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 Ala Gertner

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Ala Gertner

  • Birth 12 Mar 1912 Poland
  • Death 5 Jan 1945
  • Burial Cremated, Other, Specifically: Taken to the crematorium at Auschwitz
  • Memorial ID 16748307

Ala was born and raised in Bedzin, Poland. She was one of three children in a well-to-do family. After the Nazi invasion of her homeland, on 28 October 1940, she received orders to report to the Sosnowiec train station, where she was taken to a labor camp in Geppersdorf (present-day Rzedziwojowice). Geppersdorf was one of 177 satellite camps under the Organisation Schmelt umbrella. Luckily for Ala and the other inmates, the conditions in Geppersdorf were generally much better than in most of the other Nazi camps. In this camp, the women worked in the kitchen and laundry, and the men were forced to build the Reichsautobahn. Because she was fluent in German, Ala found an office job, where she came into contact with Bernhard Holtz, who eventually became more than just a friend. In 1941, Ala was permitted to return to Bedzin, where she found work in offices and workshops run by Moses Merin, the Jewish governor of the area. She was living in the Sosnowiec Ghetto when she and Bernhard were married on 22 May 1943. Shortly after their marriage, Ala and Bernhard had to move to the Bedzin Ghetto. Following the liquidation of the Sosnowiec and Bedzin ghettos in August of 1943, she and Bernhard were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, believed to be among the final transports. In Auschwitz, Ala at first worked in the warehouses, sorting the confiscated belongings of the other inmates. Later she was chosen as one of the workers in the Union Munitions plant. She was one of a very small number of women working in a room of the factory that was the only place in Auschwitz where inmates had access to gunpowder. Ala became friends with Róza Robota, who told her that an uprising and escape were being planned among the men in the Sonderkommando, and that the women in the munitions factory were to play a key role in it. Ala in turn recruited Regina Safirsztajn, Hanka and Ester (Estusia) Wajcblum, Marta Bindiger, Hadassah Zlotnicka, Ruzia Grunapfel, Inge Frank, Genia Fischer, and a number of other women to help out. Every day they would secretly set aside a little bit of gunpowder, and did this for over a year, until they had enough to be smuggled over to the Sonderkommandos to make grenades and bombs. On 7 October 1944, Crematorium IV was blown up, although the uprisings in the other crematoria were put down before they were able to get that far. In retribution for what had happened, every third Sonderkommando was shot. An investigation into how this could have happened went on for weeks, and the gunpowder was finally traced back to Ala's factory. All of the women working in the factory were interrogated and tortured, and eventually Ala, Róza, Regina, and Estusia were betrayed. Although they in turn were tortured and interrogated even harder over the next few months, they refused to give in and reveal any more information or names other than the names of Sonderkommandos who had been killed already. Ala and the other three women were publicly hanged on 5 January 1945, two weeks before the camp was evacuated. Their last words, according to survivors, were said to be either "Be strong!" or "Revenge!" In 1991 a memorial at Yad Vashem was dedicated to Ala, Regina, Róza, and Estusia, recognising their act of heroism.

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  • Created by: Carrie-Anne
  • Added: 22 Nov 2006
  • Find A Grave Memorial 16748307
  • White Light
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Ala Gertner (12 Mar 1912–5 Jan 1945), Find A Grave Memorial no. 16748307, ; Maintained by Carrie-Anne (contributor 46778926) Cremated, Other, who reports a Taken to the crematorium at Auschwitz.