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October 4: Rose Warfman and the French Resistance

October 4, 2013
imagesRose Warfman (Gluck), a heroine of the French Resistance who survived internment in Auschwitz, was born in Zurich, Switzerland on this date in 1916. A direct descendant of the Magid Dov Ber of Mezeritch (1704–1772), the hasidic leader who was successor to the Baal Shem Tov, she lived with her Orthodox family in Paris from 1921 and worked as nurse for a Jewish social service organization alongside Lucie Dreyfus, the widow of Captain Alfred Dreyfus. During World War II, Warfman worked with Edmond Michelet, a future senior government minister under Charles de Gaulle, in Combat, one of the eight large arms of the French Resistance, under the nom de guerre Marie Rose Girardin. Arrested in 1944, she was taken to the Drancy internment camp and then to Auschwitz. Arriving there in a nurse’s uniform that her sister had smuggled into Drancy, Warfman caught the attention of Dr. Josef Mengele, the infamous Nazi doctor, who spared her the gas chambers but later subjected her to medical experiments. She nevertheless survived three selections before being transferred to the Gross-Rosen concentration camp and then liberated by the Red Army in June 1945. After the war, she made false identity papers for passengers aboard the Exodus transport ship, enabling it to leave port and sail for Palestine. In 1959, Warfman was awarded the title of Chevalier of the Legion of Honor by the French Government for her work in the Resistance. Fifty years later, she was made an officer of the Legion of Honor. Warfman is still alive today, in Manchester, England. It is estimated that Jews, who made up only 1 percent of the French population, constituted between 15 and 20 percent of the Resistance. “In Birkenau, she was assigned to a group of 50 women who were knitting. A kapo made them knit undershirts for German newborns. She worked hard, and was given as a role model. Then winter came, they were asked to knit socks for men (Germans). Her vengeance was to make big knots inside to render them unusable.”—Wikipedia