German president to open memorial at former East German women’s jail


German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is set to inaugurate a new memorial site on Thursday commemorating those incarcerated in the notorious Hoheneck women’s prison in the former communist East Germany.

Many of the inmates of the former women’s prison in Stollberg, some 80 kilometres south-west of Dresden, were political prisoners.

Joined by eyewitnesses of that era, Steinmeier will visit the historic cell block and a newly established permanent exhibition. He is scheduled to deliver a speech afterwards.

The former castle grounds were used as a prison from 1864. In 1950, the facility was turned into the largest women’s prison in East Germany.

Around 24,000 women, including 8,000 political prisoners, were held at the jail until 1989, when the fall of the Berlin Wall ushered in the end of communist rule.

According to the memorial site’s website, daily life in the prison was characterized by hatred among inmates and harsh punishments from guards.

Prisoners were forced to mass-produce tights and bed linen sold at department stores in West Germany – to the point of exhaustion, the website said.

Men were also imprisoned at Hoheneck at times.

Following German reunification in 1990, the facility continued to be used as a prison until 2001.

Efforts have been under way since 2019 to turn the grounds into a memorial site and set up a permanent exhibition.



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