Philipp Lohöfener Photographed Abandoned Stasi Prison
- Caroline Kurze
20 years after the fall of the Eastern Bloc, German photographer Philipp Lohöfener took pictures of Berlin’s abandoned Stasi Prison Hohenschönhausen. From 1951 until 1989, the Stasi detained thousands of political prisoners at Hohenschönhausen Prison, including many notable figures who opposed the GDR government and its policies. During this time the prison was never noted on East German maps. The area was simply left blank.
The goal of Hohenschönhausen Prison staff was to destabilize prisoners in order to generate a feeling of total powerlessness. Prisoners were never informed as to where they were being held and were essentially completely sealed off from the outside world. To incapacitate them more, they were also kept in strict isolation from their fellow prisoners. The effect of such conditions was to break down the prisoners so that they felt totally at the mercy of an almighty state authority. Interrogations were particularly cruel at the prison. Detainees were often subjected to months of interrogation in which highly trained interrogators employed extreme methods of interrogation, which often included torture, to extract incriminating information.
In the autumn of 1989 the Berlin Wall came down and with it came the dismantling of the Stasi and its prisons. On October 3, 1990, when the German Democratic Republic was incorporated into the Federal Republic of Germany, the Hohenschönhausen Prison was finally closed.
All images © Philipp Lohöfener