SANTIAGO, Chile — Former East German first lady Margot Honecker, who defended the now-vanished Communist country to the end, died Friday in Chile at age 89, a family friend confirmed.

Honecker had lived since 1992 in Chile, three years after the toppling of the Berlin Wall signaled the impending collapse of the socialist government. Her husband, Erich Honecker, died in 1994 after joining her in Chile.

A family friend and member of Chile’s Communist Party confirmed the death.

Honecker, who remained unrepentant about the country’s record of repression, had been education minister and dictated what children in rigidly orthodox East Germany learned for 26 years.

She said youngsters must defend socialism “if necessary with a weapon in the hand,” and one of her pet projects was field trips by kindergarten children to military bases.

Born Margot Feist in the eastern city of Halle on April 17, 1927, Honecker grew up in a poor family. She trained as a saleswoman before taking a job as a telephone operator.

She became a member of the Communist Party in 1945, and then rose through the ranks of the communist youth organization, the Free German Youth.

In 1950, at age 22, she became the youngest lawmaker in the fledgling East German parliament. She married Erich Honecker in 1953.

She started work at the Education Ministry in 1955 and rose to become minister in 1963.Margot Honecker resigned shortly before the Wall fell in November 1989, with the communist system in crisis and her husband already ousted as East German leader.