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 the marriage took place before her birth, but there is no particular evidence to support that claim. When she was five, her mother sent her to stay with Ritschel in Cologne. Ritschel 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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