This house is where Walter Caro and Charlotte Glückstein were arrested in September 1943. Charlotte Glückstein, a christened Protestant, was classified by the Nazis as a ‘first-degree crossbreed’. She met Walter Caro in early 1939 in the formerly Jewish-owned, ‘Aryanized’ clothing company, Siegfried Heumann, in Berlin’s Hausvogtei district, where they both worked. Charlotte was employed as a manageress. Walter, a ‘full Jew’ in Nazi jargon, had been demoted from managing director to sales manager when the business was ‘Aryanized’ in late 1938 but continued to work there for another year. Charlotte and Walter fell in love. She was 19, he was 39.
In early 1940, Walter Caro was dismissed without notice and made to perform forced labour as a building labourer. During the Nazis’ “Fabrikaktion” (‘factory campaign’) in late February 1943 – at which point Walter Caro had been doing forced labour for three or four years – Jews across the Reich were arrested in their places of work and deported. Walter was among those who managed to go into hiding. He was now part of the underground. Unable to enter his own apartment in Prenzlauer Berg, Charlotte hid him for seven months in her apartment at Trautenau Strasse 8. During this time, Walter worked together with a passport forger living underground, Rolf Isaaksohn, who became a Gestapo informer a short time later. He sold several forged passports to a doctor, Georg Groscurth, who gave them to Jews living in hiding. Another seven months later, on 7 September 1943, Walther and Charlotte were denounced and arrested by the Gestapo at Trautenau Strasse 8, four days after the resistance group “Europäische Union” around Robert Havemann and Georg Groscurth had been broken up. Although Walter knew nothing about this group, he was arrested on the grounds that he had provided an illegal communist-based organization with forged documents. Charlotte was arrested on the grounds that she had accommodated a ‘full Jew’.
They were registered and questioned in the Gestapo headquarters in Prinz Albrecht Strasse. Walter was put through several torture sessions to make him reveal the names of the “Europäische Union” group’s sympathizers, which he did not know. Finally, the Gestapo gave up but kept Walter Caro in the assembly camp in Grosse Hamburger Strasse, later in Schul Strasse. He was deported on 18 April 1941 in what the Gestapo referred to as the ‘51st transport to the east’, which arrived in Auschwitz on 20 April. Walter Caro is thought to have been murdered, aged 44, in a gas chamber on the same day.
Charlotte Glückstein was sent on an odyssey which lasted one-and-a-half years. Her first stop was Charlottenburg women’s prison in Kant Strasse. From there, she was sent to prison camp 21 in Hallendorf, then Ravensbrück concentration camp and two sub-camps of Flossenbürg concentration camp. In late April 1945, she escaped on foot from Neu-Rohlau camp in the Sudetenland to a part of the Vogtland which was already occupied by the Americans. It took her seven days. She was 300 kilometres from Berlin, two weeks before her 26th birthday. She weighed 40 kilos.
Gradually the fates of Walter Caro and Charlotte Glückstein became lost among the vast amounts of data, facts and figures emerging from the ‘big’ story. A trace of their ‘little’ story is preserved in the commemorative stones outside the house at Trautenau Strasse 8.