Price  £14.95
Format  Hardback
Published  1990
Length  246 pages
ISBN  9781870015325


Fernando Morais


Olga is the story of Olga Benario, German Jew and Communist activist, trained by the Red Guard, who married the charismatic leader of the Brazilian Communist Party and who, after a failed uprising in Rio, was arrested and deported to Nazi Germany as a ‘gift’ to Hitler. But more than a biography it is a love story with a tragic, historical sweep and a tale of unflinching political commitment.

The book opens in the middle of Olga’s first major political action in 1928, with Olga and five other liberating Otto Braun, her lover, from a Berlin prison. Afterwards, she is forced to flee to Moscow where she is celebrated as an exemplary Communist Youth and remains for several years to study everything from political theory to sky-diving.

Olga’s first mission for Comintern is to provide for the personal security and safe passage back to Brazil of Luís Carlos Prestes, the legendary leader of the remarkable “Prestes Column” a group of men and women who crossed Brazil on foot for nearly three year fighting the Fascist government of Artur Bernardes without a single defeat.

During their circuitous journey, Olga and Prestes fall in love. In 1935, they slip unnoticed in Brazil and with others begin preparations for a revolution. Almost immediately they are betrayed and arrested and the new dictator of Brazil, Gertúlio Vargas, begins efforts to deport Olga, now pregnant, back to Nazi Germany.

The most moving picture of Olga emerges in her letters from prison, in her descriptions of her daughter and of the happiness she feels with her. Here is a tremendous woman of action and courage, now behind bars, expressing the most intense and enduring love for both her husband and daughter. And yet she remains as indomitable as ever — faced with solitary confinement she invents way of keeping herself sane — and later when thrown into a cell of ‘anti-socials’ she winds them over by stressing the importance of retaining their dignity and proceeds to teach them about politics.

Olga’s short and dramatic life is a remarkable one, an example of great courage, unwavering strength and determination in her commitment to the workers’ cause and against social injustice, and later against the evil unleashed by the Nazis and their allies.

About Fernando Morais

Fernando Morais, formerly a journalist, is Minister of Culture for the State of São Paulo, Brazil. Olga has run into many editions in Brazil and has also been published in China and the USSR. It is shortly to appear in the USA, France, Israel and Italy.