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Born in Budapest, the capital of Hungary, which at that time was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, on January 29, 1901, to a Jewish family. Her father, Maurice Anhalzer was a native of Slovakia, a...
Born in Budapest, the capital of Hungary, which at that time was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, on January 29, 1901, to a Jewish family. Her father, Maurice Anhalzer was a native of Slovakia, a businessman dealing in glass, ceramics and fine porcelain, so they were well-off. She was the oldest of four children, the others were all boys. Ever since she was a little girl, she had artistic inclinations and had a strong personality: at four years of age she categorically stated that she wanted to be a painter.
In 1906 the family moved to the industrial town of Gyor. Olga had a governess who taught her German. Later, she attended elementary school and started to collect handicrafts, after finding a piece of folk art in the form of a shell with a rose. She showed it to her parents and told them that she liked this shell very much. This was the first contact she had with folk art and thereafter she made up her mind that she would seek and collect all things that seemed odd. She soon had a vast amount stored in the display cabinet in her room.
At 16 years of age she was accepted as a private student at the Benedictine Gymnasium [High school], where all the students were novices of that Catholic order, including the person who supervised her studies. At the end of the year she successfully took and passed the Latin, Mathematics and Geometry exams.
In 1919, after World War I, she worked with Professor Vally Wieseltier in Vienna, as designer in ceramics of the Wiener Werkstatte factory, and at the same time she was doing illustrations for the social-democratic newspaper “Nepszava” in Budapest, as well as for the German translations of some of the works of Emile Zola. In 1920 she was an artist for the “Arbeiter Zeitung” [Workers’ Newspaper] in Vienna and met Kunfi Zsigmondy, an important personality in Hungarian history. That was the year her father died, and with part of the inheritance she had received she moved to Dusseldorf in the old Weimar Republic, studying painting at the Kunstakademie [ Academy of Art] where she met and married Jupp Rubsam, a sculptor.
She then started a new stage in her life, painting and drawing intensively. She also accompanied her husband to all his projects, especially the design and building of a monumental piece of work eulogizing the war, which, when it was inaugurated in 1927 was harshly criticized by General Ludendorff, the right-hand man of Chancellor Hindenburg, because it glorified peace.
Around 1930 she separated and divorced her husband, but they continued to be friends. In 1932 she married her second husband, Bela Fisch, an overseas sales organizer for an Italian-Yugoslavian cement factory.
From 1933 to 1934 they lived in Morocco and for some time she was able to travel to the interior of that exotic country, where she started her first collection of folk art and handicrafts.
In 1934 they returned to Germany, but found that it had changed due to the Nazi terror and domination. On the streets, in hotels and restaurants there were signs that read: “Dogs and Jews: do not enter”. [note that the Fisch's were Jews] So, they traveled to Gyor, where her husband was able to secure a job in Brazil.
In 1935 Olga traveled on the Graf Zeppelin dirigible to Pernambuco and Rio de Janeiro, where she met up with her husband. She painted folkloric figures, just like she had done in Morocco, and bought handicrafts.
In 1937 they returned to Gyor, where only her three brothers were still living, because both her mother and grandmother had died. After that they went to Italy and in Palermo they boarded a ship to Eritrea, where they lived for a year. Bela Fisch was working and Olga was painting. “I always liked primitive, simple, and what they call underdeveloped people”. And when their contract expired in 1938 they decided to travel to Paris and from there to New York... (www.olgafisch.org, 2013-05-30)