"Try to make your life" - A Jewish girl hiding in Nazi Berlin

Holocaust survivor Margot Friedländer invited by FU-BEST program of Freie Universität Berlin to speak in Berlin on March 7, 2018

No 037/2018 from Feb 27, 2018

Holocaust survivor Margot Friedländer, who was born in 1921, was invited by the Berlin European Studies Program (FU-BEST) at Freie Universität to speak on March 7 about her memories of persecution as a Jew by the National Socialists. Her presentation in English is entitled "Try to make your life," which is the title of her memoirs and her mother’s last message to her as her mother was arrested by the Gestapo - the abbreviation for secret state police in National Socialist Germany. Most of Margot Friedländer’s family members were murdered in the Auschwitz extermination camp. Now 96, Friedländer survived in various hiding places in Berlin and later in the concentration camp Theresienstadt. Her talk will take place on Freie Universität’s Lankwitz Campus. It is public, and admission is free. It is the first in a new series "Berlin Eyewitnesses" being organized by the FU-BEST program. Each semester an individual, be it as eyewitness, observer, or victim of injustice, will speak about different epochs and turning points that shaped Berlin in the 20th century.

Margot Friedländer’s family was abducted by the Gestapo in 1943. Margot Friedländer escaped and was hidden in Berlin for 13 months. After an air raid in April 1944, she was picked up by the Gestapo, interrogated, and interned in the Theresienstadt concentration camp in today’s Czech Republic. There Margot Friedländer - at the time Margot Bendheim - met her future husband Adolf Friedländer. The concentration camp was liberated by Russian troops, and in 1946 she and her husband emigrated to New York, where they changed their last name to "Friedlander." In New York she worked as a custom tailor and travel agent. After her husband died in 1997, she tried to get over the loss by going around to schools and reporting on her life. The German documentary producer Thomas Halaczinsky, who lives in New York, persuaded her to make a documentary film about her life. Finally, in 2003, at the age of 82, she agreed to return to Berlin for filming. The resulting film is entitled "Don’t call it Heimweh." She also visited her hometown at the invitation of the Berlin Senate, and in 2010 she moved back to Berlin. She regularly visits schools and other institutions in Germany to talk about her life.

The Berlin European Studies Program was founded in 2005. Each year more than 300 students attend. The target group is foreign students and universities, especially in North America, and study abroad providers. FU-BEST offers a combination of German as a foreign language classes and various subjects taught mainly in English. In addition to the academic program, FU-BEST offers its participants a cultural program and excursions. Interested students can get help with finding internships and volunteer work.


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