Germany: Former prison up for sale for €300,000 | News | DW | 13.04.2019
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Germany: Former prison up for sale for €300,000

First it was a brewery, then a war-time labor camp, then an East German political prison. Now it can be yours. The town of Gera is selling its decommissioned gaol to anyone with a good idea of what to do with it.

A former prison is being offered for sale in the German state of Thuringia, with a reported price tag of €298,000 ($336,000).

Up for grabs is the town of Gera's old prison, including 6-meter (20 feet) prison walls, prison house, gate house and parking spaces. The total area is about 7,500 square meters.

The facility was run as a prison between 1946 and 2017 and was originally built on the site of a former brewery.

Read more: Deportation plan threatens to strain Germany's overcrowded prisons

Local media reported the prison was closed prematurely, as its replacement in Zwickau is not due to open until 2023. The last 30 prisoners were moved to detention centers in the towns of Hohenleuben and Suhl-Goldlauter.

Prospective buyers will have to outline a use case before they can purchase.

"Basically, every viable offer from a solvent and reputable bidder with a sustainable use of the property would be in the interest of the state," the state of Thuringia told the regional Ostthüringer Zeitung.

According to the information memorandum, the facility is in walking distance of the town of Gera, which has a population of 100,000.

Read more: German prisoners find their inner Zen

Housed political prisoners

The building was constructed at the end of the 1890s as the malthouse for the former brewery in Gera, and in the early 1940s was converted into accommodation for forced laborers. From 1945 the building was used as a correctional facility.

About 3,000 forced laborers were put to work in the city's weapons factories.

After the war, Soviet occupiers turned the facility into a women's prison, but later held male political prisoners when the Stasi took over.

It eventually became a normal prison and at the time of its closure, it had capacity for 149 inmates.

The five-level building includes a workshop, kitchen facilities, a laundry, workshops, cells, offices, visitor rooms and more.

According to the book Prison Break — True Stories of the World's Greatest Escapes, Gera once housed escape artist Karl Schaarschmidt, who escaped his specially reinforced cell by gnawing his way through the window bars. Other incidents, a prison-guard-turned-historian told the Ostthüringer Zeitung, included two prisoners escaping by overpowering guards in 1980 before being quickly captured, prisoners carving a 50 cm hole in the exterior wall in 2007, and a prisoner escaping to the roof in 2015.

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