Waldheim correctional facility

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Waldheim correctional facility
View from the southeast (2011)
Information about the institution
Surname Waldheim correctional facility
Reference year 1716
Detention places 395

The Waldheim correctional facility in Waldheim , about 30 km north of Chemnitz , was once the largest penitentiary in Saxony and is the oldest prison still in operation in Germany .

In Waldheim prison , many inmates were imprisoned for political offenses, both in the National Socialist German Reich and later in the GDR .

The correctional facility is used to detain male first-time offenders . There are 377 places available in the closed and 18 places in the open prison .


The history of today's Waldheim correctional facility is in its beginnings that of the city. To protect the local trade route, Waldheim Castle was built, which was first mentioned in 1271. From 1404 until 1549 it was used as an Augustinian monastery. After the Reformation, the feudal lord Georg von Carlowitz , based in Kriebstein, abolished the monastery at the request of the prior and the last monks. In 1588 the monastery became the hunting lodge of Elector Christian I. The chapel of St. Otto, which had existed since the 14th century, was converted into a palace church. From this church there is still an altarpiece showing Christian I, his seven children and his wife Sophie, which is now hanging in Kriebstein Castle . The altar still preserved and exhibited in Kriebstein comes from the previously existing chapel of the monastery. Christian II left the palace to his wife Sophie von Sachsen (1587–1635) as a widow's residence.

In 1716 , August the Strong had the hunting lodge converted into a breeding, poor and orphanage. To finance the breeding , poor and orphanage in Waldheim, since June 23, 1710, one twelfth of the salary of the first year has been withheld from all newly hired civil servants in Saxony . This one-twelfth deduction was also applied to the increased amount in the case of pay supplements. The first female inmate was Sophie Sabina Apitzsch , who in 1714 had pretended to be the Elector of Saxony.

From 1806 Christian August Fürchtegott Hayner was a prison doctor here. In 1829 the psychiatric department - the prisoners were responsible for the care of the “lunatics” - was relocated to Colditz Castle with Hayner as the chief doctor . At his instigation, new methods of treating the mentally ill were introduced there.

After the suppression of the March Revolution of 1848/1849, several Saxon patriots , such as Hermann Theodor Breithaupt , August Röckel , Theodor Oelkers and Franz Moritz Kirbach, were sentenced to long prison sentences in Waldheim. The writer and democratic rebel August Peters served his sentence from 1853 until his pardon in 1856. The later author Karl May was imprisoned here from 1870 to May 2, 1874.

During the time of National Socialism , many people were imprisoned in the Waldheim prison for political reasons. Typical reasons for imprisonment were "listening to hostile radio broadcasts and anti-fascist propaganda", " decomposing military strength " and "preparing for high treason ". In 1933, women's rights activist and communist Olga Körner was sentenced to three years in prison. The later KPD party board member Josef Schleifstein served here from 1934 a prison sentence for high treason. The resistance fighters Bruno Siegel and Eva Schulze-Knabe were sentenced to life imprisonment in 1941 (Siegel) and 1942 and were released in 1945. At that time, the Waldheim sanatorium and nursing home was located on the prison grounds , with Gerhard Wischer as director.

The prison also served medical experiments at the suggestion of the Leipzig vitamin researcher Arthur Scheunert and with the approval of the Reich Minister of Justice to vitamin A Supplies investigated. The selected prisoners were isolated and received a vitamin A-free diet. The result was clear impairment to health in the sixth month of the experiment, in particular the visual functions and the blood composition. The experiments served to prepare a general vitaminization of margarine, which began in January 1941.

On January 14, 1950, the SMAD announced that the last Soviet special camps were to be disbanded. Approx. 14,000 political prisoners who remained there were handed over to the GDR authorities. For this purpose, the Waldheim prison was transferred from the responsibility of the State of Saxony to the responsibility of the Berlin Ministry of the Interior of the GDR on February 9, 1950 , and the latter assigned the special camp inmates. As a result, the main administration of the People's Police was responsible for running the penitentiary.

From April to June 1950, judges in Waldheim penitentiary carried out 3,385 express proceedings against suspected Nazi criminals. Acquittals were made in four cases, death sentences were imposed in 32 cases, and 24 cases were carried out. According to the current view of the Federal Court of Justice , the Waldheim trials represented a “blatant abuse of the judiciary to enforce political goals” (BGH, Az. 5 StR 236/98).

Today's use and expansion

The current jurisdiction of the JVA Waldheim serves the execution of the prison sentence of male prisoners from all regional court districts in the Free State of Saxony with prison sentences of more than two years who are in prison for the first time (first-time offenders). The separation of prisoners with experience of detention is intended to enable safe rehabilitation. One focus of the first offender's sentence is education for social responsibility and independence in residential groups with around 20 to 28 detention places per residential group. The institution also has a social therapeutic department with 120 detention spaces and an open department with 18 detention spaces.

In the JVA Waldheim there is, among other things, a printing and bookbinding shop, a metalworking shop (locksmith's shop), a carpentry shop and other in-house businesses to provide jobs for prisoners.

The large detention center 1 and the prison church were completely renovated between 2001 and 2004.


  • August Röckel: Saxony's uprising and the prison in Waldheim . Jäger, Frankfurt a. M. 1865. MDZ Reader
  • Theodor Oelkers: From prison life . 2 parts. Otto Wigang, Leipzig 1860. First part MDZ reader ; Second part of the MDZ Reader
  • Johannes WE Büttner: The health system and the health conditions of the breeding, orphanage and poor house and later breeding and correction house in Waldheim (Saxony) since its foundation in the years 1716 to 1900. Anstaltsdruckerei Waldheim, Leipzig 1942.
  • Martin Habicht; Waldheim prison 1933–1945: prison conditions and anti-fascist struggle. Dietz, Berlin 1988, ISBN 3-320-01204-5 .
  • Hainer Plaul: Social rehabilitation through »progressive« prison system. About Karl May's stay in the Waldheim penitentiary from May 1870 to May 1874. In: Yearbook of the Karl May Society 1976. (with documents on prison practice)
  • Friedemann Schreiter: Waldheim Prison. Stories, people and processes from three centuries. Special edition for the Centers for Political Education, Berlin 2014
  • Completion for the 21st century. Symposium on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the JVA Waldheim (Ed. Saxon State Ministry of Justice). Nomos: Baden-Baden 2019 (writings on criminology, vol. 12).

Individual evidence

  1. Archive link ( Memento of the original dated December 23, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.mdr.de
  2. Hendrik Lasch: 300 years behind bars. The oldest permanently used prison in Germany is in Waldheim, Saxony. In: Neues Deutschland from 2/3 April 2016, p. 16
  3. ^ Melchior Josef BandorfHayner, Christian August Fürchtegott . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 11, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1880, p. 164 f.
  4. Heinz Schott, Rainer Tölle: History of Psychiatry. Disease teachings, wrong turns, forms of treatment . C. H. Beck, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-406-53555-0 ( full text in the Google book search).
  5. ^ Deutsches Ärzteblatt : 20 years of German unity
  6. Heinz Mohnhaupt, Dieter Simon (Ed.): Lectures on Justice Research: History and Theory, Volume 2. 1993, ISBN 978-3-465-02627-3 , pp. 510-511 ( online ).

Web links

Commons : Waldheim correctional facility  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 51 ° 4 ′ 29 ″  N , 13 ° 1 ′ 45 ″  E