WWW.COLDWARSITES.NET

JOACHIM MATTHES, GERMANY.

Invite to a visit and a lecture.

THEMES OF THE LECTURE

“Imprisoned by the STASI in the former GDR (DDR/East Germany)”. I was imprisoned in Potsdam, in the prisons of Bautzen and Berlin-Rummelsburg, because I tried to help fugitives flee to the West.

“The ransom of political prisoners in the GDR”. The Federal Republic of Germany/West Germany paid around 40,000 DM for my release.

“Letters from prison”. Correspondence with my mother and family.

“What was the STASI – how did it work?”

“The end of the war - refugee from Crossen/Oder (now Poland) to Hamburg”. My family left for Germany after the Second World War to start a new life. My mother wrote a book about her experiences, A God-led way”.

“Building up the social administration in the former GDR (East Germany) in Magdeburg after 1991, following the reunification of Germany as the Federal Republic of Germany”.

LANGUAGES

German, Swedish, English (moderately well).

CONTACT INFORMATION

Postal addresses:
Germany: Fehmarnstr. 7, D-22047 Hamburg.
Sweden: Järkvissle 229, S-86041 Liden/Sundsvall.
E-mail: SeniorMD@gmx.de
Telephone numbers:
Germany: 0049(0)40-318 13 317, mobile: 0151-128 19 198

Memories of the time with fellow prisoner Werner Hohndorf, in Bautzen prison.
“Entlassungschein” means release paper to go from East to West Germany. West Germany bought many political prisoners their freedom in this way, among them Joachim Matthes.
Joachim Matthes photographed in secret by the Stasi in Berlin Tiergarten.
Walther Ulbricht, the Communist leader of East Germany, and Chief Judge Wohlgethan, also known as “The Freisler of the DDR/East Germany”. Freisler was a fanatical and infamous Nazi judge known for his many death sentences and sham trials.
The Stasi remand prison in Potsdam.
The so-called “Tiger cages” in the Stasi remand prison in Potsdam.
The Bautzen prison, also known as “The Yellow Misery” (after the colour of the building complex).
Part of the Berlin-Rummelsburg prison. House number six.
Brandenburg Tor, Berlin, with the wall between East and West Berlin in the foreground.

Joachim Matthes was born 1942 in Magdeburg, the youngest of 6 brothers. His father, an officer in the Wehrmacht (army), died at the end of the war, in Lemberg. The family flew from Crossen/Oder (today Poland) to Hamburg. Joachim went to school in Hamburg. After the Bundeswehr (army), he studied law and politics at Freie Universität Berlin. In 1967, he tried to help a couple from Potsdam flee from the GDR (DDR/East Germany). The plan, however, was a set-up by the STASI from the very beginning. The man he was trying to help was actually a GM (Geheimer Mitarbeiter/Secret Police officer) from the STASI, so all was in vain. In November 1967, he was arrested in Berlin and sentenced in Potsdam to 2 years and 10 months of Zuchthaus . The judge was Oberrichter (Chief Judge) Hermann Wohlgethan, known as the “Freisler of the GDR (East Germany)”, notorious for his death sentences, the last ones to be passed in the GDR. He was very proud of this. (Freisler was also a well-known Nazi judge).

Joachim Matthes was sent to the Bautzen prison and, after about six months, to the Berlin-Rummelsburg prison. He had to work in both places. In Bautzen, he heard the Russians and the tanks of the Volksarmee (East German army) on their way to Czechoslovakia around 21st August 1968. In July 1969, he was released as part of the ransom of political prisoners in the GDR. The Federal Government of Germany (West Germany) paid around 40,000 DM for his release. This was the normal sum for releasing prisoners at that time. On the border in the Thüringer Wald (Forest), he transferred from an East German bus to a bus from the West.

In the West, he tried to take up his law studies once more but failed because of the hard time he had suffered in prison. Instead, he studied social work (Sozialpädagogik) and became the manager of a nursing home for the elderly. After the reunification of Germany, he moved from Hamburg to Magdeburg, the capital of Sachsen-Anhalt in the former East Germany, where he was born. From 1991 to 2006, he was involved in building up and organizing the town’s social administration.

Joachim Matthes is co-producer of a documentary on the ransom of political prisoners in East Germany.