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26 July 2022

Ruth Fischer-Freund (188? - ?) tax official, Hirschfeld patient

Rudolph Fischer was a tax official in Berlin. In 1912 he married Hilde Freund who was aware of his cross-dressing and rather enjoyed the masquerade. In 1916 Fischer was conscripted into the Landstrum, the reserve army. However as a tax official he was left in Berlin, and wore the uniform during office hours only.

In 1920 Rudolph and Hilde had a son Heinrich, despite protesting that they rarely did regular sex. Rudolph was off put by Hilda’s pregnancy and birth pains and he decided to be castrated. He did achieve being castrated - in Leipzig in 1924. In 1927 Fischer took early retirement from the tax bureau after working there fifteen years, and also citing a nervous condition. Fischer’s pension was 150 Reichsmarks a month.

Fischer was now to live full-time using the name Ruth. Their son was sent to live with his uncle in Dresden, and Ruth and Hilde took a small flat in the Babelsberger Str, deciding to rent out rooms to transvestites. Both Ruth and Hilde Fisher went to the “Lotte in der Behnerstrasse”, Hirschfeld’s little club which was run by Karl Giese and Charlotte Charlaque, and through them met Magnus Hirschfeld. Ruth also met Dorchen Richter and following her example decided upon a penectomy. This was performed at the Urban Krankenhaus in January 1930. The marriage was now dissolved, but Ruth and Hilde kept living together. Hirschfeld saw to it that Ruth continued to receive the tax office pension.

By 1931 Ruth had her legal name changed to Ruth Fischer-Freund. However for some reason Ruth lost her previous boldness and confidence when she had not cared whether she was read or not, and became sensitive about having to shave, her hair, her voice, and if she went out she wore men’s clothing. She applied for a vaginoplasty, which was performed in 1932.

The coming of the Third Reich required some adaptation. The name ‘Fischer’ was sometimes taken to be Jewish. To show that it was otherwise, Hilde joined the Nationalsozialistische Frauenbund, and their son Hienrich entered the Hitlerjungend.

After WWII Ruth and Hilde settled in East Germany, and ran a boarding house in Losehwitz near Dresden, renting out to summer visitors. Ruth joined the Communist Party of Saxony (KPS).

  • letter from Charlotte Charlaque to Harry Benjamin, August 9, 1956.

  • Joanne Meyerowitz. How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States. Harvard University Press, 2002: 298n110.


*not Ruth Fisher (1895-1961) a prominent member of the German Communist Party in the 1920s who fled to Paris in 1933, and the US in 1940.

*not Ruth von Fisher (1911-2009) a Swiss artist.

Charlotte says of Ruth: that her “first name was now Friedel (the three names the Nazis permitted sex changes to take were Christel, Toni, and Friedel)”. This quoted in Meyerowitz p298n110, and has been repeated citing Meyerowitz. However I have not been able to confirm this. In particular there is no mention of it in Rainer Herrn’s “Transvestitismus in der NS-Zeit – Ein Forschungsdesiderat”(Transvestitism in the Nazi era - a research desideratum). Zeitschrift für Sexualforschung, 26,2,2013.

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