Margit Morawetz

Margit Morawetz

Born: February 26, 1922

Innsbruck, Austria

When Margit was a baby, her family moved from Austria to Prague, Czechoslovakia. Her father was a banker from a religious Jewish family in Bohemia and her mother came from a Viennese family of Jewish origin. Margit knew many languages: Czech, French, English and German, which she spoke with her family.

1933-39: In 1938, when Margit was 16, attacks on Jews in central Europe escalated and her parents decided she should leave. She left secondary school in Prague and went to Paris, where she studied dressmaking. It was hard for Margit to live on her own and go to school, but in March 1939 her mother came to France. She lived outside Paris, and Margit saw her often. Once France was engaged in the war in September 1939, it became clear that Jews in France could be in danger.

1940-41: Margit apprehensively continued her studies until just before Paris fell to the Germans in June 1940. Refugees streamed to the unoccupied south of France, and she bought a bike so she, too, could flee. She rode for hours until she came to a school building where some refugees were staying. After a brief rest, Margit headed out in search of her mother, who had been sent to a detention camp on the Spanish border. Only hours after she left the building, the Germans blew the school to pieces.

Margit eventually found her mother, and the two fled, via Spain and Portugal, to the United States, where they settled in 1941.

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