Carola Stern

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Carola Stern (born November 14, 1925 in Ahlbeck , † January 19, 2006 in Berlin ; actually Erika Assmus , married Zöger ) was a German publicist and journalist .


Carola Stern (left) in November 1986 at the GREEN party conference in Hamburg

Carola Stern was born Erika Assmus on November 14, 1925 in Ahlbeck on Usedom , where her widowed mother ran a pension.

In the Third Reich Assmus Jungmädel was group leader in the BDM , in 1944 she graduated from high school. After the end of the Second World War , a world collapsed for her mother, who was a staunch supporter of National Socialism, while Erika Assmus was already critical of the perseverance calls.

She had contact with the Americans in West Berlin , where her mother was in hospital, and was recruited as an agent by the CIC in 1947 . On their behalf , Assmus infiltrated the FDJ , later joined the SED and received a lectureship at the SED party college "Karl Marx" , which was then located in the Hakeburg in Kleinmachnow on the southwestern outskirts of Berlin . Her espionage activity for the CIC was discovered by a friend and passed on to the GDR authorities. After an interrogation by the party control commission of the party college, Assmus fled to West Berlin on June 21, 1951.

Carola Stern studied politics at the then German University of Politics and the Free University of Berlin until 1959, and during this time she experienced two kidnapping attempts by agents of the MfS .

For her own protection, the author, who is now publishing in West Berlin, initially signed with three stars, later with the pseudonym Carola Stern . This pseudonym often led her readers to mistakenly assume that she was Jewish. During this time, Carola Stern wrote numerous papers about the GDR, the SED and their representatives.

During her work as an editor at the publishing house Kiepenheuer & Witsch in Cologne from 1960 to 1970, the social democratic author concentrated on topics such as human rights , women's and domestic politics and at the same time worked as an expert on GDR internal matters.

In 1961, along with Gerd Ruge and Felix Rexhausen, Carola Stern was one of the co-founders of the West German section of Amnesty International , which she chaired. Later she said about it: "When I look back on my life and think what I have done, I always say: The most sensible thing I have done in my life was to found Amnesty International in Germany."

Even before her time as radio editor and prominent commentator for WDR between 1970 and 1985, Stern advocated the policy of détente between East and West.

In the June 6, 1971 issue of Stern magazine , Carola Stern signed the confession “ We have an abortion! ".

Since 1976 Stern was co-editor of the magazine L '76 , renamed in 1980 to L '80 , together with Heinrich Böll and Günter Grass , who u. a. also offered a platform for those persecuted by the Prague Spring . At times she was in charge of the Comments and Features program group at WDR. Together with Erhard Eppler , Inge Aicher-Scholl , Walter Dirks , Helmut Gollwitzer , the constitutional judge Helmut Simon and numerous other celebrities, she founded the Gustav Heinemann Initiative .

Carola Stern was married to the former WDR journalist Heinz Zöger , who died in March 2000.

After her retirement, Carola Stern wrote books. In 2000, together with Hartmut von Hentig and Günter Grass, she signed an appeal not to delay the compensation of former forced laborers any longer.

Carola Stern is buried in Benz on the island of Usedom, where her husband's grave was already located.

Parts of her estate are in the Hans-Werner-Richter-Haus in the seaside resort of Bansin on Usedom . The town council of her place of birth Ahlbeck had already refused to set up a memorial for her during her lifetime, which she had asked for.

On January 28, 2008, the PEN Center Germany announced the establishment of the Carola Stern Foundation . This should support persecuted and threatened authors and their families and facilitate their integration in Germany.


  • 1954: The SED. - Handbook on the structure, organization and function of the party apparatus of the SED. Red White Papers 14
  • 1957: Portrait of a Bolshevik Party. - Development, function and situation of the SED. How was the SED able to oust all other socially relevant groups from power?
  • 1958: agitation and propaganda. The system of mass journalistic leadership in the Soviet zone. (By Ernst Richert in collaboration with Carola Stern and Peter Dietrich) Verlag Franz Vahlen, Berlin and Frankfurt.
  • 1964: Ulbricht. A political biography. Presentation of the early history of the SED.
  • 1971: Lexicon on history and politics in the 20th century - as co-editor.
  • 1975: Willy Brandt . rororo Monographs No. 50.232, ISBN 3-499-50232-1 .
  • 1979: Two Christians in politics - Gustav Heinemann and Helmut Gollwitzer . - Dedicated to Gustav Heinemann.
  • 1979: turning points in German history. - edited together with Heinrich A. Winkler .
  • 1980: Strategies for Human Rights.
  • 1981: Amnesty International - Whoever remains silent becomes complicit. - as editor.
  • 1986: Isadora Duncan and Sergej Jessenin . The poet and the dancer. - rororo paperbacks No. 22.531, ISBN 3-499-22531-X .
  • 1986: In the webs of memory. Life stories of two people. - rororo paperbacks No. 12.227, ISBN 3-499-12227-8 .
  • 1990: "I want to have wings." The life of Dorothea Schlegel . Rowohlt, ISBN 3-499-13368-7 .
  • 1994: The Text of My Heart. The life of Rahel Varnhagen . Rowohlt, ISBN 3-499-13901-4 .
  • 1998: The thing called love. The life of the Fritzi Massary . - 2000: Rowohlt, ISBN 3-499-22529-8 .
  • 2000: Men love differently. Helene Weigel and Bertolt Brecht . - Rowohlt, Berlin, ISBN 3-87134-411-7 .
  • 2001: double life. - Autobiography, Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne, ISBN 3-46202981-9 .
  • 2003: Everything I ask in the world. The life of Johanna Schopenhauer . - Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne, ISBN 3-462-03319-0 .
  • 2004: “Nothing knocks us over anymore.” A journey through life, recorded by Thomas Schadt. - Rowohlt, Reinbek, ISBN 3-498-06380-4 .
  • 2005: A strawberry for Hitler: Germany under the swastika. - Youth book published together with Ingke Brodersen.
  • 2005: On the Waters of Life. - Double biography of Gustaf Gründgens and Marianne Hoppe . Publishing house Kiepenheuer and Witsch, Cologne, ISBN 3-462-03604-1 .
  • 2006: Come on, Cohn! - together with Ingke Brodersen, Verlag Kiepenheuer und Witsch, Cologne, double biography and German-Jewish family history of the publisher Friedrich Cohn and the writer Clara Viebig . Your last, posthumously published book. ISBN 3-462-03724-2 .



  • 1961–1970 second, then first chairman of the German section of Amnesty International.
  • 1970–1972 International Executive Committee of Amnesty International
  • since 1972 member of the PEN center of the Federal Republic.
  • From 1987-1995 she was PEN Vice President
  • since 1995 PEN Honorary President
  • since 1997 patron of the newly founded Varnhagen-Gesellschaft Hagen-Berlin
  • Member of the advisory board of the Association against Forgetting - For Democracy
  • Member of the SPD
Board member

honors and awards

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Eduard Prüssen (linocuts), Werner Schäfke and Günter Henne (texts): Cologne heads . 1st edition. University and City Library, Cologne 2010, ISBN 978-3-931596-53-8 , pp. 106 .
  2. Carola Stern's grave
  3. ^ Carola Stern Foundation
  4. Carola Stern died in Berlin at the age of 80. In: Rhein-Zeitung online. January 20, 2006, accessed December 14, 2019 .

Web links