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Merkel marks end of vacation with visit to ex-Stasi prison

Europe
11.08.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Berlin (dpa) - Chancellor Angela Merkel makes her first public appearance on Friday since returning from a fortnight‘s vacation when she visits a memorial to the victims of the feared communist East German police.

Merkel‘s visit to the former Stasi prison in the Berlin district of Hohenschoenhausen sends a signal to voters in the east of her conservative political bloc‘s recognition of the injustices committed by the communist regime as the nation gears up for next month‘s national election.

The chancellor‘s Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian-based Christian Social Union (CSU) have promised to retain the Stasi Records Agency (BStU), which preserves documents relating to the Stasi and investigates the actions of the secret police during the 41 years of communist East German rule.

Merkel‘s government has also earmarked funds for the renovation of the Hohenschoenhausen prison complex.

Opened in 1951, the prison provided the backdrop for the 2006 Academy-award winning drama "The Loves of Others" that documented the Stasi‘s power and its callous intrusion into people‘s lives.

Hohenschoenhausen is also a reminder of the oppression carried by the East German state with those held at the prison facing both physical torture and psychological abuse.

More than 11,000 prisoners were incarcerated at Hohenschoenhausen during its 40 years of operations. Many were state dissidents.

Others were sent to the prison for the simple crime of trying to leave the communist country, while some were critics of the communist regime who were kidnapped on the streets of West Berlin by East German secret service operatives.

 

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