Sunday, 10 January 2010

The famous prison

Have you ever wondered how to look like the prison in old times? It was not like today with all the comforts of buildings, corresponding to humanitarian standards. In the old days prisons were built by the prisoners themselves. Their origin was paid for by the death of many people.
Over the buildings were impressive, massive, awesome its very structure. Most were built of stone, to the absence of electronic security systems, to prevent escape. Today they are not used as intended. But it is worth it because I know it is not only part of the history of the world but unusual examples of architecture.


The prison is located in the heart of Warsaw and is called Pawiak (the name comes from the street Pawia, where the main gate was situated). The prison was built in 1830-1836 in accordance with the design by an architect from Warsaw Henryk Marconi.
Since 1863 the prison was a political jail with a male and female department. During the period when Poland was annexed members of the National Government, insurgents, activists were kept imprisoned. Beside the Warsaw Citadel, Pawiak was in the times of the revolution 1905 -1907 the main political prison. So when 10 of prisoners from the PPS organization managed to escape from the jail, everyone was very impressed. Under Russian rule Pawiak was a political, investigation and criminal prison. So it was when Poland was independent.

During the German occupation till March 1940 the prison Pawiak was ruled by the Justice Department of the General Government. In March 1940 Pawiak became an investigation prison controlled by the Security Police and Security Service of the Warsaw District, mainly by Department 4 - the Secret State Police - Gestapo. It was the largest political prison in the occupied Poland.
After suppressing the Uprising in the Ghetto prisoners were shot on the neighbouring streets - Dzielna, Gęsia, Zamenhoffa, Nowolipki. Since October 1942 executions were held in public on the streets. The names of the killed persons were placed on notices or announced through a loudspeaker. br> We will never be able to complete the list of how many Jewish people were in Pawiak and Serbia in the years 1939 - 1944. It has been verified that there was a large number after closing the Ghetto in November 1940, and also during the first liquidation action in July and August 1942.
The Germans began the liquidation of the Prison in July 1944. On 30 July 1944 the last evacuation transport was sent with 1400 men prisoners to the concentration camp Gross-Rosen and 400 women to Ravensbrück. Only few men managed to survive.


Kilmainham Gaol is an old prison, located in Dublin, which is now a museum. Kilmainham Gaol has played an important part in Irish history, as many leaders of Irish rebellions were imprisoned and some executed in the jail. The jail has also been used as a set for several films.
The jail was first built in 1796. Children were sometimes arrested and imprisoned here, the youngest said to be a seven year-old boy. Many of the adult prisoners were also deported to Australia.
Kilmainham Gaol is one of the biggest unoccupied gaols in Europe. Now empty of prisoners, it is filled with history. It has aptly been described as the ‘Irish Bastille’.
When the Gaol was first built public hangings took place at the front of the Gaol. However, from the 1820s onward very few hangings, public or private, took place at Kilmainham.

Untypical prison is Gulag. The Gulag or GULAG was the government agency that administered the penal labor camps of the Soviet Union. The term is infamous for its association with remote places where prisoners were kept and sometimes disappeared. The camps housed all types of criminals, but are well known as mechanisms for repressing political opposition and for holding political prisoners.Gulag is the acronym for The Chief Administration of Corrective Labor Camps and Colonies (Russian: Главное Управление Исправительно-Трудовых Лагерей и колоний; Glavnoye Upravlyeniye Ispravityel'no-Trudovih Lagyeryey i koloniy) of the NKVD. Eventually, by metonymym, the usage of "Gulag" began generally denoting the entire penal labor system in the USSR, then any such penal system

There were at least 476 separate camps, some of them comprising hundreds, even thousands of camp units. The most infamous complexes were those at arctic or subarctic regions. Today's major industrial cities of the Russian Arctic such as Norilsk, Vorkuta, Kolyma and Magadan, were camps originally built by prisoners and run by ex-prisoners. Anne Applebaum, author of Gulag: A History, explains: "It was the branch of the State Security that operated the penal system of forced labour camps and associated detention and transit camps and prisons. Though it imprisoned millions, the name became familiar in the West with the publication of Aleksander Solzhenitsyn's 1973 The Gulag Archipelago, which likened the scattered camps to "a chain of islands."


