Holocaust survivor Michel Margosis is one of an estimated 1,400 unaccompanied European children brought to the United States from 1933 and through World War II.
Each year the resident shares his story as part of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum First Person program. Margosis' next presentation is at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, July 31. The event is free and open to the public.
Margosis was born on September 2, 1928, in Brussels, Belgium. His father was the owner and editor of two newspapers that favored the Zionist cause, one published in Yiddish and the other in French.
On September 3, 1939, just one day after Margosis turned 11-years-old, France and England declared war on Germany. Margosis’ father was at a Zionist convention in Geneva, so when Belgium was attacked, Michel, his siblings and his mother fled to France.
The family ended up in a detention camp where refugees were interned, but escaped after just one night. They spent the next couple of years moving throughout France, enduring dangerous conditions until eventually escaping on foot over the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain.
In Spain, the family was separated and, as the youngest child, Margosis was sent to an orphanage. In June 1943, at age 14, he was put unaccompanied onto a ship to the United States.
Margosis became a U.S. citizen as soon as he qualified, and in 1952 he enlisted in the U.S. Army. In 1965, he began working as a chemist with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, where he remained until retirement in 1990.
Margosis has lived at Greenspring retirement community in Springfield, Va., since 1998. At Greenspring, he chairs a French Conversation Group, is a member of the Democratic Club (which he once chaired), and was active in starting a Parkinson’s support group. Outside of Greenspring, Margosis is the Lee District appointee on the Fairfax County Human Rights Commission, to which he was first appointed in 2003.
Additionally, Margosis was also a driving force in calling for a Holocaust Remembrance Day in Fairfax County -- which in 2012 fell on Thursday, April 19. He has been a member of the speaker’s bureau at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., since the museum opened in 1993.