Holocaust survivor and 98-year-old Margot Lobree visited Elon to share her story as a child on the kindertransports in England. 

The Kindertransport was a British initiative to rescue approximately 10,000 jewish children who were located in Nazi occupied territories. 

Lobree began her journey on Nov. 9, 1938 in Frankfurt where she was told by her mother that she would have to leave her hometown due to her Jewish identity. 

At 13 years old when she moved, Lobree said her story was a little different from most Holocaust survivors. 

“I was never in a camp, I never had my head shaved, I always had a roof over my head and food to eat,” Lobree said.

Lobree said she didn’t understand the severity of her experiences as a child. She talked about the realization she had at a young age, which was that the friends she used to play with one day, could not speak to her the very next day. 

Lobree said after being moved via kindertransport, she was taken in by a Jewish family in London who treated her more as a maid than a part of their family. When London became a bombing warzone, the family left her. She said that she was sent to a hostel not too far away from London. 

“Today I would say that at the time, I was exploited,” Lobree said.

Lobree spent two years in the hostel until venturing back to London at the age of 15. There she said she found work at a shop where she would clean and make dresses. 

“We were teenagers, we wanted to have fun, we wore the same clothes even though we couldn’t afford new ones,” Lobree said.

In April 1944, Lobree moved to the United States. She eventually caught up with high school and attended college — where she later found her husband, whom she has been married to for 56 years, and had two children. To this day, she said that she felt deprived of a true childhood. 

With her older brother immigrating to Palestine in 1938 and her mother dying in the Holocaust, Lobree said she never got to fully reflect on her family's quick decision to send her away. Eventually realizing that she only came to understand her trauma as an adult, she didn’t reflect on her life until she returned to Frankfurt, Germany 25 years later to reunite with her brother. 

Despite her trauma, she said she remains positive and resilient in order to teach the past to generations that follow.

“There’s always a tomorrow, the sun will shine tomorrow,” Lobree said.  

Director and Assistant Director of Jewish Life Betsy Polk and Christy Brooks arranged for Lobree to come speak on campus Feb. 13.

Leela Cherukuri | Elon News Network

Holocaust survivor and 98-year-old Margot Lobree shares her story of surviving the Holocaust with the Elon community on Feb. 13 in Turner Theatre.

Polk said Lobree did an amazing job at spreading awareness and allowing audience members to develop a sense of empathy. 

“The event was beneficial for all communities, and not just the Jewish community, because I think it is important to remember the things we humans have done to each other in history and the impact on all of us,” Polk said. “The more we remember, I hope, the less likely we will be to repeat history.”

Brooks also said she felt the event brought light to the Elon community. 

“There’s so much that happened in the past, and that is happening in the present, that gives us pause, concern and worry,” Brooks said. “She was able to be positive and to be hopeful. … She gives me hope for our future and the future for all humanity.” 

Elon freshman Ellie Agulnek also attended the event. 

“I have listened to other Holocaust survivors speak before, but never someone with Margot’s experiences,” Agulnek said. “Listening to her stories about leaving her family, going on the Kindertransport, and assimilating into new countries really highlighted the multitude of effects that the Holocaust had.” 

She said she believes it is important to learn about the Holocaust and hear people’s stories.

“We are at the point where not many Holocaust survivors are still alive, so getting the opportunity to hear Margot speak is not something I will pass up,” Agulnek said. 

Lobree said she told her story to give the Elon community a deeper understanding of how her experiences shaped her identity. She encouraged everyone to channel their empathy, rights and awareness. 

“Be vigilant, be aware, vote — do what you think is right and treasure your freedom,” Lobree said.