Her husband was an angry and abusive man who would frequently beat up Elsa and Rita. At one point Elsa broke her ribs and lost a spleen.
In her teens, Rita fell in love with Ted West. Dieter strongly disapproved of this, and locked Rita in the shed in the garden when she was about to leave. Elsa would go to the shed to feed her. When Ted came to rescue Rita from the shed, Elsa held Dieter at gunpoint with his own Luger, allowing her daughter the chance to run away.
The only contact Rita made with them afterwards was a call on July 29, 1961, to tell them that she had married Ted. Every year on their anniversary, Elsa sent her daughter a card to congratulate her.
By 1981, Dieter had suffered a stroke which rendered him incapable of moving and talking, requiring Elsa to be his caretaker. This year, on Rita's anniversary, Elsa went to see her daughter in The Galleria where she worked. Elsa tried to speak with her, but Rita promptly told her to get out. The next day, Rita returned to their home once more. Elsa told her Dieter had suffered a stroke and couldn't hurt them any more, and the two reconciled in a tearful embrace.