A 95-year-old Queens woman has never soared higher. Germany has finally restored Margaret Lambert’s high jumping record — 73 years after the Nazis disallowed it because she’s Jewish.
CBS 2 HD first marveled at Margaret’s many medals. “Oh, quite a few. This is the one with a swastika in it.”
She got one for a record jump of 5 feet, 3 inches just prior to the 1936 Olympics.
“That I’m the proudest of,” Lambert said.
The then-22-year-old told of how she was insulted by a fellow athlete, because she was Jewish.
“I was so angry. And the angrier I got, the better I did. And I knew from then on, if they let me compete in the Olympics, I’m going to make it,” Lambert said.
But the world will never know, because the Olympics that year were held in Berlin. And the Nazis were using Margaret is a ploy to keep the Americans from boycotting.
“So they made me the pigeon. Yeah, me for Adolf Hitler. Nice,” Lambert said.
The Nazis had threatened her family to force her onto the team.
“For two years I was scared stiff every day,” Lambert said.
She suspected they would never let a Jew compete, and she was right.
The day after the American Olympians set sail for Europe, Margaret was kicked off the German team with a form letter that ended with “Heil Hitler.”
The Nazis also took her record away from her. But they did much worse to the family of the man she’s been married to for 71 years, Bruno.
“All in the gas chambers, I mean, he still has nightmares about it, after all these years,” Lambert said.
Yet, with all that was done to her and to hers, this amazing athlete has made perhaps her greatest leap.
When asked if she still harbors some anger and hatred toward the German people, Lambert said, “At the people who did it, oh yes. Not the German people anymore, because I realized that the younger people, you can’t hold them responsible for the crimes that their fathers and grandfathers committed.”
Even so, the German government has yet to officially notify Margaret her record has been put back in the books.
Lambert came to this country in 1937 with $4 in her pocket. That year, she became the American champion high jumper and shot putter, beating a woman nearly twice her weight.