In the fall of 1938, Charlotte's parents lived in Germany. During this time, Charlotte’s father was traveling in Italy for business, and her mother remained in Germany. The Nazis came to Charlotte's parents' apartment to arrest her mother and other family members a few days before Kristallnacht. (On November 9-10, 1938 during Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, the Nazis destroyed Jewish-owned businesses, burned synagogues, murdered 91 Jews and arrested 30,000 Jews and sent them to concentration camps.) During the arrest, Charlotte's mother fainted and was left behind to be picked up later. The rest of family was never seen again.
Charlotte's mother fled Germany and joined her husband in Milan. Charlotte was born ten days later on November 25, 1938. The family lived in Milan and was arrested in September 1940 because they were foreign Jews. They were sent to Ferramonti, and then transferred to "Confino Libero" in Piove di Sacco near Venice. (Confino Libero, or Free Confinement, was a system where Jews were sent to live in small towns in Italy but had certain restrictions placed upon them including limitations on travel, mandatory curfew and daily police check-ins.)
After Italy was occupied by the Nazis on September 8, 1943, Charlotte and her family were warned by an official that they would be arrested. That warning gave them an opportunity to go into hiding. They received help from the local people, including Partisans and were taken to a small town called Secchiano in the Marche Region. The Virgili and Parrucini families were instrumental in saving their lives. In addition to these two families, the entire town knew Charlotte and her family were in hiding and in keeping that secret played a critical role in their survival.
“It was a time filled with fear and a time with great warmth and love; a time when the Italian people were there to hide and protect us from the Nazis.”