The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition)
Author was among last Jewish children to escape ahead of Nazis
German-australian author Walter Kaufmann, who survived the Nazi persecution of Jews and later played a prominent role in the literary scene of Communist East Germany, has died aged 97.
Kaufmann’s death was confirmed by Dirk Szuszies, a Berlin filmmaker who made a documentary about the author’s life.
Born Jizchak Schmeidler to a young Polish Jew in Berlin in 1924, he was adopted at the age of three by a wealthy family, the Kaufmanns, from western Germany.
At the age of 15, with the Second World War imminent, he was among the last to make it on to one of the Kindertransport trains taking Germanjewish children to the UK.
After being interned for two years, Kaufmann was deported to Australia.
His adoptive parents were killed in Auschwitz.
Kaufmann joined the Australian army during the war, later working in various jobs while trying to establish himself as a writer.
His first novel, Voices In The Storm, about a resistance group in Nazi Germany, was published in 1953.
Enamoured with socialism, Kaufmann travelled to the Soviet Union and other countries in Eastern Europe in the 1950s before settling in East Germany, where he became general secretary of the writers’ group Pen and received several awards. Aside from fiction, Kaufmann also wrote numerous travelogues.
Szuszies said Kaufmann died peacefully in Berlin on Thursday. He is survived by his third wife, Lissy Kreuter, and two daughters from a previous marriage, photographer Rebekka and actress Deborah Kaufmann.