Situated firmly in East Berlin sat a secret and prohibited district, left off maps, and surrounded by high walls, barbed wired and armed guards. Inside lay a facility that bred paranoia on the part of the guards, and fear and terror on the part of the prisoners. Their houses raided in the middle of the night, snatched from their families, the relentless snatching of men, women and children who in some way were deemed to be a threat to the DDR (German Democratic Republic). Only years following the demise of Nazism, and the awareness of the heinous crimes committed, similar crimes were being committed. Held in inhumane conditions, subjected to relentless questioning, and psychological torture, prisoners on remand often confessed to the fictitious crimes posed to them simply to end the torment.
Today Hohenschoenhausen is a living history museum, held in time to the moment it closed, and staffed by many who were once interred inside its walls. Tours are given in English and German, and while not on the mainstream tourist trails, it is most definitely worth a visit. Allow at least 2 hours. I visited in May 2017. Below are some of my photographs.
Central Remand Prison and Division XIV. The only people to see the camp gate were the guards. None of the prisoners knew where they were going or where they were detained.
Central Remand Prison and Department XIV model.
Snatched from their homes and families in the dead of night, not knowing where they were going, detainees arrived in vehicles like this and were offloaded without a glimpse of the outside world.
Side of the U-Boot (submarine) and administration building of Division XIV
Basement corridor in the U-Boot
Single prison cell in the U-Boot old prison. Situated in the basement they would have had no heating or air conditioning, and no access to daylight.
A multiple occupancy holding cell in the U-Boot. With no segregation of men, women or children, up to 20 people would have been held here.
North and west wing of the new prison. The rose garden was for the benefit of the guards.
Corridor within the new prison building.
A cell in the new prison. Note that the windows are all frosted glass – the prisoners had no idea where they were.
The circular rubber padded cell in the new prison building. In this cell prisoners had no bathroom or sleeping facilities. They were held in total darkness, and without any corners were completely disorientated.
Tiger cage or exercise cell in the new prison block. This cell was previously two cells, but the dividing wall has been removed.
Workshops and garages inside the main gate.
The military base of the Guard Commando directly opposite the entrance to the prison.