Holocaust Survivor Margit Buchhalter Feldman Addresses Upper School
In an assembly that coincided with Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Upper School welcomed Holocaust survivor Margit Buchhalter Feldman this morning. Touching on her experience at Auschwitz where her mother and father were killed, Feldman talked to the students about her life after the war and the sense of purpose she found when she began sharing her story.
After she came to the United States in 1947, Feldman was reluctant to talk publicly about her ordeal in the Nazi death camps. Years later, she was a wife and mother of two living in Bound Brook, New Jersey, when a grammar-school student from the neighborhood asked her to come and talk to his class for a school project he was completing. Feldman could not bring herself to face the class in person, but she allowed the young man—now a municipal court judge in New Brunswick—to record her story on tape.
When he later told her about the impression her words and voice had made on the class, she felt an obligation to share her story with others. Reflecting on that mission this morning, the 87-year-old spoke with quiet determination when she told the students, "It is important for me to remember that six million of my fellows Jews were slaughtered and a million and a half of those victims were children. I am here and I firmly believe it is because God wanted me to survive and be here and tell the free world what an uncaring world did to its fellow human beings."
Coincidentally, Feldman was born on the same day and year as author Anne Frank. Although the two had been imprisoned at Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen—the concentration camp where Frank died in 1945—they never met. Despite that, Feldman began to understand that she could be a voice for all of those who had been silenced by Hitler’s regime. Today, hundreds of thousands have heard Feldman speak in person, and many more have been introduced to her through the 2016 documentary Not A23029 (the title a reference to the number tattooed on her arm at Auschwitz) and through the 2003 book Margit: A Teenager's Journey through the Holocaust and Beyond.
Gill St. Bernard’s is a private, coeducational day school for students age three through grade 12, located in suburban New Jersey. Each of the three school divisions provides a vigorous, meaningful and age-appropriate curriculum, and all students benefit from the environmental learning opportunities that exist on our 208-acre campus.