Fort Boyard is a fort located between the Île-d'Aix and the Île d'Oléron in the Pertuis d'Antioche straits, on the west coast of France. It is 61 metres long, 31 metres wide, and its walls are 20 metres high. The construction of the fort was first considered during a build-up of the French armed forces undertaken by Louis XIV between 1661 and 1667, but Vauban, his leading military engineer, famously advised against it, saying "Sire, it would be easier to catch the moon with the teeth than take on such an endeavour in such a location". Fort Boyard was to form a line of fortification with Fort Enet and Fort de la Rade on Île-d'Aix to protect the arsenal of Rochefort from Royal Navy incursions.
Construction of the fort did not begin in earnest until 1801, under Napoleon, in order to protect the coast (and especially the arsenal of Rochefort) from possible incursions by foreign (and especially British) navies. At that time, cannons only had a limited range, and the distance between the two islands of Aix and Oleron was too large to block the passage.
Following difficulties in establishing a firm base (stone blocks had to be installed on the sandy sea bed during low tide, where they could still sink under their own weight) the project was suspended in 1809. Construction resumed in 1837, under Louis-Philippe, following renewed tensions with the United Kingdom. The fortifications were completed in 1857, with sufficient room for a garrison of 250 men.
However, by the time of its completion, the range of cannons had markedly increased, making the fort unnecessary for national defence.Under the Paris Commune of 1871, Fort Boyard was briefly used as a prison, before being abandoned a few years later. Over time, the fort slowly crumbled and deteriorated into the sea as it was left unmaintained.In 1961 the Commune sold the fort to the département of Charente-Maritime. Six years later, the final scene of the French film Les Aventuriers was filmed at the remains of the fort.In 1988, restoration work commenced on Fort Boyard, in order to prepare it for a television game show, also named Fort Boyard. The fort was electrified and a jack-up barge has been installed on the side in order to facilitate access to television crews. Restoration on the fort finished in 1989 and filming commenced in 1990. Fort Boyard has been used as the set for the show to this present day.
Today, Ford Boyard inspires many people. There are even recorded television programs, in which people are faced with various surprises and secrets of the fort.


Due to its isolation from the outside by the cold, strong, hazardous currents of the waters of San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz was used to house Civil War prisoners as early as 1861.Following the war in 1866 the army determined that the fortifications and guns were being rapidly rendered obsolete by advances in military technology. Modernization efforts, including an ambitious plan to level the entire island and construct shell-proof underground magazines and tunnels, were undertaken between 1870 and 1876 but never completed (the so called "parade ground" on the southern tip of the island represents the extent of the flattening effort). Instead the army switched the focus of its plans for Alcatraz from coastal defense to detention, a task for which it was well suited because of its isolation. In 1867 a brick jailhouse was built (previously inmates had been kept in the basement of the guardhouse), and in 1868 Alcatraz was officially designated a long-term detention facility for military prisoners. Among those incarcerated at Alcatraz were some Hopi Native American men in the 1870s.

In 1898, the Spanish-American war would increase the prison population from 26 to over 450. After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, civilian prisoners were transferred to Alcatraz for safe confinement. By 1912 there was a large cellhouse, and in the 1920s a large 3-story structure was nearly at full capacity. On March 21, 1907, Alcatraz was officially designated as the Western U.S. Military Prison, later Pacific Branch, U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, 1915. In 1909 construction began on the huge concrete main cell block, designed by Major Reuben Turner, which remains the island's dominant feature. It was completed in 1912. To accommodate the new cell block, the Citadel, a three-story barracks, was demolished down to the first floor, which was actually below ground level. The building had been constructed in an excavated pit (creating a dry "moat") to enhance its defensive potential. The first floor was then incorporated as a basement to the new cell block, giving rise to the popular legend of "dungeons" below the main cell block. The Fortress was deactivated as a military prison in October 1933, and transferred to the Bureau of Prisons.
During World War I the prison held conscientious objectors, including Philip Grosser, who wrote a pamphlet entitled 'Uncle Sam's Devil's Island' about his experiences.
This trip can be for some shocking but I think it worth it.

