Free Walking Tour Berlin

When: Every day 10am & 12pm every day
Where: The meeting point is in front of the ehemaliges Kaiserliches Postfuhramt Berlin, Oranienburger Straße, 10117 Berlin, Germany, next to the entrance.
Price: Free

The Dark History: Exploring the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial

by | Mar 7, 2024 | Original Berlin

Located in the heart of Berlin, Germany, the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial stands as a powerful reminder of the country’s dark past. This memorial is not your typical tourist attraction; it serves as a stark reminder of the atrocities committed during the days of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), particularly at the Hohenschönhausen prison.

The Origins of Hohenschönhausen

Hohenschönhausen prison was originally built in 1947 by the Soviet occupying forces, following the end of World War II. Initially intended for common criminals, its purpose soon changed dramatically. In 1951, the GDR turned Hohenschönhausen into a notorious political prison where individuals who were seen as threats to the socialist regime were interrogated, tortured, and held in inhumane conditions.

A House of Horrors

The Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial is a chilling reminder of the human rights abuses that took place during the years of GDR rule. As you step inside the stark, gray walls of the former prison, you will be transported back in time to an era of fear and oppression. Visitors have the opportunity to explore the various rooms and corridors where countless individuals suffered. From cramped cells to interrogation rooms, every space in this memorial holds a haunting story.

The Interrogation Rooms

One of the most chilling aspects of the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial are the interrogation rooms. These rooms were designed to psychologically break down prisoners, using techniques meant to induce fear, isolation, and mental anguish. Step into one of these rooms, and you’ll be struck by the emptiness and coldness that still linger.

It’s important to note that the guides who lead visitors through the memorial are often former inmates themselves. Their firsthand accounts of the horrors that unfolded within these interrogation rooms make the experience all the more impactful.

The Cells

The cells in Hohenschönhausen were unimaginably cramped and devoid of even the most basic comforts. Many prisoners were kept in isolation, cut off from the outside world for months or even years on end. The memorial showcases different types of cells, giving visitors a glimpse into the desperate conditions inmates endured.

As you walk through these narrow, dimly lit spaces, it’s hard not to feel a sense of despair. The emptiness and silence serve as a stark reminder of the suffering individuals endured and the sheer resilience of the human spirit.

The Importance of Remembering

While the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial offers a haunting and unsettling experience, it serves a crucial purpose in Germany’s history. By preserving this dark chapter in their past, Germans ensure that the horrors of the GDR regime are never forgotten, serving as a warning and a reminder of the importance of human rights.

The memorial also plays a vital role in educating visitors about the methods of oppression and control used by the GDR. By understanding these tactics, visitors gain a deeper appreciation for the freedoms and rights they enjoy today.

Planning Your Visit

If you’re planning a visit to the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial, there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, be prepared for an emotionally intense experience. The stories and spaces you’ll encounter are deeply unsettling, leaving a lasting impact.

Secondly, remember that this memorial is not suitable for young children due to the sensitive nature of its subject matter. Consider the emotional maturity of your companions before visitation.

Lastly, it’s crucial to book your visit in advance. The Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial conducts guided tours, and spaces can fill up quickly, especially during peak tourist seasons. Booking in advance ensures you don’t miss out on this enlightening and harrowing experience.

Final Thoughts

The Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial stands as a symbol of resilience, hope, and a solemn reminder of the atrocities committed during the time of the GDR. By exploring the rooms and spaces within this former prison, visitors gain a deeper understanding of Germany’s past and the importance of upholding human rights.

While it may be a challenging experience, a visit to the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial is an essential step towards acknowledging and learning from history, ensuring that such dark chapters are never repeated.

Thank you for reading. If you're inspired by the stories of Berlin and want to delve deeper, why not join us on our Free Berlin Walking Tour? It's a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the city's rich history and vibrant culture. We look forward to welcoming you soon.


  • 3.5 hours walking tour
  • Berlin’s major highlights
  • Brandenburg Gate
  • Reichstag and Berlin Wall
  • Historical sites

Free Walking Tour Berlin

When: Every day 10am & 12pm every day
Where: The meeting point is in front of the ehemaliges Kaiserliches Postfuhramt Berlin, Oranienburger Straße, 10117 Berlin, Germany, next to the entrance.
Price: Free