Giant puzzle exposes Germany's communist secrets

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It is painstaking work, almost a labour of love, but help is close for the nine people who have spent years sticking together millions of pieces of paper to decipher the workings of East Germany's once-feared Stasi secret police.

Almost two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, the actions of the communist government still fascinates and scares Germans. Who worked with them? And why?

Stasi employees started to destroy their secret files as the Berlin Wall fell. Initially they shredded them. But as the machines broke down under the strain, they were forced to tear documents by hand.

The waste was to be pulped or burnt, but "citizen committees" stormed Stasi offices across East Germany, seizing millions of files, along with 15,500 bags of torn-up documents.

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