Local resident and Holocaust survivor, Margot Webb, was recognized by the California State Assembly’s Holocaust Memorial Project in May. In the years following her escape from Germany, Webb devoted her life to fighting racial discrimination and has made an impact in her own way. As a result of her work, a woman claiming to be one of Webb’s schoolmates before World War II, has reconnected with her.
After stumbling upon a local German newspaper that mentioned Webb, the woman recognized and sought to get in touch with her. With the help of Assemblyman Cameron Smyth’s office and Rabbi Mark Blazer of Temple Beth Ami, the woman and Webb have begun a correspondence.
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Webb said she was one of only two Jewish children in her town and Nazi rules did not allow the other German children to play with them, perhaps explaining why she is still uncertain whether she remembers this woman from Germany.
“I would like to know what she did during the war before we move forward, but I will give it a chance,” said Webb.
Webb escaped from Germany with her parents and came to the United States in 1939 when she was 12 years old, a story she describes in her book called Shadows at Noon: True Story of Love, Terror and Escape.
“My grandparents made the ultimate sacrifice and gave us their visas,” explained Webb, continuing on to describe their fate in a death camp.
“This has obviously had an effect on me forever. So, as I grew, I decided the one thing I didn’t want was white people, black people, purple people,” she said with a laugh, “and I gave all my energy to the erasing of prejudice, which, of course, I haven’t succeeded in doing, but to some extent.”
She is a frequent lecturer on the Holocaust in the United States and Germany. Shadows of the Moon was translated into German and is required reading for children in the area where her grandparents lived. In an audio book edition, the readers are all children or grandchildren of Nazis.
As a teenager, Webb worked for fair housing and later participated in a Martin Luther King, Jr., march in the south. She taught school in California and eventually became involved in counseling gang members, a topic on which she has published four books.
Webb has a Masters degree in guidance and counseling and has done doctoral work on existential counseling. She has published psychology books on teen issues.
A publication she takes real pride in is a fantasy about redwood trees she wrote for her granddaughter called TREEmendous. It was translated into German and made into a play.
This is the eighth year that the State Assembly has recognized Holocaust survivors, children of survivors, or World War II veteran liberators. High school and college students participate by conducting video-recorded interviews of the accounts and submitting them to their Assemblymember. Portions of the videos were assembled into a Holocaust Memorial Documentary. To watch the video, click here.
“I think it was absolutely wonderful. I didn’t expect this to happen. It was truly an honor,” Webb said about her experience being interviewed for the memorial project and traveling to Sacramento to be honored.
When asked about her efforts to make people aware of the Holocaust, Webb said, “I think I’ve done it now, I really do. I have a tendency to repeat what happened, because only so much happened. And the most gruesome things, I haven’t been able to talk about at all, especially when I talk to students. When they’re ready, they can find out.”
“Other gruesome things have been done in other wars,” she added, concluding, “My whole life is hoping that I can erase some of the hatred that exists from a racial point of view.”