GHDI logo

A Dissident Describes Police Brutality in Dresden (October 7, 1989)

page 2 of 2    print version    return to list previous document      next document

After arriving at one of the Dresden station houses of the riot police, we were ripped from the truck and beaten, especially those who had fallen over because their legs had fallen asleep.

Amidst shouting and isolated blows we were herded into the truck garages.

We had to stay there for about two hours and were subjected to humiliating treatment – legs spread apart with our hands behind our necks.

Then the detainees were forced into holding quarters in a manner deemed adequate by the security officers.

I should not fail to mention that use of the toilet was permitted, and a pot with tea was ready and waiting.

After another two hours prison officers appeared, handcuffed us together in twos, pushed us into prisoner transport vehicles, and drove us to Bautzen Prison.*

When we were brought in, that is, as we went up the stairs – it was the old Bautzen prison church – I was beaten, along with all the other prisoners, as though we were going through a mill. This, however, was the last time – at least for me.

I will not go on about my sad and discouraging experience in the prison within the scope of this report. Perhaps just enough to say that all the prisoners and detainees in the larger basement rooms of one wing of the prison shared the same fate and no one really knew why he was in jail.

On Sunday afternoon I was brought to my first interrogation. The second interrogation took place on Sunday evening and I was told that preliminary proceedings had been filed against me for riotous assembly. Sunday night the magistrate explained to me that a warrant had been issued for my arrest.

So-called judicial summary proceedings against me took place the following Wednesday. The prosecutor moved that the “Christian citizen Steffen Altmann” – that is how I understood the designation – receive a prison sentence of 14 days.

The verdict of the “High Court,” however, called for the preliminary proceedings to be discontinued.

On Thursday afternoon I was released from Bautzen Prison.

On Friday, October 13, 1989, I was put on sick leave until at least October 27, 1989, on account of trauma-related headaches.

Dresden, October 18, 1989
Steffen Altmann, 48 years old

* Bautzen Prison was one of the most notorious and brutal penal institutions of the GDR – ed.

Source: Steffen Altmann, “Fünf Tage im Oktober” [“Five Days in October]” (October 18, 1989), Stadtmuseum Dresden (Dresden City Museum).

Translation: Allison Brown

first page < previous   |   next > last page