“ON 13 MAY 1945, I SET OFF WITH PAULA (A FRIEND FROM RAVENSBRÜCK) ON THE JOURNEY TO BUCH. I SAW YOU AND CALLED TO YOU, ‘BÄRBELE’, BUT YOU DIDN’T HEAR ME. BUT EDITH’S KEENER EAR RECOGNISED HER MOTHER’S VOICE. […] ‘BÄRBELE, OUR MOTHER IS HERE!’ IT WAS A WONDERFUL FEELING FOR ME TO BE SURE THAT THE MEMORY OF ME WAS STILL ALIVE.“
My mother was born on 12 October 1902 in Düsseldorf, the daughter of a travelling carpenter, Wilhelm Thiebes, and his wife, Elisabetha Thiebes, who was a seamstress. Already during her youth, Aenne was politically active and she became a member of the German Communist Party and moved to Berlin in 1927. In 1928, her daughter Edith was born. From 1933 on my mother worked in small illegal groups against the Nazis and in 1941 she met my father, Anton, who was a motorist. They got married and in 1943 their daughter Bärbel came into the world. With others, my father built up a resistance network. My mother helped, she provided courier services and participated in many discussions. The organisation became a victim of the Gestapo, and my father, like hundreds of other comrades, had to pay for his illegal work with his life. My mother, who was also arrested, was held in various prisons before being sent to Ravensbrück in March 1945. When she arrived at the concentration camp, she was shocked by the conditions there, but on the other hand, she drew hope for the future from meeting anti-fascists from many European countries who held the same beliefs as she did.
Even though her health was weakened as a result of her detention, as a single parent, she took care of two children.
After May 1945 my mother was one of the activists for a new society. She was involved in social work and became the mayor of one of the boroughs of Berlin. Her extraordinary commitment led to the creation of a memorial site at Ravensbrück, where I went to commemorative events with her from when I was a child and where I had the chance to make friends with people from Germany and abroad.
I try to continue her commitment to the goal: “No Ravensbrück ever again!”
Aenne Saefkow’s daughter