By Cassie Bonstrom

PLYMOUTH, Minn. (WCCO) — A Plymouth woman is celebrating a special birthday on Monday. Margot DeWilde will be 90 years old, a milestone she never thought she’d reach. The Holocaust survivor, who spent two years in the Auschwitz concentration camp, sat down to talk about her life and the simple message she hopes to pass on to future generations.

DeWilde has every reason to be bitter, angry and resentful.

“You were not a person anymore but a number,” DeWilde said.

“4-7-5-7-4,” she read, pointing to the numbers tattooed on her arm. “And a little triangle underneath which indicated what race you belonged to or which group you belonged to.”

At 22 years old, DeWilde was imprisoned in Auschwitz. Because she was young and healthy, she was spared from the gas chambers.

“I had a position and when you had a position, that was always a step better than the rest,” she said.

Her age and good health also made her a prime candidate for the Nazi’s medical experiments. Several months after arriving at Auschwitz, DeWilde was forcefully sterilized.

“I think I had two friends who had had a baby, but the others never had children,” she said. “And I didn’t.”

Almost 70 years after being liberated, DeWilde said she’s had no time for negative feelings.

“I don’t hate,” she said. “I feel pity.”

For decades, she’s shared her story with thousands of people.

“I want to leave a footprint that I’ve been here,” said DeWilde. “I have the urge to make other people mellow. And if things happen — so what. It is not the big deal, they’ll pass.”

DeWilde also hopes that by exposing the evil and hatred she endured, others may be inspired to live a life free of it.

“Don’t look at each other’s outside, look at the inside,” she said. “We are all the same. Don’t make differences with each other for whatever reason.”

Comments (12)
  1. We're not all the same says:

    “We are all the same. Don’t make differences with each other for whatever reason.”

    Well, I am sorry to inform her, but we are not all the same on the inside. I would think she would’ve realized this when people were being murdered by the Nazi’s. The Nazi’s had a fanatical hatred of anyone different than them. Most people didn’t then and they don’t now.

    People are very different from one another, even on the inside. I am very different than the Nazi’s that murdered my Jewish relatives. I am very different than the people that commit “honor killings”. I am very different than the people that kidnap and sell females into sexual slavery. We are not all the same on the inside.

  2. Nancy Aleshire says:

    Did this lady ever receive any kind of financial compensation from the German covernment over being sterilized? SHE SHOULD HAVE BEEN!! over being spared the joy of having kids.

  3. TW says:

    Thanks Margot for living your life well, you have a beauty that no one can take away. Those who do evil can be repaid for their deeds by the survivors living well and not drowning in hate. Margot is right, we are all the same inside. Those who think that they are not capable of doing evil did not grow up in an atmosphere were that was possible. Many Germans would not have done the things they did had they lived in a different place and age. The hatred they were bathed in since infancy was their normal world the same as anyone today who grows up in a toxic environment were your own people are superior and all others are varying degrees of “less” or “not” human.

    1. Grandma says:

      Many Germans changed sides, or found ways to help ‘the other side’.

      1. TW says:

        Yes, so did some Poles, French, Slavs, Estonians and etc. But many in those nations collaborated also so the point is that it was not only the Germans who did evil in Europe. Anti-semitism was also well established in the good old USA along with other racist views. Lest we also forget the millions that died in China and the Far East at the hands of the Japanese, a people who also had a national ethos of “We are highest developed people”. The potential for evil to grind up whole groups of people is not exclusive to the psyche of pre-WWII Germany, it went on and still goes on today. Margot reminds us not to forget and not to live lives grounded in hate.

  4. Grandma says:

    Amazing! How did she become so content? Or did it come with age? While we might be biologically the same inside, there are twisted people out & about. The sad part is it seems not much was learned from her experience as such things still go on according to the news…? Guess we need to appreciate other’s differences, unless …….? Hope you had a Happy Birthday!

  5. Jill L says:

    Maybe she doesn’t have negative feelings but living her life well was the best revenge she could have had anyway. Happy birthday, Ms DeWilde!

  6. Mark says:

    Most in our “society” could take a lesson from this wonderful woman.

    Set aside anger, and realize it is a negative energy that can eat you alive.

    Many years ago I was the victim of an attempted robbery, where the individual attempted to shoot me. It took me many, many months to get over the fear and anger that developed in my heart after that occured. I now try to remember what I believe :

    “Fear becomes anger. Anger becomes hate. Hate consumes and becomes death. Not the death of what or whom is hated, but rather the death of he who allowed the hate to consume himself.”

  7. Al says:

    WAIT! STOP! THIS IS A MISTAKE! Just ask “minister” Louis Farrakhan: he’ll tell you there was NO SUCH THING AS THE HOLOCAUST!!!

    1. Mark says:

      Sir; your comment only continues to perpetuate the hatred towards certain religions that was certainly apart of the holocaust.

      The simple fact that you wish to give Minister Farakkahn verbage to his beliefs only shows your distaste for a certain faction of the Muslim faith.

      Those who choose not to believe that this awful chapter in human history occured will always be a part of this world, as well as those who have chosen to believe that this was somehow right.

      As for my family, we know what happened and continue to educate ourselves in this most ghastly part of history.

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