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Helmut Brandt
Zellengang im Neubau


Helmut Brandt

Helmut Brandt was born in Berlin-Spandau in 1911. With a doctorate in law and economics, he was one of the co-founders of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) political party in Berlin. When the party split into a West and East CDU in 1948, Brandt decided in favour of the latter. He became State Secretary in the GDR Ministry of Justice. Helmut Brandt openly criticised the "Waldheim Trials" and demanded that the then Minister of Justice Fechner, his superior, reopen the proceedings. This put him out of favour. The conflict turned into a government crisis and ultimately led to Helmut Brandt's arrest on 6 September 1950. 

Helmut Brandt initially spent almost four years in custody without trial, the longest period of which was spent in the "submarine" at Hohenschönhausen, which he described as a "cellar for kidnappers". The Stasi used isolation, night interrogations, dark cells and scratching posts as methods to force a confession from Brandt. In 1954, he was convicted of "anti-state labour" in a secret trial. He spent eight years in prison, including in the so-called "Yellow Misery" at Bautzen. He was released in September 1958. His freedom was short-lived: 36 hours after his release, he was arrested again during an escape attempt.

After a total of 14 years in prison, Helmut Brandt was released to West Germany in August 1964 as part of the first major prisoner release programme. He then worked for years in the scientific department for the German Parliament in Bonn. From 1990, he was involved in reviewing the "Waldheim Trials". Helmut Brandt died in Bonn in 1998.