‘A European Woman in the Land of the Kurds’ – German translation

By Sissy Danninger:

Sissy Danninger has published a German translation of ‘Une Européenne au pays des Kurdes’ (‘A European Woman in the Land of the Kurds’), the memoir of  Helene Krulich-Ghassemlou, widow of the Kurdish leader Abdol Rahman Ghassemlou who was assassinated by Iranian agents in Austria in 1989.

The German version is available online. Sissy has also written a preface in English which we republish here:

Translator’s preface

In her life Helene Krulich-Ghassemlou has simultaneously traversed the history of the Middle East and the centre of Europe since the 1950ies and literally learned some of its effects the hard way herself. The experiences and sufferings she collected seem to be almost too many for a single life.

She fell in love in the early 1950s in Prague and thus got into the Kurdish people’s fight for freedom and against suppression within at least four states in the Middle East, which at that time had already lasted for about a century and has not been won to the present day.

Mostly living as an “illegal” person, as a refugee or as a “foreigner” at least she became a contemporary witness as well as, shoulder to shoulder with the Kurds, a victim together with them:

  • in Iran from the shah’s dictatorship onwards to Khomeiny’s revolution and beyond his death up to the assassinations upon state order of two Iranian Kurdish leaders in Europe (Vienna 1989, Berlin 1992);
  • in Iraq from the dictatorial monarchy and its fall to Saddam’s dictatorship and to the new Autonomous Region of Kurdistan of our days;
  • in Syria’s capital Damascus as a refugee on her troublesome way back to Europe;
  • in her native country Czechoslovakia from the post-war occupation by the Soviets across the “Prague Spring” and its bloody extinction by the invasion of the Warsaw Pact-troops up to the “Velvet Revolution” and EU-membership;
  • and, finally, in Austria, which showed her and the Kurds a grimace of cowardice by persistently preventing any efficient clarification and legal prosecution of the murder of Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, who had been one of the most important Kurdish leaders in history.

The Kurdish people’s struggle for their legitimate political, cultural and social (minority-) rights is a matter near to her heart, still. Today she lives in modest conditions in a suburb of Paris. There she wrote down her reminiscences during the past years. This very personal “history from below” was published in Paris in spring 2011 titled “Une Européenne au pays des Kurdes” by Karthala (280 pages, ISBN 987-2-8111-0509-9). All rights concerning the original edition are with the author and the publisher.

In order to enable German-speaking readers, especially Austrians, to get access to this thrilling document of contemporary history I translated and slightly modified it with the consent and the support of the author and put in online on my homepage for the time being. The copyright of this German version is mine.

May this peculiar “e-book” help as many readers as possible to strengthen their comprehension for inter-human, inter-cultural and political as well as historical conditions.

Sissy Danninger, Freelance, Vienna


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