Computer will soon piece together torn Stasi files

A computer system to put torn shreds of Stasi files back together and reveal what they say should be ready for testing in just a few months.

Computer will soon piece together torn Stasi files
A man pieces together torn Stasi files by hand. Photo: DPA

Thousands of sacks of torn and shredded paper files were recovered from offices of the feared East German secret service in 1989 and 1999 after the Berlin Wall fell and the East German government collapsed.

Currently 12 workers painstakingly try to piece them back together, and have, over the last 16 years, managed to reconstruct around a million pages. But there are more than 15,000 sacks of torn up pieces which still need to be dealt with.

Head of the authority administering the Stasi files Roland Jahn said at the weekend that tests on a computer system to piece the bits back together should begin next year.

“We are hoping to get new understanding of the functioning of the Stasi – particularly during the last phase of the GDR, as they continued to try to push back the peaceful revolution,” he said.

The first shredded files to be submitted to the computer system will come from the Stasi’s main section XX which was responsible for political opposition – as well as the HVA, which was responsible for foreign operations.

In an interview to mark Monday’s 21st anniversary of German reunification, Jahn said he could see how far the country had come.

“Young people no longer ask about east or west,” he said, while older generations needed to feel respected. “It is important to inform ourselves about each other and to narrate biographies.”

DPA/The Local/hc

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