In April 1951, the East German Ministry of State Security (MfS) took over the prison, constructed an additional building, and until 1989, used the site as its main remand centre. Thousands of political prisoners passed through this jail, including nearly all the prominent figures who opposed the GDR regime. Show more
The main MfS units responsible for prisons and criminal prosecutions were conveniently located on the nearby Genslerstrasse: the Main Investigation Department (HA IX) and the Central Prison Department Headquarters (Dept. XIV), which reported directly to Erich Mielke, Minister of State Security. These two departments monitored and directed the work of all investigative departments and remand centres in the 15 districts comprising the GDR. The prison and restricted area formed a kind of headquarters of communist repression in East Germany.
The remand prison was located within a restricted military area hermetically sealed off from the outside world. This area, which never appeared on any maps of East Berlin, was home to a number of other MfS service units: the Operative Technical Sector (OTS), whose tasks included, for example, building sound-surveillance systems; Sector HA IX/11, responsible for a secret Nazi archive; and a section of the Espionage Data Processing Centre (HVA). Until 1974, the labour camp "X" was located directly next to the prison and used inmates as forced labour for the Ministry of State Security.
Aerial photo of the former Stasi remand prison Berlin-Hohenschönhausen
© Reimer Wulf
Map of the restricted Stasi district Berlin-Hohenschönhausen, in black the former Stasi prison