A New Jersey grandmother who had a number from Auschwitz tattooed on her arm — and who made educating children about the Holocaust her mission in life — has died from the coronavirus, the state’s governor said Thursday.
Margit Buchhalter Feldman “was just two months shy of her 91st birthday” when she died Tuesday, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said.
Feldman “worked to ensure the world never forgets about the Holocaust,” Murphy said.
Meanwhile, Feldman’s husband, Harvey, continued to battle the deadly virus at a hospital in Morristown, the governor said Thursday.
Born June 12, 1929, in Hungary, Feldman was 15 when she was shipped to the Nazi death camp with her parents, who were immediately murdered, Murphy said.
Feldman managed to save herself by lying and saying she was 18, he said. Instead of the gas chambers, she was dispatched to a forced labor detail and had “A23029” tattooed on her left arm.
Feldman survived Auschwitz and a succession of other camps and was liberated at age 16 from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany.
By 1947, Feldman was living in the U.S., where she married Harvey Feldman in 1953, raised two children in Bound Brook, New Jersey, and became a grandmother three times over.
For many years, though, she was reluctant to speak about her ordeal.
Feldman said she finally agreed to record her story for a student doing a school project. And when she learned that her words had stunned the class, she knew what she had to do.
“It is important for me to remember that 6 million of my fellows Jews were slaughtered and a million and a half of those victims were children,” she said in a 2017 interview. “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.”
Feldman became a member of the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education, and a teaching award was established in her name. She visited dozens of classrooms and told her story repeatedly to eager young children.
Along the way, Feldman wrote a book about her experiences called “Margit: A Teenager’s Journey Through the Holocaust and Beyond,” which was published in 2003. And she was the subject of the 2016 documentary “Not A23029.”
Feldman will be buried on Friday — two days and 75 years after she was liberated, Murphy said.