Women of Valor: Partisans and Resistance Fighters
Zofia Yamaika : 1925-1943 | Mala Zimetbaum : 1922-1944
Biographical Sketches - Mala Zimetbaum: 1922-1944
Mala arrived in Auschwitz from Belgium in September 1942, and because of her fluency with languages became an interpreter and "runner" - Lauferin in Birkenau. She used the advantages and privileges of her position, which enabled her to move freely from one part of the camp to another, to assist fellow prisoners. She facilitated contacts between family members, carried messages and assisted the resistance movement in the camp, then in its infancy.
In June 1944 she and Edek Galinski, a Polish prisoner who had contacts with the Resistance, escaped. Mala had stolen a Passierschien, which permitted Galinski to lead Mala, disguised as a man, out of the camp, presumably for outside work. They reached the Slovak border but were found and returned to Auschwitz to be hanged. Mala was the first woman to escape; her story electrified the other prisoners. Both she and Galinski committed suicide while being led to the gallows. Mala slashed an artery on her wrist with a razor blade she had concealed. When the SS man holding her tried to wrest the blade from her, she slapped his face with her bleeding hand. In the hospital barracks her wrist was bound to prevent her from bleeding to death, her mouth was taped to keep her from expressing her defiance, and she was taken to the crematorium.