Anni’s Childhood

Anni’s earliest childhood memory was of waking up on a birthday—probably her third—to see the top of her crib festooned with garlands of flowers. From the start, she loved such processes of transformation. Her parents, who lived in high style in a fashionable Berlin neighborhood, periodically gave costume parties for which her father, a furniture manufacturer, was able to move the usual objects out of the apartment and replace them with rich décor. Their home became, on one occasion, the Berlin park called “the Grunewald”—for which, Anni would always remember, her mother assumed the role of a woman selling sausages at a stand—and, on another, a train station. Anni loved playfulness and inventiveness; here her mother first played the role of a child wandering through the station looking for her parents, and then, a few minutes later, of a mother looking for a missing child. Anni and her sister, eighteen months apart, were initially educated by tutors at home, and were taught art from earliest memory.

Lotte and Annelise Fleischmann, Berlin, ca. 1908