Seventy-five years ago this week, British troops liberated the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in northern Germany.
Fifteen-year-old Margit Feldman was one of the prisoners who were liberated on April 15, 1945. She survived the Nazi death camps, but one day short of the 75th anniversary of her freedom, she could not survive the coronavirus. She died April 14, just two months before her 91st birthday.
Gov. Phil Murphy, in his daily coronavirus press conference on Thursday, honored Feldman for her community service and her efforts to educate young people about the Holocaust.
“May her memory be a blessing to her family and to us all,” the governor said, adding that hope was part of the message she delivered to thousands of young people.
Murphy quoted author Elie Wiesel, also a Holocaust survivor: “Just as despair can come to one only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings.”
Feldman’s husband Harvey is hospitalized at Morristown Medical Center, also with the coronavirus.
Feldman met her husband while recovering from tuberculosis in a New York hospital. They were married in 1953 and celebrated their 66th anniversary in December.
Feldman was born on June 12, 1929, and raised in Tolcsva, Hungary. In 1944, her family was imprisoned and deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where her parents were killed. She endured Auschwitz, Kraków, a return to Auschwitz, Grünberg, before finally being liberated from Bergen-Belsen by advancing British soldiers in the final days of World War II.
When she first went to Auschwitz, the governor said, she lied about her age, saying she was 18 instead of 15. It was a lie that saved her life because, at 18, she was old enough to perform forced labor.
After recovering in a Swedish hospital, she came to the United States in 1947. After she and her husband settled in New Jersey, she became committed to community service and education.
She served in leadership in many organizations including president of the Jewish Federation of Somerset, Hunterdon & Warren Counties, chair of local United Jewish Appeal and Israel Bonds campaigns, board member and past president of the Jewish Home for the Aged, vice president of Congregation Knesseth Israel in Bound Brook and president of its sisterhood, and was an active member of Temple Sholom in Bridgewater.
NBC News: Holocaust survivor who shared her story with students dies from coronavirus
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Family.