered into the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal as Document L-022.

5.  The story told in a book written by Eberhard Kolb and sold at the Museum at Bergen-Belsen from where this ill-fated transport originated.

I will start with the Filip Müller version of the story:

Before he gets to the part about Schillinger being shot, Müller cleared up one point that I had always wondered about. Where did they put the bodies of prisoners who died of starvation or disease at Birkenau?

According to Müller, there were three underground rooms in the Krema II gas chamber building: an undressing room, a gas chamber and a morgue.  The shooting of Josef Schillinger took place in the undressing room and it happened after dark, when Müller was on night duty at Krema II.

Before he reported for duty that night, Müller says that four SS men (Voss, Georges, Kurschuss and Ackermann) were already there, making sure that everything was perfect for a transport that was due to arrive.

Müller wrote:

“They checked to see if the fire in the ovens was burning well; they checked the door to the mortuary to make sure it was properly locked; they checked that there were no traces of blood anywhere; they checked the fans; and they switched the light in the gas chamber on and off a few times.”

Müller wrote that the concrete floors in the undressing room and the gas chamber were normally wet, but for this “clearly out-of-the-ordinary transport,” they had set up stoves that burned all day to dry the floors, and then Kurschuss sprayed a sweet fragrance in the rooms.

In another part of his book, Müller wrote that the gas chamber in Krema II had fake shower heads, but for this transport, the SS men wanted the victims to be doubly reassured, while they were still in the undressing room, that they were going to take a shower.

Then five more SS men arrived (Quackernack, Hustek, Emmerich, Schillinger and Schwartzhuber) together with Dr. Thilo, the medical officer on duty.

Müller noticed two things about this transport that were unusual: none of them wore a Star of David on their clothes, and none of them had any luggage.

The 1,000 prisoners on this transport were assembled in the yard outside Krema II and a representative of the Foreign Ministry made a speech in which he told them that this was their last stop before their departure for Switzerland.

Now here’s the really interesting part: The man from the Foreign Ministry was in reality Franz Hössler, the SS man whose job it was to calm the prisoners before they went into the gas chamber.  His nickname among the prisoners was “Mosche the Liar”  because of the way he lied to the people just before they entered the gas chambers.  Hössler was hanged by the British in December 1945 after he was convicted of war crimes committed at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Filip Müller wrote that he was one of 18 prisoners who were brought to the crematorium to help with this transport.  They were taken down in the lift (elevator) and “There we waited in the corridor from which doors led  to the gas chamber, the mortuary, and the changing room.”

Hössler “that cunning fox” gave another speech, telling the victims to take off their clothes, but some of them were becoming suspicious and were hesitant to undress.  Half of the prisoners (500 people) who had already undressed were hurriedly herded into the gas chamber.

The SS men began to shout at the reluctant victims and beat them with sticks to get them to undress.

“Quackernack and Schillinger were strutting back and forth in front of the humiliated crowd with a self-important swagger. Suddenly, they stopped in their tracks, attracted by a strikingly handsome woman with blue-black hair who was taking off  her right shoe.”

According to Müller’s story, this beautiful woman, whom he does not identify, began to undress as though she were doing a strip tease.  Then, she grabbed her shoe and slammed the high heel of the shoe violently against Quackernack’s forehead.

As Quackernack covered his face with both hands, the beautiful woman grabbed his pistol and shot Josef Schillinger; then she fired the pistol at Quackernack but missed him.  A panic broke out and the SS men started leaving the undressing room.  Then SS man Emmerlich was shot; he survived but was crippled for life.

The lights went out in the undressing room and the door was bolted from the outside.  Müller was inside the undressing room the whole time.

In the darkness, one of the prisoners in the undressing room spoke to Müller:

“I don’t understand what this is all about. After all, we have valid entry visas for Paraguay; and what’s more, we paid the Gestapo a great deal of money to get our exit permits.”

The doors to the undressing room were flung open and the Sonderkommando prisoners, including Müller, were ordered out.  Outside the door to the undressing room, two machine guns had been set up. At this point, Commandant Rudolf Höss showed up, just in time to see the prisoners shot in “a terrible blood-bath,”  including the beautiful woman. While all this was going on, the SS men had dropped Zyklon-B into the gas chamber and gassed the 500 people already inside.

