ALTHOUGH SHE was known as the partner of the painter and writer Roger Loewig, Crezentia Troike-Loewig was a personality in her own right. She had sacrificed her own ambitions to fostering the career of Roger Loewig who, without her, would never have received the attention he deserved.
Cenzi Troike was born in Habelschwerdt, Silesia, in 1915. It was a small town of only 6,700 people on the banks of the Neisse and the Kressenbach rivers. Being close to the Czechoslovak frontier it was a place where German nationalism was strong. The old ramparts with three gate towers reminded its inhabitants of the suffering during the Hussite War (1419- 56). Geography and history hung heavily in the atmosphere.
From a non-Nazi household Cenzi found it difficult to remain silent as a schoolgirl in the face of what she considered to be Nazi stupidity as well as evil. After warnings from local Nazis she took advice to leave town and worked as a tutor for the children of well- to-do estate owners. Her father's printing and bookselling business was eventually closed by the Nazis. In the same year in which the Munich Agreement sealed the fate of Czechoslovakia she married a conventional man.
Cenzi was restless in the confined space left open to women in Hitler's Reich. The appalling conditions she witnessed of Czech workers forced to work on the German railways led her to question even more the values of Nazi Germany. Allied bombing and Soviet tanks turned her and millions of others like her into refugees.
When the fighting finally stopped in May 1945 she found herself living with her two small daughters in a barn in Lower Saxony, West Germany. Aged 30, her marriage at an end, she found the strength to take up the call of Kurt Schumacher, the new Social Democratic leader, himself a Nazi victim from the German east. She joined his SPD.
Disappointed by what to some appeared Schumacher's nationalistic tones, Cenzi went to East Berlin, where the Communists preached reconciliation with the Czechs, Poles and Russians now occupying much of old eastern Germany, including Habelschwerdt. She enrolled on a teacher's course and was soon teaching Russian in a Berlin secondary school. Fired by the Russian classics and a sense of guilt she was dissatisfied by the rigidity of Communist …