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Mario Röllig
Zellengang im Neubau


Mario Röllig

Mario Röllig was born in East Berlin in 1967 and trained as a restaurant specialist from 1984 to 1986. At the age of 17, he sympathised with a West Berlin politician. Employees of the Ministry for State Security then tried to recruit him as an unofficial collaborator in 1986. Because he refused, he was put under massive pressure.

In June 1987, Röllig tried to flee to Yugoslavia via Hungary. He was arrested by the Hungarian border police and handed over to the GDR State Security Service after spending a week in a Budapest police prison. At the beginning of July, he was sent to the central Ministry for State Security remand prison in Berlin-Hohenschönhausen, where he was charged with "attempting to cross the border illegally". In September 1987, Röllig was released from pre-trial detention after three months thanks to a general amnesty. It was not until 8th October 1987 that the court proceedings against him were discontinued with the condition of "three years probation". In the same month, Röllig applied (unsuccessfully) to leave the country, as the personal and professional repressive measures did not stop after his release.

At the beginning of 1988, Röllig took part in oppositional events within the Protestant Church. After writing a letter of protest to the GDR's head of state Erich Honecker, he was finally expatriated from the GDR on 8th March 1988. He moved to West Berlin and pursued a commercial career.

Röllig lives in Berlin and has been guiding visitors through the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial since 1999. He has been working as a contemporary witness at schools and educational institutions for the Co-ordinating Office of Contemporary Witnesses since 2011.

Röllig has also been a member of the Advisory Board of the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial since October 2018. He has been a member of the Berlin State Executive Board and a member of the Federal Executive Board of Lesben und Schwulen in der Union (LSU) since 2019. As a human rights activist, he has been committed to LGBTIQ* rights for many years.

Further information

  • „Gesicht zur Wand“, Documentary (G ermany 2009) by Stefan Weinert.
  • „Der Ostkomplex - Die Geschichte des Mario Röllig", Documentary (Germany 2016) by Jochen Hick.

“Mario Röllig: Der gekaufte Bauer”, p. 55-57

Article in: Hubertus Knabe (Hg.), Die vergessenen Opfer der Mauer. Inhaftierte DDR-Flüchtlinge berichten, Berlin 2009.

Further information (German website)

Gedenkstätte Berlin-Hohenschönhausen (Hg.), Zeugen der Zeit. Porträts von Dirk Vogel, Berlin 2023.

Further information (German website)

Download publication (German laguage)