Bautzen correctional facility

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Bautzen correctional facility
Part of the building of the JVA Bautzen
Information about the institution
Surname Bautzen correctional facility
Reference year 1904
Detention places 462
Employee 171

The prison Bautzen is a correctional facility (JVA) in Saxony Bautzen . Since 1990 it has been in the building of the Bautzen I detention center , the so-called “Yellow Misery”. Bautzen I gained fame as “ Special Camp No. 4” of the Soviet military administration . Bautzen I is one of two historical prisons in Bautzen. The other is Bautzen II , the Bautzen Memorial has been located here since 1993 to commemorate the victims of both Bautzen prisons.


From the opening to the use by the National Socialists

Bautzen I, 1910

In 1904, what was then the most modern penal institution in the Kingdom of Saxony with 1100 prison places was built on the northern outskirts of Bautzen . In the first few decades, the prison was based on plans to introduce a reformist, humane and liberal prison system.

Since the beginning of the First World War , Bautzen was also used to accommodate Russian, French and British prisoners of war.

Bautzen I and the Bautzen II judicial prison were merged in 1923 to form the "United Prisons". The liberalization of the prison system in the Weimar Republic from 1924 onwards also led to the strengthening of prisoner's rights and improved prison conditions in Bautzen I.

That changed when the National Socialists came to power . Between 1933 and 1945 political opponents from the SPD and the KPD (such as Ernst Thälmann in 1943/44 ) and members of other religious groups persecuted by the Nazis, such as Jehovah's Witnesses , Reform Adventists and church oppositionists, were imprisoned in Bautzen I. The prison administration worked closely with the Gestapo .

Special camp Bautzen

In May 1945 the Soviet Military Administration (SMAD) set up “ Special Camp No. 4” on the premises of the detention center . The task of this internment camp was initially to accommodate Nazi and war criminals. From 1946 onwards, opponents of Stalinism who had been condemned by the Soviet Military Tribunals (SMT) were increasingly imprisoned in Bautzen I. They were housed in the cell structure, the internees in the barrack camp. Soviet military personnel were among the convicted inmates. From 1946 onwards, up to 7,000 prisoners were housed in inhumane conditions in the Bautzen prison, which meant that the prison was constantly overcrowded. In a room planned as a single cell there were usually five, occasionally six men. More than 27,000 prisoners passed through the special camp in Bautzen by 1950. By 1956, around 3,000 prisoners died in Bautzen, who were buried in anonymous mass graves on the nearby "Karnickelberg". In 1992, the remains of 180 people were found during targeted excavations in earlier trenches.

Large sheet metal panels were installed in front of the cell windows, which no longer allowed a view. Such sheet metal panels were also attached to the windows of the main building in the summer of 1946, which served as an extension of the prison from September 1946. The special camp prisoners housed there until then came to other such camps by freight train.

With the official completion of denazification in the Soviet occupation zone (SBZ) in 1948, half of the internees in Bautzen were released. The others remained in custody until 1950, some even until 1956. At the same time, most of the special camp prisoners in other camps were released and some camps closed. The remaining prisoners were distributed to the three remaining, newly numbered special camps: No. 1 = Sachsenhausen , No. 2 = Buchenwald , No. 3 = Bautzen. Other camps were in Upper Silesia, e.g. B. in Tost / Toszek and Gleiwitz .

Handover to the GDR

In February 1950 the Soviet occupying power handed Bautzen I over to the GDR . The special camp (like Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen) was officially dissolved. Nevertheless, around 6,000 SMT convicts remained in the detention center. It was not until 1956 that the last of them were released from Bautzen.

In March 1950 there were two prisoner uprisings in the institution , which were put down by the German People's Police . In the course of this revolt two letters of the prisoners came as a cry for help to the Federal Republic , where she by Herbert Wehner were read out at the party conference of the SPD. These letters made the public aware of Bautzen as a place of political persecution. In addition, the term “Yellow Misery” (alluding to the yellow brick facades and walls) for the Bautzen I prison appeared in them for the first time.