Do you think that such prisons are needed? Whether prisoners should be viewed as humanitranie may condemn them to a slow death? Can people who have fled from such strongholds are heroes or ordinary lucky?

Or maybe someone would like to experience the adventure of life and to enjoy in this prison, month ...?

Photography and information com from and


  1. Really do someone imagine how prisons looked like in the past?? Guess no. There were no Tv-sets, no comforts. There were dark, crowded room etc. Now some prisons look like hotels. That's why prisoners feel so good there. Do u think they regret bad actions? I think no. Sometimes they commit crimes on purpose to get rid from freezing outside and so on...

  2. I agree with Natalia that nowadays prisons often look like hotels but of course not everywhere. I don't know if prisoners regret their crimes or not but I don't think if prisons have AS HUGE influence on it. If criminals regret the crimes only because of the bad condition of place in which they're living it doesn't make any sense.
    I think that all stories about prisons that were described above are very interesting but the most touching for me is story of Pawiak. Some parts of Polish history are really sad.

  3. My father is an officer of Prison Service so I know something about prisons and prisoners. Many of them commit crimes just after leaving prison. They do that on purpose, becouse living in prison is much more comfortable than in shelter for homeless. Average cost of living for one prisoner is much bigger than average pension. About year ago one man from Wrocław (conviced for financial frauds) won in Strasburg case agains Poland (very high compensation), becouse he had had to little place in prison cell. After sentence in Strasburg he said that he don't regret - it was a good bussines... Looking on that examples we should ask: is that what we want? Is it fair if large families live in small flats and law can't help them, whilst criminals get compensations for holding a fine in small cells? Are they in prison as a punishment or maybe now it is rather a reward? I hope prisons like those in presentation will return.

  4. I think the prisons should be different for committing different kinds of crimes. For example, a serial killer shouldn't be in the same cell as someone who has been punished for financial crimes. The judiciary should adjust appropiate punishment to appropiate crime. On the other hand, prisons should discourage people to break the law, it shouldn't be the place where they can live instead, ex. being homeless.

  5. When I read what Michał wrote about this man for Wroclaw I was shocked, in my opinion some prisoners think that they deserved on a prize for what they did. Sometimes I also would like to prisons like those from presentation would return.
    But in my opinion all system of prison organisation should be changed. I think that prisoners ought to be forced to work for society.

  6. Natalia, I've heared that homeless sometimes stole sth or commit some petty crime because thanks to that they can have a warm place to sleep during winter.
    But return for the topic of discussion I don't think that return prisons like those from presentations is a good idea. We live in XXI century and people who commit some crimes (without killers) should have to get a second chance. The prison might be the place to change the personality person who broke a law.

  7. Prisons are needed in our society, because it's a lot of crime around us. But in my opinion the prisoners must be only the people who are the dangerous for another people. It's not the same when someone is a killer or a rubber. When someone was stealing money before went to prison, he do it after go out. It's unpredictable who might be the next victim! But law is a law and we mustn't break the rules! It's amazing how creative the humans are! These prisons in the picture look amazing - it's a piece of a brilliant architecture work!

  8. What can I say about prison. I saw "Prison Break"-very intresting film;-) and "Ford Boyard"-less intresting TV Program;-).Did you seen it?I agree with dabros, that this prisons are a piece of brilliant architecture work. I think that prisons are needed and the prisoners should be working in prisons. Why we have to pay for them living in prison?I don't understand it.In my opininon is something wrong:-(

  9. I saw "Prison Break" too...but seriously i can't imagine that there are some prisons that are on the water..whenever you look out of window you see can get a seasick. I also agree that some of them are a miraculous of architecture.

