Charlotte Salomon (Berlin 1917 – Auschwitz 1943) was born into a Jewish family in Berlin, where she studied art. She created her ‘multi-media’ masterpiece, which comprises hundreds of gouache drawings, in the South of France after fleeing Nazi Germany. She was arrested in 1943 and deported to Auschwitz, where she was murdered soon after her arrival. Her parents found Life? or Theatre? in the South of France in 1947. It was later published and adapted for cinema and has since become world famous, delighting and moving generations of readers ever since.
‘Life? or Theatre? That is the name Salomon gave to her autobiography, which comprised more than 700 paintings. Just before she was deported she gave it to a friend and told her: ‘Keep this safe, it is my whole life!’
While the feature film ‘Charlotte’ (1980) was being made, Charlotte’s stepmother Paula Salomon-Lindberg handed the makers a letter that had never been published, but she asked them not to use the content of the letter in the film. In this letter, written to her one great love, Charlotte describes the circumstances in which ‘Life? or Theatre?. Accompanied by the feature film ‘Charlotte’ on this DVD, the documentary ‘Life? Or Theatre?’ draws upon the contents of this letter and provides us with an insight into the ‘real’ Charlotte Salomon and into the meaning of the question marks in Charlotte’s autobiography.