University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


  • Olga Benärio Prestes

    Olga Benärio Prestes

    olga prestes

    Olga Benärio Prestes

    Olga Benärio Prestes was born on February 12, 1908, to a Jewish family in Munich, Germany. In 1923, Olga joined the Communist Youth Organization, and she moved to Berlin in 1925 to work for the party, She was arrested for high treason in 1926, but was released a few weeks later. In 1934, she was chosen by the Comintern Moscow-based Communist International) to accompany the Brazilian Communist leader, Luis Carlos Prestes, from Moscow to Brazil to participate in his revolution.

    In 1936, after the revolution failed, Olga was arrested in Brazil pregnant with Prestes' child and returned to Germany, She was interned in the Barnimstrasse women's prison in Berlin and gave birth to her daughter there. She was transferred to Lichtenburg in 1938. In 1939 Olga was brought to Ravensbruck where she was a block elder and secretly organized teaching activities and a newsletter.

    Olga was murdered in the gas chamber of the Bernburg euthanasia center in the winter of 1942. Bernberg was the site where about 1000 women, mostly Jewish political prisoners, were taken to be gassed from Ravensbruck in the winter-spring of 1942. The Ravensbruck camp did have its own gas chamber from December 1944 to March 1945.

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