Holocaust survivor talks to New Tech students

May 2, 2016
The Journal Gazette

Students from New Tech Academy at Wayne High School today heard the story of a different kind of Holocaust survivor — a Polish Jew who never saw the inside of a concentration camp.

Instead, Robert Melson — born Silvi Mendelsohn — told a tale of how his mother and father were able to deceive their way through  the Nazi era by adopting the identity of another family.

Author of “False Papers: Deception and Survival in the Holocaust,” Melson became Bobi Zamojski — actually, although not even school-age, Count Bobi Zamojski. Melson spoke to the students as part of this year’s commemoration of Holocaust Rembrance Day, also known as Yom Hashoah.

After telling how his mother impersonated an aristocratic countess to persuade a parish priest to issue her copies of birth and marriage records crucial to documenting the family as not Jewish, Melson paused for a moment.

“You know, when I was a little kid, I thought all moms do that kind of thing to save their children. That’s what moms do. Later, I realized, ‘What an amazing woman.’ She was an extraordinary woman,” he said.

Melson will speak at 7 p.m. tonight during a ceremony at Congregation Acduth Vesholom, 5200 Old Mill Road. The event is free and open to the public.