Sonderkommando Uprising at Auschwitz


On October 7, prisoners assigned to the Sonderkommando staged a rebellion destroying one of the crematoria (Crematoria IV) and killing some of their German guards. The Sonderkommando, a squad of Jewish forced laborers who incinerated the bodies of gas-chamber victims in the crematoria, discovered that the Germans were about to murder them, too. They contacted the international resistance that had coalesced in Auschwitz and sought to launch a joint uprising. When the international resistance refused to collaborate for various reasons, the Sonderkommando people decided to go ahead on their own. All the participants in the uprising fell in combat. In their investigation of the affair, the Germans discovered that the explosives used in the uprising had been smuggled by a group of young Jewish women elsewhere in Auschwitz. On January 6, 1945, four of these women were executed.