Acts of courage. Everyday acts and those that can stun the world. Where one act of courage, the young man whose act of suicide started the Arab Spring.
He is another story from a time forgotten by many and denied by a large swath of so called humanity as never happening, or numbers ain't right.
This thread is for those, many who die that when confronted with tragic events, they put their lives at risk to save others.
Heroines of Auschwitz
On Jan. 27, 1945, 67 years ago today, the Soviet Army liberated Auschwitz. From 1942 to late 1944, the concentration camp became the center of the wholesale murder of European Jewry. There were others - Treblinka, Sobibor, Chelmno, Belzec, Majdanek, to name just a few. But it was Auschwitz that was to become the archetype of genocide. The gas chambers of Auschwitz took the lives of an estimated 1.1 million people, almost a million of them Jews.
Yet within Auschwitz's horror there were unique acts of bravery from which we must always take heart. The courage of Anna (Wajcblum) Heilman and the women of the Auschwitz munitions factory is one such story.
By mid 1944, the inmates knew that Germany was losing the war. Believing they would die anyway, Anna and her friends wanted to find a way to fight back, to give their deaths meaning. Ester, Anna, and a few other female prisoners began to smuggle gunpowder from the factory, a tiny amount at a time, hidden in their kerchiefs or sleeves. Being caught meant instant execution.
The young women gave the smuggled gunpowder to a young Polish Jew named Rosa Robota, who in turn passed it on to the Sonderkommando, a detail of Jewish male slave crematoria workers. These Sonderkommando included Soviet prisoners of war who knew how to make improvised explosives.
On Oct. 7, 1944, the Sonderkommando revolted, attacking the SS with stones, axes and homemade grenades produced from the smuggled gunpowder.
Several SS were killed. One of the four crematoria was severely damaged by the improvised explosives. It was never used again, saving many lives. The Sonderkommando were all killed.
The SS traced the gunpowder back to the munitions plant. Anna's sister Ester and three other young women, Ala Gertner, Rosa Robota and Regina Safirstajn, were tortured for months by the SS. But they gave up only the names of the Sonderkommando, who were already dead. They did not betray Anna or the others involved.