Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp (Orienienburg, Germany)
A Morbid Must-See!
I visited this compelling concentration camp in the former East Germany in the summer of 2014 with a couple of friends who are of the non-morbid persuasion. I didn’t think they’d be very interested, so I tried to be polite and only allowed a few hours for the visit. As it turned out, they were every bit as fascinated by this tragic site as I was and we all wished that we’d had a full day to explore. They have done an incredible job of reconstructing the horror of life and death in the camp via first person accounts and memorabilia, with an especially huge collection of medical history memorabilia. I highly recommend that if you go, you allot a full day and get there early!
The account of my visit can be read on my Forlorn Photography site:
Corrections Museum (Bangkok, Thailand)
The ever-wonderful Alf has a travelogue up on his site for the Thailand Corrections Museum in Bangkok – a ‘by appointment only’ museum of Thailand’s prison history. Enjoy!
Tower of London (London, England)
Vickie recommends this infamous site: “I recently had the chance to visit London and the infamous Tower of London, where the Yeoman Warder tour guides have some pretty interesting (and morbid) tales of executions. I highly recommend it.”
The London Dungeon (London, England)
Sara writes to rave about The London Dungeon: “If you’re ever in London, England, the ‘London Dungeon’ is an absolutely amazing museum portraying the former brutality and astounding history of England and surrounding area. As soon as you enter you’re greeted with a group of talented actors that escort you into the building, then you proceed through the museum where there are tons of incredible exhibits of murders, tortures, and pretty much everything else macabre that has happened in this country’s past. Then you go into London’s famous prison system from the past centuries (including a trial, where you are charged and sentenced to death). Once you enter the prison, there you are shown real survivng torture intruments and structures. After that you are taken on mini boat ride and are shown more ways to perform an execution, The London Towers infamous ‘Traitors Gate’, and so on and so forth. Then the best part of the tour, the recreation of Whitechapel in the 1880’s where Jack The Ripper played. London’s claim to fame. You walk along dirty streets and beside you are the bodies of the prostitutes he killed strewn about. Then you go through a speculation to who Jack The Ripper really was. Then you witness the hanging of the man, from underneath the gallows. It looked and sounded so real, I thought I actually heard a neck snapping. And then comes the grand finally of the tour. ‘Theatre Of The Guillotine’, where you are a witness to a public execution. When the blade comes down a warm liquid is sprayed lightly over the crowd. When you start the exit, you’re hostly proudly proclaims to you, “Don’t worry, what you were sprayed with was not blood, it was urine.” The air even changes when you go into different parts of the tour, just for effectiveness. For example when you enter the prison, the air changes to a damp, stank, very cold air. The little details are what makes this museum so great. I highly recommend this museum as one of the top in the world.”
Clink Prison Museum (London, England)
The Clink Prison Museum is built on the foundations of one of the original prisons owned by the Bishop of Winchester. It is thought it got its name from the clinking of the manacles, fetters, chains and bolts that were used there. It was also the origin of the phrase “In the Clink”, to mean in prison. Arranged into a series of cells, it has such exhibits as a whipping post, torture chair, foot crusher, and other torture implements. Some of the items can be tried on; for instance there is a scolds bridal, and ball and chains are around the museum in various places. There are lots of pictures and articles around the rooms, and waxworks of the types of people that would have been held there. Alf visited and took some pictures.
Old Prison of Trois-Rivières (Trois-Rivières, Québec, Canada)
Jean Pascal Leblanc writes to tell me of this delightful little prison: “In the city of Trois-Rivières, Québec. the museum there makes it possible to stay a night in the old local jail. It was the longest opened jail in North America – closed in 1986, it opened before Canadian confederation in like 1822. It still has piss odors in the basement, where the ‘recalcitrant’ were. A tour is guided by an old criminal of the Canadian justice system.” I shall have to book a stay someday!
Ottawa Jail Hostel (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada)
Okay, who can possibly resist spending the night in an old jailhouse? Not I! Here’s the description from the website: “Centrally located in Canada’s capital, HI – Ottawa Jail is sure to deliver a unique overnight experience. Formerly a prison and the site of Canada’s last public hanging, this historical landmark retains much of its original character. Sleep in a former jail cell, and visit death row and the gallows during a Jail Tour. Check out The Hostel Shop, the one-stop shop for all of your travelling needs.” Thanks to Heather for sending the link!
Wyoming Frontier Prison (Rawlings, Wyoming)
This is another tip from Frankie: “Another tourist attraction in Rawlins is the Wyoming Frontier Prison. Tours are pretty informative about prisoners who were killed by other prisoners, guards murdered by prisoners, reports of the prison being haunted, etc. One of the best things is that they open up the gas chamber and you can climb inside and sit on the very same chair used on doomed prisoners.”
West Virginia Penitentiary (Moundsville, West Virginia)
PoetStar1979 recommends this site: “You really ought to visit the old West Virginia State Penitentiary in Moundsville, WV. I went there a few times and it’s fantastic! If you liked Eastern State in PA, you’d LOVE Moundsville! 🙂 MTV did an episode of ‘Fear’ there, as well, but it was sorta fake… like the part where they make the person go into the room with the electric chair and take the sheet off of it… that was totally set up. The Chair is actually on display in the main entrance! But, you have to see this beautiful building.”
Texas Prison Museum (Huntsville, Texas)
The highlight of this museum is Old Sparky – the electric chair that escorted 361 prisoners to their deaths between 1924 and 1964.