Müller ends his story with these words:

“The promises of the SS, ranging from work inside the camp to emigration to Switzerland, were nothing but barefaced deception, as they had proved to be for these wretched people who had wanted to emigrate to Paraguay.”

At this point, the version told in a book written by Eberhard Kolb and sold at the Bergen-Belsen Museum will clear up any questions the reader might have:

On October 23, 1943, a transport of around 1700 Polish Jews with foreign passports was transported out of the Special Camp at the Bergen-Belsen Exchange camp in Germany; they arrived on passenger trains at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, 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, a beautiful dancer who was a performer at the Melody Palace nightclub in Warsaw. She had probably obtained her foreign passport from the Hotel Polski on the Aryan side of the Warsaw Ghetto. 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.

Photo allegedly taken outside the Hotel Polski

The controversial photo above was allegedly taken outside the Hotel Polski where Franceska Mann was staying, but it was included in the Stroop Report of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

Kolb wrote that all the prisoners on the transport were gassed; none of them were shot in his version of the story.

Now here is  the story told by Auschwitz Commandant Rudolf Höss in the deposition which he gave to the British:

“Sometimes it happened that prisoners knew what was going to be done. Especially the transports from Belsen knew, as they originated from the East, when the trains reached Upper Silesia, that they were most likely (being) taken to the place of extermination.

“When transports from Belsen arrived, safety measures were strengthened and the transports were split up into smaller groups which we sent to different crematoriums to prevent riots. SS men formed a strong cordon and forced resisting prisoners into the gas chamber. That happened very rarely as prisoners were set at ease by the measures we undertook.

“I remember one incident especially well.

“One transport from Belsen arrived, approximately two-thirds, mostly men were in the gas chamber, the remaining third was in the dressing room. When three or four armed SS Unterfuhrers entered the dressing room to hasten the undressing, mutiny broke out.

“The light cables were torn down, the SS men were overpowered, one of them stabbed and all of them were robbed of their weapons. As this room was in complete darkness wild shooting started between the guard near the exit door and the prisoners inside.

“When I arrived I ordered the doors to be shut and I had the process of gassing the first party  finished and then went into the room together with the guard carrying small searchlights, pushing the prisoners into a corner from where they were taken out singly into another room of the crematorium and shot, by my order, with small calibre weapons.”

Note that Höss mentioned the dressing room, the gas chamber and “another room of the crematorium” which must be the morgue which Müeller described.

The story as told by Jerzy Tabau has a few minor points that are different:

According to Jerzy Tabau, the new arrivals 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.

According to Tabau, in his report, called “The Polish Major’s Report,”  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. Tabau’s report was quoted by Martin Gilbert in his book entitled “The Holocaust.”

The story, as written by Tadeusz Borowski in his short story entitled “The death of Schillinger” is based on hearsay, and it disagrees with the other stories almost entirely.

Borowski wrote that the incident happened in August 1943 and that the transport  consisted of Polish Jews from Bedzin.  (Other versions say that it was in October 1943 and the transport was from Belsen.)

Borowski’s version, as told to him by the Sonderkommando foreman, is as follows:

“On Sunday, after the midday roll-call, Schillinger came to the cremo courtyard to visit our chief.  The chief was busy as the first truckloads of the Bedzin transport had just been brought over from the loading ramp.”

The foreman told Borowski that these were Polish Jews who “knew what was up. And so the whole place was swarming with S.S. and Schillinger, seeing what was going on, drew his revolver.”

According to Borowski’s version, as told to him by the foreman, “Schillinger took a fancy to a certain body” and walked up to her and took her by the hand.

“But the naked woman bent down suddenly, scooped up a handful of gravel and threw it in his face, and when Schillinger cried out in pain and dropped his revolver, the woman snatched it up and fired several shots into his abdomen. The whole place went wild. The naked crowd turned on us screaming. The woman  fired once again, this time at the chief, wounding his face. Then the chief, as well as the SS men made off, leaving us quite alone. But we managed, thank God.  We drove them all right into the chamber with clubs, bolted the doors and called the S.S. to administer Cyclone B.  After all, we’ve had some time to acquire some experience.”