Barbel Bohley, a key figure in the pro-democracy movement that helped end communist rule in the former East Germany has died. She was 65 and had reportedly been suffering from cancer.
A painter, Bohley was one of the founders of New Forum, a prominent opposition group established in 1989 in the final phase of communist rule.
The group advocated free elections, greater openness and a free press in what was the GDR.
Subjected to harrassment by the Stasi, East Germany’s police, Bohley was arrested several times and was regarded by many during the mid 1980’s as ‘the voice of the opposition’.
In November 1989 after mounting peaceful protests East Germany’s communist leadership opened its border, leading to the eventual fall of the Berlin Wall.
Said to be deeply touched by news of Bohley’s death, German Chancellor Angela Merkel described her as ‘a significant voice for freedom’, permitting Germany’s pacifist revolution and eventual reunification.