Therese Oppenheimer was born Therese Karfunkel on 18 April 1881 in Berlin. On the paternal side, she came from a widely extended Jewish family, with traceable roots stretching back to the 16th century. One of her ancestors, Aron Loebel Karfunkel (1716-1816), had been the chief rabbi of Silesia. Her father Aaron Karfunkel (1824-1892) was an art dealer. He mounted a “key exhibition of new masterpieces in the fine arts” at Schloßfreiheit 3 which later moved to Unter den Linden 25, which Theoder Fontane visited and wrote about in 1869. Unfortunately, nothing is known about Therese’s mother or siblings, her life after her father’s death when she was eleven, or her marriage to a man twenty years her senior, Dr. phil. Max Oppenheimer.
With her husband and only daughter Eva (born in April 1902) she lived in the first-floor apartment of a villa at Breite Straße 31 in Pankow, which her husband had bought in 1906. The ground-floor apartment was occupied by the violinist Ernst Böhmert whose conservatory was the site of some notable concerts.
Ever since his student days in Heidelberg, Max Oppenheimer had been an adherent of Jewish nationalism and the Zionist movement in Germany. Eva Oppenheimer obviously shared her father’s convictions. She joined the Zionist youth league (“Blau-Weiß”) and emigrated to Palestine when she was only 20 years old. There she met and married Walter Grünberger, also from Germany, in 1928. With him and their eldest daughter Yachida, she returned to Germany in 1930 to campaign for German-Jewish emigration to Palestine on behalf of the Jewish Agency. The young family lived with the child’s grandparents in Pankow. On 28 December 1931, Eva’s and Walter’s son Amnon Menachem Grünberger was born. In August 1933 they returned to Palestine, where they gave up their German names and were now known as Chava and Yehuda Carmi. In 1935 their third child, a son, Eran, was born. That year, Max and Therese Oppenheimer visited them in Haifa but returned to Germany.
In early 1936 Max Oppenheimer was forced to vacate and sell the house at Breite Straße well below value to the municipal savings bank Berliner Sparkasse. It was torn down the same year and new premises for the savings bank were built (which were destroyed in a bomb raid in 1944). Therese Oppenheimer and her husband went to live in Tiergarten (Großadmiral-von-Koester-Ufer 67a, now Schöneberger Ufer 67a) with her sister, where they were confined to two rooms. Dr. Max Oppenheimer died here on 5 December 1941.
Therese Oppenheimer was driven out of the apartment in Tiergarten and made to share a room with several others in a “Jew house” at Ludendorffstraße 97 (now Pohlstraße, site of the furniture store Möbelhaus Hübner). She was taken from here on 3 October 1942 and deported to Theresienstadt, where she died on 2 July 1944.