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Toilet facilities in the Klapperfeld

»In this point, too, building science has endeavoured to fulfil, as far as possible, all the wishes to be cherished in the interest of a cell prisoner.«

The architecture of prisons is always part of the repression that is carried out on the prisoners. This also applies to supposedly quite banal things such as the laying of water pipes and access to toilets.

In most of the detention cells in the former Klapperfeld police prison there is neither running water nor toilet facilities. This has less to do with the age of the building. Even half a century before the former police prison was built, the installation of flushing devices and water pipes was standard in new English prison buildings. These were initially also the model for the prison buildings planned for the Klapperfeld in the 19th century.

A different attitude towards toilet facilities in prisons can be found in the report of the commission of the Frankfurt building authority from 1861:

»Since the introduction of solitary confinement, whereby the prisoners were to be cut off from all fellowship with others, and everything necessary for food, work or other activities was to be made conveniently available to them in the cell itself at all times, standing privies were also introduced…«

However, the supposed convenience of prisoners through the use of toilets is then objected to:

»They serve the prisoner to remove many objects, the removal of which may seem desirable to him. Even ill will not infrequently leads to their being clogged and damaged with working materials, waste from work, etc., while the easy inspection of the contents of the portable chamber pots may often be of value in medical as well as house-police respects.«

The confinement of the prisoners was apparently no longer sufficient. The behaviour of the prisoners, which was to be enforced by imprisonment, is already calculated in advance in the furnishing of the rooms. By checking the chamber pots, the prisoners‘ living habits should be analysed unnoticed. In addition, flush toilets were considered too expensive and inefficient for prison operations:

The faeces of the prisoners were not to be discharged into the municipal sewage system but collected inside the prison, filled into barrels and sold.

»They require … so great a consumption of water, and thereby so great a dilution of human excreta, that they lose their value as manure.«

The Klapperfeld police prison, on the other hand, was connected to the municipal sewage system. Nevertheless, the construction and interior design of detention rooms in the Klapperfeld did not even reflect the state of the art in the 19th century. The privations imposed on the prisoners in their cells were part of the order enforced on them.

Source: Stadtarchiv Frankfurt am Main; Impressen, Signatur 143 Ausschreibung einer ‚Concurrenz‘ zur Einreichung von Bau­plänen für ein neues Strafgefängnis zu Frankfurt am Main, 1861, 6. Bemerkungen über einige Einzelheiten des Baus des Zellenstrafhauses bei Frankfurt a/M (S. 29ff)