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.”