Rosa Robota
Guy Lochhead, 11/03/12
Rosa Robota was a Polish Jewish resistance fighter, one of the few to operate within a death camp – in her case, Auschwitz. Before being transported to Auschwitz in 1942, she was part of the Hashomer Hatzair Zionist-socialist youth movement. She remained active in that movement’s underground whilst interned, disseminating outside news among the prisoners. Her key action, and the reason for her subsequent torture and execution, was smuggling explosive schwartzpulver into camps. When one part of the chain of smugglers staged its own, unplanned uprising, re-captured “prisoners” gave up Robota’s name. She was imprisoned and horribly tortured but gave up no information. She was hanged in front of the camp in 1945, aged 23. Although this is obviously an amazing, terrifying and deeply moving story, I would prefer to deal with the issues raised in a less individualistic way. There are works that collect stories of resistance, and I think that including something like that would be more appropriate than idolising one particular fighter – perhaps the most remarkable thing is how many/few people were willing to fight, and how all those individual stories differ and relate to each other. Also, the Zionist issue is tricky.

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