NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Holocaust survivor Lola Margulies spoke to a rapt audience at the Linda E. Kelly Theater last week. The Somers resident told students the harrowing story of her childhood in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II.
Margulies was 11 when the German army invaded her Polish town in 1941. She, and all other Jews in town, were interned in a ghetto under extremely overcrowded conditions. They had very little food and were under constant threat of being deported to the death camps by the Gestapo.
Margulies eventually escaped into the woods and lived hidden with her family for nine months until Poland was liberated from German occupation in 1944.
"It was an incredibly emotional description of what she went through during the Holocaust," said Keolamphu. "She was hidden beneath a chicken coop in a bunker 10 feet underground eating bread, potatoes and soup. If it wasn't for that, she would not be here today."
After her presentation, Margulies received flowers and thank you cards from the students. She had an important takeaway message for them.
"You are the future of this country," Margulies told the students. "Everyone knew about what was going on and did nothing. Make sure that if you see any injustice you report it, and do not pretend it doesn't exist."
Joseph Keolamphu, who teaches U.S. History and Government and Global Studies at NRHS, contacted Margulies after he watched "Testimony of the Human Spirit," a video that highlights the experiences of Margulies and five other Holocaust survivors. He and the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of White Plains organized the visit.
Some of Margulies' memories have been recorded in a testimony, which is part of a collection published in the book entitled Death of a Shtetl. The book is in the archives of several Holocaust museums.