Dealing with the Past in Germany
Visit of former STASI prison
January 22, 2020

In January 2019, UMAM D&R visited a former Stasi prison in Berlin to gain a different perspective on imprisonment, torture, and the way society reflects upon acts of abuse. The Berlin-Hohenschönhausen memorial is constructed inside the site where Stasi officers detained and tortured thousands of people viewed as threats to the German Democratic Republic during the era of Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe. Detainees, ranging from uprising leaders to politicians to Jehovah Witnesses, endured great physical and psychological abuse at the hands of Stasi officials. Some of these former prisoners now serve as tour guides, taking a wide array of visitors around the Stasi prison while discussing the trauma they endured.
Serving as a prison from 1945-1989, the site has been a memorial since 1994, which speaks to the resolve of Germany to come to terms with past crimes and abuses. It also offers a model for other countries, such as Lebanon, to conduct a historical accounting of past transgressions, be they random or systematic, in a manner that helps a society heal and move forward.

UMAM D&R greatly benefited from the visit to the former Stasi prison and feels that other Lebanese entities would too, especially if Lebanon is to ever confront its strained history in an honest, genuine way capable of helping the country heal and move towards a more lasting peace.