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Transcript of Anna Heilman
Anna was born on December 1, 1928 in Warsaw, Poland into a middle-class assimilated Jewish family . Her parents, Jacob and Rebecca, were both deaf
The Sonderkommando Uprising
The Sonderkommando at Auschwitz were male slaves who assisted the Nazis - primarily in helping to dispose of the bodies of the murdered.
Shipment to the Camps
The family were among the last deportees from the Warsaw Ghetto when they were crammed in a sealed boxcar and transported to Maidanek in May 1943. There were 170 people in the boxcar. There was no food or water. Only 120 of the 170 were alive after the two day trip to the Maidanek concentration camp. Her parents were murdered upon arrival at Maidanek.
After the Uprising, the SS traced the gunpowder back to the Union factory. Mrs. Heilman' s sister Estusia and three other young women, Ala Gertner, Roza Robota and Regina Safirztajn were betrayed.
Anna had two older sisters. Sabina, the eldest escaped the Holocaust with her former tutor and future husband, Mietek. They survived the war by fleeing to the Soviet Union and subsequently settled in Stockholm, Sweden. Sabina died in 1995. Anna's best friend was her older sister Esther (nickname: Estusia).
Anna and her two sisters lived with their parents in an apartment building at 38 Mila Street, in an area that became part of the Warsaw Ghetto after the Nazi invasion of Poland.
Though regularly searched, and subject to instant execution if caught, Estusia, Anna, and a small number of other women played key roles in smuggling gunpowder for explosives from the Union Munitions factory to the men of the Sonderkommando.
The Sonderkommando made 'grenades' out of shoe polish cans that they filled with gunpowder that the women smuggled out of the munitions plant. The conspirators figured that they would die anyway, but that participating in the uprising would give their deaths some meaning.
The Sonderkommando Uprising occurred on October 7, 1944. It was quickly put down by the SS , who ran the death camps. All of the Sonderkommando were killed, but not before their crude bombs severely damaged Crematorium IV. Crematorium IV was never used again, saving many lives.
Estusia and Anna were sent from Maidanek to Auschwitz in September 1943.
Beginning in September 1943, Mrs. Heilman and her older sister Estusia were "employed" as slave laborers in the Union Munitions factory at Auschwitz- Birkenau.
The SS tortured the girls for months to give up the names of their fellow conspirators. They never gave up Anna's name, only the names of members of the Sonderkommando, who were already dead.
The four girls were hanged on January 5, 1945, just under two weeks before the advancing Soviet Red Army reached Auschwitz.
The execution occurred just before Auschwitz was brutally evacuated on January 18, 1945 as the Soviet Army continued its advance towards Germany.
Anna was sent on a forced march to Ravensbrück where she stayed until February, 1945, and then at Neustadt-Glewe, where she remained until being liberated by the Soviet Red Army on May 2, 1945.