Obituary: Former Stasi prisoners lived for literature
Created: 12/13/2022 12:59 p.m
By: Ulrike Osman
Ursula Bräuning © mm
Ursula Bräuning was a blessing to German writers.
When she received the Federal Cross of Merit in 1985, it was at the suggestion of Heinrich Böll and Günter Grass, among others.
As managing director of the Association of German Writers (VS), Germering-Bräuning played a key role in creating a social network for freelance authors.
"People always think that a table, a chair, a typewriter and a quiet little room is enough for writing.
But they have to live from something," she once said in a newspaper interview.
The native Berliner was down-to-earth in her cradle.
Born in 1928 in the working-class district of Wedding, she spent her childhood and youth in humble circumstances – elementary school until the age of 14, apprenticeship in a uniform tailoring shop, lost her home in a bomb attack.
After the war she worked in the East German publishing house Volk und Welt as an assistant to the managing director.
Here she met a young editor and translator named Herbert Bräuning – an idealist who had come to the GDR from the West in the hope of humane socialism.
In 1951 the two married.
They were two free spirits who were increasingly bothered by the discrepancy between socialist values and their actual implementation.
Neither of them kept their opinions to himself and maintained contact with the East SPD, whose office was, significantly, in West Berlin.
This couldn't go well.
The Bräunings were arrested in early 1956 and sentenced to two and two-and-a-half years in prison in Hohenschönhausen Stasi for “boycott incitement”.
Much later, when Ursula Bräuning gained access to her Stasi files, she realized that it was a close friend who had betrayed her and her husband.
Nevertheless, the "red Uschi" - she owed her nickname in equal parts to her political views and her henna-red hair - always remained a philanthropist, open, communicative, resolute and caring.
From 1971 Ursula Bräuning lived with her husband in Germering.
In 1975 she moved from the VS to the collecting society (VG) Wort, where she helped set up and run the authors' pension scheme.
Here she was loved as the "mother of writers".
Because she made intellectual literati deal with the bureaucracy of filling out forms and submitting applications.
Because she had fate in her head for every name.
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The Bräunings used their retirement for many trips, to visit friends, to study books even more intensively, but also to get involved in a contemporary witness program that documented the Stasi atrocities of the GDR era from the perspective of the victims.
In 2014, the year her husband died, Ursula Bräuning traveled to Berlin to visit the Hohenschönhausen Memorial.
She even descended into the "submarine", the darkest part of the former prison.
Then she was able to draw a line under the past.
At the age of over 90, the active senior lived independently in her apartment.
But then came the corona pandemic with its restrictions.
Contacts, habits, structures broke away.
Ursula Bräuning suffered from the isolation.
"It took her mentally out of the curve," says a close confidant, to whom she was a motherly friend for decades.
Ursula Bräuning recently died after a long illness with dementia.
She was 94 years old.
You can find more current news from the district of Fürstenfeldbruck at Merkur.de/Fürstenfeldbruck.