Veruschka was born Vera Gottliebe Anna Gräfin von Lehndorff-Steinort on 14 May 1939, in Königsberg, East Prussia, now known as Kaliningrad, Russia. She grew up at Steinort, an estate in East Prussia, which had been in her family for centuries.
Her father, Count von Lehndorff-Steinort was involved in a plot to assassinate Hitler in 1944 and hanged that year, when Vera was three. Her mother was arrested, and Vera and her sisters spent the rest of the war in Gestapo camps. They were reunited with their mother after the war, but the family was destitute, and ostracised by other Germans for their father’s treachery.
She ended up studying textile design in Florence, where a fashion designer first asked her to model. She had first travelled to New York in 1961 as plain old Vera, but failed to secure a single booking. After retreating to Milan for a spell, she returned to take Manhattan under her new name….