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Otto Dov Kulka was born Otto Deutelbaum to a Jewish family in Nový Hrozenkov, Czechoslovakia. His biological father was Erich Schön and his mother was Elly Deutelbaumová, née Kulková, who was married to another man at the time. After Elly and her husband divorced in 1938, Schön sought to be recognized as Otto's father. The following year, Nazi Germany invaded and occupied Czechoslovakia, and Schön was arrested by the Gestapo and later deported to the Auschwitz death camp. In 1942, Otto and his mother were deported to the Theresienstadt Ghetto, and from there to Auschwitz. His mother died but Otto and his father survived and returned to Czechoslovakia. They both changed their surname to Kulka in honor of his mother. In 1949, Otto immigrated to Israel, where he added the Hebrew name Dov. He married Chaya, with whom he had a daughter and lived in Jerusalem. He studied philosophy and history at The Hebrew University and the University of Frankfurt, earning a doctoral degree with a dissertation on German Jews under Nazism. In 1966, he joined the faculty of the Department of the History of the Jewish People at Hebrew University, and rose to the rank of full professor. For many years, he was a member of the board of directors of Yad Vashem and the Leo Baeck Institute. His award-winning books include German Jewry under the National-Socialist Regime (1997) and the memoir Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death: Reflections on Memory and Imagination (2013).
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