German President Opens Monument at Former East German Women’s Prison


German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will open a new memorial site on Thursday to commemorate the prisoners at the notorious Hoheneck women’s prison in the former communist East Germany.

Many of the prisoners in the former women’s prison in Stollberg, about 80 kilometres southwest of Dresden, were political prisoners.

Together with eyewitnesses from that time, Steinmeier will visit the historic cell block and a recently established permanent exhibition, after which he will give a speech.

From 1864 the former castle grounds were used as a prison. In 1950 the complex was converted into the largest women’s prison in East Germany.

About 24,000 women, including 8,000 political prisoners, were held in prison until 1989, when the fall of the Berlin Wall heralded the end of communist rule.

According to the memorial’s website, daily life in the prison was characterized by hatred among prisoners and harsh punishment by guards.

Prisoners were forced to mass-produce pantyhose and bedding, which were sold in department stores in West Germany — until they ran out, the website said.

Men were also sometimes imprisoned in Hoheneck.

After German reunification in 1990, the institution was used as a prison until 2001.

Since 2019, work has been underway to transform the site into a memorial site and set up a permanent exhibition.

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