Magda was born in 1901 in Berlin, Germany to Auguste Behrend and engineer/Berlin developer Oskar Ritschel. The couple were married later that year and divorced in 1905. Some sources suggest that they married before Magda's birth, but there is no evidence to support that fact. When Magda was five, her mother sent her to Cologne to stay with Ritschel, who later took her to Brussels, Belgium, where she was enrolled at the Ursuline Convent in Vilvoorde. At the convent, she was remembered as "an active and intelligent little girl".
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