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One recent morning Paul Urbanek, 71, found a strange sign by the entrance to Alwine, a small and remote community of run-down houses in ex-communist eastern Germany.Whoever buys Alwine will get a small slice of German history – a place whose empty homes and ageing residents mirror the wider fate of the east German hinterlands since the country's reunification almost three decades ago.Only about 20 mostly retired people still live in the cluster of decaying homes in rural Brandenburg state, 120 kilometers south of Berlin.Urbanek told AFP, standing in front of his dilapidated house, a common sight in a region where villages are shrinking as young people move away.Until Germany's 1990 reunification, all the property in Alwine – which once counted about 50 residents – was owned by a nearby coal briquette plant, the oldest in Europe.Between 1990 and 2015, the region's population fell by about 15 percent, said a government report this year.
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