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Short biography
Margarete Buber-Neumann, known as Grete, was born Margarete Thüring in Potsdam, Germany. World War I made her politically active, and she joined the Socialist Youth League and then the newly-founded German Communist Party (KPD). She worked briefly as a nursery school teacher. In 1922, she married Rafael Buber, the son of philosopher Martin Buber, who was Jewish. They had two daughters. After the couple divorced in 1929, her daughters were raised by their paternal grandfather and later settled in Israel. She fell in love with Heinz Neumann, a leading Communist, and lived with him. After the Nazi regime came to power in 1933, she and Neumann fled into exile in the Soviet Union. During the 1930s, they both worked for the Comintern, first in France and then in Spain. Neumann was arrested in Stalin's Great Purge of 1937 and executed. She did not learn his fate until 1961. She was arrested the following year, imprisoned in the Lubyanka, and sent to a brutal forced labor camp in Karaganda. Following the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939, she was one of a number of German Communists handed back by the Soviets to the Nazis. She was sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp, where she became a close friend of Milena Jesenská. She survived five years in the camp and later wrote Jesenská's biography. After World War II, she spent some years in Sweden. In 1948, she published Under Two Dictators: Prisoner of Stalin and Hitler, a vivid account of her years in both Soviet prison and Nazi concentration camps. In Paris the next year, she testified in support of Victor Kravchenko, who was suing a magazine connected with the French Communist Party for libel for accusing him of fabricating his description of Soviet labor camps. She corroborated Kravchenko's story in great detail, contributing to his victory in the case. In the 1950s, now an anti-Communist, she returned to Germany, continued to write books and articles, and joined the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). In 1980, Margarete Buber-Neumann was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.
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