Lotte Gruenfeld Heimann, who survived the Holocaust in Shanghai and became a pivotal personality on Denver’s West Side, passed away Feb. 2, 2019, in Jacksonville, Ore. She was 100 years old. Rabbi Salomon Gruenwald and Cantors Martin Goldstein and Zachary Kutner officiated at the Feb. 6 service at the HEA.
Interment followed at Mt. Nebo Cemetery. Feldman Mortuary made the arrangements.
“Lotte’s life, spanning an entire century, served as a bright beacon of optimism and resilience in the face of adversity,” her family said.
“Her inexhaustible courage enabled her to navigate one of the most turbulent periods of world history and the most devastating era of Jewish history, and rebuild her life in the US.”
Mrs. Heimann was born Sept. 3, 1918, in Berlin, Germany. It was the close of WW I, and the armistice was about to be signed — foreshadowing her lifetime role as a diplomat, conciliator and peacemaker.
Her aspirations to become a gym teacher or even compete in the 1936 Olympics were trampled under Hitler’s anti-Semitic laws.
Mrs. Heimann found work as a jewelry store sales associate in Berlin’s embassy district — but the Nazis destroyed the Jewish-owned store on Kristallnacht, Nov. 10, 1938.
She married Kurt Heimann on Oct. 13, 1938.
Mrs. Heimann secured visas from the Japanese Embassy for refuge in Honku, the Japanese-controlled section of Shanghai.
The family narrowly escaped Nazi Germany on Sept. 16, 1940, on the Trans-Siberian railway bound for the Shanghai ghetto.
Mrs. Heimann, her husband and son Manfred (born in 1943) endured bombings, malnutrition, overcrowding, poor sanitation and tropical diseases but managed to survive WW II.
They came to the US on the freighter SS Gordon in 1948.
The Heimanns, who were passionate about hiking and the outdoors, decided to make their home in Denver, near the base of the Rocky Mountains.
Mrs. Heimann became a beloved fixture of Denver’s West Side community.
She also resumed working in retail at May D&F. Daughter Giselle was born in 1954.
Kurt Heimann, her husband of 67 years, passed away in 2005.
At the age of 97, Mrs. Heimann relocated to Jacksonville, Ore., to live near her son and daughter-in-law.
“Lotte served as an inspiration for her offspring and friends with her wisdom, charm, humor and integrity,” her loved ones said. “Her secret to longevity can be found in her philosophy: forgive and forget, make the best of every situation, be loyal, stay fit, and ‘keep a song in your heart.’”
Her oral history of the Holocaust is at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Lotte Heimann is survived by her children Manfred “Dick” (Mary) Heimann and Giselle “Gigi” (Mark) Ratain; grandchildren Nicole (Robert) Sacks, Illisa (Eric) Polis, Bruce (Hannah) Ratain and Jonathan Ratain; and great-grandchildren Jacob Sacks and Kylie and Adina Polis.
Copyright © 2019 by the Intermountain Jewish News