lga Benário Prestes (1908 – 1942) was a German-Brazilian communist militant, born in Munich as Olga Gutmann Benario. Her father was a Social-Democrat lawyer of Jewish origin and her mother was a member of Bavarian high-society. In 1923, aged fifteen, she joined the Communist Youth International and in 1928 she organised her lover and comrade Otto Braun’s escape from Moabit prison. Together they travelled to Moscow, where Benário attended the Lenin-School of the Comintern and then worked as an instructor of the Communist Youth International, in the Soviet Union and in France and Great Britain, where she participated in coordinating anti-fascist activities. She parted from Otto Braun in 1931.
In 1934, Benário was tasked with the return to Brazil of Luís Carlos Prestes. In order to accomplish this mission, false papers were created stating that they were a Portuguese married couple. By the time they arrived at Rio de Janeiro in 1935, this had become a reality. After a failed insurrection in November 1935, Benário and her husband were arrested in January 1936, during the harsh anti-communist campaign declared after Getúlio Vargas had proclaimed the fascist-like Estado Novo régime. Pregnant and separated from Prestes, Benário was delivered to the Gestapo who, despite an international campaign, took her back to Germany in September 1936. On arrival she was imprisoned, where she gave birth to a daughter, Anita Leocádia. Anita was subsequently freed and reunited with her grandmother, Leocádia Prestes.
Olga however, was sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp and from there to an experimental extermination camp set up at an old psychiatric hospital in Bernburg in 1942, where she was gassed.
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