Hohenschoenhausen - Behind the Stasi Walls

rbb-series: "Mysterious Places"

Author & Director:
Daniel Ast | Juergen Ast

Commissioning Editor:
Rolf Bergmann


Daniel Ast

astfilm productions | RBB | funded with means of the Federal Foundation for the reappraise of the SED-Dictatorship

For decades in the middle of the district of Hohenschoenhausen in East-Berlin existed a place, that was not to find on any map, it was a "blank spot". Except the headquarter of the East-German State Security it was the largest "object", a top-secret base. For 44 years the infamous Stasi-base was an off-limits area, hidden in the cityscape and heavily secured. Only after the German Democratic Republic and the Stasi fell apart, the gates of the "No Name Zone" opened. It's an irony of history that in 1990 the former Minister of State Security, Erich Mielke, the most hated and most feared man in the GDR, was imprisoned in Hohenschoenhausen. He was to be the last prisoner of the former "central remand center" of the East-German State Security.

At Höhenschönhausen over 40.000 people were arrested by the State Security and prior by the Soviet Intelligence. They were interrogated and often physically and mentally broken. For the interrogators it was only a job that needed to be done properly, their normal workplace. For the others, those who were not there by choice, from the very first moment they knew, all rights were lost, even the right to their own name.

Not only a prison existed in this off-limits area. The base looked more like the site of a big enterprise. 2.500 full-time employees of the State Security worked here. The historic Nazi-Archives were stored here, a print office, the most secret Hospital in the GDR, the "Central Division for Investigation", ... and especially the laboratories of the "Technical Operative Sector". Here all the ideas were created, all prototypes developed, manufactured and repaired. Duplicated keys, special machines for opening letters without leaving any traces, prepared cars for observations, special communications equipment and many other usable items for the Agents and Informants of the Ministry of State Security, whatever is necessary for the surveillance of the enemy, within the country as well as abroad. The documentary takes a look behind the walls of the former "No Name Zone". It tells the dramatic stories of former prisoners and analyses the anatomy of this top-secret location in East-Germany during the Cold War.