Mahn- und Gedenkstätte Steinwache - Dortmund - Germany

Address: Steinstrasse 50 (See map)
Telephone: +49 (0)231-50-22159

Shop: no shop present
Restaurant/refreshments: not available
Size of the museum/site: small
Year of visit: 2006
Overall rating:

Description: When we entered this museum we immediately felt like we had gone back to the time the Steinwache prison was still in use. This is invoked by the cold and hostile atmosphere of the building, with its typical central stairway right in the middle. The surly welcome by the staff of the museum certainly contributed to this impression!

Steinwache served as a Gestapo (Geheime Staatspolizei) prison from 1933 until 1945. Before, it had been used as a regular police prison. During the Gestapo period the astounding number of 30.000 people, that had been marked enemies of the NAZI-state, were imprisoned here. Imprisonment in Steinwache meant more than the loss of freedom to move around. The conditions were poor and torture was the order of the day. Many of those that stayed here died.

Strolling through the hallways you'll see several information displays about life in this prison as well as a broader coverage of life during the NAZI-regime and the resistance against it (in Dortmund). The most impressive are the actual reconstructed prison cells, where you can read about the sickening methods that were used to make prisoners confess. In some of the cells messages engraved in or written on the walls have been rediscovered after a restoration.

A unique point of this museum is the fact that it shows us how German opponents of the Nazis were taken out. A few Germans did have the courage to stand up to their brutal government, which might be an eye-opener to some.

The start of the museum: a look up the central stairway, leading you along various exhibition rooms.

Propaganda posters from the election campaign in the early thirties when Hitler rose to power.

A symbol for prisons anywhere: the central hallway and stairs...

Reconstruction of the typical prison-cell at Steinwache.

Illegal printingpress used by the German resistance.

A typical picture of a roundup of so called "enemies of the state".

The infamous "Zelle 19": in which prisoners (often after being tortured) had to spent weeks on end. As you'll notice the cell hadn't any furniture (meaning you had to lie on the bare floor with your broken body). To make things worse the guards had a habit of making the temperature very hot or very cold by turning the heating completely on or off.

A message from the past: writings on the wall from prisoners of Steinwache, uncovered during the restoration process of the early nineties.