By MC1(SW/AW) Christopher Thien
WASHINGTON – Commander, Navy Installations Command held a Holocaust Remembrance Day event on the Washington Navy Yard, April 12.
At the event, Holocaust survivor Michel Margosis shared the courageous story of how his family escaped Nazi-occupied Europe and reached America, during World War II.
Four days after the Nazi invasion of Belgium in 1940, the Margosis’ fled their home in Brussels to France.
After arriving in France they were immediately detained and sent to a detention camp, but escaped the first evening and fled to small farm in the south of France. After almost a year in hiding they were forced to leave the farm. The family made their way to Marseille, France, where they hoped to acquire exit visas to the U.S.
Unable to acquire U.S. visas the family traveled over the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain, where only Michel was able to obtain a visa in 1943. With his father in Portugal and his mother in Spain, Michel, along with 1,400 other child refugees, headed to America.
When he arrived, Margosis settled in Brooklyn, New York, and began his high school education. After graduating college, he served in the Army, and became an American citizen in 1951. In 1956 he was reunited with his family in the U.S.
“It only took 13 years to make our way to the U.S.,” Margosis joked.
“Hearing stories like Mr. Margosis' reminds us to not to be silent in the face of hate and fear, but to stand up and protect everything our country fought so hard to achieve,” said Lt. Cmdr. Catherine Chiappetta, CNIC deputy force judge advocate.
While this is just one of many stories of the Holocaust, Margosis was able to find joy in his family’s survival, where so many others did not.
According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, there is no single document calculating the number of individuals who were killed during the Holocaust. Relying on various census reports, archives and post war investigations, it is estimated that more than 20 million people perished at the hands of the Nazis during the Holocaust. Luckily, the Margosis family persevered.
“As I have borne witness to the Holocaust,” Margosis said. “It is up to you to ensure that it will be remembered.”