Reform discussions in the first German Republic after 1918 also focused on the prison system in the 1920s. Corporal punishment and darkness detention were abolished. The reform approaches were first written down in 1923 in the “Reich principles for the imposition of prison sentences.” Instead of using the prison system as a deterrent, humane principles of education were supposed to shape the prison system of the future.
Between 1933 and 1945, the prison in Brandenburg-Görden was a site that assumed national significance in the context of Nazi crimes in the justice system. Prisoners from the German Reich and from all over Europe, as well as persons in protective custody, became victims of the Nazi dictatorship through excessive sentences, inhumane prison conditions, the expansion of the death penalty, and eradication programs conducted under the auspices of racial hygiene. The prison system was characterized by hunger, hazardous working conditions, and treatment that was determined in accordance with racial criteria.
The Nazi justice system established an execution chamber in a garage at the Brandenburg-Görden Prison in the summer of 1940. Because of the rising number of death sentences after the beginning of the war in 1939, the capacities at other execution sites were no longer sufficient. The central execution site in Berlin-Plötzensee in particular could not keep up with the number of death sentences that were imposed by courts such as the Volksgerichtshof (the “People’s Court”) and the Reichskriegsgericht (the Reich Military Court).
After the prison’s liberation by the Red Army on April 27, 1945, large parts of the prison grounds stood empty and were plundered repeatedly. Up until around July 1945, a civilian hospital took shape that cared for former prisoners who were too ill or weak to make their way home. In June 1945, the Soviet occupation authorities took over the premises, where they operated a hospital for German prisoners of war until September of that year.
The prison was returned to German administrators in May 1948. The first order of business was to repair the site. Beginning in April 1949, Nazi perpetrators were held here after being sentenced by East German courts in accordance with the Soviet denazification order no. 201. The Soviet military administration used this order to transfer responsibility for the prosecution of Nazi crimes against humanity to the East German justice system. Paul Locherer, the prison’s director, implemented a rather more liberal prison system with self-administration for prisoners, pastoral supervision and cultural events.
Brandenburg-Görden prison memorial
- 1927-1931 Construction of the Brandenburg-Görden Prison
- 1933-1945 Prison and secured facility in Brandenburg-Görden
- 1940-1945 Implementation of capital punishment in Brandenburg-Görden
- 1945-1948 Soviet use of the prison
- 1948-1990 The Brandenburg Prison in the GDR
- since 1946 History of the Memorial
Gedenkstätten zur Erinnerung an die NS-Verbrechen in Deutschland rufen auf zur Verteidigung der Demokratie
16. December 2018
Aufruf, der von der 7. Bundesweiten Gedenkstättenkonferenz am 13.12.2018 in Berlin verabschiedet wurde
Brandenburg-Görden Prison Memorial
Memorial Space at the Brandenburg Prison
14772 Brandenburg an der Havel
Permanent Exhibition and Seminar Space
14772 Brandenburg an der Havel
Postal and contact address:
Gedenkstätten Brandenburg an der Havel
14770 Brandenburg an der Havel
Telephone: +49 (0)3381 7935-112
Fax: +49 (0)3381 7935-114
The Permanent Exhibition at Anton-Saefkow-Allee 38
Thursday / Friday
13:00 – 17:00
Saturday / Sunday / Holidays
10:00 – 17:00
The Memorial is closed December 24 until January 1.
Admission is free.
The memorial space for the former Brandenburg-Görden Prison are located within a secure area inside the modern prison. The memorial space cannot be accessed without contacting the Memorial in advance and making an appointment. Thank you for your understanding.
The educational services at the Brandenburg-Görden Prison Memorial can be found here.
With the financial assistance of