Stasi Prison is a symbol of communist repression. A horrifying reminder of Soviet dictatorship in former East Berlin in the 1950s.
Over 11,000 political activists and demonstrators were incarcerated in the tomb-like cells by the secret police of the SED, the ruling party in the German Democratic Republic.
Anyone resisting the communist regime, or caught fleeing the country were banished to Stasi Prison and subjected to days, weeks and even months of interrogations.
Some remained in U-Boot – underground cells nicknamed ‘the submarine’ – for years. If they refused to ‘confess’, they were taken to ‘standing cells’ and tortured. Many were sentenced to years of forced labour by Soviet Military Tribunals. Nearly 1,000 people died.
Stasi’s secret location
Due to its hidden location – in a restricted area bordered by a large military town in former East Berlin –prisoners had no idea where they were being taken to. Officially it did not exist and was left off all maps.
Many political figures were kidnapped from West Berlin, blind-folded and driven round for hours so they were disorientated and confused as they arrived at Hohenschönhausen Prison.
The most famous case is that of Walter Linse, a West Berlin lawyer, kidnapped near his home in 1952 and executed a year later in Moscow.
Tragically, almost each former prisoner, who at the end of the SED dictatorship in 1990 filed for an application for rehabilitation, has been subsequently declared innocent by the Russian authorities. They went through all that suffering for nothing.
Despite its depressing history, Stasi Prison is an incredibly interesting place to visit. Some of the guides here are former inmates, which makes for a fascinating insight into the everyday lives of prisoners.
Visitors are given a tour of the ‘submarine’ prison cells, interrogation rooms, padded cells, the Tiger Cage (where inmates did ‘exercise’), and the newer prison which was built in 1962.
Guided tours take place daily at 10.30am, 12.30pm and 2.3pm and cost 6 euros. Tickets can be purchased at the ticket office inside the prison.