The Halamaj Family

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Story of Rescue - The Halamaj Family

Franciszka Halamaj and her grown-up daughter Helena ran a small household in Sokal near Lviv. They knew a lot of local Jewish families, including the families of the Krams, Maltzs and Kindlers. They saved these people from death by hiding them in a hiding place above the pigpen and under the kitchen floor. The fugitives constituted 16 out of only 30 Sokal Jews who survived World War II; before the war, about 6 thousand Jews had been living in the town.

Mosze Maltz, a cattle merchant, and Dawid Kindler, a doctor, escaped from the ghetto together with their families and found shelter in the household of Franciszka Halamaj in November 1942. The woman offered them help of her own volition. “It is a miracle that uncle met Mrs. Halamaj, because no one else would admit us” – emphasizes Fajga Malkin, Mosze Maltz’s niece and one of the Rescued, in a documentary movie entitled “No. 4 Street of Our Lady”.

At the same time Joszua Kram, a decorator, prepared a hiding place for himself, his wife and son in the housekeeper’s kitchen, of course with Mrs. Halamaj’s consent. The Krams spent a lot of months hidden under the kitchen floor. They would only leave the shelter at nights and help the landladies with cooking meals. However, they did not know why the women needed so much food, as they were not aware of the fact that they were not the only Jews who were hiding there.

Franciszka decided to purchase pigs and hens. She bought the animals in order to deceive her neighbors who would be surprised seeing that she carried so many buckets with water to the pigpen and threw away so much litter from there. Also, to divert any suspicions, she spread anti-Semitic opinions in the town. Despite these precautions, one of the neighbors discovered the presence of the Jews, but after a conversation with one of the fugitives, a widely respected doctor, he refrained from tipping the Germans off. Nevertheless, the Jewish survivors were so terrified that they were on the point of poisoning themselves with potassium cyanide.

Apart from Chaja Dewora Maltz (she died from tuberculosis while in hiding), all of the Jews survived World War II, which ended in Sokal in July 1944. On 19 July, after 20 months of hiding, they left Franciszka and Helena Halamaj and soon they dispersed all over the world. Until this day they have been in contact with the children of the women, who saved their lives. 

 

Watch “No. 4 Street of Our Lady” movie online.

Bibliography

  • No. 4 Street of Our Lady, Barbara Bird, Judy Maltz, Richie Sherman, USA, Documentary film, 90 min

    This film tells the story of Righteous Among the Nations Franciszka Halamaj.

  • Gutman Israel red. nacz., Księga Sprawiedliwych wśród Narodów Świata, Ratujący Żydów podczas Holocaustu, Kraków 2009