Eva-Maria Buch was the only child of a fine-art painter, Walter Buch, and his wife Erna. She was born on 31 January 1921 in Berlin-Charlottenburg and grew up in Tempelhof, at Friedrich Franz Strasse 23. Her parents were practising Catholics for whom the arts were an important part of everyday life. In 1935 the family moved to Hochfeilerweg 23 (now 23a) in Mariendorf. Eva-Maria had a gift for music and languages and attended a private convent school, St. Ursula. In 1937 the school was forced to leave its premises in Linden Strasse and moved to Dahlem. In spring 1939 it was closed by the Nazis, preventing Eva-Maria from taking her leaving exams. She nevertheless worked toward a career as an interpreter by studying independently and at the Friedrich Wilhelm University’s Department of Linguistics and Interpreting. She also worked there as a language teacher in her spare time in order to contribute to the family income, since her father’s commissions were declining on account of his religious convictions. In addition, she filled in for a conscripted friend as an assistant in the second-hand department of the bookshop Gsellius at the corner of Mohren Strasse and Friedrich Strasse. Here she became friends with an equally devout fellow employee, Wilhelm Guddorf, who was a resistance fighter. He had been interned in Sachsenhausen concentration camp 1934-1939 for his activity in the German Communist Party (KPD) and had started working at Gsellius in 1940. Soon after his release, Wilhelm Guddorf had become involved in the “Red Orchestra” anti-Nazi resistance movement.
Though previously non-political, Eva-Maria Buch soon resolved to join in the fight against the inhumane Nazi regime after conversations with her distinctly older colleague Guddorf. She helped the “Red Orchestra” as a linguistic expert but was not involved in any further illegal work. It is known that she translated a text for French-speaking forced labourers working in German armament factories into French, calling on them to sabotage. This flyer pointed out to the readers that it was their families who would be torn apart by the bombs they were making.
During a wave of arrests targeting members of the “Red Orchestra” in summer 1942, Eva-Maria Buch was among those hit. She was arrested by the Gestapo on 11 October in her parent’s home and taken into pre-trial confinement, where she was subjected to several questionings. Her case was heard 1-3 February 1943 in the Reichskriegsgericht, the high court of the German armed forces. The only evidence against her was the flyer she had translated into French. In order to protect the authors of the text, Eva-Maria claimed she had written it herself, for which she was sentenced to death. The judge found her to be “as sly as a Catholic and as hostile to the state as a Communist”. Her parents’ plea for clemency was rejected by Hitler personally.
Eva-Maria Buch died on 5 August 1943 at the guillotine in Ploetzensee. She was denied a burial; her body was transferred to an anatomical institute. But the letter she wrote to her parents on the day of her execution remains as a testament to her loving concern for her parents and calm assurance at the age of only 22.