By; Lyndsey Crow
The Holocaust was arguably one of the largest, most devastating events in history, but even knowing that, there are people who still deny the fact that it ever happened. Most of the modern population say that it did take place, but how do they know? There were approximately sixty million deaths, six million of them were Jews. Without the Nazis keeping records, and without survivor stories, we would not have any proof. There was one survivor, Margaret Kagan, who shared a story that shows the life of Jews before, during, and after WWII and being put into camps.
Before the war
Margaret Kagan was born in 1924 and grew up in Kaunas County, Lietuva. Margaret had a normal and for the most part, a nice life. Her mother was from St. Petersburg, Russia and her father was from a place near Kaunas who worked for the Lithuanian Embassy in Berlin. In 1941, when the Germans invaded, Margaret and her family stayed because her brother was away at a summer camp at the time. That was until Margaret’s father was captured on the street and her and her mother were forced to move to a part in the ghetto called Vilijampole. After that, her life dramatically changed.
During the war
While Margaret was in the ghetto, she met a man named Joseph. Instead of him living where all the other people lived, he had a tent pitched in the vegetable garden of the camp. Immediately after they met, they wanted to get married. It was not a normal wedding of course, it was in the registry office of the camp. Joseph one day, had a plan to go into hiding. Margaret was not sure at all at first but she finally agree. They hid in the first place Joseph thought of, the attic of a local factory. They had to be completely silent during the day, especially Margaret while Joseph worked at the slave labour brigade. Each day he brought back things him and Margaret needed to survive. After about 9 months of hiding, Joseph met a man at his work, Vytautas Zinkevicius, who helped Joseph build a hideout on the loft on an iron factory. When they moved hideout spots, they had to develop routines to stay quiet every day. Finally, years later, the war ended and they were found by the Soviets. So they left, and started a whole new life together.
After the war
Joseph and Margaret arrived in Romania in may of 1945. There, they started a very successful business, Kagan Textiles, where they sold shirts, blankets, and cloth. For a while they were a small business until they bought the factory Broad Lee Mills, where they skyrocketed. They left Romania and continued their business back in Lithuania where they left the memories of their old life and started a new one.
Margaret says, “So Lithuania has got a lot of meaning, both bad and good.” That is something that could be true by thinking of how Margaret’s life drastically changed and how it was before, after and during the war.