Lotte Kahle (Strauss) (1913)

Lotte Schloss grew up in a Jewish family in Wolfenbüttel in Lower Saxony. She moved to Berlin in 1933 because of anti-Semitic hostilities. There she married a friend from her youth, Wolfram Kahle, former Social Democratic district mayor of Berlin-Kreuzberg, in 1935, but the couple separated a short time later due to personal differences.

Attempts to emigrate failed and Lotte Kahle had to do forced labor as of 1941. Her parents were deported in October 1942. She escaped deportation at the last minute, together with her boyfriend Herbert Strauss. They turned to August Sapandowski for help; Lotte’s mother had given her his name "in case of emergency." Sapandowski, a communist and master tradesman painter, who was living together with a Jewish woman in hiding, also took in Lotte Kahle and Herbert Strauss, hiding them in his basement in Berlin-Schmargendort.

Lotte’s uncle Ludwig Schöneberg, who had been living in Switzerland since 1938, did all he could to rescue his niece. With the help of a Swiss delegate of the International Red Cross he contacted Luise Meier in Berlin. Although she did not know her, Meier was willing to accompany Lotte Kahle on the train ride to Lake Constance. Ludwig Schöneberg also found some local helpers who knew the border region: Willy Vorwalder and Josef Höfler.

After staying in various hiding places for more than six months, Lotte Kahle had acquired forged documents and set off for Singen in late April 1943. Once she arrived, Willy Vorwalder brought her to his coworker Josef Höfler in Gottmadingen. The next morning, May 1, Höfler brought her to the border, together with his wife and daughter, to make the escape look like a family outing. A short time later, Herbert Strauss and his friend Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich escaped along the same route. Lotte Kahle and Herbert Strauss got married in 1944 and emigrated to the United States two years later.

Herbert Strauss became a history professor in New York; in 1982 he was asked by the Technical University of Berlin to help set up the Center for Research on Antisemitism and serve as founding director. Lotte Strauss accompanied her husband to Berlin. In 1990 they both returned to New York where Lotte Strauss, following the death of her husband in 2005, still lives today.

Strauss, Lotte. Over the Green Hill: A German Jewish Memoir 1913–1943. New York: Fordham University Press, 1999.
Lotte Kahle (Strauss)
Photo: Swiss Federal Archives

Rescue Attempts