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Roza Robota
Roza Robota (1921-1945).jpg
Photograph from the college years
Born 1921
Ciechanów
Died 5 January 1945
Auschwitz extermination camp
Residence Ciechanów
Nationality Polish Jewish
Known for Holocaust resistance

Roza Robota (1921, Ciechanów – 5 January 1945) or Róża Robota in Polish,[1] referred to in other sources as Rojza, Rozia or Rosa, was the leader of a group of four women Holocaust resistors hanged in the Auschwitz concentration camp for their role in the Sonderkommando prisoner revolt of 7 October 1944.

Early life[edit]

Born in Ciechanów, Poland, to a middle-class family, Róża had one brother and one sister. She was a member of Hashomer Hatzair Zionist-socialist youth movement, and joined that movement's underground upon the Nazi occupation. Róża often used her Hebrew name, "Shohanah."

Auschwitz[edit]

She was transported to Auschwitz in a Holocaust train during the liquidation of the Ciechanów Ghetto in 1942.[1] She survived the "selection" and was assigned to Auschwitz-II Birkenau labor commando for women, where she was involved in the underground dissemination of news among the prisoners. No one else from her family in Europe is known to have survived. She worked in the clothing depot at the Birkenau Effektenlager adjacent to Crematorium III of Birkenau, where the bodies of gas chamber victims were burned. She had been recruited by men of the underground whom she knew from her hometown, to smuggle "Schwarzpulver" (means "gunpowder"), a rapidly burning compound collected by women in the "Weichsel" munitions factory, transferring it to a Sonderkommando surnamed Wróbel,[2] who was also active in the resistance. This schwartzpulver was used to manufacture primitive grenades and possibly to help blow up the crematorium during the Sonderkommando revolt. In her work she was assisted by Hadassa Zlotnicka and Asir-Godel Zilber, both also from Ciechanów, whom Robota apparently enlisted in the resistance. Together with a few other women who worked in the Nazi factory's "pulverraum," they were able to obtain, hide, and turn over to the men of the underground no more than one to three teaspoons of the schwartzpulver compound per day, and not every day. The Sonderkommando blew up Crematorium III on 6 October 1944.[3]

Robota and three other women – Ala Gertner, Estusia Wajcblum, and Regina Safirsztajn – were arrested by the Gestapo and tortured in the infamous Bloc 23 but they refused to reveal the names of others who participated in the smuggling operation. They were hanged on 5 January 1945 – two women at the morning roll-call assembly, two others in the evening. Robota was 23 years old. According to some eyewitness accounts, she and her comrades shouted "Nekamah" ("Vengeance!"), or "Be Strong" to the assembled inmates before they died. Some say they shouted, "Chazak V'amatz" – "Be strong and have courage", the Biblical phrase that God uses to encourage Joshua after the death of Moses.

The Sonderkommando Revolt caused some 70 fatalities among the SS and kapos, and blew the roof off one crematorium, yet the Nazis knew the advancing Russian Army was very close to liberating the camp. It was clear to the Nazis that all evidence of the war-time atrocities had to be concealed, so the Germans attempted to destroy the other four crematoria themselves.

Legacy[edit]

Roza Robota's memory lives on, in the naming of the Roza Robota Gates at Montefiore Randwick (Sydney, Australia). This initiative was made possible by Sam Spitzer, a resistance fighter during World War II and now a resident of Sydney. He named the gates in honour of his war-time hero, Robota, and his late wife, Margaret. Spitzer's sister was in Auschwitz with Robota.

At Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, a monument was built to honor Robota and the three other executed women. It stands in a prime location in the garden.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Patrycja Bukalska (20 January 2010). "Róża Robota postanowiła walczyć, do końca" [Róża Robota chose to fight till the end]. Tygodnik Powszechny, Pamięć Auschwitz (4/2010). Retrieved 12 October 2013. 
  2. ^ Patterson, David (2002). "Salmen Lewental". In David Patterson, et al. (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Holocaust Literature, p. 112. Greenwood Publishing Group.
  3. ^ Yahil, Leni (1987). The Holocaust: The Fate of European Jewry, 1932–1945, p. 486. Oxford University Press.

Further reading[edit]

  • Gurewitsch, Brana. Mothers, Sisters, Resisters: Oral Histories of Women Who Survived the Holocaust, The University of Alabama Press, 1998. (ISBN 0-8173-0952-7)
  • Shelley, Lore. The Union Kommando in Auschwitz: The Auschwitz Munition Factory Through the Eyes of Its Former Slave Laborers, University Press of America, 1996. (ISBN 0-7618-0194-4)

External links[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roza_Robota — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
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29 news items

Jewish Daily Forward (blog)

Jewish Daily Forward (blog)
Sun, 23 Nov 2014 04:00:00 -0800

Many know this story but few know the names Roza Robota, Estera Wajcblum, Regina Szafirsztajn and Ala Gertner, four women who smuggled gunpowder under their fingernails and stitched it into the seams of their clothes to make the uprising possible.

New York Times

New York Times
Fri, 14 Nov 2014 10:57:03 -0800

She described the chain of events that started in spring 1943, when three Polish Jews assigned to work in a munitions factory just outside the Auschwitz death camp — Estera Wajcblum, Regina Szafirsztajn and Ala Gertner — were recruited by Roza Robota ...

New York Observer

New York Observer
Fri, 07 Nov 2014 07:01:52 -0800

Roza Robota, Estera Wajcblum, Regina Safirsztain, and Ala Gertner, all Polish-born teenagers in 1938, were, like millions of other young people, trapped in Poland when the Blitzkrieg began in September of 1939. Their schoolgirl lives ended and they ...

The Jewish Week

Huffington Post
Wed, 08 Oct 2014 12:58:34 -0700

Recruited by Róża Robota, who worked in Auschwitz's clothing depot (known as "Canadakommando," these men and women had the awful task of sorting through the clothing discarded by murdered Jews), recruited them to smuggle minute quantities of ...
 
Jewish Journal
Thu, 09 Oct 2014 15:49:23 -0700

Recruited by Roza Robota, who worked in Auschwitz's clothing depot (known as "Canadakommando," these men and women had the awful task of sorting through the clothing discarded by murdered Jews), recruited them to smuggle minute quantities of ...
 
Broadway World
Mon, 06 Oct 2014 21:38:43 -0700

Using four female dancers, Bokaer's 30 minute work is a distillation and abstraction of the heroic but little known story of the four women -- Ala Gertner, Roza Robota, Regina Safirzthajn, Ester Wajeblum -- who secreted ammunition into the death camp ...
 
Broadway World
Mon, 22 Sep 2014 20:11:15 -0700

Using four female dancers, Bokaer's 30 minute work is a distillation and abstraction of the heroic but little known story of the four women -- Ala Gertner, Roza Robota, Regina Safirzthajn, Ester Wajeblum -- who secreted ammunition into the death camp ...
 
Lancaster Newspapers
Thu, 03 Apr 2014 13:17:01 -0700

Finally, he spoke of Roza Robota, who, along with three other women, smuggled gunpowder that was used by Auschwitz prisoners to blow up a crematorium there in October 1944. She was arrested and tortured, but did not reveal the names of anyone else ...
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