Baerbel Bohley, key figure in E.German opposition, dies

11th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Baerbel Bohley, a key figure in East Germany's reform movement that helped oust its communist leadership, died Saturday, an association she co-founded said. Bohley was 65.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who like Bohley grew up in East Germany, said she was "deeply affected" by her death.

"She was a major voice of freedom," who helped clear the path for "a peaceful revolution and German unification", Merkel said. "For me and many others her courage and straightforwardness were exemplary."

A statement by the Robert Havemann Society which keeps the records of East Germany's opposition movements said Bohley died of cancer.

Bohley, a painter and human rights activist, co-founded the Neues Forum (New Forum) movement in September 1989, two months before the fall of the Berlin wall.

She had been a key figure in East Germany's unofficial opposition since the mid-1980s and was disappointed at her movement's rapid loss of influence as East and West Germany moved to merge in the months following the fall of communism.

In September 1990, Bohley took part in the peaceful occupation of the secret police archives in East Berlin which led to legislation allowing Stasi files to be viewed by ordinary citizens.

Bohley lived in the former Yugoslavia after 1996 where she worked on aid projects for children.

© 2010 AFP

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