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Book presentation with panel discussion

The study on everyday life in the GDR youth prison “Jugendhaus Halle” is more than just another documentation of injustice in the GDR. The book is the first well-founded portrayal of a violent environment in the late GDR. It is based on the prison's surviving files in five archives and the memories of 20 contemporary witnesses. And it conveys a level of humiliation and physical violence that was unusually high.

Former political prisoner Ralf Steeg remembers: “Every evening at eight o’clock the key turns in the iron door of our dormitory. The time begins when the day's drill erupts in the form of bestial violence. The leaders call this method self-education (…). The order of power that is established in this way is more stable than any authority from above. During the nights in the youth center I lost faith in people.” Measured against the goals the GDR juvenile penal system had set itself, the “education” in the Halle youth center failed completely. A prisoner hierarchy enforced with brutal force determined the everyday life of the young prisoners. Nevertheless, those affected rarely manage to be rehabilitated and compensated as victims of the SED dictatorship.


Evelyn Zupke, Federal Commissioner for the Victims of the SED Dictatorship

Keynote speech
Dr. Udo Grashoff, author of Jugendhaus Halle “The fights just don’t stop”. Everyday life in prison (1971–1990) and historian at the Hannah Arendt Institute for Research on Totalitarianism

Dr. Udo Grashoff
Ralf Steeg, contemporary witness and initiator of the reappraisal of the youth center
Jens Planer-Friedrich, head of the advisory department at the Berlin commissioner for coming to terms with the SED dictatorship

Dr. Elise Catrain, Head of Public Relations and Communications, Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial

Admission is free. Please register at:

Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial
Genslerstrasse 66
13055 Berlin

The bookstore in the memorial will be open that evening and the publication can be purchased there.

By participating in the event, you agree that you may be seen in recordings (images, sound) that may be used as part of the organizers' public relations work.

An event in cooperation with the Hohenschönhausen Memorial Foundation and Zeit-geschichte(n) e.V.