Roosevelt Students Hear First-Hand Holocaust Story

Fran Letzter Malkin Credits: Cynthia Cumming
Pictured here from left to right are: Social Studies Supervisor Steven Olshalsky, RMS Language Arts Teacher Jay Wecht, RMS Principal Lionel Hush, Superintendent Jeffrey Rutzky, Fran Malkin, BOE VP Michelle Casalino, Mayor Robert Parisi and RMS Asst. Principal Marc Lawrence. Credits: Cynthia Cumming

WEST ORANGE, NJ – On May 13, at Roosevelt Middle School, West Orange resident and Holocaust survivor Fran “Fay” Malkin shared her story of survival with students and provided an oral history of her experiences as a young child whose family was hidden in a hayloft in Sokal, Poland above a pigsty for 20 months. RMS Teacher Jay Wecht arranged the visit as part of his Holocaust curriculum.

“What you will hear today is not something that can be found in a book or on a computer screen,” said Wecht. “Take with you Fran Malkin’s message that says ‘I will not be defeated.’”

Malkin, now 76, was four years old when Polish Catholics Francisca Halamajowa and her daughter Helan Liniewyska hid 16 of her Jewish neighbors including Malkin and her family, in a hayloft above her pigsty. Approximately 6,000 Jews resided in Sokal on the eve of World War II; by the end of the war, only 33 had survived, half of them saved by Halamajowa, who received a posthumous “Courage to Care Award” from the Anti-Defamation League in 2011.

Sign Up for E-News

An early victim of the Sokal holocaust was Malkin's father Eli, who was rounded up along with other Sokal Jewish notables aged 14-60 in 1941, taken outside the town and shot after being forced to dig their own graves. Many of the other Jews were taken to Belzec, a death camp in Poland, where it is estimated 850,000 men, women and children died.

Malkin almost lost her own life. Unable to stop crying after they had been hidden, her family tried to poison her so that she would not give them away. The effort failed and Malkin survived, adjusting to life in hiding, until the liberation of Poland on July 19, 1944.

In 2009, a documentary entitled, “No. 4 Street of Our Lady,” detailing the story of Halamajowa and those she saved, was released. Malkin’s uncle Moshe Maltz also published his diary, “Years of Horror, Glimpse of Hope: The Diary of a Family in Hiding,” in 1996.

“What I felt throughout my childhood was that there was no normalcy,” said Malkin.

Her family was found in a refugee camp after the war by an American relative who sponsored their move to America. They settled in Newark.

“After the war, no one talked about it,” she said.

It was not until they began filming the documentary that Malkin began to talk about her experiences and memories.

“Talk to your parents and grandparents,” Malkin told the students. “Everyone has a story to tell.”

Malkin ended the assembly by taking a few questions and commenting that the world has not changed much since WWII, citing ISIS and other terrorist organizations, as well the progression of bullying.

“You follow a group because they make you feel important,” Malkin said, connecting bullying to the rise of Germany under Hitler’s rule. “But bullying always leads to more.”

“Being a victim is the worst thing you can do,” she said. “No matter what you go through, you have to prevail…you have to go on with your life. You can’t let them win.”

Click HERE for more information on Fran Letzter Malkin and Francisca Halamajowa.


This is the TAP into West Orange West Orange Public Schools Column.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

West Orange

Local Children Invited to Register for Essex County Summer Camps

February 19, 2018

WEST ORANGE, NJ – Children of all ages are invited to participate in spring and summer camp opportunities at the Essex County Turtle Back Zoo, Essex County Codey Arena and the Essex County Environmental Center.

The zoo has several weeklong camp adventures that will introduce children to the extraordinary world of animals, nature and science. Campers and their parents/guardians are ...

Game of Thrones: A Definitive Ranking of Seasons 1-7

Groundhog Day. The day a tiny mammal’s shadow tells us when winter will come to an end. Me? I prefer my weather forecast in the form of a white raven (the telltale changing of seasons in Westeros).

For a few days, rumors spread that Game of Thrones will not return for its final season until April 2019, and while it was clarified that the April return date was likely a false rumor, HBO ...

Upcoming Events

Thu, February 22, 12:00 PM

Mayfair Farms, West Orange

2017 Orange/West Orange UNICO Scholarship Dinner

Education Giving Back


Thu, February 22, 12:00 PM

Marriot Courtyard, West Orange

BIZ 2.0 WORKSHOPS - Lunch & Learn | Presented by ...

Business & Finance Food & Drink


Thu, February 22, 7:00 PM

Roosevelt Middle School, West Orange

Marley Dias... Gets It Done | Book Signing and Q&A

Community Calendar Education

Celebrate Your Health this Nutrition Month

February 21, 2018

Dear Editor,

This year, we learned that the number of Americans at risk for heart attack and stroke just got a lot higher.  An estimated 103 million adults have high blood pressure, according to new statistics from the American Heart Association, and about 39.7 percent of Americans have high cholesterol.  With March being National Nutrition Month, it’s a great time to ...

Free Cardiac and Concussion Screenings for Young Athletes

February 22, 2018

WEST ORANGE, NJ — The Matthew J. Morahan III Health Assessment Center for Athletes (MJM) at RWJBarnabas Health will provide free cardiac and concussion baseline screenings to young athletes on Saturday, March 3, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at South Mountain Recreation Complex, Codey Arena, 560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange, NJ.

When preliminary testing to identify serious cardiac ...

Shouts of Racial Slurs During "Black Panther" Bring Police to Sparta Theatre

February 21, 2018

SPARTA, NJ – Sparta police were called to the New Vision Sparta Theater on Sunday night because of a woman shouting slurs in a screening of Black Panther.

Former New Jersey Assembly candidate Michael Grace was in the theater when two people started yelling racial slurs including “look at these ‘n-word’” and “can you believe these ...

Let the Games Begin

I am truly awed by the Olympics.  Watching these superb young athletes on TV inspires me to renew my membership to the gym and pursue my lifelong dream of taking home the gold.  


The problem is that in my deluded head, I can see actually see myself standing atop the podium.  I am wrapped in a puffy designer ski coat with a huge piece of bling slung around my neck ...

'What Stays' exposes family secrets and lies

‘What Stays’ exposes family secrets, resentment and lies

By Liz Keill

SUMMIT, NJ – In an original play by Laura Ekstrand and Jason Szamreta, the Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre has provided an enlightening, funny and heart-felt view of family foibles.

Ekstrand has said that the germ of the play came from conversations with the ensemble members of the troupe, based on ...