One can find a great many birthdates given for Lotte Lehmann. I always assumed that vanity led her to change the date, and since 27 February was Caruso’s birthday, this seemed an intriguing coincidence. Some of the dates I have encountered are 2 July 1888, 1885 or even 1881!

In hopes of resolving the confusion I asked Frank Manhold, a classical radio announcer/producer in Munich, to search for a birth certificate. What follows is his story of the quest. –GH

“Encouraged by my friend, the tireless LL-researcher Gary Hickling, I made contact with several institutions in Lehmann’s hometown of Perleberg, a small town of about 14,000 inhabitants in the northeastern part of re-united Germany, located in the state, or as we say, “Bundesland,” of Brandenburg. It takes about two hours by car to get to Berlin from there. Several calls finally led me to Reinhard Spiess, director of Perleberg’s “Heimatmuseum,” which is situated in a former schoolhouse, actually the school LL attended from 1895 to 1902. From the Perleberg registry office I received a copy of the marvelously old-fashioned birth certificate: “Before the undersigned registrar today appeared…” etc.  The hand-written portion of the document was in “Deutscher Schrift,” the official German writing (Schriftart) used until the 1940’s. I had to ask an 82-year-old friend of mine to “translate” the writing into modern German, because otherwise I couldn’t read it. “

English translation: 

Perleberg on 1 March 1888

Before the undersigned registrar appeared today the person known to me “Ritterschaft” secretary Karl Heinrich Traugott Lehmann residing in Perleberg, 11 Pritzwalker Street, Protestant, and gave notice that Maria Pauline Lehmann née Schuster, his wife, Protestant, living with the person announcing in Perleberg in his residence delivered a female child on 27 February 1888 in the afternoon (sic) at 7:30 who received the first names Charlotte Pauline Sophie

Read, approved and signed
Carl Lehmann [no relation]
The City Registrar

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