Skip to main content

Wharton, Karin M., 1915-2014



Half-sister of Henry Lowenstein. Formerly Karin Steinberg. She was born March 16, 1915, in Helsinki to Maria and Erich Steinberg. Her mother was an artist who had studied at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. Her father, an architect, served in the Russian army constructing fortifications and buildings for Tsar Nicholas II in Helsinki. When the Russian Revolution broke out in 1917, the family fled to Estonia and then Germany. Wharton's widowed mother moved to Berlin, where she met and married Dr. Max Lowenstein, a physician who loved theater and art. Wharton was 10 when Henry was born, and the children enjoyed the culture of Berlin in its golden days of the 1920s. German composer Kurt Weill often visited their home, along with many others in the thriving art scene: musicians, dancers, painters and architects. But that all stopped when Adolf Hitler came to power. Although Wharton's parents were not Jewish, her stepfather and half-brother were Jewish, so she was considered the same. In 1943, she and her mother joined one of the most significant events of opposition to the Holocaust: the Rosenstrasse Protest. Shortly after the Germans were defeated in the Battle of Stalingrad, the Gestapo rounded up the last Jews living in Berlin — about 1,800 Jewish men, almost all married to non-Jewish women. Wharton's stepfather was among those men. Hundreds of German women faced off with Gestapo agents holding machine guns and demanding that their husbands be released. Four weeks after the war ended, Wharton went to work as an assistant to Otto Grotewohl, who became a leader of the Social Democratic Party in Germany. One day, she became part of a secret meeting between Grotewohl and Wilhelm Pieck, leader of the German Communists. Hearing of their plans against the Western Allies, she made an extra copy of the plan and passed the information to an American contact, which put her in great danger. The next day, she was riding in Grotewohl's limousine — one of the few in Berlin — when Russian soldiers surrounded it, then took control, ready to take her to prison. But when the Russians stopped at various places to show the limousine to their friends, the chauffeur hit the gas and escaped to the American zone. Because Wharton had betrayed the Communists, her life was in danger, so the Americans arranged for her and her family to emigrate to the U.S. in 1946. In New York, she worked at the Museum of Natural History. One day, she planned a lunch date with a friend, diplomat Richard Sears, whom she had met in Berlin when he worked as a top official at the U.S. Office of Military Government. Sears, who later co-founded Friends of Chamber Music in Denver, suddenly had to fly to Berlin, so he sent a friend in his place for the date. Karin fell in love with that friend, a journalist named James Wharton, and they were married until his death in the mid-1960s. Their son, Jeffery Wharton, is an archaeologist based in Aztec, N.M. In 1967, she moved to Denver to join her half-brother, who was producing shows for the Bonfils Theatre, later called the Lowenstein Theater.

Found in 31 Collections and/or Records:

A.J.D.C. National Refugee Service Card, circa 1946

Identifier: B333.06.0001.0006.00006

Index sized card from the A.J.D.C National Refugee Service. Printed on the front of the card, "A.J.D.C, National Refugee Service, 105 Nassau Street, New York City." Handwritten on back of the card is the name "Steinberg, Karin."

Dates: circa 1946

Box 13, 1873-2014

 File — Box B333.08.0013: Series B333.08; Series B333.09 [Barcode: U186023261366]
Identifier: B333.08.0013

This box is part of the Lowenstein Family Papers and Art. It contains information on Maria Lowenstein (Series 8), including exhibits, and Henry Lowenstein (Series 9).

Dates: 1873-2014

Clothing Ration Card, between 1940-1945

Identifier: B333.02.0001.0002.00024

Clothing ration card issued to Karin Steinberg. The front cover of the card is filled out by hand with Karin's name and address and stamped with the name and address of a shoemaker, "Clemens Polley, Bülowstraße 3." The back cover is stamped with the date, June 19, 1940. The inside of the card contains lists of articles of clothing and their value. The edges of the card were ration coupons and most are missing.

Dates: between 1940-1945

Correspondence, 1939-1984

Identifier: B333.08.0013.0001

Contains correspondence, envelopes, picture postcards and notes. Most of the correspondence is in German, but the picture postcards are in English and have photos, circa 1900, but cards were mailed in January-March of 1960 from Williamsport, Pennsylvania to Maria in Denver. There is no signature from the sender on the postcards. One letter in English written to the Lowenstein family in Berlin from a Rita (?) in Birmingham, England.

Dates: 1939-1984

Correspondence and Micellaneous, 1946-circa 1967

Identifier: B333.08.0002.0005

Folder contains one type-written letter from Henry to his Aunt Ella telling his family was on the way to the United State. Also a letters to the Max and Maria Lowenstein from Jane MgWrynn (?), Alfred Lowenstein and Betty Boone. A few postage stamps, a blank 1947 calendar/date book from Hallmark and a check from Maria to the Community Concert Association for seven dollars. Also a list with an envelope with Henry's name and Whipsnade address.

Dates: 1946-circa 1967

Correspondence from Henry to Lowenstein Family, 1946 May 5-December 29

Identifier: B333.08.0002.0002

Thirteen letters written by Henry Lowenstein while living in Whipsnade, Durnstable, England to his parents and half-sister. A few are before the family had immigrated but the majority are when the family is in Pennsylvania. Eleven letters are hand written and two are typed. The letters range in date from May 5, 1946-December 29, 1946. Most the letters are addressed to Mauchen (Maria) but are directed at the entire family.

Dates: 1946 May 5-December 29

Correspondence from Henry to Lowenstein Family, 1947 January 12-June 13

Identifier: B333.08.0002.0003
Abstract Twenty-one handwritten letters from Henry Lowenstein mostly while living in Whipsnade, Durnstable, England to his parents and half-sister in Pennsylvania. The letters range in date from January 12, 1947 to June 23 1947. All of the letters are addressed to Mauchen (Maria) but are directed at the entire family. The last letter is on letterhead from the S.S. Marine Flacon stationary and was written on the ship while Henry sailed for the United States to meet his family. In the second to last...
Dates: 1947 January 12-June 13

Correspondence from Ingrid to Lowenstein Family, 1946-1947

Identifier: B333.08.0002.0004

Six handwritten letters in German from Ingrid to the Lowenstein family in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Ingrid is writing from Bath, Somerset, England.

Dates: 1946-1947

Employment Verification Letter for Karin Steinberg , 1938 May 21

Identifier: B333.01.0001.0001.00016

One page handwritten letter in German script verifying employment of Karin Steinberg at Modesalon, a beauty salon.

Dates: 1938 May 21

Family Photographs, 1935-1980

Identifier: B333.08.0013.0006
Scope and Contents

Miscellaneous photographs of the Lowenstein family members (both individual and group shots), including the family after they were reunited in Pennsylvania. A number of individual photos of Maria and a few photos unknown individuals also included. Three circa 1960s black and white negatives of small children, probably Maria's grandchildren.

Dates: 1935-1980