Berlin-Spandau Prison

Categories: Sightseeing, Cultural and History

Kriegsverbrechergefängnis Spandau entrance
Kriegsverbrechergefängnis Spandau entrance

[ source: Wikipedia]

The colorful history of the Spandau Prison in Berlin (Berlin vacation rentals | Berlin travel guide) covers almost a century in time. Constructed in the Spandau borough of Berlin in 1876, the prison was originally a military detention center. It was subsequently used for civilian prisoners starting in 1919 and had a capacity of 600 inmates. In the 1930s, Berlin-Spandau (Berlin-Spandau vacation rentals | Berlin-Spandau travel guide) Prison became a holding area for the enemies of the Nazis. The Gestapo tortured and abused those held here. After the first concentration camps were opened in 1933, those held by the Nazis in "protective custody" in Spandau were transferred to a camp.

After World War II, the Berlin-Spandau Prison was operated by the Four-Power Authorities to house Nazi war criminals convicted at the Nuremberg (Nuremberg vacation rentals | Nuremberg travel guide) Trials. Although the Four Powers anticipated housing several hundred individuals in Spandau Prison, this never became a reality. Only seven war criminals were held here: Karl Doenitz (10 years), Konstantin von Neurath (15), Baldur von Schirach (20), Albert Speer (20), Erich Raeder (life), Walter Funk (life), and Rudolf Hess (life). Only four of the seven prisoners served full sentences, since the other three were released due to poor health. Spandau offered the use of a garden to the prisoners, which became the highlight of their lives while there. This was especially true for the architect Speer, who was allowed to create an elaborate landscape complete with intricate beds and winding paths. Between 1966 and 1987, Hess was the only inmate in the Spandau Prison. His sole companion during these two decades was the prison warden, who became friends with Hess. In 1987, Hess died in what was ruled a suicide at the prison.

After Hess's death, the decision was made demolish the Berlin-Spandau Prison to keep the site from becoming a Neo-Nazi shrine. The site was converted to a parking lot and a shopping center to obliterate all signs of the structure from the landscape. All materials from the prison were ground to powder and were either dropped into the North Sea or buried at the RAF Gatow air base.

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About this Article

Rachel Hildebrandt

This travel guide has been written by Rachel Hildebrandt.

Starting with her first trip to Germany at the age of 16, Rachel has traveled, worked, and studied in Germany extensively. Although her first encounter with German culture was in Lower Saxony, since that time the focus of her subsequent work as a freelance historian and translator has shifted eastward. Building on her graduate studies in Dresden, Rachel has worked for a variety of German foundations as a historian and translator, and is currently pursuing research pertaining to the Sorbs in Lusatia (eastern Saxony).

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Location: Niederneuendorfer Allee 140-150, 13587 Berlin, Germany

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