Tuesday, December 9, 2014


By Dr Emery Barcs 1967-7-20

WITH only a hurried and offhand acknowledgment of her services to the East German Communist regime, Hilde Benjamin, Minister of Justice of the German "Democratic" Republic since 1953, has been removed from office.  She has also lost her membership of the Central Committee of the East German Communist Party and her seat in the country's so-called "parliament."

Nobody is likely to shed tears over the sudden eclipse of this 66-Year-old plump little woman with the unaffectionate nickname of "Red Hilde" who has served the cause of Communism with cruel fanaticism for the past 22 years.

For as the supreme inquisitor of the regime she has earned the fear and hatred of not only the non-Communist majority of the 17 million East Germans but also of most of the 1,650,000 members of her own Socialist Unity Party (SED)

Hilde Benjamin did not formulate the policy of terror of the Ulbricht regime. But because she carried out this policy with such uncompromising and ferocious zeal she became the symbol of ruthless opression.

First as Chairman of the East German Supreme Court and later as Minister of Justice she was directly responsible for 148 death sentences, some 400 life imprisonments and more than 25,000 shorter jailings all for "political crimes" against the SED rulers.  Reputedly she never wavered in meting out the maximum sentence.

She also established an organisation, with herself as chairman, which functions as a watchdog over socialist justice.  The duty of the members of this Organisation of Instructors of Judicial Administration is to instruct law courts in what sort of verdict they must bring against a person charged with a political crime. So far these orders have invariably provided for stiff sentences.

Hilde Benjamin's life story explains the development of this bitter and cruel woman.  She comes from an old and prosperous Protestant family named Lange. After obtaining her law degree with top honors she married Dr. George Benjamin, a Jewish physician and a Communist.

The young couple lived in Wedding, one of the dreariest and poorest districts of Berlin where Hilda Benjamin obtained first - hand experience of the misery caused by the depression in which some eight million Germans were permanently unemployed.

In 1932 her only child, Micha, son, was born.

A year later when the Nazis came to power her husband was arrested. He died in a concentration camp in 1942. Allegedly he committed suicide by touching a high tension electricity line.

Hilde and her son somehow survived the Nazi regime. Until Hitler's attack on Russia in mid-1961 she had a job with the Soviet Trade Mission in Berlin.  How she managed to keep herself and her son alive after that is not known.

When the war was over she first obtained a job with the newly established Public Prosecutor's office where she worked with the Americans.  In late 1945, however, she went to the Soviet occupation zone to serve the Communists.

The few men and women who had known her in East Germany and who have escaped to the West to tell the story, have described Hilde Benjamin as a bitter, lonely and unhappy person.

She is allegedly a great music lover. Her favorites are Mozart and Beethoven.  She is also a voracious reader of fiction and, ironically, she prefers the writers of the West to those of the East.

Reports about her personal life differ. Some say she lives simply in an East Berlin apartment, others that she has a huge villa with a large staff at her disposal and that she enjoys good food and choice wines.

But there seems to be a general agreement about her fear for her life and for that of her adored son. Micha, now 35, who lives with her. Hilde Benjamin is said to be the most closely guarded East German Red potentate after Ulbricht himself.  She has every reason to be afraid.

And it seems, that because of her past record she has become an embarrassment to the Ulbricht regime which is now trying to make itself popular with the East German masses by relucantly liberalising some aspects of everyday life.  Hence her removal from positions of power and influence.

No comments:

Post a Comment