102-year-old Holocaust survivor graces the cover of Vogue Germany: ‘She is a remarkable woman’

The 102-year-old has been visiting schools for over a decade to speak to children and young people about the Nazi atrocities of World War II.

By Shiryn Ghermezian, The Algemeiner

Holocaust survivor Margot Friedländer is the cover star of Vogue Germany‘s July/August issue, which is also the publication’s collector’s issue, dedicated to love.

“When I met Margot Friedländer for the first time, I was deeply impressed — from her directness, her warmth and, above all, her indefatigability,” said Kerstin Weng, head of editorial content at Vogue Germany.

“She, 102 years old, who was betrayed, deported to a concentration camp, traumatized, meets people openly and forgivingly and is vehemently committed to mutual respect. She is such a beautiful soul and remarkable woman — it is an honor that she graces the cover of our collector’s issue, dedicated to love.”

Born Anni Margot Bendheim in Berlin in 1921, Friedländer spoke to Vogue Germany about her lifelong commitment to furthering Holocaust education.

The 102-year-old has been visiting schools for over a decade to speak to children and young people about the Nazi atrocities of World War II.

“I know that what I do is important. It is needed,” she said in her cover story. “I can even speak for those who didn’t make it. My word is needed, I have an obligation.”

Friedländer, who is also the only member of her family to survive the Holocaust, set up the Margot Friedländer Foundation to support Holocaust remembrance and to promote tolerance and respect.

In 2014, the Margot Friedländer Award was established to support young people taking action to further Holocaust remembrance, and making efforts to combat current forms of racism and antisemitism.

Friedländer was 12 years old when Nazi leader Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany.

Her mother voluntarily surrendered to the Nazis when her younger brother was taken away, leaving Friedländer to fend for herself at the age of 21.

Her mother and 17-year-old brother were eventually murdered in the gas chambers at the Auschwitz concentration camp.

One of the last things Friedländer’s mother told her before being taken away by the Gestapo was “try to make a life,” which is also the title of the Holocaust survivor’s memoir.

During World War II, Friedländer hid for months with a Christian family. She dyed her hair, had her nose operated on, and wore a necklace with a cross in an effort to stop looking “too Jewish.”

Nevertheless, she was discovered by Nazis and deported in June 1944 to the Theresienstadt concentration camp, where she narrowly escaped death.

A year after being liberated from the Nazi concentration camp, she moved to New York with her husband Adolf Friedländer.

She lived in America for 64 years but, after her husband died, she moved back to Berlin permanently in 2010 and still lives in the German capital. She became an honorary citizen of Berlin in 2018.

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) said it was “very excited” to see Friedländer on the cover of Vogue Germany.

“At 102, Friedländer is one of Germany’s most vocal and well-known Holocaust survivors,” WJC said in a statement posted on X/Twitter.

“She continues to advocate for Shoah education, speaking to young people about her experiences and teaching them the values of tolerance and humanity. WJC had the honor of collaborating with Friedländer on several Holocaust education projects as part of our #WeRemember campaign every year for International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27.”

When asked about antisemitism and current divisions around the world related to the Israel-Hamas war, Friedländer told Vogue Germany;

“I tell people all the time: we are the same. There is no Christian, Muslim, or Jewish blood. There is only human blood … Antisemitism has always existed. It just depends on how he shows himself. And how people react to other people who tell them something that isn’t true but sounds good.”

“For me there is only one message: Be human,” she added. “I recognize everyone. To me you are all the same. There is something good in every person and you should focus on that.”