Cover image for Olga
Morais, Fernando.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Olga. English
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Grove Weidenfeld, 1990.
Physical Description:
xv, 256 pages, 48 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HX274.7.B46 M6713 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Olga Benario, German and Jewish, was one of the most remarkable Communist activists of the twentieth century. Blessed with a genius for organization, the beautiful, willful Olga crisscrossed the globe educating and activating legions to combat the worldwide plagues of Nazism and fascism. At the age of nineteen, she masterminded a daring prison raid to free her then-lover, the Communist intellectual Otto Braun. Together they escaped to Moscow, where they quickly rose in the ranks of the international Communist movement. At twenty-six, she was chosen to serve as bodyguard to the legendary Brazilian Communist guerrilla leader Luis Carlos Prestes, who had been brought to Moscow for training and would soon become her lover. Using assumed names, they traveled to Brazil, where Prestes launched a revolution against the Fascist regime. Within months, they were seized by police. After six months of tirelessly continuing her activism from within Brazilian prisons, Olga, seven months pregnant, was classified as extremely dangerous and deported to Nazi Germany. In February of 1942, she died in the gas chambers at Bernburg. This book has been reissued to coincide with a new film adaptation by the producers of "City of God."

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The incredible story of Olga Benario Prestes (1908-1942), a Jew, a German, and a Communist. Active in the Communist Party while still in her teens, Olga Benario was independent, hardworking, and brilliant, rising quickly through party ranks. In 1928, she and her activist lover, Otto Braun, were arrested. When Olga was released first, she returned with a few party members and a gun and liberated Otto. They escaped to Moscow, where Olga was assigned to Luis Carlos Prestes as escort and bodyguard. Prestes was the renowned leader of the famous "Column" of rebels that marched across Brazil and escaped into exile. The party sent Olga and Prestes back to Brazil to start a revolution. Posing as a wealthy honeymoon couple, they fell in love, but their joy was as short-lived as the doomed insurrection. Olga, seven months pregnant, was deported--sent to Nazi Germany and certain death. Morais has resurrected a woman of devotion, integrity, courage, and love. By telling Olga's tragic story, he exposes the best and worst of humanity. A best-seller in Brazil, this volume should generate a lot of interest here. ~--Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

In 1936 Brazil bestowed a ``gift'' on Adolf Hitler by deporting imprisoned Olga Benario, a German-born Jewish Communist, then seven months pregnant. Wife of Brazil's guerrilla hero Luis Carlo Prestes, she suffered the hell of Ravensbruck concentration camp. She was gassed to death in 1942; earlier, the Prestes family rescued her newborn daughter. Brazilian journalist Morais's heartbreaking biography is filled with high drama. In 1928 Olga had led a raid on a Berlin courtroom to free her lover, Otto Braun; they fled to Moscow, where she became the bodyguard of Prestes, who was visiting the Soviet capital. She and Prestes married and went to Brazil, where they helped organize the popular uprising of 1935, crushed in one day. Assisted by the Gestapo and U.S. intelligence, the police closed in on Olga, sealing her fate. Prestes remained imprisoned in Brazil when his wife was extradited. Photos. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Olga Benario Prestes was the epitome of the 1930s Communist activist. Sent by the Comintern to guard Brazilian rebel leader Luis Carlos Prestes (who became her husband), she was captured and sent to Germany to die in the gas chamber. While her training as an undercover soldier of the Communist revolution may upset some readers' notions of morality, her life of discipline, obedience, and dedication to the Comintern are portrayed in a balanced fashion in this very readable biography. Brazilian journalist Morais has obtained many details from interviews and a wide selection of sources. Though some of Prestes's deeds were violent, this account captures her spirituality and commitment. Recommended for larger collections in political science and history.-- Rene Perez-Lopez, Virginia Wes leyan Coll. Lib., Norfolk (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.