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Spendenkonto
Sparkasse Berlin
BLZ 100 500 00
Kto.-Nr. 0190 205 741

Ihre Spende fließt an den Förderverein Gedenkstätte Berlin-Hohenschönhausen, der damit unsere Arbeit unterstützt. Vielen Dank!

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The Ministry of State Security (MfS) Remand Prison
NB Gang
Cell section in the new prison building at the former
Ministry of State Security (MfS) remand prison.


In 1951, after the Ministry of State Security (MfS) was founded, it took over the Soviet cellar prison in Berlin-Hohenschönhausen as its central remand prison. In the 1950s, numerous people regarded as obstructive to the communist dictatorship were incarcerated here. The list of those arrested ranged from the leaders of the June 17th uprising in 1953 to Jehovah's Witnesses. But many others also spent months in the tomb-like cells, from reform communists such as Walter Janka, head of the Aufbau publishing house, to politicians fallen in disgrace, such as former GDR Foreign Minister Georg Dertinger, a CDU party member, and even one disgraced ex-SED Politbüro member, Paul Merker. Moreover, during this period - long before the Berlin Wall - the Ministry of State Security (MfS) actually kidnapped critics of the SED Party who were in the West and brought them to the Hohenschönhausen prison - the most famous case, perhaps, being Walter Linse, a West Berlin lawyer, kidnapped near his home in 1952 and executed a year later in Moscow.

At the end of the 1950s, the prisoners of the neighbouring labour camp "X" at the back of the site had to build a new prison building with over 200 cells and interrogation rooms. Until 1989, this U-shaped building served the Ministry of State Security (MfS) as their main remand prison. After the Berlin Wall went up on August 13th, 1961, the prisoners here were primarily held after applying to leave the GDR or for attempting to escape. However, the prison continued to house SED Party critics, such as dissident Rudolf Bahro, writer Jürgen Fuchs, or civil rights campaigner Bärbel Bohley. This building was designed to hold around 200 prisoners. The Ministry of State Security (MfS) had a further remand prison in its headquarters in Berlin's Lichtenberg district and one in each of the GDR's 15 local authority areas.

Over the years, physical violence, commonly used in the 1950s to wear down prisoners' resistance, gradually gave way to sophisticated psychological interrogation methods. Prisoners were never told where they were being held, and were systematically given the feeling of being totally at the mercy of an almighty state authority. The prisoners, hermetically sealed off from the outside world and usually kept in strict isolation from their fellow prisoners, were subjected to months of interrogation by trained experts - treatment solely aimed at extracting incriminating statements. Only after the non-violent revolution in autumn 1989 which ushered in the end of the SED Party dictatorship, was the State Security Service dismantled and its prisons disbanded. On October 3, 1990, when the German Democratic Republic was incorporated into the Federal Republic of Germany, the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen remand prison was finally closed.
 
Political prisoners today

Political prisoners today

In cooperation with
amnesty international

The Prohibited District
Proh.District
The Stasi Restricted Area Berlin-Hohenschönhausen

Please note that, as yet, it is only possible to tour the Memorial in a group - click here for details