At the time of this writing, hardly any biographical information is available on Regina Safirsztain. Her connection to Będzin is through Rose Rechnic’s family, since she was Rose’s aunt. Regina was among the young Jewish women who worked as prisoners at a munitions factory within the Auschwitz complex, called the Weichsel-Union-Metallwerke. Regina, Ester Wajcblum, and Ella Gärtner managed to smuggle small amounts of gunpowder to men and women in the resistance in Auschwitz.
Róza Robota, another young Jewish woman, was also part of the resistance. She worked in the clothing unit in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Despite the constant supervision by guards, small amounts of the gunpowder were wrapped in cloth, hid on bodies, and thus passed into the camp until it reached members of the Sonderkommando.
The Sonderkommandos were special units of Jewish inmates forced to remove the corpses in the crematoria. The gunpowder was used by the Sonderkommando to launch an uprising and try to destroy the gas chambers and crematoria. On October 7, 1944, Crematorium IV started the revolt by attacking SS guards and setting fire to the building. The Sonderkommando at Crematorium II followed. Hundreds of prisoners escaped, but they were eventually caught and killed.
Tracing the gunpowder to the women, the SS arrested Regina Safirsztain with the other three women. They were brutally interrogated and tortured, but refused to reveal other names. They were publicly hanged on January 6, 1945.
For more information:
Isabel Wollaston, “Emerging from the Shadow? The Auschwitz Sonderkommando and the ‘Four Women’ in History and Memory,” Holocaust Studies: A Journal of Culture and History 20/3 (Winter 2014)