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In Memory of Charlotte Guthmann Opfermann

"The photo on top right of the front cover of my book, Stationen, (left) is of my family (I'm about three-years-old at the time) and our maid, Emma Lehr, walking a dutiful three feet behind.
The little pendant underneath (right) with a sketch of the garrison church at Theresienstadt (the camp we were held in) was fashioned from an old spoon and given to me as a birthday present in April 1944 in the camp."

Please sign Charlotte's Guestbook as a tribute to her or send your message to Anne Doyle to be included in an online memorial.

I am sad to report that Charlotte Guthmann Opfermann passed away on November 22, 2004 after a brief illness.

Her daughter, Diane Opfermann Porter, was kind enough to let me know of Charlotte's passing. As it was Charlotte's wish to be buried in the Opfermann tomb in Mainz, Germany, they will not be having any services in the USA, but in Germany at a later date.

Anne Doyle
Shiba Hill's Webmaster

Official Obituary:
Charlotte Guthmann Opfermann
1 April 1925 - 22 November 2004

Charlotte Opfermann of Houston, Texas, passed away on 22 November after a short illness. Services will be held in Germany at a later date.

Charlotte was born on 1 April 1925 in Wiesbaden, Germany; the only daughter of Berthold Guthmann and Claire Michel Guthmann. Her early education in Wiesbaden was disrupted by the Nazi assumption of power and she, along with her family, were deported to concentration camps in 1942. Charlotte and her mother survived their incarceration at Theresinstadt and she immigrated to the United States in 1945 on the second ship of post-WWII German immigrants.

Charlotte established herself in Chicago, Illinois and worked as a buyer for Sears, Roebuck. She married William (Bill) Opfermann originally of Wiesbaden, Germany in 1951. She and Bill lived in Switzerland, France, Germany, and England, before settling in Toledo in 1968. Charlotte and Bill separated in 1976 and later divorced. While in Toledo, Charlotte was an active volunteer in the Toledo arts community. Her greatest contributions were as project organizer and fund-raiser for the Toledo Symphony Orchestra. She later owned and operated the Calypso Video (earlier Calypso Gifts) store in Southwyck Mall for ten years. In 1987, she moved to Houston, Texas, to be near her daughter, Diane.

In the last 15 years Charlotte has been a dedicated and widely respected Holocaust researcher publishing two books, The Art of Darkness, 2002 and Stationen, 1993, and presenting numerous papers and lectures at Holocaust symposia. She taught English at San Jacinto College, Houston, Texas, and lectured in Holocaust Studies at the American University, Charlestown, West Virginia; Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana; and the Uniwersytet Mikolaja Kopernika, Torun, Poland.

She is survived by two daughters, Diane Opfermann Porter and Claudia Michelle Opfermann.

The daughters request, in lieu of flowers, a donation in memory of Charlotte Guthmann Opfermann to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D. C. or (202) 488-2642.


Tributes to Charlotte


Charlotte's latest book was The Art of Darkness; it is still available for purchase.

Charlotte Guthmann Opfermann is a concentration camp survivor. Her play, "Die Schwarze Hand," was written for and performed by and for German-speaking imprisoned children in the concentration camp, Theresienstadt, in the fall of 1944, just a few feet away from the office of the dreaded camp commander, Karl Rahm.

It is claimed that this play gave hope and encouragement to the German-speaking children among the prisoners, much like the famous children's opera "Brundibar" (by Hans Krasa) did for Czech-speaking inmates.

At the time, there had been considerable concern because another group of prisoners had been caught by the guards during rehearsal of an opera, "Emperor of Atlantis," (Der Kaiser von Atlantis) , a political satire composed by Viktor Ullmann, with a libretto written by Peter Kien. All these artists were deported and killed for their act of defiance.

The manuscript and production notes for "Die Schwarze Hand" were taken east by the liberating Soviet soldiers for evaluation and study in the Soviet archives. They are most likely lost.

Mrs. Opfermann and her Czech friend, Irma Semecka nee Frank, hid and preserved the manuscripts of the gifted Czech composer Gideon Klein, as well as a priceless oil portrait of him done by Charlotte Buresova, now on display at the Prague Jewish Museum. Gideon Klein's work is now performed by major orchestras all over the world.

Mrs. Opfermann wrote another play since then, "Lambs at Play . . . for Time," which is being performed in Germany in a German translation. She also authored Stationen, published by Fourier in 1993, as well as several Holocaust-related videos which are distributed by the German Government's Office For Political Education (Bundeszentrale fur politischeBildung) in Bonn, Germany

Mrs. Opfermann was hoping to attract the interest of an agent or publisher for her book, Ten Heroes in Search of their Best Battlefield - read a sample from this book, "Beware of Answered Prayers".

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