Charlotte von Mahlsdorf was born Lothar Berfelde in 1928, in the village of Mahlsdorf near Berlin. The son of a gentle mother (his ``good fairy'') and an abusive father (``a fiend''), Lothar grew up a dreamy loner in his violent household, collecting antique ``junk'' and dressing up in his mother's old school dresses. Once, seeing him in one of these outfits, Lothar's father came after him with a riding crop, shouting, ``You are not a girl! You are going to be a soldier.'' Lothar had his first sexual experience with a stableboy on his aunt's estate, and his aunt was the first person to buy him a skirt when he was a teenager and encourage him to wear it outside, as they walked down the street arm in arm. In 1944 Lothar killed his father and was sentenced to four years in juvenile penitentiary but was released that same year. He began wearing women's clothing regularly around the neighborhood, going to gay bars, and collecting antiquesespecially from the late 19th century GrÅnderzeit period. He eventually became a full-time transvestite and opened a museum devoted to the GrÅnderzeit, where he continues to work today.