Since the 1950s, Bautzen I was primarily used for the imprisonment of multiple convictions and long-term prisoners. From 1975 Bautzen I also maintained a particularly inhuman detention area, the "Department for prisoners unwilling to reform", which had been set up by the MfS Dresden for those prisoners who no longer wanted to work for the GDR because they had already submitted applications to leave the country.


Bautzen I has been a penal institution in the state of Saxony since 1990 and is used to execute men’s prison sentences. Around 380 people sit in the closed prison . In addition, the institute has 42 detention places in open prison , 40 detention places in preventive detention , as well as a small department with juvenile offenders. Several training and further education programs are offered in the closed prison, including training to become a carpenter with five places per year.

Bautzen I is the only penal institution in Saxony to have an institution church. This holds around 600 seats.

The Bautzen Memorial has been commemorating the victims of Bautzen I since 1993 .

Bautzen in the public eye

In the first years after the reunification in particular, “Bautzen” became known beyond the German borders as the epitome of GDR injustice. The initiatives of former prisoners, such as the Bautzen-Komitee e. V., and extensive coverage in the German press. Since some important writers were imprisoned in Bautzen, they also processed their experiences literarily. However, Bautzen was not the only prison in the GDR in which people were also imprisoned for political reasons. In public statements, the crimes of the Soviet occupying power were wrongly credited to the GDR. Terms like “yellow misery” and “Stasi prison” were and are often mixed up. But Bautzen was only one (and not the largest) of ten special camps in the Soviet occupation zone.

Prominent inmates

Prison of the Weimar Republic (1918–1933)

Prison of the Nazi regime (1933–1945)

Special camp of the Soviet military administration (1945–1956)

Prison of the GDR (1956–1989)


  • Karl Wilhelm Fricke : Human penal system and political abuse. On the history of the penal institutions in Bautzen from 1904 to 2000 . In: Sächsisches Staatsministerium der Justiz (Hrsg.): Sächsische Justizgeschichte . tape 10 . Dresden 1999.
  • Susanne Hattig, Silke Klewin , Cornelia Liebold, Jörg Morré: History of the Bautzen Special Camp. 1945-1956. Catalog for the exhibition at the Bautzen Memorial . In: Stiftung Sächsische Gedenkstätten (Hrsg.): Series of publications by the Stiftung Sächsische Gedenkstätten in memory of the victims of political tyranny . tape 11 . Sandstein Verlag, Dresden 2004, ISBN 3-937602-29-1 .
  • Ronny Heidenreich: riot behind bars. The 'yellow misery' in autumn 1989 . Leipziger Universitätsverlag, Leipzig 2009, ISBN 978-3-86583-361-7 .
  • Winfried Köhler: Hope gave us strength. Pro Business, Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-937343-00-8 .
  • Call from Bautzen: Sheets from the STVE Bautzen , ZDB -ID 1154320-6

Individual evidence

  3. "The SMT convicts did not belong to the special camp inmates and were also housed completely isolated" according to: Sergej Mironenko, Lutz Niethammer, Alexander v. Plato (editor), Soviet Special Camps in Germany 1945 to 1950 , Volume 1 Studies and Reports , Akademie Verlag, Berlin 1998, ISBN 3-05-002531-X .
  4. Susanne Hattig, Silke Klewin, Cornelia Liebold, Jörg Morré: History of the Bautzen Special Camp. 1945-1956. Catalog for the exhibition at the Bautzen Memorial 2004, p. 111.
  5. Jörg Müller: Prison policy and prison regime in the Soviet occupation zone and in the GDR: Saxony in the Ulbricht era 2012, p. 161.

Web links

Commons : Bautzen Prison I  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 51 ° 11 ′ 24.5 "  N , 14 ° 25 ′ 58.1"  E