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An Inspirational Life

Mason resident and Holocaust survivor Margo Straus tells her inspiring life story of 107 years.

Meeting and speaking with Mason resident Margo Straus is like touching history. Margo, who turned 107 years old in September, lived through the oppression of Nazi Germany as a young Jewish woman. She and her beloved spouse John, eventually found freedom and a new life in America after years of efforts and denials to emigrate and escape the brutality of Hitler’s regime.

John recounts that glorious moment writing, “On November 11, 1947, we were greeted by the Statue of Liberty as we entered the New York Harbor. The next day, walking in the streets of New York, we were amazed to see goodies such as meat, fish and breads-sights we had not seen for years.” 

Margo, her daughter Hazel and John’s written accounts tell the fascinating story of Margo’s long life. She overcame the extreme trials of the Holocaust to be happily married for 67 years, raising two children (Hazel and Tom) and giving back to her community. We are thankful to have a person in our community who provides an important historical perspective and is truly an inspiration.

What was life like for Jewish people in Hitler’s Germany?

Margo recalls her typical childhood in Hachenburg, Germany where she lived with her parents and older brother Werner. In 1933 she graduated from high school, the same year Hitler came to power. Hitler enacted excessive restrictions on the Jewish people including taking over their businesses and forbidding college for students like Margo who dreamed of being a teacher. 

Margo’s mother spent a few days in jail for attempting to buy fish on a day it was forbidden to anyone Jewish. Sadly, her mother was sent to an extermination camp in 1941 and was never heard from again. Werner’s eventual wife and John’s brother Fritz both survived the horrors of concentration camps. 

 What significant life events are you especially thankful for?

Margo remembers her family moved to Cologne to seek greater safety. While working as a governess, she met John at a restricted gym for Jewish people. They married in 1939 and after many attempts to leave Germany, were permitted to emigrate to England where they took jobs as domestics. They were blessed by the timing of their escape because WWII began just two weeks later!

What are your secrets for living a long and purposeful life?

Healthy eating and exercise (she walked three miles a day until she was 100) are important as well as volunteering (she did so at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital until she was 98). Hazel reflects, “My parents had a positive attitude no matter what they encountered. They learned to live one day at a time. What they went through in their early years made them resilient throughout life.”

“My parents had a positive attitude no matter what they encountered. They learned to live one day at a time. What they went through in their early years made them resilient throughout life.” -Hazel Goldberg

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