Main Characters in Life? or Theatre?

Life or Theatre? is constructed as a musical play. It is divided into acts and scenes. The main parts in this play are the people who most affected Charlotte's life. She changes their own names for fictional ones. Charlotte tries to penetrate the essence of each of her main figures.

Charlotte Kann alias Charlotte Salomon
Charlotte Kann alias Charlotte Salomon Charlotte Kann alias Charlotte Salomon
Charlotte was a reserved person whose work reflects her experiences from babyhood through to young adulthood. What she had kept concealed in her public life, she presented without disguise and without indulgence in her painting, such as her relationship with her stepmother Paulinka Bimbam. She also covers her relationship with Amadeus Daberlohn extensively, as well as her vexation with her Knarre (Grünwald) grandparents. In the final part of the work she is alone and works uninterrupted, humming as she painted.

Albert Kann alias Albert Salomon
Albert Kann alias Albert Salomon Albert Kann alias Albert Salomon

Albert Kann, Charlotte's father, is a surgeon. In 1915 he marries Franziska Knarre. In 1927 he is appointed professor. After 1933, no longer allowed to teach at the university, he became surgeon at a Jewish hospital. Shortly after the Kristallnacht - 9 November 1938 - he is taken to the concentration camp of Sachsenhausen. His second wife, Paulinka, managed to gain his release. After Charlotte had escaped to France, Albert and Paulinka fled to Holland.

Grandparents Grünwald alias grandparents Knarre
Grandparents Knarre alias grandparents Grünwald Grandparents Knarre alias grandparents Grünwald
Charlotte's grandparents went to live in the south of France in 1933. They partly brought up Charlotte. After Berlin, Charlotte enjoyed being with her grandparents. They found life in exile difficult as they had to live ever more frugally, using up their money. In 1939 grandmother committed suicide and after this grandfather grew irritable and disillusioned. He did not understand Charlotte. In her play, Charlotte calls him Knarre, which means something like 'gnashing' and refers to the difficult relationship she had with him. She loved her grandmother very much, as appears from the last pages of her book.

Paula Kann-Lindberg alias Paulinka Bimbam
Paulinka Bimbam alias Paula Salomon-LindbergPaulinka Bimbam alias Paula Salomon-Lindberg
In 1929, Charlotte's father marries the singer Paulinka Bimbam, a strong and extrovert personality, surrounded by admirers. Charlotte both adored her and felt jealous. The two women developed a profound though ambivalent relationship. After 1933, Paulinka, being Jewish could no longer perform in public. She went on with her work in the Jewish Cultural Association. She helped other out-of-work performers. The singing teacher Amadeus Daberlohn became acquainted with the Kann family through the Jewish Cultural Association as well. Charlotte gave Paula a musical name: Bimbam. Her closest friends were called professors Singsang and Klingklang.

Alfred Wolfsohn alias Amadeus Daberlohn
Amadeus Daberlohn alias Alfred WolfsohnAmadeus Daberlohn alias Alfred Wolfsohn
Charlotte's great love was Amadeus Daberlohn, although he himself never realised this. He was sent to the front in the Great War at age 17. After being seriously wounded, he hovered on the verge of death for a while. Since then he devised several theories about life and death. One of those theories addresses the function of the human voice and led him to become Paulinka Bimbam's singing teacher.

He was also convinced that the only way to free people from fear and destruction was to let them delve into the deepest possible feelings, into death. Charlotte adopted this idea and made it the cornerstone of Life? or Theatre?.

Wolfsohn's stage name, Amadeus Daberlohn, derived partly from that of the composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, partly from the fact that he earned no wages: daber Lohn, without pay.