The Memorial’s museum collection aims to tell the story of the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen prison through objects and artefacts. The collection consists primarily of former inmates’ personal mementos from imprisonment, including secret messages, talismans made of sundries recovered in the labour camp, letters sent from the prison, workwear, documents, and photographs. These objects are visceral proof of the suffering undergone by the prisoners, the brutality of daily life, and that which helped them amidst hardship: love, hope, and faith. For decades, many of these personal objects were kept at home. The museum collection properly preserves and maintains these objects so that they will continue to be a resource with which future generations can conduct research and understand the injustices here committed. Show more

The collection consists of approximately 15,000 objects. The heaviest of these objects is the "Grotewohl-Express," the last remaining prisoner-wagon of the GDR. The lightest is a woman's handkerchief, which, during her imprisonment in the prison's basement, served for "108 days as a washcloth and to dry the tears."

Though many objects are on display in the permanent exhibition, the majority of the collection is in storage. Apart from the inventory of eyewitnesses' personal belongings, the collection is still one of the largest that concerns itself with the detention system of the GDR. Recovered items include prisoners' clothing, uniforms, and equipment, as well as tools employed by guards and interrogators. Furthermore, the collection contains pamphlets and banned texts that were used as grounds for imprisonment and, thus, shed light on that which the totalitarian regime of the GDR feared and the reasons for imprisoning people at Hohenschönhausen.

The objective of the museum collection is to preserve the historical buildings, cells, and interrogation rooms and protect against the deteriorating effects of weather and visitor traffic. Flooring, wallpaper, and furniture must be protected in order to ensure their availability to future visitors. A new section of the collection concerns itself with themes of imprisonment and art as well as recuperation since 1989.

The Memorial is continuously looking to exhibit all areas of the collection, make loans to institutions, and conduct research.


Andreas Engwert
Tel.: 030 / 98 60 82-415
Fax: 030 / 98 60 82-464
a.engwert [at]

Daniela Martinova
Tel.: 030 / 98 60 82-427
Fax: 030 / 98 60 82-464
d.martinova [at]