Yom HaShoah day abstract photo

Though the day is brand new, the goal is to spark a worldwide annual event that keeps the legacies of the last generation of survivors in mind.

Jewish leaders around the world have rallied in support of a third day of Holocaust remembrance, which helped create the inaugural Holocaust Survivor Day. This day of remembrance commemorating the Jews who survived the horrors of the Nazi regime will be celebrated for the first time on Thursday, June 24.

Though the day is brand new, the goal is to spark a worldwide annual event that keeps the legacies of the last generation of survivors in mind.

Other days of remembrance include International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27 (the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz) and Yom HaShoah (the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising) on 27 Nisan, which occurs during April or early May. 

The new Holocaust Survivor Day honors Auschwitz survivor Marian Turski, whose birthday falls on June 26. It will be celebrated two days earlier this year because of Shabbat. 

For the holiday, the Jewish News celebrates three remarkable individuals who survived the Holocaust and now reside in Metro Detroit, educating young generations in the hopes of stopping these atrocities from happening again. 

Here are their stories, with the help of testimonials gathered by the Holocaust Memorial Center: in Farmington Hills.

Edward Malinowski

Born Edward Mersyk in Warsaw, Poland, in 1939, Malinowski grew up in the Polish capital on a street that became part of the Warsaw Ghetto. In 1943, while his parents were away at work, Malinowski, who was hiding in the loft of his apartment building with his grandfather, was discovered by two German soldiers. They were taken from their home to Umschlagplatz, a holding area in the ghetto notorious for being a place where Jews were deported to Treblinka.

Edward Malinowski
Edward Malinowski Portraits of Honor

Discovering his son and father were gone, Malinowski’s father bribed Jewish officers to let his son go, pretending he had typhus and was in need of medical care. While Malinowski was released, he never saw his grandfather again. He then remembers riding in the bottom of a carriage stuffed between boxes of food. His father had smuggled the family out of the Warsaw Ghetto. They hid in different apartments throughout Warsaw, going from one place to another.

While attempting to work with the Polish resistance, Edward’s father was tricked and sent directly to the Gestapo. He never returned. During the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944, Malinowski and his family were saved by a German officer who spared their lives and stopped another officer from killing them. They spent the remainder of the war traveling under false papers throughout Poland until the country was liberated.

Following the war, Malinowski returned to Warsaw and attended medical school. After being stripped of his position in 1968 following a revolt of Polish intellectualists that the Polish government blamed on Jews, Malinowski emigrated to Detroit in 1969. He worked at Sinai-Grace Hospital for many years as a well-known cardiologist. Malinowski, now retired, continues to work with the Holocaust Memorial Center to educate people about his experiences.

Barbara Cohen

Born Basha Schechter in Bukaczowce, Poland, (now part of Ukraine) in 1941, Cohen was an only child. Because Poland was in the midst of World War II at the time of her birth, Cohen and her family went into hiding, going from one place to another for shelter. Though she was young, Cohen learned the story of her family’s survival through their stories and their photographs.

Barbara Cohen
Barbara Cohen Portraits of Honor

Her dad’s skills as a great outdoorsman and her mother’s perfect German helped the Schechter family survive. With the help of friends, they were able to escape the ghetto in which they lived and hid in different properties. To make hiding easier, Cohen’s parents decided to separate. Cohen stayed with her mother, who was able to pass for German thanks to her blonde hair and blue eyes, and the two were taken to Durnholz, Germany, where they lived under false papers.

Cohen’s father remained in Poland working as a Polish laborer. Cohen’s mother, however, struggled to work and take care of her newborn child, but a German woman offered to watch the baby while she worked. One day, the German woman, who grew attached to the baby, told her mother she could no longer visit. Yet Cohen’s mother hatched a plan, and on her final visit claimed she was going for a walk and ran away with her young daughter in her arms.

They stayed on the road with thousands of other refugees until they arrived in Dresden, which had recently been bombed by the allies. Luckily, the bombing spared them. The Schecters ended up in a displaced persons camp in Stuttgart where Cohen’s father was able to find them through the Red Cross.

In 1946, with the help of relatives who sponsored the family in New Jersey, they were able to rebuild their lives in the U.S. Cohen graduated from the University of Michigan as a physical therapist and continues to educate people about the Holocaust. She has traveled to Poland and Israel with students from Frankel Hebrew Academy as a guest survivor.

Henry Wormser

Born Henry Claude Wormser in Strasbourg, France, in 1936, Wormser was a child survivor of the war. His father was drafted to fight in the French Army, so his mother took care of him. One night, they received a notice slipped under their door in an envelope to report to the City Hall with identification papers. Refusing to show up with a fear of what might happen next, Wormser’s mother went to her brother for help, and they escaped via car to the town of Sayat.

Henry Wormser
Henry Wormser Portraits of Honor

They were able to find a family who would hide them. Wormser remembers being able to play with the other children and roam around, except for when Germans came by to get provisions. Wormser and his family stayed at their shelter until France was liberated, when they returned to their apartment. Every day for six months, Wormser and his mother went to the train station to look for Wormser’s father. Finally, one day, he arrived, and the family was reunited.

With family in the U.S., the Wormsers decided to emigrate in June 1953. They first resided in different cities along the East Coast, where Wormser’s father worked for a Jewish hotel and in factories. They eventually bought a farm in Vineland, N.J., where Henry grew up and received an education in pharmacy and medicinal chemistry. In 1965, he began teaching at Wayne State University and raised his family in Metro Detroit, often speaking at the Holocaust Memorial Center. 

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