Young West Berliners perched on top of the Berlin Wall to remove a piece of the concrete wall built in 1961. ATRICK HERTZOG
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BERLIN: In a musty room inside a maze of offices in east Berlin, two women are working patiently on what may be the biggest puzzle the world has ever seen: more than half a billion pieces that together detail innumerable crimes by East Germany's secret police.There were so many files, East German shredders couldn't cope, said Juliane Schuetterle, who works at the Stasi records office, a special government institution set up to handle the files.Stasi officers managed to tear up some 48 million pages filling over 16,000 brown sacks – each containing up to 40,000 shreds of paper. Together with about 112 kilometers of files that the Stasi was unable to destroy, they constitute a vast, but probably incomplete, catalog of mundane observations and cruel repression spanning 40 years.Nobody knows what will emerge as the files are put together again – and who may be exposed as a Stasi informer.Even today, interest in the files is unbroken in Germany, Schuetterle said.
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