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Fighter for the freedom and independence of Ukraine, veteran of the anti-terrorist operation in Ukraine Olga Benda was awarded the International Human Rights Award One of the heroines of the book “Girls cut their hair”, a veteran of ATU / OOS Olga Benda (Tarasevich), who lost her limb in the war, was awarded the medal named after Dr. Rainer Hildebrandt.


Olga Benda was the first Ukrainian to receive this honorable award for the protection of human rights, thanks to the publication of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory – the book “Girls Cut Hair”, which includes the story of Olga Benda.

Presentation of the award took place in the Museum of the Berlin Wall on the famous Checkpoint Charlie. Olga was awarded the medal by Kai Wegner, a member of the Bundestag, a member of the Ukrainian-German friendship group and leader of the CDU Berlin.

Photo: Svitlana Melnyk

The wife of the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, Svitlana Melnyk wrote on her Facebook page – The High Commission, which includes Kissinger, Lord James Douglas-Hamilton (former British Parliamentarian), Joachim Gauck (former German President), Berbel Bolei (human rights activist) and other influential politicians and fighters for human rights in the world, decided to award this award to Olga, noting her struggle for freedom and independence of Ukraine”.

Photo: Svitlana Melnyk

Svitlana Melnyk added that the award was founded in 2004 in memory of the famous German human rights activist, member of the anti-fascist movement of the opposition Rainer Hildebrandt, his widow Alexandra Hildebrandt, director of the Berlin Wall Museum. It was Alexandra who placed on the front of the museum back in March 2015 a huge poster in the form of the flag of Ukraine with the inscription in Russian and English: “Vladimir Putin, your geopolitical ambitions are dead and you should give freedom to all Ukraine”.

Photo: Svitlana Melnyk

” It is necessary to have such power, such desire for freedom for the Fatherland, such love to decide on such a step! Olga is a strong woman, kind, radiant – wonderful. I want everyone to be like her, we can follow her example! “, – said Alexandra Hildebrandt, director of the museum and founder of the medal, named after her husband, the founder of the museum and human rights activist Rainer Hildebrandt.

Olga Benda went to war when her little son Dima was just over a year old. As part of the 72nd Separate Mechanized Brigade in October 2016 began service in Avdeevka. She was a chef. The tragic case of Olya happened on May 14, 2017 – Mother’s Day. At that time the enemy started shooting at the Ukrainian positions by dawn. One of the missiles fell by the wall of the building where the girl was. She does not remember what happened next.

She lost her leg, she was able to protect her knee only because the woman was engaged in sports and had strong muscles.

In 2019, Olga Benda completed the Marine Corps Marathon. The Ukrainian woman was not only the first woman in the team who represented our country but also the only participant among the fighters who ran the marathon with a prosthetic leg.

Together with Olga, a former member of the American brigade in Berlin Danny Lewis Warrvik received the medal. A U.S. Army soldier was guarding exactly the Checkpoint Charlie crossing point, the border between West and East Berlin, on which the Museum of the Wall stands.