Hilde Benjamin

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Hilde Benjamin

Hilde Benjamin (born Hilde Lange, February 5, 1902 in Bernburg - April 18, 1989 in East Berlin) was an East German judge and justice minister. She was of Jewish descent and a member of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED).

Education and career[change | change source]

She studied law at the Humboldt-University of Berlin, the University of Heidelberg, and the University of Hamburg. Afterwards she worked as a lawyer, and became a member of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). During the war she had to do forced labor.

After the war she was vice president of the Supreme Court of East Germany from 1949 to 1953, a member of the Volkskammer (the East German parliament) from 1949 to 1967, justice minister from 1953 to 1967, and a member of the Central Committee of the SED from 1954 to 1989.

Benjamin was notorious for her judging of "show trials" (for political effect) and ministerial activities. Because she sentenced many people to death, she was nicknamed "Bloody Hilde", "The Red Guillotine", and "Red Freisler".

Later in life she gave lectures about the history of the judiciary in Potsdam.

Personal life[change | change source]

She was married to pediatrician and resistance fighter George Benjamin, who was also Jewish and who died in the Mauthausen concentration camp. Jewish-German philosopher Walter Benjamin was her husband's brother.

References[change | change source]