Queer Places:
Sebastianplatz, Vienna

Bertha Hermine Leonie von Puttkamer (January 10, 1891 – 1953) was the daughter of Gunther Georg Peter von Puttkamer and Anna Luise Gfin von Holnstein aus Bayern.

Sigmund Freud treated a young woman, Margarete Csonka, whose parents belonged to the great Austrian burgeoisie of Jewish origin that had converted to Catholicism. Carefree and worldly, loving the luxury and freedom that her fortune and her elegance afforded her, she had always been attracted by women, though without desiring sexual relations with them. Thus she had rejected the advances of her friend Christl Kmunke, whose lesbianism was completely overt. In 1917, Margarethe experienced a delirious passion for the flamboyant baroness Leonie von Puttkamer, a demimondaine from the Prussian nobility, supported by men and going out openly with women. Sumptuously dressed and wearing fabulous hats, Leonie liked to walk along the finest avenues accompanied by an immense wolfhound on a leash. She enjoyed strolling around cafes and through markets to find fruits in which she delighted, without the slightest concern for the penury from which the Viennese were suffering just as the empire, already in full decline, was experiencing its last glittering moments.

Lennie found it amusing to see Margarethe following her everywhere, idolizing her, serving her, and indulging in the pose of a troubadour straight out of chivalric literature. One day, surprised by her father on the arm of the baroness, Margarethe fled to escape his gaze. Leonie dismissed her. Margarethe then attempted suicide, and her father, Arpad Csonka, obliged her to consult Freud to bring an end to the scandal of this homosexuality deemed intolerable.

In January 1921 Albert Gessmann, President of the Austrian Agricultural Office, divorced his wife Paula Gessmann and in March 1921 Léonie and Gessmann movef to Sebastianplatz, Vienna. In Summer 1921 Léonie tried to meet the nudist dancer Anita Berber. On February 4, 1922 Léonie and Gessmann were married but they divorced on August 1922.

In September 1922 Margarete Csonka aka Sidonie realized Léonie's passion for Anita Berber. On December 1922 Léonie moved to Berlin. Sidonie tried to end her days, but she did not die. In 1923 Léonie returned from Berlin, accompanied by Carola Horn, to spend six weeks in Vienna, then she returned to Berlin. In Autumn 1923 Leónie went to Munich.

In March 1924 Léonie returned to Vienna and she married again Gessmann. In March 26, 1924, Albert Gessmann began a trial against his wife for attempted poisoning. On April 5, 1924, there was an absolution of suspicion of poisoning. Albert sent Léonie to the Löwy health home in Sulz-Stangau.

Léonie died in Berlin in 1953.


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