Born in the Days of Kaiser Wilhelm Germany's Oldest Lady Turns 111

She was born in the grand old days of the Wilhelminian Empire, almost 19 years before the start of World War I. Irmgard von Stephani, who never married, has turned 111 and is Germany's oldest lady. Berlin's mayor is coming to her party.


Irmgard von Stephani celebrating her birthday in her Berlin apartment.
DPA

Irmgard von Stephani celebrating her birthday in her Berlin apartment.

Germany's oldest lady, Irmgard von Stephani, celebrated her 111th birthday on Wednesday with a glass of sparkling wine in a Berlin café and she described herself as "completely happy."

She was born in 1895 in the central German city of Kassel, when Emperor Wilhelm II inaugurated the Kiel Canal linking the North Sea with the Baltic, and when the Lumiere brothers held their first public movie screening in Paris.

She was 18 at the outbreak of World War I, and getting on a little at 43 when World War II came along.

She still lives in her own second-floor apartment in the Lankwitz district of southwestern Berlin, but is visited by a carer each day. She has problems with her eyesight and hearing but still goes out for walks. Her helpers describe her as remarkably spritely.

Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit was on the guest list for her birthday party and cafe owner Fred Leistner even devised a special desert, "Peach Irmgard", in her honor. German President Horst Köhler sent her an honorary certificate for her 110th birthday, which she has hanging on her wall.

She doesn't have a secret recipe for long life. She never married and never had children. A nephew who came to her party described his aunt, a former domestic matron, as "Prussian" and said she pays a lot of attention to correct etiquette and insists on people using the aristocrat "von" in her name.

The oldest German man, Robert Meier, is 109.

cro/ dpa/tagesspiegel

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