Hoheneck female prison
Stollberg/Erzgeb. Mountains, Germany · An der Stalburg 6, 09366 Stollberg, Germany
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An arrest with a positive surprise

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After Sigrid Richter had fallen into the trap of the state security of the GDR and had been arrested at her home, she was taken to the female prison in Hoheneck in 1982. In the beginning, prison life was not easy for her. The political prisoners like her had the prospect of a relatively early release from prison. This provoked the envy of the regular, criminal female inmates who had been mostly sentenced to long prison terms and would thus spend the majority of their lives behind bars. Because of this resentment, bullying of the political prisoners by the other inmates was widespread. Richter became a victim of this bullying as well. One female inmate by the name of “Irmchen” was particularly keen on bullying Richter. Irmchen was a woman of particular strength and assertiveness. But the antipathy between the two women didn’t last long. In fact, the two soon became best friends and began to help each other instead: Irmchen – who enjoyed a tremendous respect by the other inmates – protected Richter and shielded her from any hostilities by the others. In return, Sigrid Richter made sure that Irmchen didn’t become too impulsive. Thus, Irmchen was soon to be released from prison for good behavior. However, Richter was the first of the two to be allowed to leave the prison. She could, however, leave the prison lightheartedly as Irmchen was to follow her only a few days later. Still today, the two women are best friends, tied together by the bond of their common past.

Sigrid Richter

Sigrid Richter

Sigrid Richter was born in 1952 in Mecklenburg. She spent her childhood and youth in the GDR. Her school years as well as her studies were unburdened by problems. Shortly before the completion of her studies for a teacher, she met her future husband. However, his curriculum vitae had a major flaw: he was the son of a West-German father. This fact potently complicated their life and it was only through the relationship with her husband that Richter learned the hard way that life in the GDR could be very problematic indeed. This made her grew critical of the regime. Finally, Richter decided to emigrate with her family. As she had believed that the GDR was a state of law, she applies for a permission to leave the country in 1982. However, by this act she attracted the attention of the Stasi – the East-German secret security police – to the family. A putative messenger contacted the family with the offer to arrange an illegal emigration. Although the Richter family turned his offer down, they were nonetheless incarcerated for not having reported the messenger to the police. Thus they fell into the trap that had been staged by the Stasi. Richter was put into the Hoheneck female prison - separated from son and husband. After four and a half years, she and her husband were freed in exchange for payment by the Federal Republic of Germany. After a short time, the spouses managed to get their son to the West as well and thus the family was able to reunite.

Hoheneck female prison

Available in: English | Deutsch

The female prison in Hoheneck was called “penal institution Stollberg” in the GDR era. The inmates were almost exclusively women imprisoned for political reasons. The prison is located on the site of a former hunting lodge from the 16th century. First written records mentioning the prison date back to the year 1852. It has since served various purposes, including a military hospital during World War II. Since 2001, the prison has been closed. The situation in the prison was depicted in the movie “It’s Not Over, Yet,” which was screened by ARD in 2011.

Hoheneck female prison

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An arrest with a positive surprise

An arrest with a positive surprise

Sigrid Richter
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