Charlotte Bassia Wolpe was the daughter of the Jewish merchant Max Wolpe and his wife Anna née Veitel.1 She was the sister-in-law of the Breslau teacher and student councilor and diarist Willy Cohn (1888-1941).
Wolpe grew up in Berlin. She attended the Viktoria-Luise-Schule in Wilmersdorf and in the spring of 1906 transferred to the Realgymnasium of the Auguste-Viktoria-Schule in Charlottenburg. After graduating from high school in 1912, she began studying medicine at Berlin University, where she passed the state examination in 1917. She received her license to practice medicine a year later, in June 1918, and began a position as an assistant physician under Hermann Strauß (1868-1944) in the internal medicine department of the Hospital of the Jewish Community of Berlin, where she had already completed part of her medical internship.2 Under Strauß and co-instructor Wilhelm His (1863-1934), she received her doctorate in medicine with a clinical case study on the diagnosis of parapyloric ulcers in 1918.3
Curative Medical Activity in Bad Kudowa
Wolpe remained at the Jewish Community Hospital in Berlin until 1920. She then moved to Bad Kudowa (district of Glatz, Silesia) with her husband Franz Cohn, who was from Breslau. They married on March 8, 1921, and from then on worked together as spa doctors in their spa practice. Cohn-Wolpe took over the management of the practice, when her husband died in 1934.4She lived and worked in Dresden, Weißer Hirsch, and in Berlin, respectively during the winter months.5 She married the Berlin radiologist Joseph Ziegler (b. 1884) on January 23, 1935, whose name she took on.6
As a Jewish physician, Ziegler-Wolpe was increasingly subjected to anti-Semitic reprisals after the Nazis had come to power. Nevertheless, she still managed to successfully carry on with her practice. As late as mid-1937, her patients included numerous non-Jews.7 She was not the only Jewish physician working in Bad Kudowa at that time. Her colleague, Dr. Gotthelf Marcuse, was also Jewish.8
Decision to Emigrate
The Ziegler(-Wolpe)s decided to emigrate in 1939, and in January traveled to Shanghai via Palestine, where immigration regulations remained comparatively liberal up to World War II. The couple had settled in the port city of Tietsin (today: Tianjin) by 1940, which at the time was under Japanese occupation. Joseph Ziegler opened a well-established radiology practice there. It is not known whether Charlotte Ziegler-Wolpe also worked there as a doctor.9
Ziegler-Wolpe immigrated to the United States in early 1949.10 She received her medical license in 1950 and was granted American citizenship on August 24, 1954. 11 She first lived in New York, then in Elizabeth, New Jersey.12 She spent her retirement in Downer's Grove, Illinois, where she died in March 1977 at the age of 83.13
Wolpe was a member of the German Medical Women’s Association.