Holocaust survivor Margit Feldman has died of the coronavirus. Feldman died Tuesday at the age of 90, "just two months shy of her 91st birthday" and just a day before the 75th anniversary of her liberation from the Bergen Belsen concentration camp, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy confirmed Thursday. Her husband, Harvey Feldman, remains hospitalized with the coronavirus.
"Margit's legacy is best captured in her work to ensure that the world never forgets the horrors of the Holocaust," Gov. Phil Murphy said during his daily coronavirus briefing Thursday, according to NJ.com. "She would share her story of survival and liberation with tens of thousands of students across the state, and served as a founding member of both the New Jersey Holocaust Education Commission, and the Holocaust and Genocide Institute at Raritan Valley Community College."
Born in Budapest, Feldman was raised in the small Tolcsva, near the Czech border. When Nazis invaded the town in 1944, she and her parents were taken from their home and imprisoned in a nearby town before being transported to Auschwitz, the Washington Post reports. At just 15 years old, Feldman survived by lying about her age, telling the Nazis that she was 18 and saving herself from the gas chambers. While her parents were killed, Feldman was put into forced labor and had A23029" tattooed on her left arm.
Feldman survived Auschwitz, a series of other concentration camps, and a "death march" to Bergen-Belsen. In 1945, at the age of 16, she was liberated. By 1947, she was living in the United States, where she went on to work as an x-ray technician and married her husband in 1953. Although initially reluctant to open up about her experiences, Feldman first recalled her ordeal after a grammar-school student from her neighborhood in Bound Brook, New Jersey asked her to tell her story for a school project. She would go on to play a keyrole in orchestrating the Holocaust Education Commission, speak to classrooms, aid in the passing of bills mandating a Holocaust and genocide curriculum, and release a book in 2003 titled, Margit: A Teenager's Journey Through the Holocaust and Beyond.
"I rose from the ashes of Auschwitz, Krakow, Greentsery, Bergen-Belsen as a child of 15 years of age from the Holocaust to rebirth and a new life," she once wrote.
Feldman is survived by her husband, children, and three grandchildren. She will be buried at a private graveside service Friday, two days after the 75th anniversary of her liberation.