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Baerbel Bohley

Bärbel Bohley


  • Bohley, B.: Wir mischen uns ein: Ideen für eine gemeinsame Zukunft (1998)

Born in Berlin in 1945, Bohley studied painting from 1969 to 1974 at the Art Academy in Berlin-Weißensee. As a freelance artist, she produced many exhibitions both at home and abroad. In 1982, she co-founded the SED-critical group "Women for Peace," which belonged to the independent peace movement in the GDR. Because of her conviction opposing the new Military Service Law of the GDR, which committed women to military duties, she was excluded from the Berlin District Board of the Association of Visual Artists (VBK) in 1983. The Ministry for State Security (Stasi) observed her in the operative procedure "Bohle."

In November 1983, she was arrested along with Ulrike Poppe on allegations that she had engaged in "treasonable communication." Due to international protests, she was released without trial in January 1984 after six weeks of detention in Berlin-Hohenschönhausen. In 1985, she founded together with other civil rights activists the critical "Initiative for Peace and Human Rights." In January 1988, the Stasi arrested several participants of a demonstration for the 1918 assassinated Communist leaders Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxembourg because they possessed unauthorized banners. Bärbel Bohley participated in the protest of this arrest and was subsequently arrested.

She was deported with a temporary visa for six months to the United Kingdom. After lengthy negotiations, she re-entered the GDR in the summer of 1989 and initiated the founding of the "New Forum," an independent coalition movement, which called for the democratization of the GDR. After the fall of the communist dictatorship, she joined various political committees and organizations that advocated for grassroots politics and criticized the transformation of the civil rights movements to traditional parties. In 1991, she retired from active politics and worked among others as a representative of the European Union in Sarajevo. In 1996, Bohley participated in the founding of the Citizen’s Office for the processing of damage caused by the SED dictatorship and in 2006 was elected chairwoman. Bärbel Bohley died in 2010.