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Edda Schönherz
Zellengang im Neubau


Edda Schönherz

Edda Schönherz was born in Bad Landeck (Silesia) in 1944. From 1963 to 1969, she trained as a journalist, presenter and announcer. With the start of colour television in East Germany in October 1969, she became known throughout the GDR. She did not belong to any political party and was critical of the conditions in the GDR.

While on holiday in Budapest in August 1974, Edda Schönherz enquired at the embassies of the Federal Republic of Germany and the United States about the possibility of leaving the GDR. As the embassies were under surveillance, she was arrested in Hungary a few days later without any evidence of criminal offences having been committed. 

State Security arrested Edda Schönherz on 9th September 1974. She was first sent to the Stasi remand centre at Berlin-Lichtenberg and then to Berlin-Hohenschönhausen. In December of that year, she was sentenced to three years imprisonment for "making anti-state contacts" and "preparing an unlawful border crossing in a particularly serious case" and "foreign currency offences". She was sent to the notorious Hoheneck women's prison in Stollberg/Erzgebirge.

She was released from prison in the GDR on 8 September 1977. She worked as a photographer for the Catholic Church in Berlin. In August 1979, she and her children were able to emigrate to West Germany. Edda Schönherz then worked as an announcer and presenter at Bayrischer Rundfunk in Munich. She returned to Berlin in 2002. Edda Schönherz has been guiding groups of visitors through the memorial site since 2003 and has been working as a contemporary witness at schools and educational institutions for the Coordinating Office of Contemporary Witnesses since 2011. She has been a member of the Advisory Board of the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial Foundation since 2010.

Further information

  • Edda Schönherz, Die Solistin – Roman einer Frau, die von Deutschland nach Deutschland wollte, Berlin 2013.

The publication is available at BuchHandlung89: BuchHandlung89



Gedenkstätte Berlin-Hohenschönhausen (Hg.), Zeugen der Zeit. Porträts von Dirk Vogel, Berlin 2023.

Further information (German website)

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