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In the communist GDR era the site was home to the central men’s jail of East Berlin. Political prisoners were incarcerated here together with other convicts. ”Anti-social behaviour” was likewise classified as a jailable offence. The authorities intended to make Rummelsburg the country’s main jail for prisoners from non-communist countries.

In 1989 several hundred people were detained here after taking part in protests coinciding with the GDR’s 70th anniversary celebrations on October 7/8.

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