Photographs by

Mark B. Anstendig

Fritzy Balasz

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Fritzy Balasz was the first great Berlinerin I got to know well. She was my first landlady.

Fritzy had a large apartment on the second floor of a beautiful building on Berlin's famous Kurfuerstendamm and I rented a large, palatial room with a sleeping alcove and a big balcony overlooking the Kur'damm, as many Berliners liked to call the street. Looking for this room was how I met my girlfriend Gisela Mach, as she was in the process of renting another room in the apartment when I showed up.

Fritzy was already very old and not in the best of health when I met her. But she was a true survivor, who had been through more than one war and worse and survived by her wits and the skin of her teeth.

Her stories and her manner, wit, charm, and savvy were the kind of thing one only can conceive when one has experienced it. She was in the best sense a "character" of great range.

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