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CRIME

Thieves raid East German Stasi museum in Berlin

Burglars broke into Berlin's Stasi Museum, which showcases items of East Germany's hated secret police, making off with collectible medals and gold jewellery, authorities said Sunday, days after a spectacular diamond heist in Dresden.

Thieves raid East German Stasi museum in Berlin
The Berlin Stasi Museum. Photo: DPA

The robbers broke in through a window on the first floor, “smashed several showcases, and stole medals and jewellery”, said police in a statement.

They made off with their spoils undetected.

The time of the raid was unclear but a museum employee found showcases smashed in the exhibition rooms on Sunday morning.

Museum director Jörg Drieselmann told the Tagesspiegel daily that among the medals taken were a gold Patriotic order of Merit, an Order of Karl Marx – the highest honour awarded in the former communist East Germany and an Order of Lenin.

Stolen jewellery included rings and a watch, he said.

The items were confiscated by the Stasi from private individuals.

After the collapse of the communist regime, many items were returned to their owners. But some which remained unclaimed were on loan to the Stasi Museum as part of its exhibition.

“These are not huge treasures. But we are a history museum and don't expect people to break in,” the museum chief was quoted as saying.

The latest robbery came hot on the heels of a brazen heist at the Green Vault museum in Dresden's Royal Palace on November 25th.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about the Dresden museum heist

Having sparked a partial power cut before breaking in through a window, the thieves stole priceless 18th-century diamond jewellery – including a famous 49-carat Dresden white – from the collection of the Saxon ruler August the
Strong.

Police are still hunting four suspects, and have offered half a million euros as a reward for information leading to an arrest or recovery of the stolen goods.

Investigators are also in contact with colleagues in Berlin to explore possible connections to a similar heist in the capital two years ago.

In 2017, a 100-kilogramme (220-pound), 24-karat giant gold coin was stolen from Berlin's Bode Museum.

Four men with links to a notorious Berlin gang were later arrested and put on trial.

The coin has never been recovered, and fears are growing that the Dresden treasures will also remain lost forever.

Shaken by the loss, Germany's culture minister Monika Gruetters this week called for a national conference on museum security.

“We need to look at how museums can protect their objects from such brutal activities while still being accessible to the public in the normal way,” she said.

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GERMANY AND ISRAEL

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.

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