Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial
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STASI Prison—Guilty Until Proven Innocent
“What is the first article of your country’s constitution?” our tour guide Grit asked. We all answered with some form of free speech and the right to choose. Grit then announced to us the first article of East Germany run by the GDR (German Democratic Republic): “There is only one party.” This was East Germany and the GDR after World War II. It was a pawn in the cold war between Russia and America, and the people of East Germany were the losers. They lived in a world where they couldn’t speak up, were asked to share secrets or forced to make up lies about their neighbors and relatives, and could trust no one. The outcome of this society was the Stasi Prison. This was not an actual prison, but more of a holding tank to get people to confess to "crimes"—and then they were charged officially and sent to a "real" prison. The holding-and-interrogation prison time could last from 2 days to 2 years, blurring the definition of prison and interrogation as well as the concept of innocent until proven guilty. Currently it is possible to view the Stasi Prison Memorial Center only with a guided tour (guides are volunteer former prisoners). There are public tours not requiring registration on weekdays at 11am, 1pm and 3pm; and on weekends, hourly between 10am and 4pm. Admission is about €5 / €2.50 (concessions), and free on Mondays. Hohenschönhausen Memorial Center (Stasi prison museum)
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