  10. I agree with you that some of prisons can be a pearl of architecture. But they are sad places with "dark past". Sometimes they are needed, but I think even the worsest prison can't change people. When prisoner only sit and (maybe) think, what can change?? I don't understand it.

  11. I agree that some prisons are great architecture examples. However, more importantly I think that generally the issue of prisons is a big unsolved problem not only in our society. We shouldn't be paying for prisoners keep while they do nothing - they should be obliged to work in prisons. Moreover, more resocialisation and scial work programs should be introduced. I once wathed a TV program in which US prisoners helped with training the dogs that were later on assisting blind people and that experience really change their attitude toward life. Such programs are definitely more effective than just limiting someone's freedom. On the other hand, there is the issue of political and religious prisoners in such countries as China, who are sometimes kept in terrible conditions or even tortured.

  12. Personally I think that a specially in Poland there is no system for rehabilitation of people in prison. And the more there is no idea how to help people when he left the peniteniuary, or how to return society.I don't know what do the people in prison but I think they should always participate in the process of rehabilitation under the supervision of specialists.

  13. I agree, that prisoners should work for charity instead of sitting in prisons, watching TV and considering, if their cells aren't too small. Why? First of all - if those people did something bad, why the government would have to pay for their upkeep? There are many more important financial problems and one of them is, how to prevent people of comiting crimes, which sometimes are effect of desperation, connected with living in poverty.
    Secondly, as well as I understand, being in prison should be some kind of resocialization. So that, I think, that it would be better for the prisoners, if they did something good for other people (or animals) instead of doing nothing.

    Of course, it's all great generalization, because in other parts of world prisons are in very bad condition and people are kept there in defiance of human rights, e.g. for political reasons.

  14. I also think that prisoners should work for their maintenance. People must pay taxes and part of money goes for prisons and it's strange that prisoners have better conditions that many poor people in Poland. I think that the ones who are in jail because of serious crimes shouldn't live in such comfortable way. It's not a real punishment. The prison should be a place that people are afraid of not a spa.

  15. I think that life sentence is worst than execution. Especially when you are in place like gulag or fort boyard. And I also agree with opinion that prisioners should go back to quarries.

  16. I agree with opinion there is no system for rehabilitation in polish prisons. The main reason of that situation is overfilling. In polish prisons there is too many criminals who don't menacing society. I think about people who were riding a bike after drink alcohol or fathers who don't pay alimony. The best punihsment for them is social works, but our legal system dosen't allow for it.

  17. All of you can only gramble. "No system of rehabilitation", "to narrow prisons"... Why not to think how to make this situation a little bit better?

  18. In my opinion it's not fair when we have to pay a compasation to man who commit a crime. It means that this saying "crime doesn't pay" it's not tru becauce in this case the offender got some kind of reward. We should also think about the social results of keeping criminal in jails. All of people living in Poland have to pay for this residence and I think we should change some of rules. For example more of the prisoners should work during staying in jail. Additionally we should have better system of re-education.

  19. I don't imagine the prosion which was in the past. I think that prisons are needed, for many dangerous person who killed others. I don't think that it is a humanitarian, but also i don't think it is need for associners.
    I think that people who have fled form such stronholds are ordinary lucky. I don't like prisons and I don't want to visit them, and definitely I don't want to spend there any minutes.

  20. In my opinion prisons work out only in case of very serious guilty such as murder, rape, violence and so on. Putting pickpocket, shoplifter and other rather 'small' criminal in the jail with murders and paedophiles is for me useless and can deprave them more. People with light offence should be rather social-working than be put in a prison. I think it would be usefull for both sides :).

  21. I think that polish justice administration should be reorganised, especially prisons. Why murderers, thieves, rapists lives in comfortable conditions? In my opinion people who committed 'light' crime should work for society, for example: clean streets, clear of snow.

  22. Prison should be the last place criminals should go. they should work for society and try to pay off their bad dids. There is so much to do around.