Saturday, November 28, 2009

One more heroine to add to my list!


Inspiring article from the DAILY NEWS (New York):

Margaret Bergmann Lambert, 95, gets Olympic record back after '36 Nazi team replaced her with man

Tuesday, November 24th 2009, 6:52 AM

Germany has restored the 1936 high jump record to a 95-year-old Queens woman who was kicked off the Nazi Olympic team because she was Jewish.

Margaret Bergmann Lambert was banned from the BerlinOlympics despite matching the high-jump record of 5 feet 3 inches to qualify and having spent two years on the team, starting in 1934.

"I was a person nonexisting because I was a Jew," Lambert told the Daily News on Monday night from her home inJamaica.

"I equaled the German record at age 22," she said.

"I never thought this was so amazing. I was just a very good athlete. It came to me very easily. I didn't even train much."

The German track and field association has recognized Lambert, born Gretel Bergmann, several times over the years but never went as far as restoring her record.

While the honor "can in no way make up" for the past, it serves as an "act of justice and a symbolic gesture," the committee said Monday.

Lambert said the honor "doesn't bother me one way or another. If it would never of happened I wouldn't have killed myself either," she said.

She still remembers the anger she felt when the Olympic team told her she couldn't compete in the 1936 games.

"I had so much fury," she said. "I went home and planned to come to the United States."

Adding to the insult was the athlete who the Nazis selected to replace her: a jumper named Dora Ratjen - who was later revealed to be a man whose real name was Horst Ratjen.

Ratjen was kicked off the team in 1938 when a doctor took a look at his genitals.

Lambert fled Nazi Germany in 1937 and landed in New York. She moved in with her brother, who was already living on the upper West Side.

"All the Jewish immigrants were scattered on Broadway and 80th and 90th," she said. "We all lived together there and helped each other out."

She worked as a house cleaner and met her husband,Bruno Lambert, 99, who still lives with her in Queens. They had two sons and have been married 71 years.

Lambert became an American champion in women's high jump in 1937 and 1938 and women's shot put in 1937. She decided to give it up when war broke out in 1939.

As a young woman she swore to never go back to Germany, but she changed her mind as life went on.

"I finally realized that the younger Germans - you couldn't blame them, since their fathers and grandfathers committed the crimes," she said. "It's not a nice thing to hate all the time."

Now she's a Yankees fan, but she won't watch the Olympics now because it's too upsetting.

"To tell the truth, I used to sit there and curse my head off when the Olympics were going on," she said. "Now I don't do that anymore. I've mellowed quite a bit."

Asked if she would pose for a photograph on Monday night at 7 p.m., Lambert replied: "Listen, I'm 95 years old. I have to go to bed."

With Edgar Sandoval

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