Margarete Geibel created this bookplate for Jennylotte Fleischer in 1906. The exact relationship between the 2 women is unknown. Margarete was 30 and Jenny 42 years of age. Perhaps it was a simple commission job by a famous singer, perhaps it there was a more personal aspect (this is the only occasion Jennylotte is used). It was Margaret’s Opus 32 and 2 different versions or trials seem to exist before she made a final choice. Jenny Fleischer-Alt, was a famous Weimar opera singer and pedagogue. With her husband, painter and “Kunstschule” Prof. Fritz Fleischer she lived just opposite Goethes “Gartenhaus”, on the other side of the Park an der Ilm, at Belvedere Allée No. 6. What Central Park is to New-work, Park-an-der-Ilm is to Weimar.
No doubt Margaret and Jenny moved in the same intellectual and artistic Weimar circles. Sketching and drawing regularly in and around Goethe’s Gartenhaus there’s a good chance the women will have met in the park and became acquainted.
- The Fleischer Villa at Belvederer Allee 6 and its location in Weimar
- Goethes Gartenhaus by Christian Rohlfs (1849-1938), view towards, over the park from the villa.
- Jenny Fleischer and her husband Fritz: Marriage, career and old age.
Jenny Lotte Fleischer-Alt
(Pressburg, Pozsony, Bratislava Slovakia 03-08-1863 - 07-04-1942 suicide Weimar)
Famous opera singer and pedagogue. Daughter of Jewish Dr. med. Leopold Alt (b. around 1821 - 09-11-1891 Vienna) and Ernestine (Lily, Nettl) Weiner (Kittsee, Okres Neusiedl am See Burgenland, Austria).
Her father was formerly a tailor's assistant, moved up by self-study and education allowing him to enter medical school becoming a physician specialising in homeopathic treatments.
She had a brother Ignaz Alt (poss. 1852 -1920) and three sisters: Gisela Alt (b. 1862), Ilka Gál-Alt (b. 1867) married to Dr.med. Josef Gál (1855-1926), and Bertha Wolff-Alt *b. 1856/65.
Jenny Fleischer was a celebrated colaratura soprano singer, had studied in Bratislava performed in many important European cities and she is known to have earned staggering sums of money with her singing. In 1885 she was given a leading position in Weimar Hoftheater. After her marriage in 1891 she ended her active singing career and became a private singing teacher in Weimar and later in the “Staatlichen Musikschule”.
In 1891 she’d married genre and portrait painter and “Weimar Kunstschule” Prof. Friedrich (Fritz) Martin Fleischer (Breslau 03-01-1861 - 01-01-1938 Weimar). Although he had Jewish roots the marriage was considered by the Nazis a “Mischehe” : a mixed marriage which had given her, after her husband’s death and inheriting his fortune, temporarily some protection but not after Hermann Göring barbaric Nuremberg Laws were implemented in 1938.
The couple lived in a grand villa in the Belvederer Allee No. 6 surrounded by exclusive furniture, expensive paintings, art, antiques and precious objects. Goethe’s “Gartenhaus”, the main subject of Margarete Geibel’s woodblock oeuvre is just 200 meters across the “Park-an-der-Ilm” park and clearly visible from the villa. The marriage was without children.
The “Liszt-Haus” were Franz Liszt lived 1848-1861, is just opposite and a few houses apart.
Today Belvederer Allee No.6 appropriately houses the chancellor’s office of the “Bauhaus Universität Weimar”.
From 1940 the villa was “ghettorised” (“Ghettohaus, Judenhaus” ) by the Nazis forcing and hurdling conveniently together Jews who were systematically robbed of all their possessions, property, money and dignity before their deportation, systematic disposal and destruction later. After her death the villa was seized and handed over to Weimar city council. Its precious contents then was auctioned-off, several objects ending in Weimar “Kunstsammlung” which today is described as “Raubgut”: luted art. Efforts and research to return the items to the family was without success: no heirs were found. Those who after WW-II ended tried to retrieve rightful properties and family belongings did not succeed and new “owners” (like the Fleischers grand piano) refused to return them to the rightful owners stating “proof” of original ownership was doubtful or lost.
Jenny Fleischer, fearing the inevitable deportation and an involuntary death, bravely committed suicide after her sister Ilka Gál (1867-1942), married to Vienna Dr. Josef Gál (1855-1926) perished in a Weimar hospital, denied proper medical care after an accident (“a waste of money” according the Nazi physicians). Together with Ilka’s daughter Edith Gál (b. 1888) she took poisson. Ilka and Edith had also found shelter in the villa at Belvederer Allee. History learned all the forced co-inhabitants of the villa 1940-42 were eventually deported and murdered.
Suicide to avoid deportation was called euphemistically and sarcastically “Freitot” by the Nazis. There was of course nothing “free” forcing people into this most desperate of decisions.
Composer Hans Gál (Vienna 1890 - 1987 Edinburg) was Ilka’s oldest child. He was taught by the same piano tutor as world famous and much loved piano virtuoso Clara Haskil (1895-1960).
Courtesy, sources and further reading: