Prison Museums

Stasi Prison Museum

Hohenschönhausen Memorial Center (Stasi prison museum)

Between 1951 and 1989 East Germany's Stasi secret police used this site in Hohenschönhausen as a detention centre / prison for unsentenced suspects. Holding mainly political prisoners, it was infamous for its regime of physical and psychological torture meted out to inmates. Following the fall of the Communist regime and the disbanding of the Stasi the prison was converted into a memorial museum, the Gedenkstätte Berlin-Hohenschönhausen, on the initiative of former prisoners.

The prison was originally established in 1945 by the Soviet NKVD, the forerunner to the KGB as an internment camp . This camp was closed in October 1946 but the cellar was converted into cells and served as the main detention and interrogation centre for dissidents and other undesirables. It was taken over by the East German Stasi in 1951. By 1960 / 61 a new prison building had been constructed using prisoner labour; following the construction of the Berlin Wall many attempted escapees were held here. As well as the prison facilities the Stasi also ran other operations on the site, such as a workshop for forgeries. Much of the area around the prison was a forbidden zone.

Recently the memorial center was at the center of controversy when, during consultation on plans to erect memorial signs outside of the prison complex, former Stasi employees of the prison used a public meeting to cast doubt on the testimonies of former prisoners and denigrated the Memorial itself as a "Chamber of Horrors".


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